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A macro tutorial with bellows
Posted By: Peter Zack, 04-07-2008, 09:03 AM

Bored yesterday (weathers getting nicer here but everything is brown and muddy). So I dug out the bellows with the intention of selling the kit. Started to take some sample shots to show the magnifications of the lenses. Might keep this setup which consists of a 150mm M42 bellows, Helios 58mm, Focal 35mm, a Tele Lentar 105mm f2.8 (which requires a T- mount) and an Accura Anastigmat f4.5, 150mm. The 105 on the bellows has a collar that allows a pair of small flashes to be mounted, made by Spiratone. The 105 and 150mm are dedicated macro lenses with a ton of blades which keeps the highlights pretty smooth. Only issue with these lenses can be some CA if you really pixel peep. It just depends on the subject.

Kit:


150 with full bellows extension


150 again full bellows


58mm with full extension


105mm with full bellows extension. 100% crop of the last picture. Holds up pretty well.


105mm with full extension.


So I thought some of you that are interested in macro shooting might find this interesting. It's not that expensive to do, as all these lenses sell at reasonable prices. The Helios 58mm was $15.00 right here on the forums. The bellows was less than $50 I think. All the different lengths give a number of options. It can be hand held quite easily (thanks t SR) as well but best with a tripod. The 150mm is the best lens for this IMO. It gives about 15-16 inches of working distance and that lets lots of light around the subject. Plus you don't scare off the bugs as easily.

I didn't shoot the 35mm Focal because that is such a close focus lens at about 2x the magnification of the 58mm on a bellows at 150mm. (around 4.28x life sized). But for super close up shooting the shorter lens gets you right there. To calculate the magnification, just divide the extension by the focal length of the lens. So the 150mm here will give a 1:1. The 58mm will give 2.58 times life sized. You have to use stop down metering and I find about 3 stops of underexposure from the meter reading seems to be about right. The 105 has oil on the blades but this is one case where it doesn't matter. You focus wide open and then stop down manually to meter the shot and fire away.

Anyone having any questions, I'd be happy to respond. Others should add macro thoughts/shots here as well.

Last edited by Peter Zack; 04-16-2008 at 06:23 AM.
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04-08-2008, 07:58 AM   #16
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Looks like a K10D on viagra

Thanks Peter, good explanation and tutorial, I have no idea where to get a set of bellows though (maybe peebay i suppose), but I want to try them out!

04-08-2008, 08:14 AM   #17
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Leadbelly, The Bellows is 150mm on mine. I never measured the 50mm attached for focus distance but it's only about 2 inches or so at 150mm extension. 100mm is more than enough most of the time.

Tom Fleabay (we should start an Ebay anacronym thread) is the best source I find. There are usually 10+ any given week and rarely go for more than $40 or so. There's no real need to spend a fortune on the bellows as long as it's light tight and sturdy the rest is extra. K mount is nice since you can use a macro lens like Kim's 100mm f3.5 or Dave's Sigma 105 f2.8. Or an FA35mm, 43mm Ltd right up to a 135mm or even a 200mm. Using a dedicated macro lens with a bellows is a real plus as you can use the lens to get closer, get the shot framed better and much easier focus.

I'm at work but in a day or so I'll add a few more equipment pictures such as the focus rails and adapters I have in my kit.

Last edited by Peter Zack; 04-12-2008 at 03:06 AM.
04-11-2008, 11:11 PM   #18
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Peter,
This is great info and I am trying to understand all of it.

So, using a shorter focal length lens such as a 35mm will require you to be closer to the subject than if you use a 50mm lens? The 31mm ltd would then be a bad choice for bellows use because I would have to be extreemly close to the subject?

A 50mm lens with the bellows set to 50mm will give 1:1, but extending the bellows to 100mm will give 2:1 magnification with the same lens?

When going from the 50mm bellows length to 100mm length (not changing the lens), does the focus distance change?

Thanks for your post and any help.
04-12-2008, 03:06 AM   #19
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Wiseman, That's correct. the shorter the lens the closer it will focus and the higher the magnification when the bellows is fully extended. The math is fairly simple. If you use a 150mm lens on 150mm bellows (fully extended) the image is 1:1 (or life sized). 100mm lens on a 150mm bellows the image is 1.5 times life sized. If you use a 35mm lens at 150mm of extension the image is 4.28 times life sized. So the same amount of extension = lifesized images.

