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Bellows and Rails
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:15 am    Post subject: Bellows and Rails Reply with quote

I have been reading the forums here for almost a week, and I haven't found the answers I am looking for, yet. Very Happy

I am a canon shooter, I would like to purchase bellows and rails for my Canon 5d MkII. I have found Novoflex Auto bellows and rails, but it said I need to use an extension tube between camera body and bellows, so that is an extra cost. Total probably over $900

I also have looked at, and used before, the Canon MP-E 65mm, I just don't like how you have to move the entire unit to focus. What kind/brand/type of rails would work best with this lens. (This lens is close to $1000 without rails.)

My other option is to purchase a cheaper set of bellows and rails from linkdelight.com. (Is it ok to use website names here?) Does anyone have experience with them? Will I need extension tubes for this one to fit the 5dmkii? The bellows are rather cheap, and I would still have money for extension tubes and probably a 50mm Macro.

What would you reccomend out of the options posts. I would really like to not spend $1,000 - because then I could purchase other lenses that could be used for macro as well as other shots. However, if I have to spend $1,000 right now to get the tight macro shots I want to get, then so be it. What say you? Thanks in Advance.
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am a Nikon user but they also recommend a small tube between the camera and bellows and yes it is an extra cost. Sometimes it is done for modern cameras that have a hand-grip bulging out in front so when they are rotated it does not foul the bellows rear standard. I don't know if Canon do it for the same reason but nobody at Nikon seems to really know why, they just repeat "use a tube" if asked:-

http://www.mattclara.com/misc/nikonbellows/index.html

See these posts on bellows:-

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8279

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4049&highlight=focusing+slides

For slides:-

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Macro-Focusing-Rails/ci/723/N/4294540380

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4156&highlight=focusing+slides

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3337&highlight=focusing+slides

What type of slide you need depends on how accurate you need it and how small increments you wish to move the camera for say stacking.

Also look on EBAY as you can often find bellows there. I got my mint Nikon PB6 bellows there secondhand at about half new price.

http://shop.ebay.co.uk/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m38.l1313&_nkw=canon+bellows&_sacat=See-All-Categories

You can often find focusing slides on there too:-

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/FOCUSING-SLIDE_W0QQitemZ260497534725QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Photography_OtherAccess_RL?hash=item3ca6dcef05

DaveW
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Harold Gough



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5787
Location: Reading, Berkshire, England

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:14 am    Post subject: Re: Bellows and Rails Reply with quote

thartl wrote:
I need to use an extension tube between camera body and bellows, so that is an extra cost. Total probably over $900

I don't know the Canon system but that price for a tube seems way out. If I understand correctly, you need only a short tube, long enough to clear the obstruction, and it need not be a genuine Canon one. Surely that would be very affordable.

Harold
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 17417
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thartl, welcome aboard! Very Happy

Yes, it's OK to use website names here. Links to specific pages are even better, since they nail down what you're looking at.

Regarding equipment, can you tell us more about what you want to do? You say "tight macro shots", but how tight, in what environment, and with what kind of subjects? Have you considered whether you need to stack for extended DOF?

We can give you better information if we know more about what you really want to do. It will also help if we know more about what you have already done, so that we can suggest issues that might otherwise be overlooked. As an example, none of the standard rails will make fine enough movements for high quality stacking in the 5X range.

--Rik
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PaulFurman



Joined: 24 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: SF, CA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Novoflex are crazy expensive but probably great quality. I got a old Nikon PB-4 for about $200 and it is great quality although it does not have a fine enough adjustment for stacking at high magnification like 5x. Easy enough to get an adapter for Canon. A good dedicated bellows lens/low power microscope objective seems to cost $200 to $500 although there are lots of ways to experiment with reversing regular lenses to get a feel for working at those high magnifications. For more like 2x, you might be happy with a $50 enlarger lens.
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Bellows and Rails Reply with quote

Harold Gough wrote:
thartl wrote:
I need to use an extension tube between camera body and bellows, so that is an extra cost. Total probably over $900

I don't know the Canon system but that price for a tube seems way out. If I understand correctly, you need only a short tube, long enough to clear the obstruction, and it need not be a genuine Canon one. Surely that would be very affordable.

