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Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm Review RSS Feed

Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm

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2 9,656 Sat February 18, 2017
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100% of reviewers $200.00 8.50
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm

Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm
Novoflex Noflexar modular PIGRIFF system 240mm, 280mm, 300mm, 400mm, 600mm, 64cm

The Novoflex PIGRIFF: Pistol Grip Follow Focus - a modular concept intended for telephoto versatility and to maximise manual focus speed and efficacy, made its first appearance in the 1950's. There is more than one generation:
  1. PIGRIFF original aka PIGRIFF-A (pic 6) has thread mountings. 240mm, 300mm, 40cm, 64cm, and later a triplet T-noflexar 400mm, optics were made for it. Based on an example of the PIGRIFF-A + T-noflexar optic, the connection is a M48x1mm* thread at the PIGRIFF; the larger optics + iris unit connect to a conical piece with a M70x.75mm* thread; and the joint between the iris and optical units is an M78x0.75mm* thread. The connection tube ("PITUB-J" ) from the pigriff to the camera mount could later be replaced by a bellows to achieve close focus.
    *based on ad hoc measurements with a cheap vernier calliper.More info on the mount here.
    The mount is a two piece construction (see here ), attached to the PITUB by a silver collar (4 x small bolts) that allows it to click rotate from landscape to portrait. The two pieces can unscrew apart (M42x0.5mm thread) once three small bolts have been removed.
    Review on - link below - says: " the minimum focus can be reduced (i.e., you can get closer to the subject) by replacing the short tube that connects the pistol grip to the camera with the special bellows which were offered by Novoflex ... The bellows have the manufacturer’s code “TISBIG-U” and Dieter Gabler states in his “Vollendete Spiegelreflex-Fotografie mit Novoflex” (1973 edition) that the pistol grip (code name “TISPIGRIFF”) has to be returned to Novoflex for this to be fitted (p.77). In fact, it appears that all you need to do is to loosen six screws (technically, tiny bolts) to remove the camera mount, then tighten the same screws onto the front of the bellows unit. As an alternative, one could purchase the grip itself with the bellows already mounted onto it. This had the manufacturer's code name “TISPIGRIFF-U”."
  2. PIGRIFF-B appeared c. 1965, screw mountings of the optics+iris unit replaced by a breech bayonet. This connection has approx 47mm diameter male fitting on the optical-iris unit. Most often the camera mount will be fitted with a bellows. Usually there is a tripod collar with a bush next to (mount side) the aperture ring (pics 3, 5). Lenses were 280mm f/5.6, 40cm f/5.6, triplet 400mm f5.6, 64cm f/9. Pic of "B" system here.
    One problem with the "A"'s and "B"'s is that Novoflex do not manufacture mounts for them any more. Mounts can be purchased for the "C"'s and "D"'s. On the Novoflex web site adapters page it says:
    "Lenses of the B-Series can only be used in combination with the reversed bellows BAL-U or the special tube TUBUS-BA"
    which I think means connecting to the the PIGRIFF not the optics - the optics from the examples I have seen all connect with the 78mm thread mentioned above.
    I have seen a "B" with a t-mount ring fitted.
  3. PIGRIFF-C and D (1980's) : bayonet fittings - detachable novoflex-A bayonet mount; female ~73mm bayonet optical-iris section to PIGRIFF. Optical units connect to the iris units with the same M78mm thread as previously so are still interchangeable. There is a second front hand grip, a 3/8" tripod bush between the grips, and close focus is achieved by a built in extending tube on a rail. The PIGRIFF D has a pinion to operate this, and has omitted the locking ring for the close focus extension. Optics included 600mm f8 and triplet 400mm. Pic of "C" system here.

