Best Camera Lens for Moth Photography

I am looking to buy a better lens for moth photography for my Canon Rebel T6. So far the best I have found is the Tamron AF 90mmf/2.8 macro. ( Does anyone have any experience with this lens or can anyone recommend another reasonably priced one that would be better?
Thank you.

Currently I am using a Canon 70D with a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM lens. Has been pretty good for me so far. It goes for around $600 USD on amazon so it may be a bit outside of your price range. however you may be able to find it cheaper. I was able to purchase mine last year for $650 AUD which is approximately $470 USD.

I say you should go full manual and get one of the laowa lens like:
or this one:
They don’t have autofocus but it is better to do macro shoot with manual focus anyway. They don’t have stabilization though.
These will go to 2:1, which are twice the magnification of the tamron.

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If you are feeling a bit risky, you can get this one (Oshiro 60mm f2.8 2:1 magnification) + a nikon f lens to eos body adapter
It is a really good lens for a good price

The Tamron has not proved to be the best in comparison test/reviews… I will give another recommendation for the Laowa 100mm macro…Here’s a great review of that lens by a trusted source ( tshahan) iNat user
Macro Photography in the Field w/ the LAOWA 100mm 2x Ultra Macro

Another in depth review of the Laowa 100mm 2x Ultra Macro

Check it out at B&H - Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Canon EF

Welcome to the Forum, @vietanhnguyen :)

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thanks everyone.

The Laowa 100mm EF version is actually really good because it has electronic connection so that you will get exif data as well as the ability to change aperture with your camera (if you want to do it the old fashion way, there is the manual aperture version as well)

BTW, what is your macro style? do you use flash or do you depend on day light. For flash shooting, i recommend the Laowa (as i did above). But if you want to do day light spotting (which is totally cool), the Irix 150mm should be on your watch list. I have read very good thing about this particular lens and the extra distance helps a lot with insect shooting in general

I’m a big advocate of the Sigma macro lenses. Their older 105mm 2.8 is excellent and not very expensive.

I use their 70mm 2.8 Art and it’s fantastic, one of the best macro, and all around lenses I’ve used in 28+ years of taking photos. They have a new 105mm 2.8 Art that looks to be excellent too.

One of the big advantages of these is that they have a good autofocus, making it much easier to get good shots handheld in the field with subjects that don’t want to stay still. They also have a focus lock on them, but the best way to do that with any lens is to assign the focus to a rear button and separate your your shutter button from your focus button.

I have the Laowa 100mm 2.8 2x manual macro lens also and find that it’s not worth the price. It costs about $450 and while the Sigma 105mm 2.8 macro is about $540. The Sigma 70mm 2.8 macro Art is around $550 and the new 105mm 2.8 macro Art is about $800.

It’s worth the extra money to get the Sigma lenses as thy are better in pretty much every way and have fantastic sharpness and color rendition. The build quality on the Art lenses is fantastic too.

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i would primarily be using flash

puffin21 I have been shooting Sigma 150mm f2.8 Macro lens since 2009 and love the lens…But I rarely shoot with auto focus on any macro lens because it is easier for me to set the focus and then move closer or back away from the subject until in focus and snap the image.
Auto focus when shooting macro in the field is less “profitable” in terms of time and capturing “keeper” images in my experience…Your mileage may vary until you learn the manual focus “rocking” technique.
Check out some of the better field macro photographers around the world, most of them use manual focus and the “rocking” back and forward technique to gain focus.
This method is used by probably 85% - 90% of field insect/bug macro photographers.

I take photos on sheet illuminated with UV light so would not be able to focus at all unless the lens autofocused. I use a Nikon camera with a Tokina 100mm f2.8 Pro macro lens. The lens is not new but has served me well for years. When it was released, it was rated very highly so should be available second hand now quite cheaply. I think your choice will be influenced by what type of moth photos you are taking and the lighting you are using.

Any of the Canon / Sigma / Tamron fixed focal length macro lenses in 60mm to 105mm range will do. They won’t be the limiting factor. You had a APS-C sensor, so 1:1 will get you relatively small moths too.

