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  1. #1

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    Enlarging lenses for macro

    I have quite a few enlarging lenses and I use them with a bellow to shoot macro. My question is do I need to reverse the lens for better quality. Right now I mount the lens to the bellow with its 39mm thread so the side that normally face the negative would face the film and the side normally face the paper would face the subject. Do I gain any sharpness by reversing it? I don't need more magnification as I have enough with the bellow.

  2. #2
    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    I don't think you would gain anything by reversing. I've used enlarging lenses for macro in the past as well as landscapes and they work great.
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  3. #3

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    reverse

    For years I have heard that reversing the enlarging lens for macro is the best way to go but I don't know if that is for all enlarging lenses or not. I guess you should try it.

  4. #4

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    It depends on the magnification and the lens.

    Magnification: enlarging lenses are made to have a small negative behind the lens and a large print in front of it. This is parallel to the usual taking lens situation where there's a small image behind the lens and a large subject in front of it. Enlarging lenses are optimized for enlarging, just as taking lenses are optimized for taking. So, if the magnification is less than 1:1 the lens should be used as intended, i.e., facing normally. If magnification is greater than 1:1, then there's a small subject in front of the lens and a large image behind it. To take best advantage of the lens' optimizations (large front, small behind) the lens should be reversed when used at magnifications greater than 1:1.

    Lens: some enlarging lenses, for example 50/4.5 and 75/4.5 Enlarging Ektars (heliar types), are perfectly symmetrical. They can be used facing normally at all magnifications. Reversing them doesn't hurt, but it is a bother. Others, for example Schneider Comparons (tessar types), are quite asymmetrical. They should be used facing normally up to 1:1 and reversed above 1:1.

  5. #5

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    Now how do I reverse them? I have to check as I am not sure if all the lenses I have have the same thread in front. They do all have 39mm thread in rear.

  6. #6
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    Following on from Dan's excellent advice (as always), it's probably worth checking your lenses to see at what range they're "optimised".
    Things like Apo-Ronars are 'best' at 1:1 (at which point it doesn't matter which way around it goes), but you can probably get away between 1:2 and 2:1. Hell, I've used mine at 1:infinity (or is that infinity:1?) with no problems.
    Some like Comparons are 'best' in the 2-5x range, so if the subject is 3x bigger than the film, use it straight, if the film is 3x bigger than the subject, use it reversed.
    Some like Componons work up to 20x, so can be used easily as a taking lens for normal shots, and reversed for extreme-macro.

    Of course, any lens can be used any which way, as long as you can focus it.
    For the same situation, you might be better picking a different lens for 'better' results, but it all depends on your specific definition of 'better'. Plus, it depends on what and how the manufacturer deems as 'optimised for' a certain range.
    Some get more (barrel) distortion outside optimised ranges, which might matter if you're copying stamps or something, maybe not so much if you're photographing a bee or a flower.
    Some might just be sharper at certain magnifications and less-so at others (but may still be sharper at sub-optimal mags than a lesser-quality lens at its 'optimised' range).

    As to how to reverse them, it's easy if they've got front filter threads, just pick the size you need from ebay and pay another $2 to China.
    If they don't, consider just mounting the shutter backwards on the lensboard, with a light-tight connection for a shutter-release. Of course that means you have to take the lensboard off to change the aperture and shutter speed, but the shutter speed/release doesn't really matter if you're using an SLR at the other end.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chan Tran View Post
    Now how do I reverse them? I have to check as I am not sure if all the lenses I have have the same thread in front. They do all have 39mm thread in rear.
    It depends on the lens. Some of Schneider's enlarging lenses have cells that are direct fits in #00 or #0 shutters. Reversing these lenses is easy, just screw the front cell into the back of the shutter and the rear cell into the front of the shutter.

    You were going to use lenses in or in front of shutters, weren't you?

    As far as I know there are no shutters threaded M39x1 or M39x26 tpi in front. If you're going to hang an enlarging lens in front of a shutter you'll need an adapter, male threads at one end to go into the shutter and female at the other to accept the lens. I've got several from SKGrimes. Same thing goes for hanging a reversed lens in front of a shutter, except that if the lens isn't threaded externally at the front you'll need a male-male adapter with one end that screws into the shutter's filter threads and the other that screws into the shutter.

    If you have lenses and aren't just asking questions for the joy of asking, tell us what you have. What you can do depends on which lenses you have. I'm out of this discussion until you make it real by naming names.

  8. #8
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    ps, besides SK Grimes, there's also This Guy: http://www.customphototools.com/

    although, I emailed a few weeks ago and never got a response, maybe you'll have better luck.
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

    f/64 and be there.

  9. #9

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    With respect to the question of post #5:

    I sometimes use a reversed enlarging lens on a Nikon bellows unit. I attach the lens reversing ring onto the bellows unit, screw on a step-up ring, and attach the lens to the exposed male thread using the front thread of the lens.

    Most of my enlarging lenses in the 40mm to 105mm range use either 40.5mm x 0.5mm or 43mm x 0.5mm front thread. Here are the adaptors required:


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...p_Up_Ring.html

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...p_Up_Ring.html


    Nikon 52mm lens reversing ring with 52mm male thread

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...sing_Ring.html

  10. #10

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    I use them on the 35mm and not on a view camera. I use a Nikon PB-6 bellow and a 39mm to F mount adapter.
    My lenses are:
    135mm f/5.6 EL-Nikkor
    105mm f/4.5 Rodagon
    80mm f/5.6 EL-Nikkor
    50mm f/2.8 EL-Nikkor
    35mm f/4 Schneider
    The 35mm I think wasn't designed for 35mm but I don't notice any vignetting. I don't use it often as the working distance has to be too close.

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