A new "table-top" setup

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Charles Krebs
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A new "table-top" setup

Post by Charles Krebs »

A nephew wanted to try his hand at this stuff so I put together this setup for him to use for awhile. Took it outside and grabbed a few quick pictures before I sent it to him. I always enjoy seeing the way others put together their "systems" and have gotten many good ideas this way. So I thought I'd toss this out there with a few thoughts.

First picture...from top to bottom:

-Pentax bellows (M42) with a Nikon adapter (made about 3/4 inch thick so lower part of camera body clears rear standard).

-Lens adapter with reverse mounted 35/4 Schneider Componon

-Newport M-426 Linear stage. Micrometer has 1 inch of travel. 10 micron (.0004 inch) per unit calibration. (Very nice piece!)

-Novoflex MagicBall head

-15 lbs (6.8kg) barbell weights as base. (Rather hastily glued together :wink: )

Image


The lens adapter. I have pretty much "standardized" on 52mm (for reverse mounting) and T-mounts. This has both. An internal T-mount (generally used for RMS adapters) and the external 52mm thread. Making the adapter about 1.5 inches long allows for some clearance of the base of the front bellows standard. (Nice when the working distance is short)

Image

Since this setup will generally be used up to about 10X (unless a "finer" micrometer was used on the stage) I though it would be nice to have a ball head that allowed for easy positioning. The low profile of the Newport stage makes this practical, since the bellows does not wind up so high as to make things unstable. This Novoflex MagicBall is one of those pieces of equipment that people either love or hate (sort of like Benbo tripods :wink:). It has limited left/right tilt (no problem here), and complete forward/backward tilt. This is definitely not a head to use if you are prone to forget to lock your tripod head down solidly! Things will crash forward or backward :shock: :smt022 . One reason I really like it for macro setups is the design. Most ballheads are clamped by "pushing" up from the bottom, while the weight of the load pushes downward in the opposite direction. As a result there is usually some "creep"as you tighten the head. No too noticeable for "normal" photography but it can be a real pain at high magnifications. Because of it's "upside-down" design the load on top this head forces it in the same direction it will clamp. So I have found much less "creep" than with most ballheads. (But trust me... it's not for everyone!)

Image


The only thing about this arrangement that bugs me is that there is not sufficient height in the bellows standard to do a vertical orientation. It can be done with the rear standard positioned nearly all the way back, but depending on the working distance provided by the optics that are used this is often not practical. This is a common problem with many of the nice bellows that are out there. (Although not with my Nikon PB-4 and the D200/D300. I think some of the other Nikon bellows are OK for verticals with these bodies as well. But these Nikon bellows can not be found as inexpensively as some other models).

The last thing I do it check the rear and interior of any mounts and adapters for shiny surfaces. I touch those up with a brush and Krylon Ultra Flat Black (#1602) paint. It is amazing how large a problem flare can be with DSLR's. (Due in large part to the reflections from the flat sensor/anti-aliasing/IR filter). Since with this Pentax piece the bellows material is easily detachable from the front standard I even add a "flare-cut" mask diaphragm internally at the rear of the front standard.

Charlie

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

Lucky nephew :) By the way, the micrometer has 10um increments but the vernier lets you dial in 1um steps - should be enough for most people !

Andrew

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

the vernier lets you dial in 1um steps - should be enough for most people !
True, but I'm guessing you have younger eyes than mine! :cry:

AndrewC
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Post by AndrewC »

Charles Krebs wrote:
the vernier lets you dial in 1um steps - should be enough for most people !
True, but I'm guessing you have younger eyes than mine! :cry:
... only when I take my glasses off and squint, it's only really a problem when I'm soldering - I burnt my nose last week :(

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

I always enjoy examining setups. This is an interesting arrangement Charlie.

How about using a Velmex A25 series Unislide on top of the Newport for 'course' or secondary 'fine' focus? Reasonably lightweight and would only raise the profile by 18-20mm and more than justify its inclusion. The UniSlide drum dial would clear the base of the DSLR with room to spare and the lead screw action is superb with the 20tpi and 40tpi units.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Planapo
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Post by Planapo »

Very inspiring, thanks, Charlie! I still have to tinker such a horizontal setup, and now see that I have almost all parts around which are needed.

As to the problem that occurs when a vertical orientation of the camera body is desired while the rear standard has been moved forward, I think I can recommend a less costly bellows which allows for such camera rotation. This bellows shows up quite frequently on the used market over here, though I don´t know if it´s that easily available on your side of the pond.
I didn´t want to post a photo into your thread, hence I show that bellows here.

--Betty

edit: horizontal, setup I meant, and not vertical.
Last edited by Planapo on Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Betty,

I've seen those East German Pentacon bellows on eBay from time to time and was intrigued by the height.

You mentioned putting together a vertical setup. One thing I have found is that bellows that clamp using a "dovetail" type connection are often not too good when used vertically. When loosened, the standards and rail tend to "sag" due to gravity. When tightened, they do snug up but things tend to shift around. If you carefully adjust the tension (usually via small set screws) you can minimize this, but it is hard to eliminate without making things so tight that the pieces become difficult to shift . But a well made bellows using circular rails generally (again... not always) has much less of this problem.

When used horizontally the problem is not as large, although you will often notice a shift as things are tightened down, especially with a heavy camera or lens attached.

Planapo
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Post by Planapo »

Charles, seems it must have been too late yesterday evening, and obviously I was too tired, so I´ve messed it up :oops: :wink: : Above, of course, I meant a horizontal setup like yours shown here, and not a vertical one, that I want to tinker.

My already existing setup is vertical, and I use such a Pentacon bellows with it most of the time.
It´s only the standards that are clamped on the Pentacon bellows, the rail on this bellows itself is moved with a knurled knob via a toothed rack on the underside of the rail, like on the here shown Pentax and the other more expensive bellows. But mostly I do the vertical coarse movement, on my already existing vertical setup, with the copy stand and not with the bellows block anyway.

-Betty

Joseph S. Wisniewski
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Post by Joseph S. Wisniewski »

So you're the other Magic Ball owner. :lol:

Never thought of using mine for macro, but it's a great head at airshows...

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Joseph,

Yes. I've had a fondness for Novoflex stuff going way back to the days of toting around that stovepipe 400/600mm lens.

elf
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Post by elf »

Have you considered just mounting the bellows on an L bracket which is in turn mounted on the Newport M-426 Linear stage to get the vertical alignment? A quick release would make it a snap to change orientation.

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Elf,

That would work, but I would hate using a bellows "sideways", and I wanted to avoid as many layers and connections as possible.

Since this is used under such controlled situations it's generally pretty easy to simply set up the subject into a horizontal orientation to make the end result a "vertical". And if that can't be done, it's often not that difficult to change the lens so that the camera body is far enough back to clear the lower rail and allow a vertical. (There are a large number of bellows that have no provision for rotating the back to vertical at all!)

Charlie

NikonUser
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Post by NikonUser »

Charles Krebs wrote:it's generally pretty easy to simply set up the subject into a horizontal orientation to make the end result a "vertical".
Charlie
The full frame Forest Yellowjacket face HERE
was shot horizontal and then rotated 90 degrees before posting.
NU.
student of entomology
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” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
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Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

NU,

Yes.... and if you get some particularly saggy subject driving you nuts, put gravity to good use and mount the subject upside down. :wink:

NikonUser
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Post by NikonUser »

Charles Krebs wrote:NU,

Yes.... and if you get some particularly saggy subject driving you nuts, put gravity to good use and mount the subject upside down. :wink:
Particularly if you want nice straight antennae, on a bug that is.
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

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