Hacking Macro Bellows




Introduction: Hacking Macro Bellows

How to take some junk macro bellows and modify them to work for your dSLR, point and shoot, and digital video recorder.

Cost: 5-10 usd

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Step 1: Gathering the Junk

there are 3 parts which are needed to hack some old bellows and make them into something you can use on your dSLR of choice, point and shoot, or to make video of small things.

Those are the old bellows (preferibly 35mm, brand doesnt matter as long as they are light tight), a body cap for your dSLR (skip this part if this is for a point and shoot) and some way to mount the lens.

Also needed is some 5 min epoxy, a file, a knife/drill, electric tape.

In this case i bought a titan body cap (to fit a nikon ai mount) and i used the cheepo lens cover that came with the kit lens. My bellows were given to me as a set of junk cameras and are Miranda Focabell s. Whatever that means. No camera came with is, so its junk. If you can not find bellows in your basement or local pawn shops, check ebay. Remember, any crappy bellows will work.

Step 2: Round Peg Into Square Hole

Once the parts are gathered, you have to trash the lens cap and body cap. The clear plastic piece gets the middle cut out to the edges, same with the body cap. Note: I didnt remove the treads that lock the body cap to my camera. Most important. Also take time to note how the bayonet mount of the body cap attaches, so when this is finally assembled your bellows fit on right (i messed up on this part as you'll see later)

cost up to this point, 5$ for the titan body cap from hunts photo and video.

Step 3: Epoxy!

now is the most difficult part. all you have to do is epoxy the body cap to the back of the bellows, and the lens cap to the front of the bellows. I double checked to make sure that i could still mount the lens with the macro bellows rail in the way. No problem!

The only way i could let my 5 min epoxy set was setting the bellows on end. This was proped up by the disused kit lens.

Step 4: Light Proofing

The clear plastic lens mount will cause ghosting and all sorts of problems. I covered it with a single layer of electric tape (For a photo student, i have no idea why i dont own gaffers tape).

At this point, it is important to check for other light leaks, cover the lens cap end with black paper and look thru the body cap side. Any points of light must be delt with.

This is the bellows mounted on my dSLR. Notice it isnt level... my own fault.

Step 5: Using the Beast

Note: No autofocus, No automatic apature, no ttl metering.

This is in the relm of guess and check.

The lens is a 50mm nikkor. I recomend this lens for any nikon dSLR. Best quality for the lowest price. Anyways, for focusing it has to be set to f1.8 (or f2.8) then stoped down to get the DOF you need. Using a 'g' series lens which is without an apature ring means you will be stoped down to the highest apature all the time making focusing a really big problem. go buy the 50mm. I havnt got this to work with my 24mm nikkor nor have i tried with the kit lens (18-55) or my telephoto (55-250). I dont care to try. My information of bellows is that a normal lens (50mm ish) or wide angle will be the best bet.

SO i mount the lens on my camera, point it at somthing then move the bellows in and out. untill it looks in focus. I set a shutterspeed in ""Manual mode (m)"" on my camera because any auto mode will not work at all, as the camera belives there is no lens mounted. I shoot a pic.

I adjust focus according to the lcd screen on the back of my d50 and take another stab at exposure. When i have a properly exposed well focused macro image, i will then trade shutter speed for apature until i get the depth of field i want.

This is a 100% crop. Notice the fine detail. The edges are a little softer, but this is macro photography and that is expected.

Step 6: Video Camera or Point and Shoot

set the camera or video camera to manual focus, focus as close as possible then point the video camera or point and shoot into the macro bellows. Use the cameras zoom untill the frame is filled with the circle of light projected by the mounted lens.

Use the focusing nob of the macro bellows untill the subject is in sharp focus. I made a video of my gf's eyeball moving about, but it isnt of the quality im willing to show here. But i am very confident that this can be done well.

The fabric is reproduced wayyyyyyy more than 1 to 1. With the nekkid eye I cant see individual threads.

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    9 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Ghetto-rigged extension tube! I like it!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    YIPPPPEEE A D50!!! LONG LIVE THE D50! (discontinued as of now..) More over, I do have a pic that's so fricking ressembling to the top one! Only, made with a reversed 50mm nikkor 1.8. BUY THIS. You ought to. D90 now..


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I did this a while back with a minolta MD/MC bellows and used an EOS t-mount so I can use it on my canon slrs sooooooooo awesome


    11 years ago on Step 5

    If your lens doesn't have manual aperture adjustment, you can set your desired aperture on the camera, and then press the depth of field preview button, and while holding it down, remove the lens. Your aperture will stay at what you set it as when you remove the lens.


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 5

    a little clunky, but so are the bellows. Thanks for the tip!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I just got a minolta xg-a today and if I find some I will try this


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    best of luck! I need to visit home depot so i can design a bellows that doesnt need extra parts