Best Macro Lens for Nikon D850 in 2022

Which is the best macro lens for the Nikon D850? It’s an exciting proposition to find the best among some of the most popular macro optics. But before we dive into that discussion, let’s take a quick look at the camera.

The Nikon D850 is a professional DSLR designed for shooters who look for performance, handling, and high resolution from a camera body.

It is great for shooting macro photography thanks to its high-resolution sensor (45.7-MP) that can capture a lot of detail, its tilting LCD screen that allows you to compose without having to keep your eyes on the viewfinder all the time, and its beautiful color rendition straight out of the camera.

Being a BSI CMOS sensor, this technology ensures that the camera can work better in low-light conditions than traditional sensor-equipped cameras.

However, the D850 won’t be able to capture anything without the right lens pairing it. Thankfully there is no shortage of good macro lenses – both OEM and third-party. In this discussion, we’ll strive to figure out the best macro lens for Nikon D850 from several good lenses.

What to look for in a macro lens?

One of the primary things you should look for in a macro lens is the focal Length. A long focal length will allow you to shoot from a distance and capture a close-up view.

This working distance is necessary for certain situations because you cannot get very close to your subject. For example, shooting a creepy crawly getting too close may startle the bug.

A long focal length ensures that the photographer can capture a close-up view while staying away from this subject.

Another advantage of a long focal length is that you do not inadvertently get too close and then block the light with your body.

Another important thing to watch out for in macro lenses is the maximum magnification. Choose a lens that offers a minimum magnification of 1:1 which means minimum life-sized reproduction of a subject onto the image sensor.

Many lenses are marketed as macro lenses but do not offer a 1:1 minimum magnification.

Image stabilization (Nikon calls it vibration reduction) is also a requirement. However, a majority of macro photographers prefer to shoot using a tripod.

What are the best macro lenses for Nikon D850?

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

Features

  • Focal Length – 105mm
  • Maximum Aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture – f/32
  • Lens Mount – Nikon F
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 23° 20′
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 1.03′ / 31.4 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 1x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:1
  • Optical Design – 14 Elements in 12 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization – Yes
  • Filter Size – 62 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L) – 3.27 x 4.57″ / 83 x 116 mm
  • Weight – 1.58 lb / 720 g

Pros

  • Fast wide aperture of f/2.8 that captures a lot of light.
  • Captures 1:1 magnification of small subjects.
  • Superb focal Length for shooting portraits.
  • Focusing distance limiter comes in handy when shooting.
  • Full-time manual focusing override for precise focus adjustment.
  • Weather sealing prevents seepage of moisture and dust.

Cons

  • Image stabilization isn’t as effective when shooting at macro lengths.
  • Heavy focus breathing. Not suitable for video work.

This dual-purpose lens is designed for the Nikon F mount camera systems and is a good pair for the D850. This is a dual-purpose lens because although it’s primarily designed for shooting macro photos, it also works as a portrait lens.

The lens offers great 1:1 or life-sized magnification of small subjects. The excellent f/2.8 aperture provides excellent background blur for capturing a smooth out-of-focus effect in the background.

This is a reasonably well-built lens with a metal lens mount and a weather-sealing gasket that further seals the lens from moisture and dust. The lens weighs a decent 1.58 lb and feels solid in the hands.

In terms of performance, the lens is super sharp wide open, and at the center of the frame. However, the contrast isn’t what I was expecting. At the corner of the frame, the lens is softer compared to what I saw in the center.

Nikon AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED

Features

  • Focal Length – 60mm
  • Maximum Aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture – f/32
  • Lens Mount – Nikon F
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 39° 40′
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 7.28″ / 18.5 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 1x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:1
  • Optical Design 12 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades          9, Rounded
  • Focus Type         Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization         No
  • Filter Size            62 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L)         2.87 x 3.5″ / 73 x 89 mm
  • Weight 14.99 oz / 425 g

Pros

  • Inexpensive macro option.
  • Full life-sized reproduction (1:1 magnification).
  • A reasonably lightweight option.
  • Decent suppression of distortion and color fringing.
  • Full-time manual focusing allows precise adjustment of focusing at any time.

Cons

  • No image stabilization means hand-held shots will be difficult.

The 60mm is a short telephoto lens designed for the full-frame Nikon camera and is purposed for capturing macro photography. This is an economy-priced optic that many budget-conscious buyers will choose as the first option, especially if they’re on a crop camera.

But given that the lens is optimized for the full-frame image circle of a 35mm DSLR, this is a good option for the D850.

