Macro Photography With a Standard Zoom Lens

Adjusting the position of the macro lever at the rear of a lens allows you to focus on subjects closer to the front element than the manufacturer’s specified Minimum Object Distance (MOD). And while few shots have greater visual impact than the extreme close-ups a macro focusing lens provides, forgetting that the zoom control no longer controls image size once the macro function is engaged can lead to frustration and lost shots.

Macro photography with a standard zoom lens is best accomplished by setting the focal length to the widest setting possible, moving the camera in really close, and then setting focus by moving the macro adjusting lever. This technique, which generally allows you to put the front element only inches from the subject, is one which allows news videographers and others shooting at the speed of news to make steady handheld close-ups.

If you’re on sticks and have time to experiment, you’ll notice that the zoom and macro controls are interactive and that you can’t obtain the same MOD when zoomed out as when on wide-angle. You may even find a sweet spot that allows you to zoom past wide-angle and back the camera up enough to give you room to put a little light on the subject. But you aren’t likely to get any larger image than you did at the shorter MOD afforded by the widest zoom setting.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to return the macro lever to its detent position.