Enlarging lenses for Macro - follow up.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rodeo_joe|1, May 10, 2009.

  1. There was a posting a few days ago about using enlarging lenses for macro, and another recent post about adapting a non-Nikon bellows to fit Nikon cameras.
    I've just got around to re-sizing a couple of macro shots taken with enlarging lenses for posting, so here they are if anyone's still interested.
    First off, here's the set up. A lovely set of Pentax bellows adapted to T-mount and fitted to an F2, although the posted macro examples were all taken with a D700.
  2. Here's a macro shot taken using a D700 on the above bellows with a Schneider Componon 60mm f/5.6 enlarging lens @ f/11 and about a 3:1 magnification ratio. That's as close as the bellows and lens combo will go.
  3. Not sure if this second shot will fit the page, but I'll give it a try. Another example with the 60mm Componon. This time it's the 100th of an inch markings on a steel ruler with 100% clips of the corner and centre shown at the side.
    I've tested some of my extensive collection of enlarging lenses as macro lenses, and come to the conclusion that almost any enlarging lens will beat a standard camera lens when it comes to macro work. So far I can recommend the following enlarging lenses for macro work:
    80mm f/4 Rodagon
    60mm f/4 Rodagon
    60mm f/5.6 Componon
    50mm f/2.8 Componon-S
    5 inch f/4.5 Taylor-Hobson Ental
    The two star performers so far are the 60mm Componon and the 80mm Rodagon. All of the enlarging lenses are superior to a 55mm f/2.8 Vivitar macro lens at high magnifications.
  4. 100 mm Schneider Componon, black with preset lever, works fine also
  5. ohdamn!, now you have me scouting ebay for m39 adapters too... ,-)
  6. Thanks for your thread to my post re: getting 2x to 3x from a 105 VR Micro for dental photography. After looking at these , and realizing that I have a 30 year old Nikkor 50/4 Enlarging lens in storage, could this work with a bellows? Exactly what would I need, and how would the subject be illuminated? How is a the lens, flash and D200 & D700 setup? Thanks.
  7. Interesting. Which/how many "regular" macro lenses did you test and did you test them both reversed and the right way around?
    I'm kind of interested in getting an enlarging lens for this purpose (I'm not considering an enlarger), but the really interesting ones for me seem to be on the expensive side.
  8. rowlett

    rowlett Moderator

    Great posts, thank you! I am excited to receive a couple of adapters from Leitax so that I can convert a Leitz bellows, "16 860 Bellows-R" to be mounted on my D700 (the other to convert the 80/1.4). I have adapters that will allow for another of different lenses to be mounted, from Leica R lenses, Leica M lenses, Leica screwmount, and Canon lenses. I have one canon lens that is simliar to the Leica "Photar" lenses. It's a 35/2.8, tiny little bugger. I never thought to try mounting enlarger lenses. Gotta try that.
  9. I'm comparing the results from the enlarging lenses with those I get from my 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor and a recently acquired (well used) 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, both with PK extension tube. This combo only gives me 1:1 and the Micro-Nikkors are both starting to look "stretched" already at this ratio. I also have a Canon fit Tamron 90mm AF macro, which goes to 1:1 without any help. None of these lenses will fit into the bellows.
    The only lenses I have that fit the bellows directly are some assorted Takumars, a CZ Pancolar and the Vivitar (rebadged Elicar) 55mm macro. All of them show much more corner definition falloff than the Componon and Rodagon lenses. I haven't bothered to try and reverse any of the lenses since a) I don't have the reversing rings, and b) It's too much hassle when the enlarging lenses work just fine.
    The main problem with all the "proper" macro lenses is that the glass is set right back in the mounting. Great as a built-in hood for normal and copying distances, but a royal pain when you need to get a light source between the front of the lens and the subject. The enlarging lenses don't have any such problem and I was able to light the above examples with a small handheld flash gun pointed at the subject. The flash distance and direction was varied by guesstimation to get the exposure and lighting right. Shadows were softened by surrounding the subject with a small semicircle of white paper.
