Nikon PB-6

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kent_staubus, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. I know I post some off the wall questions every now and then. So as to not disappoint, here's another one. The Nikon PB-6 bellows have always intrigued me, but I once I figured out that even though they have view camera movements, apparently no Nikon lens can be focussed at infinity on them. Since I'm not into macro, that made the PB-6 useless for me. I've once again had the PB-6 cross my radar, and I'm rethinking. I have a half dozen or so pre-Civil War Petzval lenses. A couple of them are for quarter plate or even smaller. These are a small Derogy and Darlot lenses, about inch & quater diameter and two & quarter inches long. They are solid brass, fancy engraved, and pretty cool! I've mounted them on a standard Technica board and shot them on my Chamonix 4x5. They don't really cover 4x5, of course.
    These are fairly small, smaller than a Nikon 85mm f1.8, and have a focal length of about 4 inches (100mm.) I'm thinking why couldn't I make some sort of F-mount adapter that takes Technica lens boards on one side and can then be mounted into Nikon F opening on the back end? I could then use the PB-6 to shoot my cool little Petzvals! These quarter plate (and maybe smaller) lenses would have no problem covering DX or FX sensor, with plenty of movement. In fact, once I had an adapter like that, I could shoot any of my shorter historic lenses including my 150mm Heliar made in 1922! Wouldn't this work?
    Kent in SD
    Below photo:
    c.1870s Darlot Petzval 4 in. FL,
    c.1912 Georz Dagor 90mm FL,
    Annie the Cat
  2. Sounds doable. I mounted an old, as in 100 year old, 100mm Zeiss Tessar, from an early Kodak folder, onto a bellows and I'm getting interesting results. Give it a try! Film or digital media shouldn't matter too much. My bellows doesn't have movements so that would be an added feature of the PB-6 that would be fun to play with.
  3. Here are a couple of results:
    I was pleased with this image.
  4. Portrait of Suzie
    I liked the color rendering, too
  5. Kent
    I have tried some different lenses on my PB-4 bellows and with anything larger then say my 85mm f/2 I start to worry about the weight of the lens on the front standard. Now granted I am shooting macro with it so I am using lots of bellows extension but I could wish for the front standard to be a little more robust.
    You are getting some very nice results. I really like the look of the tree.
  6. Hi Kent. I think you would get some very good results with the lenses. If you want tilt or shift movements, the Nikon bellows you need would be the PB-4. The PB-6 doesn't have those movements. As for mounting the lenses, I would suggest finding an inexpensive extension tube with a Nikon mount to attach to the lens board.
  7. Actually, you just can try short barrel lenses for other than macro work. A Nikkor enlarger lens works just fine too.There is no way that it is going to be 'handy' for other than tripod work, though.
    My early experience with the Nikon PB-4 shift, etc., bellows at .
  8. I may be disremembering, but I think some enlarger lenses can be focused to infinity with the PB-6 (oops, I see JDM has already mentioned that). I intended to try that around 10-12 years ago but dawdled on a purchase and the local shop's PB-6 was gone by the time I decided. Too bad because I wanted it for that same purpose - the movements. I ended up sticking with my shift lens instead.
    And again I may be disremembering but I seem to recall it was the PB-6 that offered movements, with roughly the range of some enlarger bellows/lens carriers. But it's been years since I compared the PB-4 and PB-6 when both were available at a local shop.
    However I did rig up a homebrewed bag bellows and slider arrangement and it did indeed work with my 80mm enlarger lenses from macro to infinity focus. It was interesting for experimenting with selective focus. It was an awkward kludge, easier to manage with the camera on a tripod. Come to think of it, I may repeat that experiment. The tricky bit is locating the jam nuts, adapters and light-tight materials for a bag bellows. The last time I used an empty black bag from a box of 8x10 b&w printing paper. It could also be useful with a transparent or translucent bag for freelensing, minus the dust entry problems.
  9. Nikon bellows are too small to comfortably work with other than M39/M42 lenses. The Nikon mount is simply too small.
    Kent, I also like to use vintage lenses. The easiest &most practical way I`ve found is to attach a M42 to Nikon F adapter ring to a Graflock sized piece of plywood. Use flat screws&nuts, three units are enough.
    Then, use an extension tube to fit your DSLR. For almost nothing, you`ll have a digital camera attached to your Chamonix. To build a Technika to Nikon F adapter seem something almost impossible to me.
