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If you’re using a DSLR, it’s possible to buy special macro lenses, but if you are just getting into macro photography, then there are dedicated macro cameras that are inexpensive, but still offer fantastic image quality.
If you’re short on time, have a look below for the quick pick of the best camera for macro, and take a look through the whole article for detailed reviews of macro cameras, from the best DSLR camera for macro photography, to the best compact camera for macro.
Table of Contents
1. Best Macro Camera
- Best Camera for Macro Photography
- Very High 32.5 Megapixel Sensor
- Closest Focusing Distance 9.8″ (25cm) with included lens
- Ability to Add Dedicated Macro Lens
- Relatively Small & Lightweight
2. Best Compact Macro Camera
- Best Macro Compact Camera
- Smallest and Lightest Macro Camera
- Waterproof to 100ft, Shockproof and Cold-Resistant
- 16 Megapixel Sensor with 5x Optical Zoom
- Very Easy to Use
3. Best Macro Camera Point and Shoot
- Best Macro Camera Under $200
- 42x Optical Zoom
- Optically Stabilized Lens
- Better Image Quality than Compact Cameras
- Best Budget Macro Camera
4. What to Look For in Best Macro Photography Camera
If you want to do some more independent research, you can use the below checklist when you are looking for the best macro photography camera. These are the criteria that I have used to measure each macro digital camera, with only those fully meeting all criteria listed below. In order of importance, the criteria are:
- Sensor Size – The technical definition of a macro photo is one where the subject of the picture is refracted at least life-size onto the camera sensor. In practice, the definition of macro photography is a little blurred, as cameras with smaller sensors can produce what are essentially macro photos without fulfilling this definition. Nonetheless, if you crop into, or enlarge, macro photos taken on cameras with smaller sensors, you will quickly see a loss of sharpness and image quality that you will not see on cameras with larger sensors. Therefore, the best macro photography cameras all have larger sensors.
- Closest Focusing Distance – This is generally a proxy for the level of magnification that you can achieve on a subject. The closer your lens focuses to a subject, the closer you are able to get to whatever you are photographing, and the larger it will appear in your camera’s viewfinder. This means that the best macro photography lens, with the closest focusing distance, will offer greater than life-size magnification and allows sharp and detailed photos of even the smallest subjects.
- Interchangeable Lenses – If you are concerned with portability – size and weight – then this will not apply to you. If, on the other hand, you are wanting the best macro image quality, you will want to look for a camera with interchangeable lenses. This means that you can switch in a dedicated macro camera lens, which have the closest focusing distance possible and are specifically designed for macro photography.
- Ease of Use – If you are new to macro photography, then you will want a camera for macro that is easy to use, with minimal button pushes required to get the pictures you want. A large number of the more expensive cameras with macro are more complicated, and require more effort to learn how best to use them. How important this is to you, you will be able to decide for yourself.
5. Compare Best Cameras for Macro Photography
Using the table below, you can get a quick feel for the pros and cons of each of the contenders for best camera for macro photography. Full reviews of all of the best macro cameras follow in the next section of the article.
|Product||Average User Rating||Pros / Cons||Cost||Check Price|
|Canon EOS M6 Mark II + 15-45mm Lens
||4.9 / 5||
|Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera
||3.9 / 5||
|Kodak PIXPRO Astro Zoom AZ421
||4.2 / 5||
|Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
||4.3 / 5||
|Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV
||4.2 / 5||
6. Best Camera for Macro Reviews
Best Camera for Macro
- Very high 32.5 Megapixel crop-size APS-C sensor
- Closest focusing distance 9.8″ (25cm) with included lens
- Ability to add dedicated macro lens
- Fantastic image quality and performance
- Relatively expensive
- Not as small as a compact camera
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II is easily the best digital camera for macro thanks to its overall fantastic image quality and ease of use, as well as being the best Canon camera for macro photography. The included 15-45mm lens is very good for macro photography, with a closest focusing distance of 9.8″ (25cm). Although this means you can’t get close enough to achieve a high level of macro magnification, the ability to add a dedicated macro lens, such as the Canon EF-M f/3.5 Macro IS STM Lens makes this camera unbeatable for macro, in my opinion.
The large APS-C sensor, shooting at 32.5 Megapixels, means that you can crop into any macro images that you take, and enlarge them to a significant degree before they lose sharpness and detail. The clarity and colour rendition of this camera are also second to none – it will take quite a few years before this camera loses its place at the top of the tree.
The only real downside to this camera is the cost, with it being the second most expensive camera reviewed here. Nonetheless, this is a very powerful camera system that will fulfill all of your photography needs for years to come, so makes an excellent investment if you are in any way serious about photography.