So you are correct that a 50mm lens at 100mm of extension gives 2:1 or double life sized magnification. Focus distance does not change much (1-2 inches) and is very close to the lens. I could set it up and measure it for you today as I've been meaning to take a couple more pictures of the focus rails etc. A 50mm lens has one issue though with bellows that are not fully extended. The rail(s) that the bellows run on can get in the way with a short lens because the rails stick out front. Since the focus distance is only about 1.5-2 inches you may not be able to get the subject focused unless the bellows is almost fully extended or at least the front element of the lens is out to the edge of the rails.

Back when these were more popular, the common lens to use was a 100mm, 105mm or a 150mm. There were some 75mm lenses but less common. The reason was that the lens could be used with the bellows fully closed to fully extended without issues with the rails. The focus distance from a 50mm to a 100mm lens multiplies by about 10 making it's use much easier.

Since so many of us have old 135mm lenses or can get one from Ebay for $30. I thought this might help some people get started shooting macros when the flowers start appearing.

IMO a bellows (although funny looking and bigger) is better than a set of extension tubes. It's much more adjustable and once you've practiced, understood the exposure settings, focus technique and so on, you can get very good results at even higher magnifications than a macro lens.


Last edited by Peter Zack; 04-12-2008 at 07:44 AM.
04-12-2008, 07:38 AM   #20
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I have both extension tubes, and a set of bellows - picked the m42 bellows up for $30 in great condition, just a bit dirty, added a $30 super-tak 55, and a $5 k-mount adapter works great - its a bit heavy, and the working distance is pretty short, but its fun to play with for sure...

Thanks for extra info Peter!!
04-12-2008, 01:53 PM   #21
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I did a little more with my setup and the 58mm has 70mm; from the front element to the subject as working distance. That's at 100mm extension. The 150mm lens has 390mm of working distance at 150mm extension and the 105 has 200mm of working distance at 150mm extension.
here is a shot of the rails to give you an idea of how they attach to the QR plate on the tripod.

So you can move the whole unit front and back as well as side to side.
here's a sample image from the 105mm at 150mm extension using a Vivitar 6000 ringlight on the K10D, shot in Manual.
04-14-2008, 12:38 AM   #22
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Have to agree with you Peter: bellows are fun.

Obtained a Hanimex one from ebay last year attached to a Pentax H2 (the model preceding the Spotmatic) and an Isco Tele-westenar 135mm, all m42 of course. About 10cm of movement in the rail. Am waiting on the macro slider to make the setup easier on the tripod. DoF is really shallow.



Just make sure the interior of the bellows is dust free as the forward and backward movement of the bellows could blow dust into your camera body.

Example shots: Cape York Birdwing caterpillar on host plant 'Dutchman's Pipe'



Another caution, besure that the m42 mount bellows clears the mirror box when unscrewing. Had a moment of panic when it bayoneted on no worries but I couldnt get it off due to the rear bellows mount being too big to rotate freely. Did n't really feel comfortable with the idea of making my camera a dedicated macro body. Now I use a 10mm extension tube between the adaptor and the bellows.

Last edited by Arjay Bee; 04-14-2008 at 12:43 AM. Reason: addition
04-14-2008, 05:12 AM   #23
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Arjay, You're right about the clearance under the flash housing. I forgot to mention that even though my bellows will fit under there, there's not a lot of space. So I added a Pentax T mount. It has a M42 female screw thread on the bellows side and a K mount on the other end. I picked it up on Ebay for about $10 shipped. It makes the entire setup mount just the same as a K mount lens. If you look at the picture above, you can see the black ring about 1Cm thick between the bellows and the camera.

Beautiful old camera and clearly it still takes fine pictures.

04-15-2008, 04:52 PM   #24
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Peter,
Here is my K100D super with a classic Pentax auto bellows and 100mm F4 Pentax bellows lens. It will focus at infinity and do horizontal and vertical format. I really like your lateral ajustment. I have seen these sell on Feabay for a fraction of what this cost many years ago.

