Nikon 85mm f3.5

This is what I use to shoot my bug macros and it has served me well. This is a DX lens so I can’t recommend it if you have a full frame camera. It gives you a decent working distance, sometimes even a bit too long for the way I tend to shoot bugs, and the VR helps a lot when it comes to focusing. The reason for that is that it really helps to stabilize the image you see in the viewfinder. Auto focus on this lens is fairly slow and tends to hunt in anything but good light conditions. One of the reason for that would be that it’s only f3.5, so with that in mind I wouldn’t recommend this as a portrait lens (though I’ve shot plenty of portraits with it before I got a dedicated lens for that). It’s reasonably sharp but perhaps not as sharp as some other macro lenses.

If you’re on a budget and shooting DX, then this is probably a good fit for a dedicated macro lens. However, were I to make this purchase today, I would also consider the Nikon 60mm f2.8, though the lack of VR would make it a tricky choice. There are also some good third-party options to consider.

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