For those who like to photograph the smallest things in life, a macro lens is the usual way to go. As you shop, you’ll find some macro lens options available that are the same as your camera brand. But if you want to dive into what the third-party camp has to offer, there are many good lenses available. Today we’ll be checking out the best Tamron macro lenses under $1000.
As we have a reasonable amount of cash to spend, the options can encompass both prime and zoom lenses. The advantage of going down the third-party route is that you still receive high-end quality, at an affordable price and still within budget.
1. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD
If you want the best in top-quality optics, a good course of action is to go down the prime lens route. You may not get the same versatility of focal lengths as with a zoom lens, but this area is more than made up for with sharp definition. The Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD is one such lens, providing a full-size 1:1 magnification and a close focusing distance of 30cm.
To maintain high-end image quality, an LD and two XLD elements have been included, along with an eBAND and BBAR coating applied to each element.
Camera vibrations are highly magnified when shooting in macro mode. This is why the included image stabilization system comes in very handy, offering 3.5 stops of handheld compensation without the usual need for a tripod for macro photography. The Tamron SP 90mm also features a nice extra in the form of a focus limiter, for restraining the focusing range within three set distances.
Adding to the high-level specs is a fully moisture-resistant lens barrel, which weighs in at a reasonable 610g. This lens, coupled with the image stabilization system, provides very sharp images, even with the aperture set at f/2.8. Considering the price of this lens, it provides the best value, while also being a very capable portrait shooter, making it one of the top Tamron macro lenses under $1000.
Check out our complete review of the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD to learn more.
2. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO
If you need the versatility of a zoom lens with the option of also using it as a macro shooter, then the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO is a capable choice lens under $1000. This particular zoom is designed specifically for APS-C cameras, providing a very long reach of 25.6-480mm.
The lens may have a variable aperture, but it is still reasonably good in low-light conditions, mainly thanks to the image stabilization system. As for the macro side of things, it doesn’t provide a life-size reproduction of a subject you would find with a true macro lens, but rather a 1:2.9 ratio at the 300mm focal length. This makes it more of a solution for occasional macro photography, rather than a lens solely dedicated to the task.
Essentially, this is the type of lens that will suit those who want a zoom lens to do a bit of everything. It’s a very good generalist option, providing sharp imagery. But if you’re looking for a dedicated macro lens solely for this purpose, then the other prime lenses on this list will be a better match.
3. Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro
The Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro is more or less an older version of our top pick lens. You still receive very good quality optics as a dedicated macro shooter in a more affordable package.
The lens has a very capable f/2.8 aperture, which will work great in low-light conditions and also provide smooth bokeh when it doubles as a portrait lens. The Tamron 90mm also has a unique way of swapping between auto and manual focus by sliding the focus ring forward and backward. This feature takes a little getting used to, but in reality, it’s a quick and easy way to swap between auto and manual focus if that’s your preferred way of working.
The Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro also provides a true macro representation of 1:1, with a close focusing distance of 28.96cm. The lens is very capable of pulling out all the detail from very small subject matter and does a great job of acting as a regular short telephoto lens. If you can’t stretch to the price of the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD above, this one is a great second choice of Tamron macro lenses under $1000.
4. Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 Di II LD [IF] MACRO 1:1 (Budget Winner)
If you prefer a prime with a slightly shorter focal length, the Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 Di II LD [IF] MACRO 1:1 is a good lens for macro work and the best value option on our list.
Just like the lens above, the Tamron 60mm follows an older-style design, but also provides a wider aperture of f/2, which works great in low-light conditions. True to form with a high-quality macro lens, it offers a 1:1 reproduction ratio, with a 23cm close focusing distance. All the focusing is done internally, so there is no extending of the lens barrel to bump into small subjects. Plus, the lens can easily be swapped into manual focusing mode for eking out the most for focusing adjustments.
This is quite a lightweight lens at only 320g and the f/2 aperture is not only a good low-light solution, but it can easily produce a smooth background blur when used as a regular lens. The only real downside is that it doesn’t offer image stabilization.
Here’s the Skinny on Tamron Macro Lenses Under $1000
Affordable macro lenses have to do a lot of things very well to be worthy of our spending money. The best versions not only have to offer a high-quality 1:1 reproduction but also double as very capable regular shooters.
All the lenses above check the boxes in these departments, with the exception of the Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO, which offers a 1:2.9 ratio. However, this type of zoom lens is designed to be a generalist zoom, as it’s aimed at those who want a bit of everything in life.