My Studio Macro Rig, A Project and Work in Progress

Have questions about the equipment used for macro- or micro- photography? Post those questions in this forum.

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naturephoto1
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My Studio Macro Rig, A Project and Work in Progress

Post by naturephoto1 »

I have begun to work on a Studio Macro Rig that is based upon several pieces of equipment and is based in part upon Chris S' Bratcam particularly for specimen handling when the rig is in a Horizontal orientation:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... php?t=8247

I want to thank Chris for all of his assistance and guidance on this project.

However, my system is intended to be used in both a horizontal and a vertical orientation. The 2 main pieces of equipment to this system to begin with to handle the focus and camera/bellows/lens are my Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S and my Velmex system. The Velmex system is intended for field usage, but at least to start with, I plan to use this for the purpose of focus and moving the camera, lenses, bellows, etc. for up to 10X or so magnification. If I find that I wish to take photographs at higher magnification and particularly if I decide to get heavily involved with stacking, I will consider a Stackshot.

The single main piece of equipment is my Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S which I purchased on ebay back in 2002 and is designed to hold a camera and other equipment in either a vertical or horizontal orientation. The stand has a 16" column and allows the placement of the camera, bellows, lenses, attachment of an Arca Swiss Type QR clamp, etc. and also has 8 (eight) 3/8-16 tapped threads for the purpose of affixing arms to the unit. It is unfortunate that Novoflex stopped the production of these very flexible units quite some time ago and that they have become difficult to find.

The first photo below is of the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S in the vertical orientation:

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The second photo is of the stand in the horizontal orientation:

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The third photo is of the stand in the vertical orientation with the 2 Goose neck arms that came with the Novoflex Repro Stand S when I purchased the unit; the Goose neck arms were normally an extra and not included with the stand:

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The fourth photo is of the stand in the vertical orientation, the 2 Goose Neck arms and the Novoflex Translucent Carrier that I was also able to purchase new/mint in 2002 (these are also difficult to come by):

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The bottom plate of the Novoflex Repro Stand S is removable and can be replaced by the Translucent Carrier or used without any plate at all.

The fifth photo is of the Repro Stand S in the horizontal orientation and the Translucent Carrier has been installed into the unit:

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The sixth photo is of the Novoflex Repro Stand along with many of the additional parts that I now have on hand to work with the system:

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In the photo above you can see one of the larger C60 ProMediaGear Arca Swiss type QR clamps; to the right of the clamp you can see 2 of the 3/8-16 to 1/4-20 bushings to allow me to use 1/4-20 screws for the Variable Friction Arms; above the clamp to the left you can see the 2 Novoflex Goose Neck Arms; to the right of the Goose Neck Arms you can see 2 11" Variable Friction Arms; behind the Variable Friction Arms you can see a Newport 433 Linear stage with an adjustment screw (may replace in the future with a micrometer); to the right of the Newport 433 you can see a new Newport 481-A Rotational stage; packaged to the right of the Newport 481-A is a new Newport 360-90 Angle Bracket; behind the Newport stages is the vertically oriented Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S; and to the right of the Novoflex Repro Stand is the Velmex focusing system.

The seventh photo is of the Newport 481-A Rotational Stage placed on top of the Newport 433 linear stage as they are to be used with the Velmex focusing system mounted onto the ProMediaGear C60 Arca Swiss type QR clamp which is attached to the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand in the vertical orientation:

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The eighth photo is of the Velmex focusing system mounted to the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S with the Translucent Carrier installed; the whole assembly is tripod mounted at an angle to show some of the system's flexibility:

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The ninth photo is of the Novoflex Repro Stand in the Vertical orientation as a system photo:

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In the photo above my Panasonic Lumix G1 is mounted to my Leica Bellows R via the Lumix R adapter; the Leica R 100mm f4.0 Macro Elmar Bellows lens is mounted on the Bellows; the Bellows is loaded onto the Velmex focus system which is in turn connected to the ProMediaGear C60 Arca Swiss Type QR clamp which is attached to the Novoflex stand. In addition, you can see one of the Novoflex Goose Neck arms attached to one of the 8 points on the stand.

The tenth photo is of the Novoflex Repro Stand in the Horizontal orientation as a system photo:

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In the photo above my Panasonic Lumix G1 is mounted to my Siratone Bellows Master SST via the Lumix R adapter; the Leitz 25mm f2.5 Photar lens is attached through a cone adapter and additional adapters to a portion of a Leica R extension tube which is attached to the Spiratone Bellows; the Bellows is loaded onto the Velmex focus system which is in turn connected to the ProMediaGear C60 Arca Swiss Type QR clamp which is attached to the Novoflex stand. Additionally, in the photo you can see the 2 Novoflex Goose Neck arms and 2 11" Variable Friction Arms attached to four of the 8 points on the stand.

