If you want to capture images of the smallest subjects in sumptuous detail, you either have to be best buds with Marvel’s Antman or own a high-quality macro lens. Today’s rundown is going to cover the best Sony macro lenses under $500, which will be a mission in itself as Sony sticks all their main macro lenses in the high price bracket bands.
That’s not to say you can’t get a good-quality macro lens under $500. It just means that if you want one with Sony branding, the options are far fewer, which results in having to turn to third-party offerings. In many ways this is an advantage, as third-party manufacturers provide some of the most affordable and budget-friendly options that give high-quality results.
1. Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro
Rokinon has been a pleasant surprise for everybody in recent years, offering some very good-quality prime lenses at value-conscious prices. The 100mm f/2.8 Macro is no different, offering a fast and bright f/2.8 aperture, while also being usable on crop sensor cameras offering a 150mm viewpoint.
The focusing on this lens is all manual, which isn’t too detrimental for macro photography as we always need a bit of manual focusing for the most precise detail. The lens also features a manual aperture ring that is sectioned off in one-stop increments.
To maintain constant image quality, highly reflective index and extra-low dispersion elements have been included, with an ultra-multi-coating applied to all the internal glass.
Most importantly for Sony macro lenses under $500, the Rokinon offers a full size 1:1 reproduction ratio and a reasonable 30.7cm close focusing distance. When coupled with the 100mm focal length, this more or less checks all the boxes for what you need in a good-quality macro lens.
This lens may be quite heavy at 730g, but it does provide wonderful amounts of sharpness even at f/2.8. As the lens is manual focus only, you will need a tripod most of the time for the sharpest results. Plus you have to be extremely quick off the mark with your focusing abilities to freeze relatively fast-moving objects.
As a general-purpose macro lens, the Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 Macro also doubles up as a good portrait lens. It provides top quality for the money, while also being a lens under our specific budget.
2. Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art
You really can’t go wrong with any of the lenses from the Sigma Art series, which also includes the 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art. This lens is well priced for an Art series model and although it’s not a standard macro lens focal length, it does offer true 1:1 life-size representation. It also has a reasonable close focusing distance of just 25.8cm.
True to form for Art series glass, the 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art provides excellent sharpness throughout the aperture range. And if you want your macro lens to double up with a slightly more zoomed-in look from the standard of 50mm, then take this lens out for a test drive. But first, get the full rundown in our Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art review.
3. Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO
The Laowa 100mm f/2.8 may not be the most obvious choice as a macro shooter, but the lens provides a surprising amount of detail in a reasonably affordable package. Just like the lens above, the Laowa can be used on crop sensor cameras providing a 150mm focal length, which takes it into the short telephoto zone.
This is also a manual focusing lens, with an overall weight of 638g, containing a sizeable amount of glass in the form of 12 elements in 10 groups. This arrangement features two low-dispersion elements to correct for the usual amount of lens anomalies.
The Laowa may not offer a full-sized 1:1 ratio, but rather a 2:1 view with a 24.7cm close focusing distance. The lens does, however, have a higher-than-normal 13-blade aperture which goes a long way to produce very smooth bokeh effects.
This lens is extremely sharp, pulling out a lot of detail from the smallest of objects. This point is a big benefit when the lens is used as a portrait shooter, which we cover in our Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO review.
4. Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro
Tokina has taken a shine to the Sony platform, offering the FiRIN 100mm for only the E mount and also crop sensor versions providing a 150mm equivalent viewpoint. The Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro has the generally-accepted standard focal length for a macro lens of 100mm, with a very usable f/2.8 aperture which doubles up well for traditional short telephoto shots.
The lens also features a 1:1 reproduction ratio, with a 30cm close focusing distance, wrapped around an average weight of 570g. Multi-layered coatings have also been applied to all lens elements, along with a reasonably fast autofocus system with full-time manual override.
Considering the cheap price point, this is a good lens for general macro work, providing a surprising amount of detail and sharpness throughout the aperture range. If none of the lenses above take your fancy, you can read our full review of the Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro before you make a final decision.
5. Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro (Budget Winner)
We have at least one Sony lens in our lineup, which covers a much wider angle of 30mm on full-frame cameras and 45mm on crop sensor versions. This lens provides a full-sized 1:1 reproduction ratio, with a very close focusing distance of just 9.5cm and an extremely lightweight of only 138g.
The aperture on the Sony may not go as wide as the other lenses on this list at f/3.5. But it does contain three aspherical and one extra-low dispersion element to maintain overall image clarity. The lens also benefits from an autofocus system with full-time manual override and a seven-blade rounded diaphragm.
The autofocus speed may not be up to the standards or precision of higher-priced Sony lenses, but it is a relatively sharp lens for its price point, providing good color and contrast rendition. As the Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro is so lightweight, it also makes for a good general walkabout lens, with the 30mm focal length being a good solution for environmental shots and street photography.
The Lowdown on the Best Sony Macro Lenses Under $500
If you’re only interested in Sony-branded macro lenses, then you have at least one option above. If you’ve exhausted the options for Sony macro lenses under $500 and still want a macro option for your Sony, then you will have to move up a tier and search for Sony macro lenses under $1000.
Regardless, all the options above are good lenses that provide quality optics for the price, which largely check all the boxes as very effective macro lenses.
The options above also double up as very good regular prime lenses. This means, when you become sick and tired of trying to keep a ladybug still for hours on end for that perfect shot, you can break the monotony with some high-quality portrait or environmental images.