Harold


The tubes themselves are not that much, that was Novoflex Bellows and rails with extension tubes. But it is crazy expensive - which is why I am balking at it.
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
thartl, welcome aboard! Very Happy

Yes, it's OK to use website names here. Links to specific pages are even better, since they nail down what you're looking at.

Regarding equipment, can you tell us more about what you want to do? You say "tight macro shots", but how tight, in what environment, and with what kind of subjects? Have you considered whether you need to stack for extended DOF?

We can give you better information if we know more about what you really want to do. It will also help if we know more about what you have already done, so that we can suggest issues that might otherwise be overlooked. As an example, none of the standard rails will make fine enough movements for high quality stacking in the 5X range.

--Rik


I want to be able to capture ants, spiders, small items, details. I also want the ability to step back and get maybe 2:1. I want closer than my normal macro lens will get, yet still have the ability to get the normal macro shot with said lens. (I have a few macro lenses.) 5x might be a little tighter than I am ready for focus wise. I used (someone elses) MP-E 65mm for a few months, and rarely shot past the 3x because it was rather difficult. But I am a learner - and a fast one at that.

The environment will be controlled to start with - in my studio. I shoot alot of portraits and lighting is not a problem. It will be new to me to light macro shots, but again I learn fast. From there I would like to move into a natural insect and outdoor environment.

I have no experience with stacking - is this a little like HDR? I get the overall idea (combining several images to make one,) but how can you get that many images of a moving creature that are the same position?
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies. I am thinking of trying the bellows and rails off of linkdelight.com. I also might purchase the 3 piece set of KENKO tubes (36, 20, 12.) Anyone have experience there - or should I stick with canon tubes? Then I might purchase a 50mm macro.....

Or should I spend the dough on the Novoflex and hope that the fine tune adjustments are worth the extra money?
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thartl wrote:
I want to be able to capture ants, spiders, small items, details. I also want the ability to step back and get maybe 2:1. I want closer than my normal macro lens will get, yet still have the ability to get the normal macro shot with said lens. (I have a few macro lenses.) 5x might be a little tighter than I am ready for focus wise. I used (someone elses) MP-E 65mm for a few months, and rarely shot past the 3x because it was rather difficult. But I am a learner - and a fast one at that.

The environment will be controlled to start with - in my studio. I shoot alot of portraits and lighting is not a problem. It will be new to me to light macro shots, but again I learn fast. From there I would like to move into a natural insect and outdoor environment.

Thanks, this is very helpful.

I would not recommend bellows for what you want to do. The big reason is that bellows do not play nicely with automatic diaphragms. When you're working with live specimens it usually works best to focus wide open and stop down at the instant of exposure. This is the strong point of the MP-E 65 -- it's the only lens that covers the 1-5X range with auto diaphragm. If you had trouble with the MP-E at higher magnifications (and most people do!), then life with bellows may be very hard indeed.

Have you considered pairing a good macro lens with a teleconverter and possibly some tubes? An ordinary 1:1 macro lens paired with a 2X teleconverter will give you 2:1 while still letting you back off as far as you like to get less magnification. Add a few tubes (between the macro lens and the teleconverter), and you could probably cover the range of 3X to 1/2X just by turning the focus ring on the macro lens.

About focus stacking, yes, it's a lot like HDR except instead of picking out the best exposed parts, software picks out the best focused parts. It works best with immobile subjects, but some people have developed techniques for shooting short bursts of images with live subjects that just happen to be paused for a few seconds. Brian Valentine (typical username LordV) does the best work I know with live specimens. His "Dolichopid flies" are striking to say the least, and his photo stream at Flickr frequently contains stacked insects as well as less mobile subjects.

