Using a reversing ring

A reversing ring reverses an interchangeable lens on the camera body. One side has a camera body mount, the other side has a diameter the same size as the lens’ filter thread you intend to reverse.  A “Nikon AI to 55mm reversing ring” for example would allow a Nikon lens with a 55mm thread to be reversed on a Nikon body with an AI mount.

Reversing a lens makes it perform like a macro lens at a fraction of the cost.

To show the difference I mounted an Olympus 50mm Zuiko on an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera.

Olympus lens forward facing

I then attached a reverse ring to the front of the lens

Olympus lens with reversing ring

and turned it around to fit to the camera backwards.

Olympus lens reversed

I took a photo of breakfast cereal inside a plastic container with the lens in both the forward position

Forward lens photo

and the reversed position.

Photo taken with Olympus lens reversed

The lens was set to its closest setting of 0.45m for both photos. As you can see reversing the lens with a lens reverse ring allows much closer photographs to be taken.

I then took a series of photos with the lens reversed to show the type of photos you can take. Most of these are with the lens at maximum aperture so it gives a more creative effect with minimal sharp zone and lots of nice blurry backgrounds, like what you would achieve using a Lens baby .

close up of OM-10 exposure dial
Close up of OM-10 exposure dial with shallow depth of field.
Backlit photo of pens caps taken into the light to give the dreamy low contrast result.
Leica camera control taken at f1.8 to ensure shallow focus.
Takumar lens front taken with lens stopped down to f/5.6 to ensure a decent level of sharpness.
Glass chess piece
A glass chess piece with others in the background to give nice bokeh.

As you can see reversing a lens is a creative way to add options to your camera kit for low cost.

We have a number of reversing rings for sale at photographyattic.com check out this tag page. Lens reversing ring


Cant find the right BPM camera mount?

BPM bellows with its interchangeable mount system is all well and good, but what if you cant find the right mount for your camera body? BPM haven’t made mounts for well over two decades, so the modern camera mounts are impossible to find. And some of the older mounts, such as Yashica/Contax, Rollei 35SL and Olympus Pen, are as rare as rocking horse poo.

You could possibly find a factory with a moulding facility to create some, but that would be costly, or you could gain access to a 3D printer and make a mount, but in both cases you would need an accurate 3d technical drawing to ensure the mounts fit correctly. Thankfully there is a solution and it’s not too expensive.

Some lenses sold between the 70 and 90s had an interchangeable mount. This system known as the T2 system, which also attached to the rear of some accessories, such as slide duplicators, had a T2 mount that screws on to the rear side of the lens or accessory and provides the necessary fitting for your camera body. The thread of a T2 mount is similar to that of an M42 camera thread found on Zenit, early Pentax and Praktica bodies, but is just slightly different. A T2 mount will screw onto an M42 thread but it wont go all the way so you just get a few turns – enough to make it a secure fit and the reason for this tip.

If you buy a BPM Pentax / Edixa screw thread mount with a male thread you can screw this into a T2 mount to attach to the bellows so your camera body can be attached. T2 mounts were made in a wide range of fittings and due to the fact many of the original 80s accessories have been reproduced by Chinese manufacturers, they have made mounts for newer camera bodies. So it’s very likely the fitting you want is available, and easily accessible from suppliers on eBay if your local dealer doesn’t stock them. We even have a few here at PhotographyAttic if you follow this link: T2 Mounts for sale


Tilt Shift Bellows

Large format photographers using cameras with bellows have always had the luxury of being able to adjust the lens and/or sensor plane so they are not parallel. This technique is performed to alter the plane of focus. While a conventionally parallel set-up provides front to back sharpness from a focus point parallel to the sensor, the adjusted lens, swung or tilted, places the focus plane at a different angle. This is a very useful technique for landscape photography, allowing sharp focus from close range to infinity, even at wide open apertures. But it’s also incredibly useful for macro photography. With this in mind Photography Attic has taken a set of BPM camera bellows and modified them to create a versatile set of custom bellows with tilt, swing and also shift options.

Custom modified bellows

The bellows lens and camera platforms are individually mounted on a pair of small ball & socket heads which can be attached to a straight bracket like the one you would use with a flash gun. You can then slide the ball and socket along the flash bracket to extend the bellows increase magnification. And then tilt the front or rear panel to create the new plane of focus.

Custom bellows with tilt

Here’s an example of the tilted bellows in action. A small 25mm pocket watch has been photographed at an angle. Rather than head on and parallel to the camera lens. The lens was then tilted on the camera bellows set up and as a result the widest aperture of f/2.8 can be used with full front to back sharpness. As a comparison a second shot was taken with the lens set conventionally parallel to the film plane. Notice how the sharpness falls off to the rear.

close up with normal bellows

close up subject taken with tilted bellows

Another option is to use the swing feature. Here the lens is angled in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction to provide sharer front to back focus on an upright subject.
Custom bellows with swing

You can also adjust to provide a combination of both tilt and swing when the subject is not horizontal or vertical.