  10. Thanks, RJ. I've been hanging onto an EL-Nikkor N 80/5.6 just for this purpose. So far my experiments have been fairly primitive, using a homebrewed bag bellows made from the black plastic bag from a box of Ilford RC printing paper. It works, after a fashion, but I have to physically hold the lens since it's not self-supporting. But the results were promising and show that an enlarging lens can be very useful as a macro for larger than 1:1 magnification.
  11. Magnification higher than 1:1 is difficult with a lens like the 55/2.8 Vivitar because working distance is too short. The answer for higher magnification with this lens is to simply reverse it. You will lose auto diaphragm control this way but you can get semi-automatic disphragm control by using an auto ring and a double cable release. If a lens design is symmetrical then reversing it will only help if the elements are recessed too far for what you need. If a lens is not symmetrical then for best results with magnification higher than 1:1, it should be reversed. This is more difficult with some enlarging lenses than with others. I have used a 50/4 EL Nikkor successfully on a bellows. Sharpness is not the problem, working distance is. The longest enlarging lens I use with a bellows for macro work is a 150/5.6 Rodagon. I need to reverse it so I can mount it more easily. If I am not mistaken this lens has a symmetrical design so reversing it does not improve image quality. I would like to get the last 150/5.6 EL Nikkor just to have a 150 with a 39mm mount.
  12. I have the same Pentax bellow adapted to Nikon. Here is a snap shot at 7X using a Schneider 28mm f4 enlarger lens (reversed).
  13. Been doing this for a few years with great results. For slide copying I like the 80mm Nikkor, but for more magnification I've got an old Componon, shorter than 50mm but can't remember exactly, that works well. I work with a company that makes tiny piezoelectric motors- here's a typical shot using the Componon on tubes or a bellows.
  14. "I would like to get the last 150/5.6 EL Nikkor just to have a 150 with a 39mm mount."
    I think all the el-Nikkors up through 135mm use the 39mm Leica thread, but the 150mm has a larger mount. As to what exact size and pitch, I do not know, but you'll need to check that before you buy.
  15. Nikon made the King of Tilt Shift Bellows. You should locate PB-4. Here's PB-4 with El Nikkor 135mm 5.6 enlarging lens easily adapted to 5D or directly attached to your nikon dslr via addition of a 8mm extension tube, 11A:
  16. This combo only gives me 1:1 and the Micro-Nikkors are both starting to look "stretched" already at this ratio.​
    I agree, they are ok beyond 1:1 for infrequent work, but there are better alternatives.
    For me the biggest appeal in enlarging lenses would be that they get rid of the focusing mechanism, which is anyway unnecessary on bellows and weight would be cut down. However, I don't do work beyond 1:1 very often and when I do, I can easily reverse a lens or used a stacked lens combo. Still, an inexpensive enlarging lens might be handy...
    In any case, this is a good thread, useful info about a topic not often discussed.
  17. Poor soldermask alignment on that board. It's starting to affect the solder fillets.
  18. You're right about the solder mask, I hadn't even noticed it up 'til now. Mind you it's a low volume production semi-flexible PCB, which isn't the easiest stuff to silk-screen. It's also quite old - state of the art in the late 1980s.
    Lindy, I like the look of those Nikon bellows. I wish my Pentax set had the front swing movement. Hang on. I've just remembered an old enlarger gismo I have lying around that allows the lens to be tilted..... I wonder?
    I agree that the main attraction of enlarger lenses is their small size and mechanical simplicity; plus lately you can pick them up by the dozen for very little money. El-Nikkors seem to hold their price reasonably well, but Rodagons and Componons are dirt cheap. About one-tenth of their new price or even less if you haggle and point out to the seller that there's hardly any call for them these days (sucks air through teeth) "Oh, go on then, I'll take it off your hands, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to find a use for it."
    I think I'd go for Componon-S lenses out of choice, because the aperture on most of them goes well beyond the minimum marked aperture, to about f/45 or so.