Best Compact Camera for Macro
- Crammed full of added features – GPS; WiFi; Bluetooth; Altimeter; Depth Gauge, and more
- Smallest and lightest macro camera
- Waterproof to 100ft, shockproof and cold-resistant
- Closest focusing distance of 0.4″ (1cm)
- Smaller sensor, so lower image quality
- No dedicated macro lens available
The Nikon W300 is packed with additional features, and is one of the most rugged cameras you can buy, that should take nearly everything you can throw at it. It’s macro performance is good, although not as spectacular as a camera like the Canon M6 that can be turned into a dedicated macro camera. Still, if you are looking for something small and light, and very easy to use, then the Nikon W300 is the best compact macro camera.
The closest focusing distance of 0.4″ (1cm) matches the Olympus TG-6, and means that you can get right up to a subject, gaining a high level of magnification. Unfortunately, as the sensor is only 1/2.3″ in diameter, even a high level of magnification does not result in a spectacularly high quality macro image.
The maximum aperture of the lens is f/2.8, which is slightly narrower than its direct competitor, the Olympus TG-6, but the superior Nikon image processing software within the camera renders this difference largely irrelevant.
If you are looking for a highly portable macro camera that can cope with difficult conditions, and is easy to use, even for example in winter when you are wearing thick gloves, then the Nikon W300 is the best compact camera for macro, for you.
Best Point and Shoot Camera with Macro
- Very high optical zoom (42x)
- Best cheap macro camera
- Best macro camera under $200
- Optically stabilized lens
- Small sensor for the camera size
- Camera is bulky
The Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 is the best point and shoot camera with macro thanks to its very high optical zoom, coupled with a very low price. Although you will obviously not be getting the same quality of pictures as you would with the Canon M6, the macro images that this camera can take will be good enough for all but professional users.
There are no added features, such as a touch screen or GPS, and there is lag between pressing the shutter and the camera taking a photo, but these are issues are relatively unimportant when it comes to macro photography.
The optical image stabilization means that the camera can easily take pictures hand-held, even at the top end of the zoom range, although the maximum aperture of f/3.0 at the wide end of the lens is relatively narrow.
The closest focusing distance of 1.2″ (3cm), makes it possible to use this camera for macro photography, but remember that the small sensor size will mitigate the increased magnification you get from moving the camera closer to your subject.
This camera would be best suited to those who have graduated from a compact camera, and are now looking for the best bridge camera for macro, before moving up to the more expensive DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.
Toughest Compact Macro Camera
- Waterproof, shockproof & crush proof
- f/2.0 lens
- Closest focusing distance of 0.4″ (1cm)
- Very high magnification possible
- Small image sensor
- Olympus quality is below Nikon and Canon
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a close contender for best macro compact camera, but loses out to the Nikon W300 because of the lower quality lens construction. Although the lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.0, and a closest focusing distance of 0.4″ (1cm), you may see occasional issues such as the Olympus TG ‘purple orb’. This can be prevalent in macro photos, where a purple orb appears in the centre of the photo, likely due to light reflecting off internal elements in the lens. This is rare, and unlikely to spoil too many of your photos, but you will not see the same problems with the Nikon W300.
The great advantage of the Olymnpus TG-6 for macro photography is the Microscope functions. They allow the camera to automatically stack photos taken with the lens wide open, in order to produce a much greater depth of field than you would achieve from a single image. When correctly used, this means you can get a macro picture that rivals a dedicated DSLR with macro lens.
Best Image Quality for Macro
- World’s fastest autofocus acquisition
- Touch screen
- Tele-Macro mode
- Closest focusing distance 1.2″ (3cm)
- Very expensive
- No interchangeable lenses
The bridge camera Sony Cyber-Shot is the most expensive model reviewed here, but comes packed with professional features that can produce stunning macro images. This camera has a tele-macro feature, where the macro mode is used at maximum zoom of the lens (600mm in 35mm equivalent). At this end of the lens, the minimum focusing distance is 2.36′ (72cm), but due to the zoom, the magnification is actually very high, and you can get a detailed macro photo with lovely background bokeh thanks to the maximum aperture of f/4.0 at the long end of the lens.
The optical image stabilization means that you can effectively hand-hold the camera at this focal length, and the maximum shutter speed of 1/32000 second means that you should not see any image blur.
The camera has a 1″ sensor, which is approximately the same size as the Canon M6, meaning image quality is very high. The touchscreen is an added bonus, making it easy to change the focus point by tapping your finger on where you want the lens to focus.
Overall, the Sony Cyber-Shot is an excellent macro camera for anyone with the funds to buy this. Other than price, the only real negative is the inability to change lenses, but the included lens has such a range and excellent performance, that this is unlikely to be an issue for those looking for a simple to use, yet powerful camera.