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Hasselblad 500c/m bellows question


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I have a Hasselblad 500c/m with a Carl Zeiss 2.8/80mm lens. I do a lot of macro work and

I'm wondering what the best way to get macro results is (preferably without buying a new

lens). My main question is this: With the extension bellows do I need a particular lens, or will

my 80mm work? Also, what is the situation with entension tubes and tele-converters? I so

appreciate any information you could give me. Thanks in advance!!

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Go to www.keh.com to look at used prices.


There are a couple of versions of Bellows. One of them only works with the Macro Lens.

The other one works with several lenses. They are identified at KEH. Also note that some

versions of the Extension Tubes are labelled "E" and are for 200 series cameras so the lens

can 'talk' to the metering system.


I just use the Proxar closeup lenses. The advantages....no Light Loss. Cheap. Small &

convenient. In Theory, the optics of the closeup lens degrades the image. In practice,

they are plenty sharp enough for me.



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Extension tubes (or bellows) give the best quality and most flexibility compared to closeup (Proxar) auxillary lenses. It is true that the exposure is affected, and their application is a little more involved, but the results are probably worth while if you are serious about macro photography.


The simplest formula to remember is that magnification on the film equals the extension (including the helix) divided by the focal length. Conversely, if you want to photograph a 10x10 inch area, you need a magnification of 2.25/10 or 0.225. The required extension would be 0.225 x 80 = 18, which you could get with a 16mm tube and the focusing ring.


It's a little more involved to calculate the distance to the subject, or working distance, and not nearly as useful in practice.


Extension tubes would be more useful than the bellows. The minimum extension on the bellows is something like 60mm, which is quite long. It would give you a magnification of about 0.75 (60/80). Extension tubes come in sizes which give you overlapping ranges when combined with the focusing helix in the lens. The typical sizes are 16mm, 32mm and 56mm, which can be used with any camera. There is also an 8mm tube, which can be used with most 500 series cameras (but not 200 cameras), including the 500cm. The 8mm tube is needed with an 80mm lens to give continuous coverage. Older versions have different lengths, which will also work for you, but don't overlap as well. There are several versions of bellows too, which may not all be compatible with your needs. I don't have information to share in that regard.


A true macro lens would give a flatter field at close range. This is more important for copy work than closeups in nature. The 80 performs quite well for the latter. My personal favorite is the 180, which results in a long working distance. One lens, the (discontinued) 135 Makro, does not have a focusing mount, but is designed to focus to infinity with the bellows.


The white paper cited by Mr. Painter is a must-read. The classic book, "The Hasselblad Manual" by Ernst Wildi is also a must-have. Wildi has and extensive chapter on closeups, and has many useful tables. Edition 5 of the Wildi manual has more information on older cameras and "C" lenses than the latest (6th) edition.

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If you trawl through the archives you should find a lot of info on just this topic. It has been examined a lot before, especially the relative merits of tubes versus Proxars, exposure compensation etc.


A few points: your 80mm will work and work well for a non-macro lens.


Forget the teleconverter!


Proxars are pretty good, but don't really get in that close (good for portraits as John shows). Must be some degradation, mostly in the corners presumably.


Use tubes or bellows. There are pros and cons to both and it depends on your needs. An old bellows might be cheaper than a full set of tubes. If you want maximum extension all the time, a bellows might be OK. Bellows sets a minimum extension (as Edward said), which may be limiting.


Tubes are smaller and the modern tube set gives a pretty seamless range of extension in combination with the in-built extension in the lens. Having a number of tubes means being able to carry only what you want. Short tubes are great with longer lenses for portraits etc, but this is irrelevant to your question, so may not be your first choice.


Any combination (even tubes with bellows) can be made!


Remember to factor in exposure compensation and that the extension of the camera lens is added to any extension (not relevant if metering TTL).


Remember the correct order for adding extension...add tube, then lens and reverse this to remove lens, then tube when taking it off.

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Besides Wildi's book you could also search out 'The Hasselblad Way' by H. Freytag. It's a little older than Wildi but with the same info on equipment and usage, including tables for macro work.


The 80mm is fine for macro work using either tubes or bellows. If you decide in the future you want a true macro lens the 120mm s-planar is very sharp and can be used on the camera body or with extentions.


The early double cable release bellows (earliest, square or later octagonal versions) are easy enough to use with instructions and paying attention to each step. If you want a polaroid back to test exposures with these make sure to get a Hasselblad one as the NPC backs are too large and foul on the rails. Using the bellows requires lenses be set to infinity with focusing accomplished via relative positioning using the rails. Big photos of small things, really small things like the dots on a newspaper photo are no problem with the bellows.


The kind of shooting you want to do will probably dictate your choice of extention (proxar lenses, tubes or bellows). The above books are better than the instructions Hasselblad provides with the bellows.

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The early double cable release bellows (earliest, square or later <i>"Using the bellows requires lenses be set to infinity"</i><br><br>There is absolutely no reason to keep the lens set to infinity. You can use every mm of extension the lens has to offer too, if you so want.<br><br>The older, non-automatic bellows can be used with double cable release, and then you do need to fine tune the timing of the two cables, but unless you are in a hurry, you do not have to.<br>It can be used with a single cable release attached to the front standard of the bellows. You then (after focusing, and all that):<br>- press the cable release until the shutter and diaphragm in the lens closes (and no further!),<br>- open the camera by pressing the mirror prerelease below the wind crank,<br>- make the exposure by pressing the cable release all the way,<br>- close the camera by pressing and releasing the shutter release button,<br>- reset everything, by turning the wind crank on the camera, and by turning the knob on the bellow's front standard.<br><br>A big advantage of the old, non-automatic bellows over the automatic one is that its rails extend to the rear, below the camera. The rail of the automatic bellows extends in front, forever getting in the way, prodding and pushing your subject.<br>The advantage of the automatic one? Wel.. uhm... easier to use with the EL models. But that's about it. ;-)
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  • 16 years later...

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