Pics 1,2 show a PIGRIFF C, with the 3 element 400mm f5.6 T-Noflexar optic. Pic 2 shows the lens disassembled into its main components. Note that all the optics and the iris are in the end unit, though the iris and the optics can unscrew and separate. The section with the PIGRIFF is just a barrel, there is no rear optical group as is usual with true telephoto designs. There is also a filter holder that isn't pointed to on the pic, just in front of the mount locking ring.
Pic 3 is of two one grip PIGRIFF B's with, respectively, 40cm optic + bellows, 64cm focal length optics; and a PIGRIFF A with a 40cm optic (bottom).
Pic 4 shows the close focus extension on the PIGRIFF-C, and the front grip rotated to the vertical position. The inset pics show the internals of the cable shutter release mechanism, an original cable, and K5 connected with a cable. For mechanical shutter release orient the coin slot in the cable shutter button CS vertically so that it pops out. To activate the electronic switch ET, CS needs to be pushed in and oriented horizontally. ET is a 2 cable momentary switch, the connecting jack looks mono not stereo in the pic (however a cable for pentax pictured in the PF thread linked to clearly has a 3 section stereo jack). The K5 in pic 4 is connected to the PIGRIFF with a generic "Camera Remote Control Switch Shutter Release Cable Cord RS-C1" from China with 3-section 2.5mm jacks on each end. This was described as for pentax, in practice cables (and also wired shutter releases) for Canon are identical, more common and half the price. This works fine for shutter release, however the display tends to blank, which I attribute to the Novoflex having a mono jack socket rather than a stereo one.

There is also a detachable shoulder stock to use with the PIGRIFF. This pic shows a pigriff with a bellows and a "pistock", this attaches via the 3/8" bush in the base of the PIGRIFF grip and the cylindrical rod extending out of the front end of the focus trigger. This one has an optional second hand grip with a yellow push button for shutter cable release.The system pic for the PIGRIFF C linked to above in #3 illustrates a similar stock for the "C/D", however a "pistock C" with just one attachment point to the base of the first grip is is illustrated here. It is possible to attach an original "pistock" upsidedown, or the second attachment point could be sawn off.

Optics (400mm): 2 elements in 2 groups; 3 elements in 3 groups (T-noflexar)
Aperture (400mm): f5.6 - f32 manual only.
Iris: 24 blades!
Filter: varies with optics. Filter sizes on a 42xxx serial T-noflexar 400mm for PIGRIFF-A (screw connect), and a 43xx serial for a "B" (bayonet connect) were 75mm, but on a 46xxx serial bayonet connect for PIGRIFF-C/D was 77mm.
Focus: trigger follow focus ~22mm travel (pigriff A/B); ~29mm travel (pigriff C/D). Close focus extension ~80mm (pigriff C/D). Focus locking.
CFD: PIGRIFF-A + 400mm f5.6 T-noflexar: ~ 9m; PIGRIFF B + 400mm T-noflexar + bellows: 3.2m; PIGRIFF-C + 400mm T-noflexar:~ 7.5m/2.5m with close focus fully extended.
Mount: Threaded mount PIGRIFF A/B. Swappable Novoflex -A bayonet on the PIGRIFF C/D, detachable mounts are available for most DSLR's inc. Pentax PK.
Tripod mount: 3/8" bush attachment point in base of pistol grip. B pigriffs often have a collar next to the aperture ring. C/D pigriffs have a second bush between the grips.
Length (400mm): min ~45cm lens end to mount flange; max ~58cm inc hood.
Weight: ~ 1.8kg (pigriff A + 400mm T-noflexar); ~ 2.4kg (pigriff C + 400mm T-noflexar).

240mm f4.5: 3 elements in 3 groups; 58mm filter; f4.5 - f22; 18 blade iris. Optics and iris are one unit.
280mm f5.5:

Leica. There is also PIGRIFF compatibility with Leica Telyt optics eg 560mm f6.8 (see this thread on leica forums), 350mm f4.8.
Fernobjektiv. Novoflex also marketed the first generation optics with a collapsible nesting tube and rack and pinion focus set up - see this thread.

Detailed historical account of Novoflex developement here (google translate).

