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Can anybody tell me,can you use the macro setting whilst zooming in with the telephoto lens from a distance to get a close up or is the macro setting just used when you can get the lens really close to the subject.
any advice would be appreciated.
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Difficult to comment without knowing what camera and lens you are using.
In general terms, however, a "macro" setting on a camera or lens allows you to focus at a closer distance than the lens would normally allow. For example, a particular lens might normally be capable of focussing on any distance from 3 feet to infinity, but a macro setting might allow it to focus between, say 12 inches and 3 feet.
Which lens are you referring to and what do you mean by 'macro setting'?
No, the macro setting does NOT help you at distance "get closer" by magically magnifying what you are photographing. ALL that the macro setting is useful for doing is focusing closer than you normally could. Macro settings on lenses are really just there to prevent lenses from focusing too close, when a lens "hunts" or to stop the zoom from going further than it has too. It's also a safety issue. If you could focus on something closer than "normal" then you might bump into things, while trying to focus on close subjects. It's sort of a "mental" thing in that way . . . to have to switch a switch to focus on something closer than you could normally focus on. Dedicated macro lenses don't have this "problem" . . . but they can still focus on things at infinity. Go figure! I guess when you're using a macro lens, then you're supposed to know enough to know that things might be really close, when you're trying to focus on close subjects.
Looking at the OP's portfolio can be a good starting point - he or she is getting quite close to some interesting subjects.
"Macro" settings were a forerunner of modern "do it all" lenses.
Gundog gave a good answer.
This type of macro lens mechanically moves some elements within the lens so that it can focus fairly close provided the lens is first moved close to the subject. Usually the macro setting is not available at all focal lengths and you may not get autofocus either.
Some modern "do it all lenses" such as the Nikon18-200 have half life size (closer than most of the old type lenses) at all focal lengths.
Looking at your portfolio, do you want to photograph butterflies from say 2 to 3 feet focus distance?
If yes a 300 mm f4 on extension tubes, whilst expensive, is a one way of doing this. Another way is a specialist macro lens of about 180-200 focal length, though often the front of the lens will be closer than 18 inches from the subject, with some risk of disturbance.
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