Turn It Up Over 1:1 with Ultra Macro Lenses

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Sometimes 1:1 just isn’t enough to capture your photographic vision, and this is where ultra-macro lenses come in handy. These options can capture extreme close-ups and reveal the minute details of 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. Its 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 full-frame 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 APS-C 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

Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO Lens

You shouldn’t mess with classics, unless you are making them better. That is what Venus Optics did with the classic 100mm macro when the company released the full-frame Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO Lens for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. It looks quite standard, but this lens makes two changes that separate it from the rest of the 100mm macro pack. The first is that it has a shorter minimum focus distance of 9.7" for achieving a 2:1 magnification ratio. The second is an apochromatic designation, signifying advanced corrections that effectively eliminate chromatic aberrations. It is manual focus and has great precision with its wide focusing ring.

Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens

Meike MK-85mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

If you want a lens that is a bit different all around, the Meike MK-85mm f/2.8 Macro Lens is a good one to consider. Designed for full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, this short telephoto macro reaches 1.5:1 magnification, though it does so through a separate macro-dedicated function ring on the lens barrel. Settable from 1:1 through 1:1.5, this lens can operate as a standard, everyday lens with infinity focus and 1:1 magnification when desired, and then pop into close-up focusing distances with a simple twist. Additionally, all-metal construction means it’s quite durable.

Meike MK-85mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens

Laowa series lenses from Venus Optics seem to dominate this list. They greatly enjoy going for odd and unique macro designs. One of the oddest that manages to make it to a useful 2:1 magnification ratio is the Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe Lens. Available for DSLRs, mirrorless, and in cine-mod versions, this elongated and waterproof lens will enable shots that never would be possible otherwise. You can stick it in places no lens has ever gone before—including underwater! The extremely slim form factor, built-in LED light, and minimum working distance of 0.8" can open innumerable creative doors for photo and video, making this lens worth checking out.

Venus Optics Laowa 24mm f/14 Probe 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! You can also find a lot more tips and tricks about shooting macro on our Macro Photography Week page!

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7 Comments

Looking at the Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Macro Lens. Can I adapt it to my Olympus E-M1 Mark II camera?

If you were to use the Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro Lens for Nikon F, BH #VE2528NF for example, this can be adapted to your Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the FotodioX Mount Adapter for Nikon F-Mount Lens to Micro Four Thirds Camera, BH #FONIKFMFT.

https://bhpho.to/2zmY5l2

https://bhpho.to/32o3UHn

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:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801260257-USE/canon_20mm_f_3_5_ma...

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

 

There are three versions of the Vello adapter. You mention the "Standard" adapter (VELAFXCEF), but there is the Aperture version (VELAFXCEF-A) and the Macro version (VELAFXCEF-M). The -M version has a helicoid for changing magnification and the MPE-65 has its own helicoid. I believe that the major hangup on using the MPE-65 on non-Canon bodies in the past was the inability to control the aperture. The -A adapter does control aperture, so I would assume it is the correct adapter to use. If so, the description of the -A adapter might requires a minor change. It would be nice to know if the MPE-65 does work with the Fujifilm bodies using the -A adapter as well as the Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony bodies. 

As the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens, B&H # CA6528MP, does not have a built-in aperture ring, the Vello Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Fujifilm X-Mount Camera Lens Adapter with Aperture Control, B&H # VELAFXCEFA, would be the correct lens adapter for use on the Fujifilm X-mount cameras.  The standard adapter would allow you to connect the lens to the Fujifilm X-mount, but as there is no aperture ring on the lens and Canon cameras control the lens' aperture electronically, the only aperture that would be compatible for use with the Standard adapter is the maximum f/2.8 aperture.  For this reason, the Vello Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Fujifilm X-Mount Camera Lens Adapter with Aperture Control would be recommended for your usage needs.  Do note that this adapter would not work on Nikon, Panasonic, or Sony cameras; you have to purchase the adapter with the correct lens mount for the mount used on the camera body you own.  The adapters listed above are only compatible for use on Fujifilm cameras that use the Fujifilm X-mount lens mount.  For more information, you can see the following link by either clicking directly on it or by copying and pasting the link into your internet browser's address bar:

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https://bhpho.to/2S8WsvG

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