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01-12-2012, 03:53 AM   #1
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Bellows mounted lens users please advise

I fancy getting into macro work and am interested in knocking up a bellows based systemfor my K-r as a relatively cheap option. I've got some surplus Rodenstock Rogonar 50mm f2.8 enlarger lenses I can use grafted on to the bellows. I plan to use flash so I'm hoping I'll be able stop the lens right down for half decent results.
Now, assuming the above is a working solution (and it might not be so do tell), what I would like to know is what kind of focussing distance is this kind of setup likely to bring? I would be mainly doing field based shooting on bugs and the like, so if it means I have to get real close this may not be a suitable option as those critters are likely to leg it if I'm on top of them.

01-12-2012, 04:27 AM   #2
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Focusing distance is easy. Using a 50 mm enlarger lens, a bellows should be capable of focusing from infinity to about 75,mm , note that with the lens 100mm away from the subject you will have a 1:1 magnification, I.e. the image on the sensor will be the exact size of the subject, with the macro racked all the way out you will get about 2x subject size on sensor but wirking distance will be about 75mm
01-12-2012, 05:39 AM   #3
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50mm is usually considered more for studio work than field work. 90-105mm macro lenses are popular precisely because of their greater working distance. I'll mount 90-100-105-110mm enlarger lenses on my M42 bellows, which extend to 110mm, or my PK bellows, extending to 140mm.

With any of these bellows, I need additional macro tubes to achieve 1:1 magnification with longer lenses. With any enlarger lens (EL), I need 2x the focal length to reach 1:1, 3x for 2:1, etc. So for GREAT magnification, use the 50mm EL; for less magnification but more working distance, use a longer EL, with enough tubes+bellows extension.

EDIT: And as usual, I'll suggest reading https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/152336-cheap-macro-b...lose-work.html

Last edited by RioRico; 01-12-2012 at 06:01 AM.
01-12-2012, 05:45 AM   #4
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I have less problems focusing with my 100mm Takumar bellow lens than my 50mm macro M42 lens on a bellows. If you have a screw mount bellows make sure you don't end up with the bellows locked onto your camera using the pentax K converter. It's a lot of fun messing around with the old gear and I have had some Ok results going well beyond 1:1 (I have a very long Soligar bellows) However if I am really wanting a seriously good photos I use my new macro lenses.

01-12-2012, 09:21 AM   #5
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I use Pentax M42 bellows with enlarging lenses. It works for the shots I am interested in.

Here is an article on how I use them - Inexpensive Macro Photography

I also use off camera flash and diffuse it via a simple white air furance filter (20 inches by 20 inches).

You can read about off camera flash here Strobist: Lighting 101
01-12-2012, 11:28 AM   #6
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The working distance with the enlarger lens on the bellows (from the virtual lens location -"principal plane" to the subject) is:

Working distance = focal.length(1+1/m) so for your 50mm lens at 2:1 the working distance will be 50(1+1/2) = 75mm (less any hood etc.)

Here's one way to assemble what you want:

|camera|PK bellows|PK-m42 adapter|m42-52mm|52mm-40.5mm|reversed lens|m39-m42|m42 extension tubes|

You will need (I've identified sources for harder-to-find adapters):

m39-m42 step-down adapter to mount the lens without reversal eBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices

m40.5-52mm reversing adapter NEW 40.5MM-52MM STEP UP FILTER RING STEPPING ADAPTER | eBay

m42-52mm step up adapter to reverse mount the lens. (all these adapters will be required regardless of whether you reverse mount the lens because the adapted lens will be m42 male at each end.)

If you use a PK mount bellows (adorama's got a ok one for about $50) or an m42 bellows you'll need a m42-pka adapter with spring removed (to attach an m42 bellows to the camera or to attach the Lens to the PKA bellows.)

use sections of low cost m42 extension tubes as a hood (add sections until just before vignetting).

Last edited by newarts; 01-12-2012 at 11:51 AM.
01-12-2012, 02:56 PM   #7
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Fantastic information, thanks to all for some very helpful advice.
Funnily enough I just remembered I had a set of old extension tubes I hadn't touched for around 20 years. I attached a Pentax M 50mm 1.7 and had a go. Pretty decent results I thought, though focussing at such close distances was a first for me and pretty challenging. I found focussing was best achieved by moving the camera, rather than focussing the lens itself. I would imagine a bellows set up would help this process.
One thing I am curious about is why an enlarger lens is often recommended for this, rather than a standard prime. Is it to do with achieving edge to edge sharpness cheaply (many cheap old primes have no problems stopped down), portability, or something else entirely?
01-12-2012, 03:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-rrr Quote
Funnily enough I just remembered I had a set of old extension tubes I hadn't touched for around 20 years. I attached a Pentax M 50mm 1.7 and had a go. Pretty decent results I thought, though focussing at such close distances was a first for me and pretty challenging. I found focussing was best achieved by moving the camera, rather than focussing the lens itself. I would imagine a bellows set up would help this process.
The hardcore use bellows with both standards movable, and a focusing rail under the subject and/or bellows for precise positioning. The bellows itself sets the magnification, with DOF control if the standard(s) will tilt-shift. The focusing rail sets the focus distance.

