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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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04-07-2008, 10:09 AM   #2
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Wow being a (D)SLR newcommer I had no idea that is fasinating. The results look very good. How stable is the belows ? That 58mm shot of the penny is incrediable detail. It looks funny but hey for the cost and results a worthwhile keeper. Thanks for sharing.
04-07-2008, 10:23 AM   #3
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Dave, the bellows is a double rail and it doesn't move a bit. There are some single rail versions around and should also do fine as long as the attached lens is not too heavy.

I also used a (forgot to mention) a set of focus rails on the tripod. So you mount the bellows to that. The camera hangs off the back just like a long telephoto setup might. The bellows has a tripod mount screw at the camera end. The rails allow about 20Cm of front to back focusing and about 15Cms of side to side focus. Got them on Ebay for $40.00 Even with a dedicated lens these are worth it.

If you're running around the local garden shop hand held, it does look a little odd and a real mix of old fashioned and modern together.

Nice thing about this, is I see K mount bellows around for $40 a lot of the time and then you can just use your regular lenses as long as they have an aperture ring for the DOF and metering control. Combine an FA50mm or a 77mm Ltd and you'd have a sweet package.
04-07-2008, 10:32 AM   #4
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Nice ones Peter! I get in that 'macro mood' every once in a while too

Love the first and last!!

04-07-2008, 02:17 PM   #5
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Thanks Tom I just thought some that were interested in Macros could use the information and an alternative to the higher cost of a true macro lens. You can get a bellows for $30-40 and a 50mm lens for less than $40 and you're set to go.
04-07-2008, 04:38 PM   #6
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Guess this isn't of much interest.
04-07-2008, 05:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Guess this isn't of much interest.
it is to me! interesting photos. where did you find your bellows? i saw lots of them on ebay when i was poking around ... and does a bellows mount to a tripod or ... how does it work
04-07-2008, 06:17 PM   #8
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K100D, The bellows is fairly old and I've had it for a long time. It's screw mount and I use one of the cheap Ebay mounts to the camera (it's easier and cheaper than the Pentax OEM version since the slot on the side makes it come on and off easier and infinity focus isn't an issue for this.



The bellows has a thick metal plate at each end. To that is the camera mount end and the lens mount end. The rails are secured to the camera end of this plate. The rails on the lens end have a brace between them to keep them solid and parallel. The bottom of the plate on the camera end has the same screw threaded hole that a camera does for tripod mounting. In my case I mount a set of focus rails to this part. The mount the rails to the tripod head via QR plate.

This allows for much easier and precise focusing. The Bellows can do this as well without the rail. Just turn the knob and you can frame the shot the way you want.

If you want a couple of close up pics I can post more. The Ebay bellows you see are the same thing. There are some from Russia that sometimes come up and they extend to 290mm. With those bellows, I'd get a lens like the Takumar 105mm for this bellows and then you can get up to almost 3x lifesized. going much closer than that and lighting and other issues (purple fringing, chroma aberrations) etc come into play.

The best setup I've seen is the Novaflex similar to this one. NOVOFLEX BELLOW 1934 FOR EXA CAMERA OR LEICA M3 LENS - eBay (item 120242571009 end time Apr-09-08 04:33:49 PDT)
This one listed would be a bit suspect since it's so old. The bellows material is a type of kraft paper with a wax surface. Over time they can crack and let in light. At almost 70 years old, this one will have issues with heavy use I bet. Plus old Leica gear was M39 not M42 like the Pentax standard. But this type of bellows is still available relatively new. The plus with this bellows is the second set of rails for focusing. Mount that to the tripod and you can slide the camera and assembly back and forth to get exact focus.

There are tons of M42 lenses around and also T mount lenses. They look the same as an M42 but the pitch is different with the threads. So you use a T mount adapter that is M42 on the other end. T mounts can also be had with K mount ends to use the lens on the camera directly. The Focal 35mm (upper right in pic with red lettering) is a T mount lens. You can see rear element sticking out. The T mount screws on around the back of that element and then it looks exactly the same as a regular M42 lens. These T mount lenses are available in numerous brands ( T Mount was the Tamron standard way back, hence the "T") So you can often find these lenses for $20 or so.

04-07-2008, 08:10 PM   #9
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Pretty funky..

That is a pretty neat contraption you got there Peter!!! Thanks for the great explanation to what it is and how it works.. From the pictures you posted it works really well!! Not many things can focus on the pollen of flower like the one you posted...

Pretty neat stuff!!!! Thanks for the education!!!

Kim
04-07-2008, 11:28 PM   #10
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Hi peter... nice shots! I'm still learning how to use my bellows... I have to use an old cable trigger release to stop down the lens connected to the bellows... here's my set-up



I use a 70-200mm so i can adjust the working distance though magnifications are different of course...
04-08-2008, 02:50 AM   #11
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Thanks Peter Zack for the tutorial. I have just started shooting some macros and just learning what equiptment to use. I purchased a set of extension tubes on here and was really surprised with my results. Now I see these bellows and looks pretty interesting. That is quite the rig leadbelly. Thanks for all the info guys.
04-08-2008, 04:27 AM   #12
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Hey Kim, Thanks and with your new bargin find you could do this as well if you wanted to. Just find a cheap K mount bellows and attach the macro lens you found (no need for the 2x filter). It's manual everything but otherwise works well.

Cool Leadbelly. That's quite a tripod contraption for the flash. Looks like it gets the light right on the subject though. I like that style of bellows. No need for a focus rail since everything can slide up and down on the base.

Nels, you can just add more extension tubes to get closer if you want to but 500m of extension is enough with a 50mm lens for most uses. That gives 1:1 macros.
04-08-2008, 04:50 AM   #13
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This looks so fascinating! I have been eyeing the bellows up on eBay so this is perfect info for me and my love of macro. I so appreciate you sharing One of these days I can see myself buying bellows now.
04-08-2008, 04:56 AM   #14
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Great Rosemary and all you need is a lens from 35mm to 135mm. If you have one with an aperture ring then get a K mount bellows and your set to go. The great thing about this is the lens can serve a dual purpose. Regular on camera shooting and close up macro stuff. A prime will give you the sharpest image as this will push the lenses resolution to it's limits.
04-08-2008, 07:52 AM   #15
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Thanks Peter, that's actually a Pentax Auto Bellows-A... I'm using a Manfrotto magic arm for the flash to light the subject perfect! Though I'm still having a hard time using the bellows, needs some getting used to! I'm thinking of getting a right angle finder, getting that low with a rig that heavy can cause major strains on the back!

What's the max extension of your bellows? Mine is 100mm... how close are you to the subject if you put a 50mm lens on the bellows? I can't seem to find the right range...
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