6.02.2010

A mundane post about a boring piece of gear that is a good value...

Fotodiox macro bellows for Canon.

When the economy hit the fan last year I was in the middle of a system purge.  I was convinced that everything would change radically.  I would only go after high end jobs that would leverage my talents as a people photographer.  I would get rid of the gear that wasn't cogent to my mission and this would make me more streamlined and help me with positioning.  Right.  So I sold off my Nikon gear and part of that excavation included my old PB-4 bellows rig for shooting close up.  For nearly a year I felt well vindicated by the whole purge.

But somewhere along the line......say about two weeks ago....the phone started to ring again and the mysteries of telecommunications played midwife at the re-union of me and my former largest client.  Could I, they asked, still do wafer and die shots?  Would I be able to do some this month?  Well, yes, all the brain cells that deal with that set of tasks were still firing well.  The problem was I had two systems to work with and had a bellows for neither.  Why a bellows?  To do this work correctly you need to be able to get to 3 to 5 times lifesize.  Can't do it with a macro lens alone.

I started to explore options and I came across a solution that made me skeptical.  On Amazon.com Fotodiox (company) was offering simple bellow units for just about every camera on the current market for the princely sum of $49.  Yep.  $49.  How could you go wrong.

Short answer?  You can't.  I ordered on and waited to see what would happen.  It came in a non-descript box and had the right Canon adapters on both ends.  I fitted a valiant and trusted 50mm Micro Nikkor, with traditional aperture ring, onto a Fotodiox Nikon to Canon camera mount adapter ring and got going.  Bottom line.  Pretty solid.  It lock down tight.  Made with a good bit of plastic.  Not much else to tell.  After the shoot I looked at files at 100% and couldn't find any deviation from parallel in any plane.  That's the crucial deal.

Is it anything like the ultra-smooth and ultra sturdy Nikon?  No.  But for the five or ten times a year I need the extra extension it is very worthwhile and workman-like.  A damn cheap way to get your feet wet on some REAL macro stuff.  You could also buy a reversing ring and use a conventional 50mm lens with pretty good results.  Well done for the money.

Here are a few more views:

Front.  Business End.
Rear.  Camera goes here.
Sleak?  Naw.  Just hard plastic, a bellows and a couple of attaching mounts.  Works well on a 5D mk2.

     

9 comments:

Daniel said...

Thanks for the heads up! Dont know that I need one but it sure its cool to dream...

Anyway, can you add another image that shows the lens and body attached?

Do you use this vertically, horizontally, or both?
Does the rig need to be secured onto a support (table, special adjustable doodad)?

Spiny Norman said...

"To do this work correctly you need to be able to get to 3 to 5 times lifesize. Can't do it with a macro lens alone."

Yes you can. And it's one of the best macro lenses ever made. I don't even like Canon stuff, but I know this...

Craig said...

Well, now that you're shooting Canon, you have the option of using the Canon MP-E 65 super-macro lens, which can indeed go all the way to 5x life size without additional attachments. But it costs $900+, which is a great deal more than your $50 bellows, and it's not usable for anything but macro work at 1-5x life size.

I was actually looking at this bellows on Amazon just the other day, so your post is timely. One thing I was wondering was whether it is possible to do tilt or shift with it, to do the kinds of things you can trivially do with a view camera or a $2000+ tilt/shift lens. My impression is, no, it's purely an extension unit that goes to some pains to ensure that the lens remains aligned with the camera. But that being the case, I wonder what the advantage of the bellows is over using extension tubes. Is it that the bellows gives you the flexibility to extend exactly as far as you want for optimal control of magnification, rather than being limited to the possible combinations of your extension tubes? Does the bellows give better support for the lens, thereby reducing stress on the lens mount?

John Taylor said...

Oh, i use to have a real Canon Bellows… sigh. I had forgoten about, i had even made myself a custom leather case for it.

very1silent said...

I've never been able to justify buying one, but I've seen some stunning results from the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x, which is most definitely designed to work in the realm of 3 to 5 times life size.

Kurt Shoens said...

Hey very cool! Prompted by a comment from one of your readers, I just ordered a Fotodiox adapter from Olympus OM to Canon EOS. We'll see if it successfully bridges a 30 year span in my photographic life.

kirk tuck said...

Totally blanked out on the Canon MP-E 65mm. It is a limited tool but it seems like it would be perfect for this kind of work. No tilt or shift on the Fotodiox bellows. I use mine on a copy stand facing straight down. I use the bellows instead of extension tubes because I want the device to fill the frame exactly and the bellows allows an infinite adjustment along its length while the tubes are in chunks of magnification.....Optimal control of exact size.

James said...

Unfortunately, while Amazon will deliver the bellows here (Ireland), they will not deliver the reversing ring. I'm pretty sure that's essential, so I can't usefully buy the bellows either. Shame, since this looked like a good deal.

mike wilson said...

Sa-weet! They even have one for us Pentax users! Rock star!

Thanks, Kirk!