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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Bellows vs Extension Tubes...I am getting ready to finally make my purchase for some new equipment for taking some macro shots. I have ...
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Old 17-09-2007, 16:05   #1 (permalink)
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Bellows vs Extension Tubes

I am getting ready to finally make my purchase for some new equipment for taking some macro shots. I have one final question to ask before I hit the order now button. Which is better in your opinion: bellows or extension tubes?

Thanks for the help again.
Nikki
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Old 17-09-2007, 16:42   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Bellows vs Extension Tubes

Bellows are the more flexible (pun intended) option since they give you continuous magnification changes so you can get exactly the image magnification you want. The tubes, being fixed length (sets of 3 tubes), provide a more limited option.

However, bellows (especially automatic ones) are usually much more expensive than tubes and are usually bulkier. Also, I would recommend a focusing rail which allows you to set the magnification and then move the entire camera setup forward and back on a tripod without upsetting the magnification. Most good bellows will have this rail built-in.

Auto-tubes are usually a good buy for the occasional foray into macro or a macro lens may suit better.

Depending on what type of subject matter you want to shoot, an alternative is to buy manual bellows (cheaper than auto ones) and a good quality enlarger lens/adapter to fit the bellows. Enlarger lenses (which are peanuts on ebay now) are designed for close work and may actually produce sharper results than your usual lenses (if not macro lenses).

The other usual advice if using a normal camera lens for macro is to reverse mount it on the tubes of bellows (there are usually adapters for doing this and retaining the auto features of the lens). I won't bore you with the technical reasons for this (unless you already know of course) but it produces sharper results.

Cheers

Les
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Old 17-09-2007, 16:52   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Bellows vs Extension Tubes

If you own a Canon (and no insult intented if you don't), you might consider the MPE65.

1 to 5 times life size in a single optic.
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Old 17-09-2007, 17:53   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Bellows vs Extension Tubes

I have the bellows and rail and use a Carl Zeiss jena tessar 50mm f2.8 lens with an aperture dial on the lens. Haven't used extension tubes so can't compare....the only thing I'd add is using bellows isn't for the easily discouraged, as depending on magnification they don't let in much light and therefore if the subject is fast moving it becomes pretty impossible to shoot, although to be fair most of my attempts were under very poor light and before I got myself a flash....Haven't used the bellows for sometime but they are real fun to play with and the magnification is excellent. Unfortunately I don't have any processed images to show but if you'd really like to see something I'll sort one out for you.
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Old 24-09-2007, 16:28   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Bellows vs Extension Tubes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soupdragon View Post
If you own a Canon (and no insult intented if you don't), you might consider the MPE65.

1 to 5 times life size in a single optic.
You need a dedicated flash with this lens. Expensive and diffiicult to use for new macro photographers.

If you can get the bellows then think about getting a focusing rail as mentioned. Extension tubes are a good first option. Option of choice depends on your camera, if its a later day canon or nikon then going for the tubes usually allows auto-focus/metering to work.
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