I am considering getting an optical Breadboard that is 12" X 24" X1/2" thick to mount the whole system to operate together. I would also anticipate purchasing feet to place under the Breadboard to lessen vibration.

Additionally, I am anticipating using a pole mounted to the Breadboard to support the specimen carrying system when using the Novoflex in the horizontal orientation. I am hoping to find an Olympus BHMJ Focus Block to Post mount on the Specimen carrying post in this orientation. The 2 Newport stages would then mount via the Angle bracket much like ChrisS' Bratcam. In the future I hope to add Goniometers to the system.

I would anticipate having stops made to help to keep the position of the Novoflex in place for either orientation. I may also require a way of raising the Novoflex particularly when using it in the horizontal orientation.

I am still working out particulars in the design including possibly using and attaching XY linear stages for the usage of the Novoflex in the Vertical Orientation. I have one of the Proxxon KT-70 tables, but that may not work well for this application. Additionally, for backlighting and/or Dark Field Lighting I am considering purchasing an XY Stereo Microscope stage (like the one that Craig has). I have considered purchasing one of these for many years. This stage may need to be raised for inserting amongst other things my Microfiber Ring Light under the stage.

Rich

naturephoto1
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Post by naturephoto1 »

I am sorry that this has taken so long to update my Studio Macro Rig. But, Chris S in particular and Craig are aware of problems that arose with the first Olympus BHMJ Focus Block that I received and its return. Chris was kind enough to sell me one of his modified BMMJ Focus Blocks, but little did either of us have any idea as to the amount of modification that was conducted to the unit.

Now I will provide a large number of additional photos for my set-up. After discussion with Chris, I replaced the Newport Angle bracket for the system which is encased in plastic in the 6th photo above with this one from Thorlabs:

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Additionally, after discussion with Chris, rather than order a 12" X24" X 1/2" Thorlabs Breadboard, I ordered one that is 18" X 24" X 1/2":

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I ordered the Optical Breadboard with Sorbathane feet that screw into the underside of the unit to reduce vibration running through the unit.

Below is a photo of all of the major components that were used to assemble my specimen/subject carrier for my Horizontal Set-up:

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In the photo above you can see to the left front the 3 posts that Randy, my machinist made to load into the Olympus BHMJ Focus Block that can be seen to the left rear of the photo. These 3 posts can be used separately or in combination (they all screw together) in lengths of 4", 6", 8", 10", 12", 14", and 18" so that I can adjust the height of the assembled subject carrier. To the right of the 3 posts you can see the Thorlabs Post Base that Randy modified and counter bored so that we could use 3/8-16 thread screws. Behind the Thorlabs Post Base and in front of the Olympus BHMJ Focus Block you can see the plate that Randy made so that I could load the Thorlabs angle bracket (to the right of the Focus Block) to the slide of the Focus Block. To the right of the Plate mentioned is the Newport 481-A rotating stage. To the right of the Newport 481-A is the Thorlabs 433 Linear stage. In the front right corner is the Thorlabs GNL20 Goniometer set. To the left of the Goniometers and to the right of the Thorlabs Post Base is another Plate made by Randy that sits between the Newport 481-A and the Goniometer set. The plate allows for flexibility so that the Goniometers can either be attached only to the plate or to the plate and to the Newport 481-A.

The next 3 photos show the assembled Horizontal specimen/subject carrier attached to the Optical Breadboard:

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The next 2 photos show the subject carrier/specimen holder set-up with my Lumix G1 with my Leica Bellows R and Lumix Leica R Adapter, Leica 100mm f4.0 Macro Elmar Bellows lens, the Velmex unit and the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S in the Horizontal Orientation:

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I now have a second Velmex unit that I will be ordering parts for probably tomorrow so that if I wanted I could run the 2 units perpendicular to each other. I will have to check this option to make sure that I do not build up vibration in the system for photography, but this would provide me with added height when needed to take photos for the camera/lens/bellows when using the set-up in the Horizontal Orientation.

In addition to using the Optical Bread Board and the Novoflex system in the Horizontal Orientation, I also purchased both an Olympus BHC Microscope Stage and a Proxxon KT70 table. Randy did some machining on a "table" for the Olympus Microscope stage and a very large plate for the Proxxon.

