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Camera & Lens for Close-up Macro Flower Photography


Hi. I would love to get your suggestions. I am looking for a camera and lens exclusively for close-up macro flower photography, generally without the use of a tripod. I would like something easy to use, on the cheaper end of the spectrum, that looks great when printed. It doesn't matter if it's bulky, or not versatile, etc... as long as it works best for the intended purpose. Thank you.



What is your budget?   For the prints, how large do you need (assuming 300 dpi)?

Some example combos:

  • EOS R6 Mark II with RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro ($3,700)
  • EOS R7 with RF 85mm f/2 Macro ($2,000)

EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L, 600EX-RT (x6), ST-E3-RT
EOS C70, RF 24-70 f/2.8L IS, EF-EOS R 0.71x

What is your budget to spend on a camera and lens combo. Is there a feature that you need specially in your camera.


Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, 430EX III-RT, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D, Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM & EF 28-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM


Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D & Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM


A tripod is highly recommended for any serious macro photography.  The Depth-of-Field can be so narrow that you may need to capture a series of photographs at different focal planes in order to capture the entire subject in focus.

"The right mouse button is your friend."


$4000 budget, but if it's possible to get something decent for less, I'd be stoked. 

Yes, 300 dpi for the prints. 

I know I'll need to use my tripod. I was just hoping there might be some feature to allow me to move around to find the sweet spot than trying to move and position the flowers. 

As for features, I'm not too picky yet, as long as it's easy to use.


"...that looks great when printed"

Do you have a photo printer and are you going to print your own? Or, have a photo print shop do them for you?

Ricky's suggestions.........

  • EOS R6 Mark II with RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro ($3,700)
  • EOS R7 with RF 85mm f/2 Macro ($2,000) 

Will work well. As to a photo printer something in the Pixma Pro line is very good. I have used them for years for professional work. Perhaps take a look at the PIXMA PRO-200 at around $600.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I usually send them to a professional print shop. 

@torangers wrote:

I usually send them to a professional print shop. 

Your comment would suggest that you may already have some current gear.   Is it still working properly?  Are you looking to compliment it?  Or, replace some or all of it?

These images were captured using a tripod.  The first is 1 of 60 images used to create the second complete image by focus stacking.  Because of the thin depth of field, there is a very thin, horizontal band of sharp focus in the first image.


"The right mouse button is your friend."

I'm looking to invest in a new camera/lens since I don't have anything worthwhile right now. I'm very green to macro photography, but I really want to capture the close-up detail in my flowers and I'm willing to invest and learn.


300 dpi prints... great. But how large? This decides how high resolution camera you need.

For example, a 24MP camera can easily make a high quality 13x19" print (assuming little to no cropping of the image). A 24MP sensor makes a 4000 x 6000 pixel image. There are a number of very affordable Canon cameras capable of that.

Or a 32.5MP sensor can pretty easily make 16x24" prints. That sensor makes approx. 4650 x 6975 images and there are a couple fairly affordable Canon cameras capable of this. 

There are even higher resolution cameras, new and old, that would be quite capable of making 20x30" prints from 45 or 50MP images. In these cases the cost of camera and lens will tend to be higher. 

It is also possible to carefully scale up images to make significantly larger prints from any of the above. I'm just citing some simplified examples that are fairly easily accomplished.

Some cameras to consider:

  • Canon Rebel T7... 24MP (APS-C).... under $500 with EF-S 18-55mm lens
  • Canon EOS R10... 24MP (APS-C).... $999 (with RF-S 18-45mm lens)
  • Canon EOS 90D... 32.5MP (APS-C)... $1599 with EF-S 18-135mm lens
  • Canon EOS R7... 32.5MP (APS-C)... $1899 with RF-S 18-150mm lens
  • Canon EOS 5DS... 50MP (full frame, discontinued model)... used $1100 plus $740 for used EF 24-105mm II lens.
  • Canon EOS R5... 45MP (full frame)... $4799 with RF 24-105mm lens..

The T7, 90D and 5DS are all DSLRs. The R10, R7 and R5 are all mirrorless cameras. For macro photography it doesn't matter a lot, DSLR or mirrorless. But some of the newer cameras have features that may make it easier, such as built in focus stacking and articulated LCD screens. All these cameras except for the 5DS are available to purchase new.. The 5DS was discontinued several years ago, but I included it here because it's one of the highest resolution cameras available. Some of the other cameras also may be available lightly used for a bit less. For example I found a used 90D with EF-S 18-135mm lens for $1299 at a reputable dealer who offers a good store warranty. Also, Canon USA offers refurbished cameras and lenses on their website that can be a good deal and are little different from buying new (same factory warranty). 