Dave

Last edited by Big Dave; 04-26-2008 at 12:48 PM.
04-15-2008, 05:04 PM   #25
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That's a beautiful setup Dave. I almost bought one on Ebay myself but kinda thought I wouldn't need 2 of them. The rails I have are really a nice addition to get the subject framed right where you want without moving the tripod. Nice but not necessary for a good setup.

So I have a question. I had the same old right angle viewfinder eyepiece from my 6x7 and it has a smaller mount than the K series. What did you do to make yours fit?
04-15-2008, 06:51 PM   #26
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Peter, thanks for putting the spotlight on using a bellows for macro work. I own a dedicated macro lens, but prefer my Pentax Bellows-K with a Pentax-M 50/1.7 on the front for fine work. When people ask me about the less expensive route to true macro, I always suggest bellows or extension tubes as the cheapest option.

A few suggestions while shopping for bellows:
  • Make sure the bellows material is in good shape and without excessive wear or pinholes
  • Be sure that the unit includes both the front and rear mounts. The rear mount is generally removable and often missing.
  • There are many Pentax-branded bellows models with multiple features. Be sure you know what you are getting before you bid/buy.
  • K-mount units exist and are probably worth seeking out.
  • The auto-bellows feature is probably not that useful.
  • The two stage design (a rail for extension and another below for focusing) is highly desirable.

Here is my favorite bellows shot. The magnification is about 2:1 and the subject is the leaf petiole of a small Japanese maple leaf.

04-15-2008, 07:40 PM   #27
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Great thread Peter,

Just to throw in a couple of things...

Unless I missed this elsewhere in the thread. If you have a M42 bellows with countersunk screws holding the lens mounting plate do not attempt to use Super Multicoated or SMC Takumars on the bellows. The aperture lock pin on the lens will fall into the screw head and they are next to impossible to remove without damage.

One of my setups is based on an Olympus Auto-Bellows unit. I made a simple mount adapter out of a 2x converter. This allows me to easily use the Olympus 80 and 135 bellows macro lenses. The Olympus bellows provides focus and extension independently. The Olympus right angle viewer also fits pentax (M & later) cameras perfectly.

cheers

Greg
04-15-2008, 09:48 PM   #28
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[QUOTE=Peter Zack;
So I have a question. I had the same old right angle viewfinder eyepiece from my 6x7 and it has a smaller mount than the K series. What did you do to make yours fit?[/QUOTE]

The Pentax DSLR requires a 20mm opening and the spotmatic item was 17.5mm. I removed the clip assembly. I inserted a thick peice of card stock in the slot. Then I used my Dremel rotorary tool to widen and followed that with a swiss file. There was more then enough space to allow the mod. I got it cheap with a nice case like new. Work for me.

Dave
04-16-2008, 03:20 AM   #29
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this thread has prompted me to seek out a bellows, this is really cool. Ive toyed with the idea before and I'm still on the verge of purchasing the DA 35mm macro ltd but getting a good cheap bellows seems like it would be really fun. Ive noticed that the number of K mount bellows available is far less than the m42 but should I seek out a K? Ive come across 3 sets two m42 and an Auto bellows M obviously K mount and Im leaning towards that but is it worth the extra price? I already own a pentax m42 to K adapter so mounting the bellows isn't a problem. any suggestions?
04-16-2008, 06:22 AM   #30
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In my case some of the gear was older stuff I had used with old film cameras and just 're-energized' on my digital. If I was making the choice to get one and owned no m42 prime lenses, I'd absolutely get a K mount. Then you have no need to buy any extra lenses. Just put that SMC-A 50mm 1.7 you have on the bellows and you're shootin' macros on the cheap.

Add a decent 135mm K mount lens (there are lots of Sears and other brands out there) for $20-40.00. This will give you some distance to the subject for bugs and other things.

I thought I had seen a few "Buy it now" Ebay K mount versions for $39.99 + S&H. A fair price considering the cost of a dedicated macro lens.

Just follow Stevebrot's excellent advice and I don't think you can go wrong.

Last edited by Peter Zack; 04-16-2008 at 07:35 AM.
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