Do You Really Need a Macro Photography Lens?

Macro photography can be one of the most satisfying types of picture making. A macro lens is designed for taking close-up pictures. However, do you really need a special macro lens to take these kinds of photos? Can’t you just buy a cheap lens and still get great close-up pictures?

macro photography lens

“Dragonfly” captured by Mahesh with a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L Macro IS USM lens (Click Image to See More From Mahesh)

In order to answer this question, you really need to decide how good you want your images to be. And a second consideration is whether you want true 1:1 magnification. If you want excellent quality and true macro magnification, you will need to invest in a special lens.

The most common lens is in the 100mm focal range. However, you can get a decent one at 60mm as well. You can even get a super-telephoto close-up lens at about 180mm. What makes them special is their ability to get close to the subject, thus filling the frame with a subject like a bug or a flower bud.

Some will ask if there are zoom lenses that are good for shooting these kinds of shots. The answer most photographers who deal with this type of shooting is that you need to stick with a single focal length, such as 100mm. This will give you a much better quality photo.

mushroom macro photo

“Mushroom” captured by peter wolledge (Click Image to See More From Peter Wolledge)

The good news is that, even though you will need to spend quite a bit for your new friend (and it will be your friend right from your first press of the shutter button), it will be good for other types of shots too. You can get great portraits with a macro lens, and it will give you fantastic street journalism photos as well.

When choosing your new lens, pay attention to the aperture rating. Try to get an aperture of f/2.8. This simply means that the opening will be wide enough to accomplish two things. First, you will get excellent blurred backgrounds when shooting at the wide aperture. You tiny subjects will stand out nicely because of this. The second thing is the ability to shoot in low light situations. The wider the aperture, the faster the shutter speed can be.

When you finally make the decision to add this piece of equipment to your camera bag, you will be delighted with the results and wonder why you put it off for so long. Even if you are shooting with the cheapest DSLR camera, the lens will make a huge difference.

lenses for taking macro photos

“I… Me… Myself…!!!!” captured by prabhakaran with a 100mm macro lens (click image to see more from prabhakaran)

The most important factor for taking great pictures is not actually the camera or the lens, it is the person making the picture. However, it does not hurt to have a good camera, and the lens is just as important as the camera that it is attached to.

About the Author:
Wayne Rasku has been an amateur photographer since 2003. He runs sites related to photography classes in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Canon lens organization site.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:


  1. Mayank says:

    Hi thanks for sharing that. i hope you would share how to take reasonably good macros with other techniques like macro filters (Raynox), reverse ring etc for those who cannot or do not want to make heavy investments in macro lens yet like to take good macro photographs.

  2. One more reason to invest in a faster speed lens (like you I’m a big fan of my f/2.8 ): your viewfinder image is brighter, which enables more accurate focusing.

    If a macro lens is outside your budget, a set of extension tubes and a fixed-focus, normal length lens can do quite nicely. Add a reversal ring and you’ll have lots of flexibility. Because they lack glass, neither of these accessories is expensive.

Leave a Comment

Personalize your comment with an avatar from!

Prove Your Humanity * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever