Bellows Length

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Bruce Osgood, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    My 'quest' for the right 4X5 field camera has led me realize a major concern for my kind of photography will be defined in terms of bellows length: more is better. Close ups but not macro/micro. Something nearing 1:1 magnification as in a single flower kind of stuff.

    Is there already a site that would have a comparison chart of bellows length for various cameras? Is lens length - longer or shorter than 'normal' - something to be considered in this type of photography?
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Check lfphoto.info and you might turn up a comparison chart, or at least reviews of many of the cameras out there.

    Most 4x5" cameras not specifically designed for wideangle use are either "double extension"--around 12"--or "triple extension"--on the order of 17.5-20".

    You probably want a triple extension camera, since that will let you use a longer lens for this kind of work, which will give you a little more working space, so that the camera doesn't block the light and you get a somewhat more neutral perspective. You might also look for a camera that gives you the option of rear focusing, since that's easier to use for macro. The alternative is to use something like the Linhof macro focusing rail, which usually runs around $150 used.

    If you decide you need more bellows, you can also use things like extension bellows and extended lensboards for closer focus.
     
  3. BobF

    BobF Member

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    For bellows length or other camera specs. get or borrow a copy of Leslie Strobel's View Camera Technique. It has the most extensive chart of 4x5 view cameras I have seen.

    As to more bellows = better, I would have to say that is true only if you don't use short focal lengths. If you do then you may need to be able to change the regular long bellows for a short bag bellows. As far as a do-all bellows length is concerned I think the Canham metal cameras seem to be the best unless.................

    If you read a lot of threads about best camera you will see that there is no such thing. You need to figure out what you need and then make the appropriate compromises. If you are like most of us that means you will get close to what you want about the third camera you buy or live with.

    Bob
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The option of switching regular bellows for bag bellows is a nice option. I find that I need to use the bag bellows when I use the 120 mm with extensive movements or the 90mm with any movements at all. My camera is triple extension and I can arrive at 1-1 with a 210 mm lens. The longest lens that I currently use is a 305mm.
     
  5. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Before buying a camera may I suggest reading

    Getting Started in Large Format that is inb the free section of the View Camera magazine web site. There are other articles that may be of interest as well.

    I usually suggest a bellows that is at least 25% longer than the longest lens you want to use. 50% longer is even better.

    steve simmons
    www.viewcamera.com
     
  6. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Concur with all the above suggestions Bruce. My 4x5 is a 1940's era Graphic view I monorail with 16" amximum extension. With a 90mm lens. its is all scrunched up with just enough movement left for focusing. On the other end, with a 210 mm and trying for 1:1, its extended to the max. Looks like Steve has a pretty good thumbrule for bellows length.
     
  7. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    I should amplify my comments. The rule of having a bellows at least 25-50%longer than your longest lens is for general work - landscape, portriats, etc. If you want to do closeup work down to 1:1) then your bellows does need to be twice as long as the lens you will be using for this work. (1`:1 is where the image on the gg is the same size as the object in front of the lens).

    steve simmons