Personally I’d choose 100mm objective for larger moths and 60mm for smaller. That is not an absolute limit - you can use either focal length for both sizes, but choosing the length based on the most common subjects makes sense.

The 150mm objective would be better for butterflies and day time pictures … I think.

For the smallest moths none of these will suffice. At least not alone. Extension tubes and tele converters may help, but the quality will suffer. The latter can also have all kinds of compatibility problems with lenses.

I don’t use autofocus with butterflies, but it can actually work well with moths. This usually requires that you can stabilize your hand to some surface. Without that it seldom works.

Go take a look at my photos on my iNat observations, most are taken with a 150mm f2.8 macro lens (some are phone pics)
A 150mm macro lens is not just good for butterflies and day time pictures…

I have been doing macro photography for over 12 years and have some very good images to my credit…I am amazed at some of the false or bad info that is given out to others here relating to this subject…Do your research, study the techniques used by top macro field photographers that consistently produce good images. You will be surprised in the end at what quality of images that can be obtained when proven techniques and equipment are utilized to their potential with the backing of studying technique and equipment and being a knowledgeable photographer.

I’ll double that and then some. :wink:
Sure you can use 150 at night as well. If I took pictures of active creatures on flowers or used lighting systems that take up working distance, I’d use my 180 too. Otherwise I’d go for shorter lengths. Light diffusion, handling and access is easier then. It also depends on the size of your subjects. Mine are usually under 40 mm long nighttime.

40mm subjects???.. I take photos of subjects with the 150mm that are less than
2mm in length…many in the 4 - 10mm range…So 40mm is an easy subject.
My images speak for themselves and the capability of 150mm macro lens or even 100mm lens.
Such as this Moth Fly observation of my list, a tiny subject, barely visible to my naked eye. Taken with the Sigma 150mm, at night, hand held.

or this tiny mite observation…taken with the 150mm, at night and hand held…

Those don’t exactly fill the frame, do they? There is not much point in talking about object size, when you have to crop like that. What is the maximum magnification you squeeze out of that lens and how do you do that?

I never claimed you could not take such pictures, just that it would be easier with shorter focal length. For me those would be MP-E65 territory and a bit small even for that if I wanted good images.

Here is uncropped APS-C frame ( taken with Tokina 100mm macro and likely some extension tubes. Not much art in that, but quite decent for ID. This is similar (, but with Canon 60mm, 1.4x teleconverter and some tubes. As you can see, the image quality is beginning to go down the drain. The total magnification is around 2 … IIRC. I do like my 180 as well: ( That, however, is not full frame … quite.

I try to get focused images that can be cropped if needed, for ID purposes, and details that can be recognizable. Some are “perfectionist” and look down on others because they are not using full frame images…Well there are no rules about having to use a full frame image and that is a made up rule in the mind that people think others should be that way because they enslave themselves to their made up rule…
That’s the good thing about photography…it is flexible, individual and the photographer has the choice and does not have to follow rules that another OCD person has in their mind.
I do not care if a person crops an image or not, as long as the focus is there and enough details to ID the subject. I have been doing photography in one form or other for 35+ years, have cropped many images and left some uncropped…most field shot images end up cropped to some extent, in order to present a nice close up for ID purposes…not the “art” side of photography. As I said, my cropped images speak for themselves.
If you shoot subjects to accomplish “art” then you need to be on flickr, 500px or other similar place.

You still haven’t even tried to answer the main question: Why do you claim that the 150 is better than the shorter ones? No one has claimed that taking the pictures you do would be impossible.

As far as Full frame is concerned on those samples, that was size reference. And as far as “art” goes I DO indeed TRY to combine both, but the identification is still the main point. If you don’t, fine. That decision depends on how one intends to use the pictures. That has zero bearing on the question though. If you are not willing to answer that, I’m done.

Edit: There’s nothing wrong with your pictures when you have a decent sized subject (Moth :wink:). As far as I can see, there’s not much difference between those and what I have taken. Some are better than others and the good ones are quite good. So that is not the issue.