  19. BTW, has anyone observed any interesting effects from UV with enlarging lenses as macro lenses? Reportedly some enlarging lenses can be useful for emphasizing UV light, but I haven't experimented in color. All my photos with an enlarging lens on a homebrewed bag bellows were on b&w negative film.
  20. Oh Lex, you must know I'm a sucker for a challenge. Now that UV thing is going to nag at me until I've checked it out, and I already have a "to-do" list that'll take me about another 129 years to catch up on.
    I suspect that Schneider used Fluorite elements in the G-Claron, since some of the "glass" is extremely brittle, but I don't know about the Componons.
  21. Hey, let us know how your experiments turn out. I've been intrigued by Bjorn Rorslett's work with UV but I need to do some more research to figure out how it works. So far my results have been inconsistent due to operator error (me).
  22. OK so I couldn't resist the temptation and bid myself a 80/4 Rodagon on eBay, but it was cheaper than a small IR filter so what the heck. I found some sources stating that the front thread is 40.5x0.5, can anyone confirm that? Is this a common front thread size for enlarging lenses, like M39 for the mount threads are? I'm considering to buy a couple of more lenses and would like to use them the right way around and reversed.
    I'll also try UV, but UV is a pain, although that just makes it more interesting :) I just hope my UV filters are sufficient, because if they aren't then that would mean north of $200 in a new UV filter, which I don't think I'll do.... But experimenting around photography is fun...
  23. I have started an article about using bellows with enlarging lenses. I use an Asahi Pentax Auto Bellows and several enlarging lenses from Fuji (Fujinon EP 50 & 135), Nikon (El Nikkor 80 & 105) and Schneider (Componon -S 50).
    The article explores inexpensive manual lenses mounted on modern DSLR cameras. The article shares what I have learned about the equipment and how to use it in a frugal manner. This is a link to the article - Inexpensive Macro Photography
    You never know what you will find when you look into the viewfinder.
  24. The 2 lenses on the far upper right are enlarging lenses; closed one to centers is a 1940's Kodak Project lens used for Portraits; a Petzval type lens. The far right two are 50mm and 75mm enlarging lenses. They are on kraft tubes that are roughed up inside and have flat black paint. These hommade tubes are attached to a T-mount; either by epoxy of a 1 1/4" Telescope adapter from Edmund Salvage Co. Sam Brown the guy who wrote their Optics Bookletes showed tubes like this. These were used on an Exakta VX in the late 1950's. This shot is from 1970; ie 40 years ago.
    Using an enlarging lens on an slr for macro work is old. It was a common 1950's thing to do. The pre WW2 Graflex SLR had a micro Tessar folks used on an Auto Graflex that had a longer bellows throw. The 1920's and 1930's macro shots in National Geographic are with enlargering lenses on Graflex slrs
  25. Hi,
    Great thread. I am in my second round of experimenting with macro photography, this time with magnification of 1:1 or greater. I have two setups so far, on with stacked lenses and the other with bellows, which you can see at the site listed below. I too have the Pentax macro bellows, purchased as a broken item from KEH for about $20, fixed and adapted for a Nikon, and added a horizontal macro rail to get more movements. My test subjects are ants in my front yard. Boy are they fast when magnified.
    Would love to get some tilt to change the plane of focus. Rodeo or anyone else, do you remember what is the gismo? Would a modified Lens Baby work?
    I am now tempted to experiment with enlarger lens. I have a Componon S 50mm and just purchased a Camponon S 80mm today. Is there an advantage to reverse mounting them? Need to buy some ring adapters on ebay.
    Thanks everyone.
  26. I have a problem that I am not too sure how to solve. It involves adapting a Schneider Componon 80 mm enlarging lens to a Nikon BR2A reverse mounting ring so it could be used on my Nikon bellows. The back of the lens has a removable threaded flange and I think it appears to have 25mm thread. I am not sure if that is correct. If anyone on this forum could tell me or direct me to where I could find a solution I would greatly appreciate the help.
    Thanks in advance.

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