The next 4 photos are of the Olympus BHC Microscope Stage and the "table" that Randy made:

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The next photo shows the Olympus BHC Microscope stage with the Newport 481-A Rotation stage held in place by the microscope slide holder; the rotation stage can not be locked, but can be held in position:

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The next photo shows the Olympus BHC Microscope stage and Newport 481-A Rotation stage with the Novolflex Macro Repro Stand S:

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The next photo shows the Olympus BHC Microscope stage, the Thorlabs Optical Bread Board, the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand, the Velmex unit, and the whole photo assembly:

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The "table" for the Olympus BHC Microscope stage is counterbored and can be mounted directly to the breadboard.

The next photo is of the Proxxon KT70 table with the large Plate that Randy made for the unit:

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The next photo is of the Proxxon KT70 table, the mounting plate and the Newport 481-A Rotation stage:

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The next photo is of the Proxxon KT70 table, the mounting plate, the Newport 481-A Rotation stage, and the Novloflex Macro Repro Stand:

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The next photo is of the Proxxon KT70 table, mounting plate, Thorlabs Optical Bread Board, the Novoflex Macro Repro Stand, the Velmex unit, and the whole photo assembly:

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The Proxxon KT70 plate is counterbored and can be mounted directly to the breadboard.

I thought that I would share some of the optics that I have for the system for usage both in the field and the studio. Most of the Leica Gear was purchased prior to 1990 and I have been collecting gear in different format sizes for quite some time for film based cameras. The photo below is of my Leica R gear and the Spiratone Bellows Master SST (that I purchased around 2002 or so):


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In the photo above you see the Leica Bellows R to the left rear and the Spiratone Bellows Master SST set-up to take (via adapters and part of a Leica R extension tube) Leica R cameras and lenses to its right. In front of the bellows units you see the Leica 100mm f4.0 Bellows Macro Elmar to the the left and the Leica 60mm f2.8 Macro Elmarit to its right. To the right of the bellows in the rear row you see the Leica 180mm f3.4 Apo Telyt and to the right of the that the Leica 70-210mm f4.0 Macro Elmar lens. To the right of that there is a Nikon lens shade that I use for the zoom lens because I had Leica USA remove the standard collapsible hood that interfered with the usage of Graduated filters. In front of the the 180mm lens is the Leica 1.4X Apo Extender sitting on the gray back to back lens holder and to its right is the Leica 2X Apo Extender. In the front row and to the right of the 60mm macro lens are the Nikon 5T and 6T diopters that can be used via an adapter to both the 180mm and the 70-210 lenses. The remaining parts in the photo are of Leica Extension tubes. This whole set-up can be used from about 1/4 life size to possibly 2X.

After working with Harold in the UK with his purchase of his Leica 60mm f2.8 Macro Elmarit lens I renewed my interest (since about 1990) in the Leica 100mm f2.8 Apo Macro Elmarit lens. I purchased the one below and the Elpro 1:2 to 1:1 diopter after the previous photo was taken:

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The lens alone like the Leica 60mm f2.8 Macro Elmarit "naked" focuses from infinity to 1/2 life size. The Elpro adapter is a screw in diopter designed specifically for the lens and screws into the front of the lens and allows magnification of 1:2 to just over 1:1 without any performance loss. I will also try this combination with the Leica 2X Apo Extender to see if this combination works well enough up to 2X. This "new" lens will in most instances replace the usage of the Leica 100mm f4.0 Bellows Macro Elmar both in the field and in the studio.

Below is a photo of the 3 Leica R Macro lenses that I have along with the Elpro 1:2 to 1:1 diopter:

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The next photo is the same lenses and Elpro along with the Leica 180mm f3.4 Apo Telyt lens for scale:

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I also collected over the years quite a number of large format lenses for macro work. Additionally mostly during the period of 2002 to about 2006 I collected quite a number of lenses and equipment for film based cameras ranging from my 35mm Leicas to medium format and to 4" X 5" film based cameras. I never completed this project, but I am now continuing it. The lenses that were collected were intended for usage with multi format usage in mind.