This process is technically known as the Scheimpflug Principle. If you would like to lean more check out the wikipedia page here: Scheimpflug Principle

You can buy a set of modified bellows with tilt shift here:Custom Tilt Shift Bellows You will also need to buy a bracket to mount them on.


Extension Tubes

Extension Tubes

Extension tubes are tubes without any optical elements that you place between the camera and lens of an interchangeable lens camera. They extend the lens so it can focus closer, giving the lens macro capabilities. Some have full automatic couplings so the camera can continue to be used in all its auto and program exposure and focus modes. Some lower priced ones have no couplings, so the camera needs to be used in manual.Extension Tube Set
Tubes are often sold in sets of three. The set illustrated above has 13mm, 21mm and 31mm extensions, and these can be attached in any combination giving a total of seven different extensions:

  • 13mm
  • 21mm
  • 31mm
  • 34mm (13mm+21mm)
  • 44mm (13mm+31mm)
  • 52mm (21mm+31mm)
  • 65mm (13mm+21mm+31mm)

Camera with Extension Tubes
Here a set of three tubes can be seen attached to a Nikon digital SLR camera.

extension tube example photoThis photograph of a British one pound coin was taken using a nikon camera with a 55mm lens set to infinity and an extension tube added. The smaller coin on the left is with the 13mm and the coin on the right is with the three tubes attached giving 65mm extension. The lens was at f/2.8 to show how shallow depth of field is.  When using tubes you either need to use a very small aperture or shoot the subject parallel to the CCD or film plane. Here the coin was at an angle so only a shallow strip across the centre is sharp.

Advantages of using Extension Tubes
Low cost macro
No optical degradation
Compact

Disadvantages of using Extension Tubes
Limited magnification variations
Fiddly changing between magnifications
Taking lens off increases risk of dust intrusion

We have a selection of extension tubes in different camera fittings

 


Fungus on Photography Lenses

Fungus spores are everywhere, but they only germinate in humidity and they thrive on dust.

A lens that has a dose of fungus has it because it has dust inside (and all lenses have some specs of dust even if they’re hard to see), and it’s been kept in a humid/warm environment. Fungus likes dark, damp places with warmth. Fungus generates spores which look to feed on dust, but the amount of dust in most lenses isnt enough for the fungus to spread.

When you clean a lens you move the dust around and push it into the edges. If the lens is then stored in a humid environment it’s more likely to encourage fungus growth. The fungus wont spread from lens to lens but it may appear in other lenses if the conditions are right for it.

So it’s best to store your lenses in a dry place in good light with minimal humidity. Also use them – the UV in sunlight kills fungus.

Fungus on rear elelemt of a Pentax 135mm lens

The above photo shows one patch of familiar fungal veins. This is on a rear element and is hard to spot without scrutiny. 

The best way to check for fungus is to shine a bright light in through the front or rear. A mini torch such as a Maglight is ideal.

Can fungus spread from camera lens to lens?
Does lens fungus spread from one lens to another? It’s a common question. Much is written about the subject on the internet…and views are mixed – some saying yes it does spread so you should isolate the infected lens and some say no, don’t worry about it.

Fungus on lensThis lens has lots of fungal attack ont the front element that’s creeping out to the centre. At present this could be used without any real loss in quality.

Using infected lenses
You can often clean fungus off the lens elements providing it’s not etched into the coating. If it’s on the inner elements you’ll need to strip the lens down but only attempt that if you’re competent with mechanical items as they’re not always as simple to take apart as they look.
If the lens is stored well once fungus is found it’s unlikely to spread.
Lenses can be used and results will vary depending on the level of contamination. A small colony here or there is hardly likely to affect anything while a more severe case will cases a dramatic reduction in contrast and sharpness, especially when shooting into the sun.

bad condition lens

This lens is badly affected and will result in lower contrast photos that lack sharpness and have a diffused look.

For those who want more info check out this informative web page: All about lens fungus


Teleconverters

A tele-converter is a budget accessory that will increase your photography options. The most common one is a 2x converter that doubles the focal length of your lens. Your 50mm lens becomes 100mm, your 70-300mm zoom becomes 140-600mm.

Vivitar Teleconverter Vivitar made a number of converters through the 70s and 80s.

Teleconverters are ideal for photography such as sports and wildlife.

Advantages:

  • increased magnification
  • light weight
  • cheap

Disadvantages:

  • light loss
  • quality degraded

Several teleconverters converters for sale here