Also note that the T7, R10, 90D and R7 all use smaller "APS-C" size senors. This allows camera and lens to be a bit smaller and generally more affordable. Full frame cameras with their larger sensors can be higher resolution (but the 90D and R7 are actually higher resolution than a lot of full frame cameras). 

In all cases I listed the cameras above with their typical "kit" lens, where you will almost certainly want something more specialized for macro photography. The quality of your results actually depend more upon the lens than the camera it's fitted to. I'd rather have a high quality lens on a moderate quality body than the other way around!    Canon has offered a number of very good macro and close-up lenses. First, here are some examples for the three DSLR models except as noted:

  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro (not for 5DS), no longer sold new, but avail. used $329.
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM... no longer sold new, avail. used: $325
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM.... $1299.
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS longer sold new, avail. used: $629

:And now some lenses for the R10, R7 and R5 mirrorless cameras:

  • Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM Macro
  • Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 IS USM Macro
  • All the EF & EF-S lenses listed above can be used on RF cameras, via an EF to RF adapter. (EF lenses on the R5, both EF and EF-S lenses can be adapted for use on R10 and R7.)

More lens info:

  • Except as noted below, these lenses are able to do 1:1 or "life size" magnification. This means they can render a subject the same size as their sensor, which is approx. 15x22mm in the APS-C cameras and 24x36mm in the full frame models. For sake of comparison... a dime is about 15mm diameter while a quarter is about 25mm.
  • EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens is compact and only usable on crop sensor cameras. This is also a little bit short focal length, which would put the user very close to subject at highest magnification. This actually might not be a problem for flower photography, because I suspect you'll rarely need full 1:1 magnification. Plus, flowers don't fly away when you get too close to them!
  • EF 100mm USM, EF 100mm L IS USM and RF 100mm f/2.8 lenses can optionally be fitted with a tripod mounting ring, which can be a very helpful accessory when shooting macro and close-up using a tripod or a monopod. A tripod mounting ring also can facilitate using devices such as focusing stages.
  • EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens is able to do 0.7:1 magnification, a little less than life size, but unusually high magnification for a zoom lens. If you were to purchase a zoom like this, you might save a little buying the camera "body only", without a kit lens. This zoom may be versatile enough for any other uses, besides close-ups.
  • RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens is capable of higher than life size magnification: 1.4:1.
  • RF 85mm f/2 IS STM Macro lens is only capable of lower 1:2 magnification, half life size.

Some lenses above are not able to do what some people like to call "true" levels of macro magnification: 1:1 or life size. This actually may be more magnification than you need for most flower photography, unless you're photographing tiny details inside flowers! All lenses can be made to focus closer and to higher magnification by adding macro extension tubes between the lens and the camera body. Canon doesn't currently make macro tubes for either the DSLR or the mirrorless system. They did make individually sold 12mm and 25mm tubes for the EF system in the past, which might be found used. If new are preferred, sets of tubes are available from Kenko, Viltrox, Vello and others.

There are other macro lenses... both shorter and longer focal lengths, as well as macro lenses from a number of other manufacturers. I recommend the above as a good compromise of focal lengths.... not too long, not too short (with some reservations about 60mm). And this is Canon's website, so I stuck with Canon lenses.

I would encourage you to not blow your whole budget on camera and lens(es). You will need some accessories! Start with a good tripod. Sooner or later you will probably also want a flash unit. And some light modifiers like diffusers and reflectors. I mentioned a focusing stage above and that's another thing a lot of macro shooters use. 

Get some books, too, if you are brand new to photography and shooting macro. For general photography, I recommend Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure". Whatever camera you get will likely come with a manual, but be sure to download the more complete, free PDF from this website. Also look for a guide book about the camera you choose. Those can be quite helpful, too, complementing the user manual with more explanations. You will also need computer software and, if you don't already have one, a photo quality printer like Canon's Pro-200 or Pro-300. These allow you to print up to 13x19"... if you want larger prints you might want to outsource, since photo quality printers wider than 13" are quite expensive to buy and maintain.


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
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