The last photo that is below is of much of the additional equipment that I have collected for magnification of about 1X to possibly 6X or more:

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In the photo above, you can see in the rear row my Schneider 120mm f5.6 Makro Symmar HM in Copal 0 shutter originally purchased for 4" X 5" film. With the new adapter that has been made, it can be used on my Leica Bellows systems, but I still have to check the performance. To the right of the Makro Symmar lens are the Rodenstock 75mm f4.0 1X and the the 75mm f4.5 2X lenses. These were purchased to cover medium format film and 4" X5" camera reducing backs. These also fit my Leica Bellows R systems. To the right of the Rodenctock lenses in the rear row is the Scheneider 50mm f4.0 M-Compon lens which was purchased with the Linhof MaKro Tube and the Compur 0 shutter and covers 4" X 5". This lens also with adapters fits my Leica R Bellows systems. From left to right in the front row are: Leica 25mm f2.5 Photar lens, Canon 35mm f2.8 Macrophoto lens, Canon 20mm f3.5 Macrophoto lens, and the Minolta 12.5mm f2.0 Micro Bellows lens. The Photar lens covers 4" X 5" film camera. All of these lenses have an RMS thread and via different adapters fit my Leica Bellows R systems. Everything else in the photo are different adapters that allow these 8 lenses to mount onto the Leica Bellows R systems.

Rich

Chris S.
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Post by Chris S. »

Wow, Rich--over 1,000 page views and no comments or questions. I wonder if that's a record for PMN? Perhaps you've explained everything so thoroughly that nothing is left to ask?

One of the cool things about your rig is its adaptability. You can work horizontally or vertically, with reflected light or transmitted light, with what looks like easy switching from one regime to another. Everything is modular, so when you inevitably encounter a situation beyond what you planned for during the design of your rig, you're likely to find a quick, easy way to get the job done.

I look forward to hearing how you find each component of your rig to perform over time. If your experience is like mine, certain elements will make you smile, while others may inspire you to re-engineer. Given the number of views of your thread, I suspect that others will also be watching with interest.

--Chris

--Edited for typo
Last edited by Chris S. on Thu May 03, 2012 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ecki
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Post by Ecki »

Rich,

impressive rig! it looks like you are a glass junkie - just like me :mrgreen:

regards
Ecki

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

This thread and others will likely provide a great deal of inspiration as I continue to improve my own (currently built out of Lego) table-top rig. Today I did some work with it that left me realizing how much I wanted a better specimen holder. I'm currently hot gluing toothpicks to lichen specimens and poking them into foam surfaces or griping them with clips.

I'm leaning towards whatever route requires less machining. I don't know any machinists, and know next to nothing about metalwork. I'm at the point where my requests would be something like "I need a thing to attach this thing to that thing", which probably wouldn't get me very far.

These and the Bratcam are very impressive rigs. Nicely done!

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Post by ChrisRaper »

It certainly an amazing setup - capable I guess of just about any configuration you'd ever need. I just didn't comment earlier because it is all so way out of my budget that I felt a bit daunted :D

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Post by Craig Gerard »

Rich wrote:I ordered the Optical Breadboard with Sorbathane feet that screw into the underside of the unit to reduce vibration running through the unit.
Rich,
Those Thorlabs vibration isolation feet....how are they.....not too 'squishy'? I may possibly require a set or two of those myself.
Rylee wrote:I need a thing to attach this thing to that thing", which probably wouldn't get me very far.
It will, if you select the Business and Industrial category on eBay and type in 'Newport', 'Thorlabs', 'Melles Griot', translation stage, rotation stage (that's just a start)...... as individual search criteria into the search box.....or order their respective catalogues.....You will find something to attach this thing to that thing and many more besides. *This suggestion comes with a warning, such gizmos are addictive. It is possible to pick up good units for very reasonable prices. I recently purchased two 'new' Newport 426 Crossed Rollar Bearing Linear Translation stages for USD $159.00 each, RRP $500+ each.


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

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

This suggestion comes with a warning, such gizmos are addictive.
No joke! I already purchased a Newport rotational stage. I'm excited about it and I don't even quite understand why... it's just a thing that turns. I'm actually very happy to find that Newport and Thorlabs gear is very, very common on eBay.

naturephoto1
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Post by naturephoto1 »

Chris, Rylee, Craig, Chris, Ecki,

Thanks for the kind words. It is most appreciated. I have to start gathering items to bring into the house to start using this system as well as to take photos outside locally both in terms of landscape and close-up. Things are starting to get a bit busy as I have to do some gardening, and getting things up and running for my limited Art Show Schedule.

Ecki,

Yes, I do like my good glass. :oops:

Craig,

The Sorbathane feet are relatively firm, but give somewhat. I believe that according to Thorlabs the 4 perform their best at a reasonable weight up to total weight of about 75? pounds. Sorbathane has been used for many items for vibration in audio, as well as for photography, and instrumentation.