--Rik
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that reply - nicely put - and SUPER helpful. I can see where if I had trouble with the MP-E that I will have trouble with Bellows. I just purchased some Kenko Extension tubes and a new 50mm f2.5 macro - although I didn't really need the lens, it will be a nice addition to my stuff, and I think give me an easier lens to work with.

I think I will start here with macro - using the tubes on a variety of lenses. I do have 70-200 f2.8 with a 1.4 extender, but that lens is not macro and it is my only lens that works with that particular extender - so I am not sure how well it would work with the tubes? I figure I will play and learn a bit with the extension tubes and all of my macro lenses. Learn as I go sort of deal and move on.

I am thinking about the bellows and rails still - I think I may get them so that if I am having success with tubes and want to move on I can. Its the much cheaper way I think for me to get further in. The bellows/rails I am thinking of cost only $100 after shipping, and so understanding I get what I pay for, I wont be dissappointed if I find in the future I want the MP-E. GREAT advice on the live subjects, I understand how the MP would work there. How difficult is it to adjust bellows to correct focus?

What can you tell me about reversing rings? I understand how they work and the concept, what I don't understand is the set up. I need a reversing ring - does that mount to camera, extension tube, bellows, other lens? Do I need to mount another lens on the back side of that? You are an awesome help!

(I should number my questions.) Stacking - I have not researched on this forum yet, so its probably here somewhere. What software is used? I have photoshop CS4 and am a fairly advanced user. It has HDR options, is their a similar function for Stacking, or do you use specialty software?
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Harold Gough



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5787
Location: Reading, Berkshire, England

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thartl wrote:
What can you tell me about reversing rings? I understand how they work and the concept, what I don't understand is the set up. I need a reversing ring - does that mount to camera, extension tube, bellows, other lens? Do I need to mount another lens on the back side of that? You are an awesome help!

It's a very short double male ring with no linkages whatsoever. It has the camera mount bayonet on one side and the lens filter mount screw thread on the other. It can connect to the camera body or any other part with the body mount, i.e. rings, bellows. All it does is hold the lens firmly in place but losing its auto functions.

With my Olympus OM kit I could regain the auto diaphragm function via a double cable release, the in-camera metering being unaffected. The situation is more complex with cameras such as yours.

Harold
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Last edited by Harold Gough on Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Harold Gough



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
When you're working with live specimens it usually works best to focus wide open and stop down at the instant of exposure. This is the strong point of the MP-E 65 -- it's the only lens that covers the 1-5X range with auto diaphragm.

In this context, perhaps: OM users have other options!

Harold
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thanks for that reply - nicely put - and SUPER helpful. I can see where if I had trouble with the MP-E that I will have trouble with Bellows. I just purchased some Kenko Extension tubes and a new 50mm f2.5 macro - although I didn't really need the lens, it will be a nice addition to my stuff, and I think give me an easier lens to work with.

I think I will start here with macro - using the tubes on a variety of lenses. I do have 70-200 f2.8 with a 1.4 extender, but that lens is not macro and it is my only lens that works with that particular extender - so I am not sure how well it would work with the tubes?

Normally extenders (teleconverters) are optimized for use with a particular kind of lens but also will work with others although the image quality may suffer. Try it and see. If you add tubes to the affair, they go between the teleconverter and the lens. The teleconverter is designed to be mounted on the camera and must stay there for best quality.

Quote:
I am thinking about the bellows and rails still - I think I may get them so that if I am having success with tubes and want to move on I can. Its the much cheaper way I think for me to get further in. The bellows/rails I am thinking of cost only $100 after shipping, and so understanding I get what I pay for, I wont be dissappointed if I find in the future I want the MP-E. GREAT advice on the live subjects, I understand how the MP would work there. How difficult is it to adjust bellows to correct focus?

