Budget Entry-level Macro Equipment

What  DSLR equipment would I recommend for beginning, budget-conscious macro photographers? While I can’t speak to mirrorless cameras and compact systems, the DSLR equipment that I would recommend would look something like this:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T5 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens ($400–sale price). This is the lowest cost entry level crop-sensor DSLR that Canon still sells. I choose Canon rather than Nikon or any other system because it has the best options for expandability, mainly due to the MP-E65mm 1-5x macro lens. It has eTTL flash and depth-of-field preview included, features that are great for macro work.
  • Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD Lens for Canon EF (on sale). This lens stands up well against Canon’s 100mm L lens, and it will hold its ground if you decide to upgrade the camera body to a higher level, including full-frame DSLRs like the Canon 6D or 5D MkIV.

These recommendations are based on:

  • a long-term view, for future expansibility
  • my opinion that the lens is more important than the camera body
  • what is on the market at the time of posting

What next? Get a second battery for your camera. You may want to add a small flash bracket to free your hands and hold the flash closer to the subject. For natural light opportunities, a light but strong tripod with ground-level capabilities will be your friend.

(Prices are US dollars. Links are to B&H, and I am a member of their affiliate program. Canadians and other nationalities should check prices at local suppliers first.)

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This entry was posted in Camera, Equipment, Flash, Lenses, macro, photography and tagged , .


  1. Kathy 26 December, 2016 at 4:31 AM #

    Thank you for this information. I am a Nikon user but canon looks very attractive at least for macro.
    I love your images! Beautiful compositions and soft lighting.
    Last summer I started using a reversed 50mm with a diffused flash.
    I am interested in the Canon MP -E 65mm 1x-5x. Do you use a focusing rail with it, it looks like a pretty heavy lens?

    • Adrian 26 December, 2016 at 2:25 PM #

      Yes, it is a solidly made lens and a bit heavier than the standard 100mm macro lens. When in the field, I use it mostly hand-held, with diffused flash.

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