I am planning to buy a Nikon D5100, body only. I'd like to go with a macro lens which gives better results than the 18-55mm, as I have heard that the results from this basic kit lens are not good.

Please suggest a good lens with an affordable price. My budget is around $200-$250.

  • \$\begingroup\$ the 18-55 when zoomed in gets you closer to things than any cheap lens, and by cheap I mean below 500 bucks \$\endgroup\$
    – MattiaG
    Commented May 19, 2011 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


Firstly, there's nothing wrong with the 18-55mm Nikon kit lens. It will do everything an amateur needs and more, though macro work is rather specialised.

You will find it very hard to find a new macro lens within your budget - most start at around $400. You might consider investing in a set of good extension tubes instead, which will let you use the kit lens as a pseudo-macro lens.

Extension tubes are simply hollow tubes that fit between the lens and the camera. The math is somewhat complex, but essentially this allows you to get much, much closer to your subject. So they essentially turn a standard lens into a kind of macro lens. They usually come in 3 sections, which you can attach in any combination for varying levels of magnification.

You can get very cheap ($20) extension tubes that are just tubes with lens mounts, but you lose aperture control, metering and autofocus. More expensive tubes have the electronic contacts which allow the camera to communicate with the lens, as well as aperture control mechanisms, so you can use the lens as normal.

Your other option is macro lens adaptors. These are essentially magnifying glasses that screw onto the front of the lens, with obvious effects. The quality of the image tends to suffer a little with these, but they are a more affordable alternative.

It really depends on your situation: if this is your first SLR, then I'd recommend you take the kit lens, which will let you experiment with everything from landscapes to portraits and help you decide what kind of photography you like; there's no point in diving straight into macro only to find you don't really care for it.

If, however, you have your heart set on macro then I'd either look at second-hand Nikkor lenses or save up for new versions of the same. Always try out any new equipment where possible to make sure it suits your needs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, this is my first SLR and thank you for your opinion, i might go with kit lens. and i didn't get that, what does this mean "You might consider investing in a set of good extension tubes instead, which will let you use the kit lens as a pseudo-macro lens.", what is extension tubes ?? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited the answer to explain extension tubes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry, still i am not getting what is extension tubes and pseudo-macro lens \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I added the comment before I edited the question - check the answer again. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:43

On a budget, take a look at the manual-focus 55mm Micro-Nikkors. They exist in the older f/3.5 version and an newer f/2.8.

They are AI-s lenses, so they'll mount on your D3100, and will automatically step down to the aperture you have set on the lens (use M mode on the camera), but you won't get metering.

55mm might not offer you enough working distance though. Nikon has other macro lenses (they are called Micro because "Macro-Nikkor" denotes their microscope lens line). They are not as cheap or plentiful.

Have a look at this page on the excellent MIR site about different Micro-Nikkors.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, I bought a 55mm f/2,8 for around 200 swiss francs on Internet, this is one of a good option, but you have to know that 55mm is a bit short focal if you want to make some insects and it goes only to 1:2 ratio. Anyway this is a very sharp lenses. \$\endgroup\$
    – рüффп
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:24

I have a Nikon 85mm f/3.5 MICRO lens that is currently retailing for $499 on Amazon. The 85mm part makes it great for long-range pictures, and the micro part means it's great for, well, microscopic photography. It won't do too well within a small room. It is surprisingly GREAT for portrait photography. Pictures are really clear, and the bokeh is great. Some examples:

PandaRed PandaTibetan woman and babyenter image description here

All of these were taken from a great distance. I don't exactly remember how far, but suffice to say my 17-55mm would have been completely useless.

Hope that helps! More examples at my gallery.

Good luck!


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.