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12-20-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
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Macro Mode on Zoom Lens

I have several manual focus zoom lenses, and I cannot figure out how to get them into macro mode for close photography. The lenses I have are:

Tokina SD II 70-210mm F 4-5.6. Also has an "A" setting on the aperture ring and I'm not sure what that does.

Vivitar 75-210 3.8-4.8 Macro Focusing Zoom (Kobori).

I have another short zoom Vivitar on the way.

Is there a secret chant that I need to sing to enable macro mode?

12-20-2014, 04:39 PM   #2
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Macro around with it and you will eventually figure out how it works. The "A" setting depends on what kind of camera you are using. If you are using a Pentax, I use a K5, the "A" setting has the advantage of using AV on your camera. On the "A" setting, the lens will act similar to a digital lens. In other words with the lens set in the "A" position and your camera on AV you can set your aperture with the camera and the camera will pic the shutter speed to give you the correct exposure.
12-20-2014, 05:47 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Also, a lot of the old zooms with a 'macro' mode should be more properly called 'close focusing' or 'not really macro at all'. Slapping the word 'macro' on the lens was basically a marketing ploy and a euphemism for 'you can focus in closer than normal with this'.

If you want true macro, the choice of lenses you can use out of the gate drops dramatically.

I probably own 7 or 8 lenses branded 'macro' - none of them actually ARE macro in the "I can photograph a bee's butt in HD" sense. I think the best I have gets down to about a 1:3 ratio. The real deal is generally considered 1:1 or greater.
12-20-2014, 06:19 PM   #4
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The "A" setting on the aperture ring simply turns aperture selection over to the camera body. It allows the camera to calculate and set the correct aperture based on the program settings of the camera body and the available light. A lens without the "A" setting must have it's aperture set manually.

Some lenses have a switch to enable Macro mode; the Sigma 28-80 that I have is like this. You have to put the lens at it's longest focal length then switch the button to Macro which enables the closer focusing range of the macro mode. Other lenses may have a Macro icon on the focusing scale but no special action is needed to enter Macro mode; you simply focus to the near end of the scale.

12-20-2014, 07:06 PM   #5

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I bought the aforementioned Tokina lens when it was newly introduced (I forgot when, but it was shortly after Asahi started the SuperA/SuperProgram).
And I still use it sometimes. My SMC Pentax-A 4/70-210 is so much better, but that comes at an extreme price (size and weight!).

Rimfiredude and Sagitta said it all, so i just add some points specially for this lens.
  1. The "macro" reach is down to 1:4, and this is at 210mm. No need to do anything like switching to another mode.
  2. There should be a blue "MACRO" mark on the right end of the distance scale. The mark points to a couple of blue lines on the barrel, which show the macro ratio for your actual zoom and distance setting.
  3. The red line is for infrared (it replaces the white center line for the DOF scale). It may give you "some" idea about the needed distance/DOF range correction for infrared photography - but as it's a zoom, you will have to kind of interpolate mentally.
  4. If you have to fiddle with distance scales for some special application, mind that these scales are counting from the sensor to the subject (NOT from the front lens). That's true for ALL lenses.
  5. As far as I know, this Tokina lens does not exist as a "SD II". Most people think the strange sign on the front ring of nearly all Tokina lenses means "II", but I once read it is some kind of symbol for the original full name of the company.
  6. If you want to use it for things like reproductions, keep in mind this lens, like all "macro" zooms, is NOT a flat field one! For such applications you should use a true macro lens, or an enlarger lens with extensions or bellows.
On request of another member, I once posted a translation of the small German booklet coming with this lens, but it seems the PF search function does not reach further than 2 years to the past.

In case you got this lens used:
Unfortunately, most used copies do not come with the original lens shade. Thatīs a clip-on one, which is nearly as long as the lens, and not much thicker. If not in use, it can be reversely attached, where it covers nearly all of the lens, and does not need any additional space. And you will certainly need something like that - Tokina RMC from the beginning of the eighties is nothing like the Pentax SMC!

Found my posting with the booklet translation. It is in the lens review section, and covers nearly everything said until now in this thread. Search for my name.

I just found 2 errors in the data sheet of our lens reviews.
Min Focus: 1.3M is wrong, must read 1.1M
Macro Ratio: 1:5.1 is wrong, must read 1:4.

Last edited by RKKS08; 12-20-2014 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Info added
12-21-2014, 08:50 AM   #6
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Great information. Thank you all.

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