Original novoflex brochure (pdf) from 1969.

Thomas Gades' Novoflex webpage (google translate from German).
PF forums thread here. reviews a medium format Noflexar 500mm f5.6, with PIGRIFF.

Gary Reese lens test (film, Olympus cameras).
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:

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Registered: September, 2006
Location: Bamaga, QLD
Posts: 3,600
Lens Review Date: February 18, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: relatively cheap yet sharp telephoto, look and feel
Cons: Weight; look and feel
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 3    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 8    Camera Used: K20D   

I had the Pigriff C with 600mm lens for a couple of years. I bought it second hand for a small amount but then had to add the Pentax adapter, and the shoulder stock which added costs considerably. The 2x extension tube came with the original purchase. I didn't use it often as this extra lens did soften the image somewhat.

It is a cool piece of kit and was hand holdable but a tripod or rest of some kind is recommended. Arms really felt the weight after some small time shooting with it unassisted. With a hand on each grip a method of triggering the shutter is needed when not on a tripod so I used Velcro on the pentax cable shutter and positioned the button just above the focus pull. The lateral pressure of the index finger on the button on a 600mm lens is enough to push the subject out of frame so getting the trigger working by pressing in a longitudinal direction as described by Marcus would be the way to go.

I sold it and all the extras as it was sitting unused - It attracted attention more than I was comfortable with for my shooting style and poetically the proceeds helped fund purchase of a limited pancake lens that gets used every week.

I used the Novoflex to get a moon shot by using a tripod - this is uncropped of the blood moon a couple of years ago.

then with extender:

Some pics of bits and pieces:
The aperture ring

The kit as I received it with Nikon mount and 2X extender, close focus tube closed and hood mounted.

The knob on the ring in front of the mount adapter allows the polariser to be rotated - its a wheel not a knob. The whole arc shaped assembly can be removed to drop in a skylight filter or a polariser. My copy had the skylight filter. There is a ring and lock lever near the mount adapter that allows the camera to be rotated for portrait orientation.

Tube closed:

And then the tube can be extended:

The whole assemblage with forward handgrip rotated forward as when placed on tripod.

I also posted a couple of shots in the 300mm plus thread. A couple are included below.

Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2012
Location: North Wales
Posts: 2,107

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 21, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: good IQ, versatile, fast MF.
Cons: weight, size; no auto-iris or preset style open-close ring = need 3 hands; long CFD esp. pigriff-A/B w/o close focus bellows.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5, samsung NX20   

This unusual vintage bazooka was a top item in its day. Browse (google) the old ads in magazines from eg the 1970's you will see these priced new at around a grand - big money! The use of it is IMO a longer learning curve than with more standard lenses, and I am still customising it - remote shutter cables see this thread - for use with my DSLR bodies.
I'll work up to a more detailed review, but overall I can say I am pleased with the 3 element 400mm T-noflexar optically. It is superior to the soligors, vivitars and other lenses I have had quite a lot of familiarity with - I can suggest the only of its contemporaries that might be better are eg the Tamron Adaptall SP 400mm f4, OEM lenses like Canon FD 400mm. But I got this for a fraction of the price those typically go for. My main gripe so far is the lack of auto aperture. The iris ring is large and clunky and it really is tricky to try to manipulate it on the fly - I do tend to feel like I need three hands all the time with this! My other gripe is the cost of a PK mount - €69/£55 from the UK novoflex distributor, for a simple one piece alloy double bayonet. Similar items from china cost a tenner and less. Are you 'avin a larf, novoflex....

For the moment here are links to some of the posts I have made in the 300mm lens club thread on using this lens - mainly bird pics, with comments . I was typically using the novoflex mounted on a CF monopod, or rested on a bean bag in a hide. Depending on your tripod head you may be able to use the bush situated in between the grips (with a 3/8" to 1/4" adapter), my slik p&t head and QR plate is ok but I need to diy something to allow me to use my heavy duty Slik SL67 tripod.

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