QuoteQuote:
One thing I am curious about is why an enlarger lens is often recommended for this, rather than a standard prime. Is it to do with achieving edge to edge sharpness cheaply (many cheap old primes have no problems stopped down), portability, or something else entirely?
That's most of the answer. ELs are designed for edge-to-edge flatfield sharpness, and optimized for close work. Some ELs are highly prized for their superb optics and are NOT cheap -- you'll find some on eBay in the US$1k+ region. But even cheap ELs can give outstanding results. I've bought name-brand (Schneider, Rodenstock, etc) ELs at four for US$10 shipped. Our resident master here is yeatzee who prefers an EL-Nikkor 50/2.8. Mine was free, sent as a bonus, but it's usually under US$25. Its slightly inferior f/4 brother cost me FIVE BUCKS shipped. (And I've sold EL-Nikkor crystal cases for US$20 each -- no lens, just the case. Some folks are nutz.) But some of my favorites, labeled Vivitar-LU or Ilex or Apos or Wollensak or Eastman, cost under US$5 each, shipped. Cheap thrills!

Some lenses were designed for dual use, for both taking and projecting. Leica used to market their Elmars as such (long long ago). I have a Leitz Varob 50/3.5 (US$19 shipped) that's essentially an Elmar without the focusing helicoid. Steinheil, who invented some of our basic optical technology, has a series of VL lenses that can either be mounted on focusing tubes, or removed and placed on an enlarger. I use the Culminar VL 105/4.5 and 135/4.5 (each US$20 shipped). Still, most ELs work best close. Don't forget to use a hood when possible. Hint: a macro tube makes a good hood on a reversed lens.


Last edited by RioRico; 01-12-2012 at 04:16 PM.
01-12-2012, 03:47 PM   #9
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You can also use catch in focus with that 50 1.7. Set it in the custom settings to on, put camera in AF, hold the shutter button down as you move the rig toward the object/bug/flower, etc. and it will fire when focus is on.
01-12-2012, 03:58 PM   #10
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Excellent reading, thanks. Nice idea re catch in focus
01-12-2012, 08:43 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The hardcore use bellows with both standards movable, and a focusing rail under the subject and/or bellows for precise positioning. The bellows itself sets the magnification, with DOF control if the standard(s) will tilt-shift. The focusing rail sets the focus distance..
Here's the meat of my bellows setup




el nikkor 50mm F/2.8N w/ hood, bellows, linear stage, geared tripod head. Lighting is a whole other can of worms

if your looking for enlarging lenses shoot for componon's or el nikkors. Those tend to be the best and also have filter threads for mounting them in reverse. Im sure there's plenty of unknown gems out there but as a rule of thumb I stick to those two.

edit: just read the original post. If you want to use a bellows based setup shoot the insects in the early morning hours right as the sun comes up. The insects will be very groggy and easier to shoot.

this is a 44 image stack of a spider taken in my backyard in the morning. 44 images, and as you can see its sharp and has no blur.....




same setup as above

Last edited by yeatzee; 01-13-2012 at 04:05 PM.
01-13-2012, 01:50 PM   #12
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here is my macro setup.

bellows is an old miranda bellows, and had the adaptorfor the miranda screw mount (44mm) and 4 pin bayonet. the 4 pin bayonet interlocks with the bellows, and I cut the 44mm thread off, and epoxied a flangedd K mount to it.

the result is I have a simple adaptor that I can index at 90 degrees for changing vertical and horizontal format.

shown below is with a 135mm enlarger lens mounted to a t-mount ring and adaptor to miranda, along with about 60mm of miranda 44mm thread extension tubes.

this arrangement can focus from infinity to 1.2:1 with the 135 lens.

I also have an M42-T mount ring, and can put my M42 extension tubes in front of this, and any M42 lens, I figure I can easily get 5:1 and with my smc Tak 35/2 probably 10:1

What is important to note is that the entire setup, not counting the enlarger lens, was $30.

How can you say cheap macro?

01-13-2012, 04:10 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote

What is important to note is that the entire setup, not counting the enlarger lens, was $30.

How can you say cheap macro?
?

as a side note, the nice thing about my pentax bellows is that it has a course focusing aid which is very useful. Also, it has the ability to keep the lens side of the bellows at the end of the bellows which is vital with the short working distance that comes with macro.
01-14-2012, 03:22 AM   #14
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This has really captured my imagination now and I've decided to set myself up over the next couple of months in time for Spring. Some research inspired by this thread has shown me how to stack images in Photoshop which was a function (after 20 years of use) I wasn't even aware of, brilliant.
So, my search begins and I wonder if anyone has experience of using imported Chinese bellows, such as this Macro Extension Bellows for Pentax K MOUNT CAMERA SET | eBay.
The price is certainly good, but I know that isn't everything. Pentax bellows are around twice that cost it seems.
01-14-2012, 03:28 AM   #15
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You might find this macro studio setup a handy reference.

The bellows you posted is a bad choice - it looks like the end that moves if you extend the bellows is the lens end which would be a chore for ultramacro. If you look at this pic - http://www.anestore.com/images/acess/ring/nikonbellow/IMG_9935.JPG it's clear that the left hand side would attach to your cam with tripod mount underneath. This is horrible for ultramacro because you might want to alter your magnification to suit a particular shot... but if you did the lens position would change so you'd also have to move your tripod (or whatever support you use) backwards to compensate. Which is a chore, trust me.

Just so happens that ebay has a listing for my bellows, the very cheapest I could find at the time. I wouldn't neccessarily advise it now (it wobbles a bit) but it has served me well. The difference between mine and the one you posted is where the camera sits. If you look at the pic, notice the screw on the shiny lens connection mount. This allows you to take it out and basically use it in reverse, which is what I do. My camera connects at the bottom right and the lens at the top left. So when I want to change magnification I move the camera using the shiny know that you see on the right of the scale, and the lens doesn't change position. Then I use velbon slider underneath to adjust focus once I've adjusted magnification. Typically as you magnify your working distance (lens <==> subject) becomes ever closer.

Last edited by Nass; 01-14-2012 at 03:58 AM.
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