I'm a great fan of bellows for studio work. I think you'll be pleased with what you can do, but it is important to keep the limitations in mind. There are several ways that a bellows can be focused. Most people set the bellows length to establish magnification, lock the front and rear mounts, then use a focus slide to move the camera and lens as a unit. In this case what matters is DOF versus how smoothly you can move the focus rail. At high magnification, DOF gets quite thin. For example at 3X and f/8 set on the lens, you will be running at an effective f/32 but even so your DOF will be only about 1/5 mm using the standard criterion for "sharp".

Quote:
What can you tell me about reversing rings? I understand how they work and the concept, what I don't understand is the set up. I need a reversing ring - does that mount to camera, extension tube, bellows, other lens? Do I need to mount another lens on the back side of that?

Reversing rings can be used in any of the ways that you mention.

To quickly review, the main purpose of reversing a lens is to reduce aberrations by putting the short focus distance on the mount side of the lens where the lens designer intended it to be.

A typical reversing ring has a male filter thread on one side and a bayonet mount to fit your camera body on the other side. That same mount fits extension tubes or bellows, of course. You get minimal extension by reversing the lens directly onto the body, more by adding some tubes, and more yet by adding a bellows. There is no other lens in this case -- just the one lens, reversed, on more or less extension to get whatever magnification you need. You can get a large range of magnification by using different extensions

Reversing rings are also made that have male filter threads on both sides. These rings are used to make "lens combos" or "stacked lenses" (distinct from focus stacking), by reversing a short lens in front of a long lens. In that case, the overall magnification is simply the ratio of focal lengths, rear/front, so for example reversing a 50 in front of a 200 will give you 4X magnification. Stacked lenses are commonly used with compact cameras that do not have interchangeable lenses. They are also used sometimes on DSLR's, particularly to get high magnification in the field. In my experience, most lens combos don't actually give very good images, due to aberrations that appear because the lenses were designed to be used separately, not together. Once in a while the results are excellent. Of course those are the ones that people publish so they are the ones you hear about. Most of the combos that I've tried do not make images that make me happy, and some of the ones that will make good images have to be used in awkward manners, like manually stopping down the front lens instead of automatically stopping down the rear lens. See Stopping down a lens combo for some discussion/illustration of that.

One earlier reply mentioned reversing an enlarging lens. This is an inexpensive and very effective method of getting good results in the 2X-5X range where other methods tend to fall down because the lenses aren't designed to work there. But of course enlarging lenses have manual diaphragms, so they're not ideal for working with live subjects.

Quote:
Stacking - I have not researched on this forum yet, so its probably here somewhere. What software is used? I have photoshop CS4 and am a fairly advanced user. It has HDR options, is their a similar function for Stacking, or do you use specialty software?

Photoshop CS4 does have focus stacking, but most reviews say that it's not as good as the specialty packages. See HERE for some links about that. The most commonly used specialty packages are CombineZP, Helicon Focus, and Zerene Stacker. CombineZP is free and can be talked into giving very good results, but the user interface is a bit clunky and it's Windows only (or Mac with Windows emulation). Helicon Focus is a commercial product that's been around for years. It's a very solid piece of work, but it hasn't kept up with state of the art in stacking algorithms and it has trouble with deep stacks with certain kinds of subjects. Zerene Stacker is a new product that was in public beta from April through September, but now has switched over to the usual purchased license after 30-day free trial. There is a comparison of Helicon and Zerene HERE.

Quote:
You are an awesome help!

Thanks. I learn a lot by answering questions.

--Rik
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi thartl

You may find this introductory article by Lord V on photostacking handy. The download link is perhaps a little out of date but should lead you to the latest free download version Combine ZP

http://www.digitalgrin.com/showthread.php?t=61316

It's probably always best to play around with the free stuff first to see if stacking suits you before paying for other more expensive programs.

DaveW
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thartl



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 169
Location: Wyoming

PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much - I will follow up on those stacking software sites a bit more. I should have my tubes and lens early next week and put it to some use.

Hadn't pictured putting extender/tube/lens - i will definitely give that a whirl.

Thanks again - watch for me in the coming weeks
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