Best macro lens for Nikons: 8 tested

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro - £650/$800

Sigma's latest 105mm macro lens feels every inch a professional lens. It's weighty - the only lens in the group to tip the scales at more than a kilo - but packs plenty of advanced features, including Sigma's four-stop Optical Stabilization, super-fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and internal focusing.

Tracking fast-moving objects is no problem for the autofocus system. And to make full use of this, the Optical Stabilization uses a dual-mode system that includes horizontal panning.

The focus limit switch goes one better than that on Nikon's 105mm lens, with three positions: full focus range, 31-45cm close-focusing and 45cm to infinity for general shooting.

Our camera autofocused quickly and with good resistance to hunting, even under dull light. There's not quite so much travel in the focus ring as with the similar Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S IF-ED VR Micro, but fine adjustments are easy to make. The ring's operation is smooth and precise.

Optical quality is spectacular, with sharp images rich in contrast and saturation even at the top aperture. It's the sharpest lens here for close-focusing at f/16.

Sharpness

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

Excellent sharpness from f/2.8 down to f/16 makes this a superb lens for both general shooting and macro work.

Lab test
Sharpness at f/2.8: 2308
Sharpness at f/8: 2413
Sharpness at f/16: 2241

Fringing

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

Colour fringing is only occasionally noticeable at the very corners of the frame, and even then it's minimal.

Lab test
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.32
Fringing at f/8: 0.24
Fringing at f/16: 0.25

Distortion

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

Lab tests reveal the tiniest bit of barrel distortion but it's practically impossible to see in images.

Lab test
Distortion: -0.09

Image quality verdict

The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.The focal lengths of the lenses in our roundup range from 40mm to 105mm. Unlike some antiquated optics, all modern macro lenses are dual-purpose designs. They're good for close-ups but also as high-quality prime lenses with a fairly 'fast' maximum aperture, typically f/2.8, which is great for portraits or shooting in low light.Best macro lens for Nikons

With superb results for everything from full macro close-ups to general long-distance shooting, the Sigma is a real star performer.

Read the full Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro review