Movie Lenses for Macro - Looking for information

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by Anupam Basu, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I have often wanted to experiment with high magnification photography with reversed movie lenses. They are mentioned in passing in many books including Shaw and in slightly more detail in Lefkowitz (pp. 133) but apart from names like cine raptar and switar I know next to nothing about them. So any source of information about movie lenses would be appreciated - especially in the context of macro photography with 35mm equipment.

    What are the 'normal' lenses for the various movie formats - 8mm, 16mm etc. Does anyone have any experience using them for macro photography. Do you use bellows or extension tubes. Any input would be welcome as it would add to my non existent knowledge on the subject.

    Thanks,
    -Anupam
     
  2. Kino

    Kino Member

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    I was unaware that anyone made a specialty of using motion picture lenses for still micro work; guess it makes sense...

    The Cine Raptar is a Kodak lens, depending upon generation, probably went on a Cine Kodak Special, K100 or Reflex Special 16mm or Kodak Super 8 or Regular 8mm camera. The Switar is a Kern Palliard Lens by Bolex of Switzerland and can be 16mm, Super 8mm or Regular 8mm.

    The body of information on cine lenses is staggering; a trip to any major metro library should harvest at least a few sources like the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) Handbook; published since the late 1920's I believe.

    It's the same going down in gauge as it is going up; 25mm is "normal" for 16mm, 12.5mm is pretty much normal for both Super 8 and Regular 8mm (I am sure purists will argue, but close enough for government work).

    I have no experience in using them for STILL micro/macro, but on a 16mm camera, you can use extension tubes or a microscope "T" adapter ultra close ups IF the lens is not natively a macro lens like some Cine Lenses are...

    Most early 16mm lenses are "C" mount screw threads, but there are variants on the "C" mount; Bolex uses regular "C"s on their rangefinder cameras, but reflexed cameras like the Rex 3, 4 and 5 use a modified "C" mount lens with a longer backfocus to make it through the reflex beamsplitter prism and are usually designated with the "RX" moniker.

    Most early 8mm lenses are "D" mount screw lenses; I am unaware of any variations on the D-mount, but then again, I didn't shoot much Regular 8mm film.

    When you start getting into proprietary bayonet and compression mounts for 16mm lenses... well, I could type for days, but wont! :wink:

    Here's a few other facts that might come in handy...

    Circle of confusion:

    S8mm Cine -- .00055 inch
    16mm Cine -- .002 inch

    Field of View (full aperture) 16mm -- .402 inch by .292 inch

    I used to have a ton of this sort of information in little spiral notebooks when I used to DP a bit on 2nd unit and commercial shoots, but since I took the archive job, I've let it migrate back into the file cabinets and bookshelves. I can attempt to dig it back out again if you're interested, but what exactly are you looking for?

    I have recipes for flat pack explosives (bullet hits), exposure formulas for Sunset for Sunrise, Sunrise for Sunset, Day for Night, fake blood formulas, Scale model frame-rate calculations for proper apparent mass in high speed cinematography...

    Ha! Another obsolete old fart...
     
  3. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Great! I am planning to use the lenses reversed to go about 7x life size upwards, so the lens mount isn't important. I'll look for books but most of the stuff my preliminary search at my university library turned up was hopelessly technical for me and about motion picture stuff. Any comments on sharpness of these lenses - some seem to be quite cheap on EBay but I guess I am unaware of some brilliant lenses simply because I've never heard of them.:smile:

    Another question, what is the film to flange distance for these cameras? I ask because for reversed lenses that is usually the working distance for macro photography.
     
  4. egdinger

    egdinger Member

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    Kino, Day for Night shooting? It would be nice if you could dig it some (or all) of that old info, not all of us want it to be forgotten. Assuming you have got the time and all.

    Anupam, a quick google search turned up, for c mount lenses 17.526, and 12.29 for D mount. It doesn't say what units but my guess is MM.
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Although you might find a good bit of information on these lenses in standard applications for movie cameras, you probably won't find much hard information on using these lenses reversed on larger 35mm format film. Most are in the C and D mounts that Kino mentioned, and you can find those dimensions on the web with a little searching. But since you're reversing them, you'll probably have to make a custom setup for each one.

    The best source for them that I'm aware of is drying up fast, and those are old-line photo stores that haven't cleaned out and tossed stuff from the junk boxes and drawers in the back room. Currently you might have better luck at second-hand thrift shops finding them on cameras. I got a handful for a few dollars about 20 years ago, but haven't put them to much use except in front of a web cam or as telescope eyepieces. I did get a used bellows a month or so ago, so I now have a better way to utilize them.

    Sorry I can't give you any hard info, but I think the best you can do is scrounge some and experiment to see what gives you the best results.

    Lee

    Edit: just saw the last post, and the reason for the odd mm sizes is that the mounts were specified in inches IIRC. I believe the C mount was 1 inch x 32 tpi and the D mount was something like 5/8 inch, but I don't recall the thread spacing. But my memory may not be too reliable, so check good sources.

    And I just found this: A C-mount lens produces a focal plane 17.52 mm behind the camera's flange, and a CS-mount lens produces a focal plane only 12.52 mm behind the lens flange.
     
  6. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Since these seem to be categorized as junk by most people I would gratefully accept any that someone might want to give away for the cost of shipping:smile:
     
  7. KenS

    KenS Member

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    macro work

    The greatest difficulty you will have using reversed lenses in smaller formats at that magnification, is the lack of working distance from the (now) front element of the lens... as well as having the distance to allow the "light" to reach your subject. (we will not say anything about the severe curtailment of DOF and curvature of field) One easy cure might be to reverse mount a wide angle lens to the front of a longer lens mounted on the camera in the normal position. I have a book hidden away (somewhere in a pile of boxes) for the calculation of effective f-stops.

    Ken
     
  8. Kino

    Kino Member

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    egdinger,

    Hmmm, it's not exactly what this site is for but I will throw out the Day-For-Night information...

    (Hmmm... Wonder if there could be a category of APUG for STRICTLY photochemical cinematography and processing or is that just too far off the beaten path for this site?)

    You want DFN for color or b&w?

    Color: Shoot tungsten balanced rawstock without the #85 Wratten filter but do use a 81F Wratten to somewhat reduce blue-cast; you want the convention of "blue light" from the moon, but not to the point of being overly monochromatic, assuming a somewhat realistic style of shooting. Underexpose by 1.5 to 2.5 stops and tweak colors in answer print at lab (the timer/grader is your friend).

    B&W: Shoot in bright, harsh, three-quarter light (early morning or late evening) and use a #23A or #25 + #36 Wratten filter -- 23A kicks blue sky to black (won't work on overcast days) and the #36 restores the facial tones to a believable value. Close-down 1.5 to 2 stops from ideal incident exposure and try to shoot toward a clear, blue sky.

    It's great fun shooting day for night; you can see to hit your marks! :wink:
     
  9. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Junk? Not by me! A good performing C mount lens on Ebay still easily sells, but I can look around see if I have one laying in a drawer.

    (I have sold off most of my 16mm outfits, except for a Auricon 1200 Pro with a Kinescope shutter (sentimental keeper), Fastax 16mm camera system (5000 frames per second) and my Konvas 35mm crystal sync Reflex; a tractor-rugged camera from Ukraine.)

    What about getting a "T" adapter and a nice Lomo microscope on Ebay if you are going in that close? Reversing C mounts would be a PAIN...

    My 2 cents.
     
  10. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I am aware of the limitations with working distance, lighting, DOF and field curvature. Currently I can go upto a maximum of 6x with my equipment using a combination of extension and coupled lenses with about an inch WD. I am just looking to push the envelope with these lenses and see what can be achieved.
     
  11. edz

    edz Member

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    You'd be better off using enlarger objectives rather than cine primes. Something like a Rodagon can nearly compare to a Zeiss Luminar or Leitz Photar. Most cine primes don't work well in close-ups and should I ever have need to do macro cinematography I'd probably rig up a focusing mount (Zoerkendorfer makes these for still cameras) for an L39 enlarging objective (and then experiment with my various models and lengths to find an "optimum" for my application). Both Rodenstock and Schneider even made special versions of their "enlarging" objectives for use in macro work. There is even a variofocal (Schneider Betavaron) available. Any of these bits of "darkroom glass" should be cheap.
     
  12. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Kino wrote "The Cine Raptar is a Kodak lens,"

    Eh? Wot? Raptar is a Wollensak trade name. Were you thinking of Cine Ektars? Ektar is a Kodak trade name.
     
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Ed, have you ever used a reversed cine objective?

    In the book on photomacrography he wrote for EKCo ("Photomacrography", Kodak Publication #N16 when bundled with "Closeup Photography", #N12B, I think, by itself), H. Lou Gibson recommended using the 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II reversed. He reported that it performs well, might not be up to special purpose macro lenses.

    I've shot a reversed 25/1.9 Cine Ektar II against two 25/3.5 Luminars. The Luminars performed nearly identically wide open, lost resolution on stopping down. Wide open the CE didn't match them, but at f/2.8 it beat them hands from at 10:1 to 20:1. It lost resolution on stopping down below f/2.8. The Luminars are a little easier to use, but the 25/1.9 CE II is better.

    Note the range of magnifications. One wouldn't use a reversed cine lens at low magnification. But Kern made some magnificent macro lenses in several versions of C-mount (real C-mount, H16RX, H8RX). I have a 36/1.4 MacroSwitar in H8RX mount, machined to increase the far focusing distance on an S8 Beaulieu. Its unbeatable. And my much more modest 150/3.3 MacroYvar in C-mount isn't shabby either.

    Enlarger lenses that match the better grade of macro lenses are very scarce. I've tried a small heap of them, the only ones I've found that are worth using are the 4"/5.6 and 135 mm/5.6 Enlarging Pro Raptars. The 4" is nearly as good as my 100/6.3 Neupolar from 1:8 to 4:1, matched a 100/6.3 Luminar over than range. Apertures tried were f/11 - f/22 up to 1:1, wide open from 1:1 to 4:1. All this with the lenses mounted normally, i.e., not reversed as is usual when working above 1:1. Come to think of it, the 75/3.5 Boyer Saphir B is usable, but its a little short for my applications.

    Cheers,

    Dan
     
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  15. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Both C and D mounts have 32 TPI. The D mount is 5/8 inch. I use the old series adaptor rings to reverse mount movie and enlarging lenses on 35mm and LF cameras. A series 6 or 7 retainer ring epoxied, thread outward, on a lens board or body cap, can be used with step-up rings for about any size lens. Some old camera stores have boxes of adaptor rings hidden away somewhere to mount the lens on the retainer ring. The effective f/number is quite high with movie lenses reverse mounted for micro work. Thus, diffraction limits resolution, even when wide open.
     
  16. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Right you are Dan! I WAS thinking of an Ektar...
     
  17. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    SRB made adapters for me so that I could reverse mount a 25mm Switar with BPM bellows. I only ever used the rig for one shot - a fake slo-mo shot of a needle falling into and following the vinyl groove.
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Second Helen's recommendation of SRB. But for those of us in the US, www.skgrimes.com may be a bit less expensive because of the unfavorable (for us) price of UKP.

    I was able to find filter step rings that fit my Cine Ektars, so didn't have to buy custom rings for reverse mounting. Note the plural. I've tried 25/1.4 and 15/2.5 CEs. These two are usable, but the 25/1.9 is much better.
     
  19. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    A few questions on reverse mounting.

    Ok. Now that I've read up a little bit more on C mounts and different mounting threads especially at this web page, I have a few more questions about mounting a C mount lens reversed.

    I found that the C mount has a 1" diameter with 32TPI threads but reverse mounted, this mount is irrelevant to me as it's going to be outside, right? I couldn't find any information about the filter threads the lenses have which is what I need to reverse mount them with some sort of step down ring. I assume that just like SLR lenses C mount lenses come in a variety of filter diameters but what is the thread pitch for filters? Is it the same as for 35mm SLR filters? That would make life a lot simpler? (I couldn't find the specs for filter thread pitches for any camera)

    Secondly, if I use a BR-2 ring to get from the F mount of my extension ring (maybe a bellows, but I am coming to that later) to a 52mm male filter thread, then is it just a matter of finding the appropriate step down rings to get to the filter size if the 25/1.9 Ektar, for example. If the filter pitch sizes are the same, I could just screw it on, right?

    Finally, I can see that a bellows is not far away in my future :smile:. Unfortunatley, I've never handled one of these and all my knowledge is from internet forums and books. I know the Nikon Bellows system comes with male and female F-mounts on each end but are there generic bellows that I could get cheaper with maybe just screw mounts on them that I could just adapt with step down rings or the BR-2.

    How usable are the C mount lenses with extension rings for macro - or is bellows a must? I just spent a bunch on a tripod and would like to defer the bellows for some time or keep its cost to a minimum.:sad:

    I know I am asking a lot of naive questions, but I really appreciate any help in this area.

    Thanks,
    Anupam
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Anupam, you're right that a reversed lens' native mount is irrelevant. And yes, if you can find the right step rings or have one made to fit, you can screw a reversed cine lens right on the adapter(s) and then on to, say, a BR-2, as you suggested.

    A bellows gives variable extension, extension tubes give extension in fixed increments. But not all tubes in a system are the same length, so it is often possible to get nearly the desired extension (= nearly the desired magnification) with tubes.

    FWIW, I don't use Nikon F-mount tubes, they're too expensive and too short. I use E. Leitz New York (ELNY) tubes with mount adapters at each end; I have around 30" of them. The only problem with using non-Nikon F-mount tubes on a Nikon is finding an adapter to attach the string of tubes to the body. I have a couple of Novoflex NIKLEIs and a real Nikon El-F, but these things are rarely cheap and not too easy to find.

    And if you can get the right adapters there's no reason to use a Nikon F-mount bellows. I have three bellows, probably use the Zenit (?), which is M39x1 at both ends, most. Also sometimes use a Minolta Compact Bellows, with other adapters. But if you don't want to spend the rest of the year chasing adapters or to buy them new at new prices, get a bellows in Nikon F-mount.

    What you do want in a bellows is one with a moveable front standard or with a front standard fixed at the front end of the rail. Otherwise you risk the front of rail interfering with your subject.

    I think you can get -- no promises and I'm not going to go shopping for you or give you anything -- , say, a 25/1.9 CE II, step rings, BR-2, and a bellows that will do for no more than $100; I'd be surprised if you had to spend more.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2006
  21. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I think I saw someone else mention this earlier in the thread, but couldn't find it. At these magnifications you'll want to use a focusing rail. One driven by a rack and pinion or a threaded rod (like the Bogen 3419 Micro Positioning Plate) is best.

    You can't focus effectively with bellows or by shifting the tripod at the magnifications you're talking about, so you need to move the whole rig (camera, lens, bellows) back and forth in very small increments to focus. It can be done with a sliding rail, but a rack & pinion or screw drive is much better.

    Sorry to add to your equipment list. Have you considered reversing rings for stacking a couple of your existing lenses? See Shaw for how to do this and to calculate reproduction ratios.

    BTW, I've seen good deals on bellows and tubes at the "camera shows" where people swap and dealers sell used equipment. I picked up a bellows with 39mm Leica threads on each end and a chimney finder/focuser (to provide SLR type viewing with rangefinders) a few weeks ago. It came with a 135mm f:4.5 Culminar lens and standard helical focusing lens barrel for $75. The results from the lens knocked me out when I saw them. (This is probably a late '40s early '50s bellows rig, perhaps Steinheil or early Novoflex.)

    My son picked up a mint set of extension tubes for his Minoltas for about $20 at an earlier camera show.

    Lee
     
  22. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Lee, I am aware of the difficulties of working at high magnifications and already use a focussing rack. I also use couplers and stacked lenses but I am looking at these movie lenses to go beyond what can be done with coupling.
     
  23. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    A lot of old cine prime lenses have Series filter threads. Series 4.5 for the tiny lenses for 8 mm and Series 5.5 for lenses for 16 mm are typical. Here's a guy who supplies an adapter from Series 5.5 to 49 mm.

    As I mentioned before, I used the universal mix-and-match BPM bellows and this was long enough ago for BPM parts to be readily available and cheap. Here is one on eBay.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  24. robsoe

    robsoe Member

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    I have 25mm f1.9 cine ektar (no II). Is there any difference with CE II?
     
  25. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    FYI, I have a cine lens that came in a box of junk i bought. It just happened to fit perfectly on a reverse adapter i made to fit a 35mm ysaron on my cannon FD. I havent taken any pics, but from the viewfinder, it looks really good. I'm not an expert on macro photography but it looked bright and sharp. Let us know what you come up with.
     
  26. ~ Ben

    ~ Ben Member

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    I have read Lefokovitz, a good book.
    Blaker states that the quality control of lenses is an issue of importance, so if you are thinking of doing something scientific with the lens, test a few and compare.