    I have used a few good process and enlarging lenses via PB-6, and sincerely I haven`t found anything really interesting on them, other than the fun of using something diferent. Also, some of my vintage lenses are nice, but I don`t find them interesting enough when used in a small format camera. At the end, I use to prefer F mount Nikkors.
    Below a pic posted on a Wed Pic on past february, taken with an Apo-Gerogon 150mm on my D700:
  10. Louis--please feel free to post ALLLL the photos of Suzie you'd like! She's a doll!
  11. Hi Kent. Unfortunately I don't own a PB-6 bellows, but I did convert an old set of Pentax bellows to F mount some years ago. The front end also sports a number of adapters from M42 to Leica M39 and other miscellaneous enlarging lens fittings. What on earth were Scheider and Rodenstock thinking, with their 25 and 32mm fittings???? Anyhow, I reckon any normal (i.e. non-retrofocus) lens of 105mm or longer should be able to give infinity focus on a bellows unit.
    I've tried a 135mm Schneider Claron, and Rodenstock Apo Ronar with moderate success. Contrast is the main issue, since it appears that the wide image circle bounces extraneous light around inside the bellows to introduce overall flare. Still, you need the bigger image circle to allow for tilt and shift.
    Petzval lenses? Not for me Kent. I like some image sharpness and correction for astigmatism, coma and CAs thanks. Kodak's 7" f/7.7 Anastigmat works quite well for me on LF, as do almost any Dagor or "Doppel Anastigmat" that I've yet come across. I've yet to stick them in front of my D800 to see how they stand up. Not too well I suspect.
  12. Joe--
    For me, often the point isn't how modern, i.e. sharp & contrasty, a lens renders an image, but how differently from the current norm. I also get a kick out of using lenses that were made well before I was even born. It's a link to past photographers. Buildling a mount to use my Nikon on the Chamonix would be the easiest and cheapest route, I think. I might play around with that on some cold rainy day. In the meantime I have my three small 19th century lenses in F-mount already. The PB-6 type bellows idea still appeals to me not because of function, but simply because it looks cool! It would be fun to show up at a camera club outing with a contraption like that, he he! Of course, the others have come to expect this sort of thing from me. Thanks for the ideas, and Louis your shots show exactly what I'm talking about!
    Kent in SD
  13. This manufacturer have almost every effect the vintage lenses offer:
    This ones cannot be easier to use on DSLRs, at way much cheaper prices than the "real" ones (specially for those who look for some Leica vintage bokeh effects! :).
  14. Nikon made the short mount Nikkor-P 105 mm f/4 designed for use on the bellows. It does focus to infinity.
    Even the longer Macro Nikkor (120mm) focuses to infinity although the image is rather soft, not surprisingly.
    Finally, as Jon mentions you probably want the PB-4 not the PB-6 if you want tilt/shift movements.
  15. Kent, with due respect, I think there's a widespread misconception that old lenses were deliberately designed to give soft images. That's not the case at all. Optical designers have always strived to improve the image quality of camera lenses, or to increase their light gathering ability in the case of the Petzval design. Petzval lenses achieved an aperture of around f/3 for the purpose of reducing sitting times for portraiture. The fuzzy edges were an unavoidable side-effect of trying to achieve such a wide aperture with the limited glass types available at the time. Most portraitists using them avoided placing any important part of the subject in the fuzzy bit of the frame. In fact the fuzziness often helped to disguise the roughly painted backdrops used.
    Early landscapists rarely used Petzval lenses, and it was only the later secessionist movement that embraced fuzziness.
    Daguerrotypes are usually extremely sharp, as are most pictures taken after the invention of the glass plate negative. Earlier Calotypes get their softness from the use of paper negatives more than from poor lens quality. And any lens will give smeared edges if stretched beyond the limits of its intended image circle.
    As for "bokeh"; that's a concept totally dreamed up in the late 20th century, and not even in the vocabulary of earlier photographers.
  16. R Joe--
    Around the turn of the century (1910) many lenses were designed with variable softness (e.g Cooke Knucklers, Velostigmat II, Heliar Universal, etc.) I am aware that the lenses weren't designed to be soft (especially away from center,) but rather that's just how they ended up due to the designs of the times and no coating. My favorite? The classic Heliar!
    Kent in SD

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