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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- 34mm (13mm+21mm)
- 44mm (13mm+31mm)
- 52mm (21mm+31mm)
- 65mm (13mm+21mm+31mm)
Here a set of three tubes can be seen attached to a Nikon digital SLR camera.
This 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
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 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.
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.
This 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.
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
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 made a number of converters through the 70s and 80s.
Teleconverters are ideal for photography such as sports and wildlife.
- increased magnification
- light weight
- light loss
- quality degraded
Several teleconverters converters for sale here