5 Best Cameras for High-Res Macro Photography

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It’s all in the details when it comes to macro photography. You are getting super close and want to see all the tiny things you never would’ve seen otherwise. Besides purchasing a serious macro lens, you can also make sure your camera of choice is well-suited to capturing and enlarging these extremely tiny subjects. Here are five that we can easily recommend for high-resolution macro photography.

1. Nikon D850

Perhaps the best all-around DSLR on the market today is the Nikon D850—high-resolution shooting with a 45.7MP FX-format BSI CMOS sensor, fast autofocus, UHD 4K video, and all the evolutionary features that have found their way into Nikon’s cameras over the decades. All this makes it great for macro shooting, and the detailed 45.7MP images should make any macro photographer happy. There’s also a neat “focus shift shooting” function that will make focus stacking in post a breeze, to extend your depth of field in post. I used it for my tutorial on focus stacking. As for a lens, don’t mess with the classic AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. As an alternative to the bulky DSLR, Nikon’s Z 7 mirrorless comes in a close second, since it offers the same resolution and focus shift features. However, it doesn’t have a native macro lens, so you’ll need to acquire the FTZ Adapter to use the 105mm.

Nikon D850 DSLR Camera
Nikon D850 DSLR Camera

2. Sony Alpha a7R III

I think it’s safe to say that the Sony a7R III is one of the most popular mirrorless cameras out today, and this should hold especially true for macro photography. It has a phenomenal 42.4MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor that captures plenty of detail with ease. Tack on SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization and you have a great option for handheld shooting, as well. The unique feature on the Sony is a new Pixel Shift Multi Shooting option that will help maximize image quality by taking four consecutive exposures to be combined in post. It works by shifting the sensor ever so slightly between the frames, capturing full RGB and luminance data for every single pixel. Sony’s Imaging Edge software will still deliver a 42.4MP photo, but the new image is the equivalent of a 169.9MP shot from a conventional Bayer-pattern image sensor. Pair this camera with the ultra-sharp FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens and you are good to go.

Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera
Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera

3. FUJIFILM GFX 50S

Medium format has always been at the top when comes to resolution, and FUJIFILM’s GFX 50S continues that tradition. Sure, there may be some full-frame cameras that can match it in terms of pixels, but they don’t come close to sensor and pixel size. Larger sensors generally do provide advantages to image quality. This alone is a great place to start for getting those details, but where I think the GFX 50S really works well is in the EVF. The removable EVF can be be paired with an optional EVF-TL1 EVF Tilt Adapter that allows you to more easily compose your shot, even if the camera is on a tripod. So pick up the GFX 50S and the GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR Lens to start working on macro photography with medium format. Oh yeah, as a bonus, FUJIFILM has previewed the next-gen GFX, and that will use a 100MP sensor. Beat that.

FUJIFILM GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless Camera
FUJIFILM GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless Camera

4. Canon EOS 5DS R

Still reigning as the highest-resolution full-frame DSLR camera is the Canon EOS 5DS R. A 50.6MP CMOS sensor is what gives it this power, and the R is likely a better choice due to its low-pass filter effect cancellation, which should squeak out just a tad more detail in your photographs. For maximizing image quality, Canon took care with the mirror and shutter control mechanisms. A Mirror Vibration Control system uses a motor and cams to move the mirror precisely and suppress shake. Also, a Time Release Lag setting can be set so that the camera won’t begin the exposure until any minimal shake has stopped. It’s basically made for maximum detail and working precisely on tripods, which is exactly what you want for macro. And, the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens is one of the most loved macro lenses available.

Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR Camera
Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR Camera

5. Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R

How many megapixels is too many pixels? When it comes to macro you could argue there are never enough and if you are one of the people making that argument I think you would be a good fit for the Panasonic S1R. It’s packing a 47.3MP full-frame MOS sensor, so that makes it a great pick for capturing details. However, for those looking for the ultimate in resolution, the S1R has a phenomenal High Resolution Mode that can create insane 187MP images. That’s a lot. Using the sensor-shift image stabilization, the camera will move the sensor very slightly while capturing eight frames of your, hopefully static, subject. The images boost color accuracy and details while creating a 16736 x 11168-pixel photograph. You are going to need a good lens to work with the new system and, for macro, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens is the one to beat for Leica L.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R

Any of these camera and lens combinations will get the job done, but do you have any of your own macro photography favorites to share? Please make sure to let us all know in the Comments section, below, and check back here at B&H Explora for more tips, tricks, and news from Macro Photography Week.

4 Comments

I'm a little surprised you didn't mention any of the Panasonic or Olympus cameras that have a multishot high-resolution mode. Panasonic high-res mode does not work with Flash, but a couple of Olympus models do.

Panasonic made the list with the S1R and its 187MP mode. However, Olympus fell just short because its native sensor resolution isn't quite up to the high-res options of the rest of the list. One thing I will give Olympus the win for is its handling of handheld multi-shot modes due to its absolutely insane image stabilization.

I've been using my old Nikon bellows and 50mm Nikkor on my D810 and getting sensational results.  Granted, the bulky, complex setup and adjustments, not to mention the time investment is far greater than shooting with a dedicated macro.  The crispness and clarity I achieve using the bellows is a trade-off to the rapid deployment and convenience of shooting with a fine macro.

The D810 is another awesome camera that most certainly would've made the list if it wasn't for the D850. Love hearing about your cool macro setup too! Thanks for sharing.

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