Turn It Up Over 1:1 with Ultra Macro Lenses


Sometimes 1:1 just isn’t enough to capture your photographic vision, and that is where ultra-macro lenses come in handy. These options can capture extreme close-ups and reveal the minute details of numerous subjects, opening your imaging world to even the smallest objects. One interesting note about these lenses is that many won’t focus to infinity, making them tools for only the most die-hard fans of macro photography.

Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

If there were a “classic” ultra-macro lens, it is Canon’s MP-E 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens. Made for full-frame Canon EF-mount DSLRs, this lens allows for 1-5x magnification by reaching a minimum focus distance of just 9.4". Getting 5:1 is quite impressive, and if you are a true macro aficionado, the appeal is very easy to see. Along with a great magnification ratio, the MP-E 65mm is well constructed, featuring a removable tripod collar for improved support during shooting, and a smooth manual focusing ring. One additional bonus feature of this lens is support for Canon’s Macro Ring or Twin Lites, permitting the creation of a complete setup.

Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens

Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Macro Lens

One thing about these lenses is that they all have their own distinct look, and the Laowa 25mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is no exception. Available for full-frame and APS-C-format DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, this lens has a unique thin design and can work within a 2.5-5x magnification range—quite impressive, if somewhat limiting. The short focal length provides a unique perspective when getting up close and will produce greater depth of field at such close focusing distances. As with most of these specialized lenses, it is manual focus only and has a minimum focus distance of 6.8", with a minimum working distance of just 1.6" for 5:1 magnification.

Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro Lens for Canon EF

Venus Optics Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2X Macro Lens

Another offering from Venus Optics, the Laowa 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is a bit more conservative with its magnification, only hitting 2x, but by doing so it is much more versatile. Designed for full-frame Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, and Sony A cameras, this slightly-longer-than-normal prime supports focusing from 2.4" to infinity, so when you don’t need some super-macro skills, it can function as a standard lens. As a regular prime, it is quite capable, featuring an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/22 and a rounded 14-bladed diaphragm for smooth bokeh. The only thing to note about this lens is a potential for vignetting with full-frame sensors when focused to infinity.

Venus Optics Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens for Canon EF

Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Macro Lens

The winner of weirdest-looking macro is Mitakon Zhongyi with the 20mm f/2 Macro Lens. This thing is quite incredible in its design, because it offers a wide-angle perspective, a decently fast aperture of f/2, and a magnification range of 4x to 4.5x. It’s exceptionally compact size helps with placement—it can be more easily positioned in tight spots as you attempt to capture a subject just 0.8" from the front of the lens. There is a unique feature in the three-blade aperture diaphragm for unique bokeh. Additionally, Mitakon has made this lens available for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens for Canon EF

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens

Something specifically for Micro Four Thirds shooters, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro, from Olympus, provides photographers with a normal-length prime that can focus as close as 3.7" for a magnification of 1.25x. This results in a minimum working distance of just 0.6" and makes the 60mm equivalent optic quite versatile for close-ups and standard shooting situations. You have the benefit of a high-speed AF motor in this lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro Lens

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens

Another modest ultra-macro, the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM provides Canon’s mirrorless shooters with 1.2x maximum magnification. This 44.8mm equivalent lens also has another neat trick for close-up photography: a built-in Macro Lite LED. This combination of a 3.7” minimum focus distance and a built-in light let you get in close, and make sure you have enough light to capture your subject with clarity and style. It also has autofocus, image stabilization, and retracts when not in use, making it a very suitable compact option for everyday carry.

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens

Are you interested in capturing some extreme macro images? Any of these lenses spark your creativity? Let us know what you would want to do with some of these lenses in the Comments section, below!


I am looking to buy the Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens for Canon EF for my 5D III.

This is an extreme macro lens that I bought from B&H:

Are there lens adapters for these super macro lenses to fit a Fuji X-Pro 2 ?

If you used the Canon EF mount options offered above, you can adapt them with the Vello Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Fujifilm X-Mount Camera Lens Adapter B&H # VELAFXCEF.  https://bhpho.to/2JGXSfF