This lens offers a full life-sized reproduction of a subject that you’re aiming for. That means 1:1 magnification. And that’s what makes this lens a good one to boot. The minimum focusing distance of the lens is only 7.3-inches.

The lens’s construction includes 12 elements arranged in 9 groups and two aspherical elements to suppress spherical aberrations and distortions.

The lens also contains one extra-low dispersion element that ensures that the lens can suppress the effects of color fringing and chromatic aberrations.

The lens also incorporates Nano crystal coating and Sper Integrated coating, ensuring that the lens can suppress the effects of flares and ghosting. Contrast and colors are very well depicted.

The lens features full-time manual focusing control. This allows you to precisely control the focus by grabbing the manual focusing ring at any moment and adjusting focus.

Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO

Features

  • Focal Length – 90mm
  • Maximum aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture – f/32
  • Lens Mount – Canon EF
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 27°
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 11.4″ / 28.96 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 1x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:1
  • Optical Design – 10 Elements in 9 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 9
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization – None
  • Filter Size – 55 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L) – 2.8 x 3.8″ / 7.11 x 9.65 cm
  • Weight – 14.29 oz / 405 g

Pros

  • f/2.8 captures a lot of light.
  • Decent weather sealing.
  • Image stabilization is very steady.
  • Full-time manual focusing adjustment is present.
  • No distortion at all.

Cons

  • A dated design.
  • A bit of vignetting at a wide-open aperture is present.

Tamron’s 90mm f/2.8 is a decent focal length that takes the camera to a slightly longer distance (thanks to the extended working distance) from the subject and yet offers a 1:1 magnification.

The extended space is beneficial when shooting small bugs and other creepy crawlies.

The 90mm is a versatile focal length because you can also shoot portraits with this focal Length.

The fast wide aperture of f/2.8 helps capture the out-of-focus effect in your images. And thanks to the 9-blade aperture diaphragm, the lens captures beautiful bokeh.

The construction of the lens is great. It’s primarily metal, comes with a metal lens mount, and is appropriately weather sealed.

The lens’ elements come with a new optical multi-coating on its surfaces, which improves the lens’s performance in difficult lighting conditions.

The lens features a full-time manual focusing override that allows you to change the focusing by tweaking the manual ring at any time.

Autofocusing performance of the lens is quick, and the focusing motors don’t make any sound when the focus is acquired.

In image performance, the lens is decently sharp in the middle of the frame when shooting at f/2.8.

There is a lack of contrast which I noticed. Corners are less sharp than the middle of the frame, and contrast is also lacking here. Stopping down the lens improves contrast. In terms of distortion, the lens shows no distortion when shooting wide open, but there is a little bit of vignetting, which is noticeable.

Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO

Features

  • Focal Length – 100mm
  • Maximum Aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture – f/22
  • Lens Mount – Nikon F
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 24.4°
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 9.72″ / 24.7 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 2x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 2:1
  • Optical Design – 12 Elements in 10 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 7
  • Focus Type – Manual Focus
  • Image Stabilization – No
  • Filter Size – 67 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L) – 2.83 x 4.92″ / 72 x 125 mm
  • Weight – 1.4 lb / 638 g

Pros

  • Two times magnification against the usual one time.
  • The maximum aperture of f/2.8 captures a lot of light.
  • Excellent image quality.

Cons

  • Image stabilization isn’t present on the lens.
  • This is a manual focusing lens only.
  • Heavy focus breathing.

The main USP of Venus Optics’ Laowa 100mm f/2.8 is its ability to produce two times magnification as against the one-time magnification we have seen so far.

Two times magnification is a big thing when it comes to macro photography. You can capture twice the life-size reproduction of a small subject from the same working distance and capture stunning details.

The minimum focusing distance is 9.72-inches. Considering that the lens operates close to subjects, you must be careful about image blur and other aspects like light loss.

At 100mm, the lens doubles up as a normal portrait lens. That means there are two distinct purposes for which you can use this lens. one for the usual macro photography purposes and the other for portrait photography.

One thing about this lens is that it lacks image stabilization. So, on a D850 that does not have IBIS, you must be careful when hand-holding this lens. You will be better off shooting with a tripod. That said, someone using the latest Z mount camera can use this lens with the right adapter (FTZ). And since Z mount camera systems have IBIS, this lens will be functional as an image-stabilized lens.

Macro lenses are prone to focus breathing, and the Laowa is no different. Turning the manual focusing ring reveals that the lens has tremendous amounts of focus breathing. That suggests that the lens is unsuitable if you’re interested in video shooting.

Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM

Features

  • Focal Length – 105mm
  • Maximum aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture – f/22
  • Lens Mount – Nikon F
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 23.3°
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 1.02′ / 31.2 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 1x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:1
  • Optical Design – 16 Elements in 11 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization – Yes
  • Filter Size – 62 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L) – 3.08 x 4.98″ / 78.3 x 126.4 mm
  • Length at Maximum Extension – 4.85″ / 123.3 mm
  • Weight – 1.6 lb / 725 g

Pros

  • Image stabilized lens with steady performance.
  • 9-blade rounded aperture diaphragm.
  • Interesting double hood design.

Cons

  • Heavy focus breathing when the lens focuses.
  • There is no weather sealing on the lens.
  • Autofocusing performs a little slower than the competition.

The construction of the lens feels solid in the hands. Even though the lens is made up of plastic for the majority, the lens feels decent. The lens mount is metal made, though there is no weather-sealing gasket on the lens. If you plan to use this lens outdoors in inclement weather, ensure it does not get drenched in the rain.

The construction of the lens includes 16 elements arranged in 11 groups. These elements include two special low-dispersion elements that suppress the effects of chromatic aberrations and color fringing. The lens features a super multi-layer coating that ensures that the lens can withstand the impact of flares and ghosting. The colors are accurate, and the lens produces beautiful contrast.

The lens features image stabilization which steadies the shots when handholding the camera. However, it’s to be noted that when shooting macro photography, you’re better off shooting with a tripod rather than relying on image stabilization.

Though for non-macro work, you can depend on image stabilization to give you a steady performance.

In terms of performance, the middle of the frame appears sharper than the corners when the lens is fired at f/2.8. Stopping down the lens improves sharpness and contrast across the frame.

Tokina AT-X M100 AF PRO D AF 100mm f/2.8

Features

  • Focal Length – 100mm
  • Filter Size – 55mm
  • f/Stop Range – 2.8-32
  • Maximum aperture – f/2.8
  • Minimum aperture – f/32
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 11.8″ (30cm)
  • Magnification – 1:1
  • Angle of View – 24°
  • Lens Mount – Canon EF
  • Groups/Elements – 8/9
  • Lens Format Coverage – Full-Frame
  • Length 3.7″ – 95mm)
  • Angle of View – 24°
  • Maximum Diameter – 2.9″ (73mm)
  • Weight – 1.2 lb (540g)
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 11.8″ / 29.97 cm
  • Maximum Magnification – 1x
  • Macro Reproduction Ratio – 1:1
  • Optical Design – 9 Elements in 8 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 9
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization – None
  • Filter Size – 55 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions (ø x L) – 2.9 x 3.74″ / 7.37 x 9.5 cm
  • Weight – 1.19 lb / 540 g

Pros

  • Fast maximum aperture of f/2.8.
  • Life-sized reproduction of small subjects.

Cons

  • The focus clutch mechanism takes some getting used to.
  • No image stabilization on the lens.

Designed for the Nikon F mount and optimized for full-frame camera systems, this is a 100mm macro lens with a magnification of 1:1. Thus, this lens offers life-sized reproduction of a small object.

The one-touch focus clutch mechanism for switching between auto to manual focus and vice versa takes some time to get used to. At least, that’s my opinion, and it’s a subjective thing.

Many of you may like it. But I feel the full-time manual focusing override is a better way to switch focus than this.

This is a versatile lens and one that can be used as a general-purpose portrait lens. The 100mm focal length is ideally suitable for portrait photography.

Thanks to the f/2.8 aperture, this lens can also capture some shallow depth-of-field effects.

Autofocusing performance is okay. The lens does lock focus accurately. But one thing about autofocusing is that it’s a bit laggy. You wouldn’t always rely on autofocusing for macro photography

Conclusion

Among the above lenses, when I compare performance, price, handling, and features, I will put the Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO ahead of the pack because it’s decently priced, and the performance is above par.

It handles well, comes with a full-time manual focusing override, and has a decent enough aperture and focal length to work both as a macro and a portrait lens, making it a versatile choice.

If, however, you’re interested in OEM equipment, I put the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED ahead because of the same factors, plus it’s an OEM optic.

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About the Author
Rajib Mukherjee
Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. The first time he ever clicked an image was with an Agfa Click IV back in 1984. A medium format film camera. From that auspicious introduction to photography, he has remained hooked to this art form. He loves to test and review new photography gear. Rajib travels quite a lot, loves driving on Indian roads, playing fetch with his Labrador retriever, and loves photography. And yes, he still proudly owns that Agfa Click IV!

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