Be aware that the Sorbathane bottoms feel a bit greasy and pick up bits and pieces, and dust if you are not careful. The feet may well leave some marks on some surfaces (like paper). They make excellent contact and grip on something like our granite table top in our kitchen and I expect that they will reduce vibration running through the system. I have placed some wax paper under the feet to keep them clean until I intend to use the rig on the table top. I didn't want any residue left on the mat board that I used for taking the photos. Be careful though if you slide the rig with wax paper under the feet on something like a polished granite top because the whole assembly will slip easily. But as I mentioned the feet alone really grip the polished granite top.

Rich

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Post by ChrisRaper »

naturephoto1 wrote:Be aware that the Sorbathane bottoms feel a bit greasy and pick up bits and pieces, and dust if you are not careful.
Just a thought but would wrapping the feet in cling-film both protect them from collecting dust and leaving deposits, while at the same time retaining some non-slip adhesion? If the cling film got dirty you could just then take it off and replace it :)

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Post by psychoanalyst_god »

wow!!

Since you are using the Newport stage, I wonder if you have some additional insights.

I have the Newport 430 stage and I am trying to figure out how to interface that with my Nikon PB-4 bellows.

The stage will sit on my tripod QR plate...no problems there since it is 1/4-20 connection.

But I can't seem to find 1/4-20 male-male adapters.

I would appreciate your insight.

Thanks.

Avi

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

Regarding the macro stand, a Google search of "Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S" (in quotes) matches only this thread, suggesting that this probably isn't the official name of the product.

I am trying to find it, since it is the only stand I have seen that uses a C-shaped base, making it easier to use in a horizontal position as a rail. The current Novoflex offerings just have clamps, and I'm not fond of that approach.

Any tips on finding this thing? It's unfortunate that Novoflex abandoned this product and did not release a suitable replacement.

Is anyone aware of alternative products? I've seen copy stands on eBay, but nothing remotely like this one.

Craig Gerard
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Post by Craig Gerard »

Avi wrote:But I can't seem to find 1/4-20 male-male adapters.
Are you referring to these? (they are available in various lengths)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/300699439935

There is also this option but you will require an additional AS clamp with the long shaft: (check the depth on the 1/4-20 holes on the 430. Some models have shallow holes and require a shorter bolt than those supplied with the adapter).
http://www.ebay.com/itm/330661487331

One of these bidirectional AS plates work well with the PB-4 (the ridge prevents 'twist'):
http://www.ebay.com/itm/230721489879


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

naturephoto1
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Post by naturephoto1 »

Rylee Isitt wrote:Regarding the macro stand, a Google search of "Novoflex Macro Repro Stand S" (in quotes) matches only this thread, suggesting that this probably isn't the official name of the product.

I am trying to find it, since it is the only stand I have seen that uses a C-shaped base, making it easier to use in a horizontal position as a rail. The current Novoflex offerings just have clamps, and I'm not fond of that approach.

Any tips on finding this thing? It's unfortunate that Novoflex abandoned this product and did not release a suitable replacement.

Is anyone aware of alternative products? I've seen copy stands on eBay, but nothing remotely like this one.
Hi Rylee,

To the best of my knowledge Novoflex had 2 Macro Repro Stands. There was a smaller one and the one that I have that was the Macro Repro Stand S that I believe was the official name. Additional components were available for the Macro Repro Stand S including the Translucent Carrier that I have and posted about. Calumet at one point pushed this product and was on the front of one of their catalogs many years ago. Unfortunately, Novoflex retired this product quite a number of years ago. They are quite difficult to find at this point. I believe that Novoflex replaced it with the Magic Studio Stand (Studio) that comes with a clamp system to clamp to a table top but has no base.

You can look at the translation of 2 German forums below; the first is searching trying to find a unit and the second shows both of the Novoflex Macro Repro Stands (though the S version is not labeled as such):

http://tinyurl.com/bwc9pb2

http://tinyurl.com/ck6o3od

Rich

Rylee Isitt
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Post by Rylee Isitt »

Thanks Rich,

I think I came the conclusion yesterday based on Google Searches that the advertised name was "Novoflex Macro-S Copy Stand", but even without the quotes, most of the results are for the newer "magic studio" stands.

I've been looking for a good copy stand for nearly two years - thus why I built one out of Lego (desperation)! Mind you, until recently the search has been rather casual. I've been wanting something more suited to horizontal work recently - I may modify my Lego stand to accomplish this.

I'm still debating between the two fundamental approaches: physically separate specimen holder and camera system (more flexible, more vibrations, cheaper), or both clamped to a shared base or rail system (less flexible, less vibrations, more expensive). It's a tough decision. I think the first approach lends itself well to transitioning to the latter, so maybe I should start with that.

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