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  1. #1

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    How the heck do bellows work?

    Hey guys.
    Since I`ve started using the 4x5 camera, I`ve wondered how bellows work. Now that I`ve seen bag bellows, I regard it as magic.

    How does the light not get all scrambled up hitting the the corrugated foldings? With bag bellows this gets even more confusing, how does light not just start going all over the inside of the bag, how does it get directed onto the film? Insane.

  2. #2
    mjs
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    The color of the inside of the bellows is a clue.

    Mike
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!”

    — Hunter S. Thompson

  3. #3

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    If your bellows were made of shiny fabric from the 70s I think the internal reflections would be a problem. It's nice that nature provided us with a color that does not reflect light and instead absorbs all light- called black.

  4. #4

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    So basically the light is just a stream that goes though the bellows that ends at the film. Fairly obvious, kind of thought about that, but also thought that the light when inside could potentially hit the edges of the bellows and maybe then get some vignetting.

  5. #5
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Light travels in a straight line from the lens and from that point anything is possible, including hitting the bellows. But they wouldn't make a bellows that blocked the light from hitting the film now, would they?

    Simple wonders, eh

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    It is magic! Magic is the only way to keep the darkness from leaking out of one's camera.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  7. #7
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    They work pretty good.
    f/22 and be there.

  8. #8
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    For light to make an image onto the back of the camera once it passes through the lens, it needs some distance in order to achieve focus. The length of the bellows provides this distance. Of course it has to be protected from extraneous light entering, therefore it is black and consists of an enclosure. And because the distance needs to be variable without the enclosure getting in the way, it's a bellows design. Simple! :-)
    website | Flickr
    "Embrace the negative with absolution, your final positive reward." --IQ, "The Province," Frequency

  9. #9
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    The corrugations also help by scattering away from the film the part of the light they don't absorb. The light bounces around in there, getting absorbed by the bellows with a little bit scattered each time. The further the light travels by being scattered multiple times, the weaker it gets. A little bit of the scattered light makes it to the film, but it isn't enough to cause problems. This occurs inside any camera, which is why cameras are dark colored inside, and often have some sort of textured material inside.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  10. #10
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    The lens focuses a direct image on the film plane. The black bellows absorbs any possible reflection. So, what you have is a beam of light (the image) similar to the beam from a flashlight, with most all of it directed at the film with some little bits being scattered around and being absorbed.

    Don't forget the lens!

    PE

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