Using Bellows Unit A with Pentax DSLR


Link Posted 27/01/2019 - 10:42
Hello All,

Many moons ago I bought an unused and boxed Bellows Unit A with the slide copier attachment.
It is beautifully engineered, the action of the knurled wheels on the rack and pinions
is fantastic, but I have never used it with my MX or LX because these days it's easier to use a decent
slide scanner to get a digital version.

I think I have the reverse adaptor K somewhere so it could be a poor mans microscope at a push.

One day my trusty slide scanner will no longer work, so that means Plan B and use the Bellows/Copier
with a DSLR (which I don't own just yet), which raises questions :-

1. has anyone used the official bellows/coper with a non-full-frame DSLR ?.

2. Does the supplied double cable release operate a Pentax DSLR ?. The other end
stops down the lens.

3. Is there anything that should be sprayed onto the actual flexible bellows to keep it
flexible ?. It seems to be made of a plasticky material rather than some sort of leather
or paper composite.



Link Posted 27/01/2019 - 10:46
It is beautifully engineered but it might be difficult to use with a DSLR.

The double cable release will be a mechanical one, and DSLRs need an electronic one, so that could be a stumbling block.

I'd try a new LED light box (even A3 ones cost only £35 or so) plus a macro lens and that should enable the fairly simple copying of any size of original.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/01/2019 - 11:01
I use an A bellows for most of my macro shooting. Works well with apsc or ff. The part for stopping down the lens can be closed manually, by pushing it in and a turn to the right.
I don't use the copier part, only straight shooting.
Don't know about the spray.

John's idea sounds good
I know what i like, If not always why.


Link Posted 27/01/2019 - 11:08
Hello John

I had a nasty feeling that might be the case which is a pity, the slide copier attachment
has a nice bit of pearlite glass (not sure what the correct description it but it is
white, translucent and obscured).

I have a Pentax A 50 macro lens but that doesn't do 1:1, so some experimentation
with extension tubes would be needed, and again the linkage between camera and
lens stop-down lever is missing.

The advantage of the official bellows unit is that it has a tripod attachment, with
its own rack and pinion movement, so the whole thing can sit on a tripod or
desk clamp and any vibration affects the camera and the film being copied.

Not being familar with DSLRs, I assumed the major problem would have been
the lack of mechanical control between the cameras stop-down lever and the
button at the front of the bellows unit that stops the actual lens down, but this
is what the double cable release is for.

Plan C might be to buy an Epson V800 or V850 but they seem to have shot up in
price since I last looked at the specs of the V750.


Link Posted 27/01/2019 - 12:46
I have been scanning quite a bit of film the last few years. One project has been to scan my father’s Kodachrome collection from the 1960-70s. I managed to get hold of a Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 when scanning these Kodachrome 35mm slides, and the results have been great. The first version of the MDSE 5400 even has ICE noise reduction that works well with Kodachrome (the only scanner where ICE works on Kodachrome apart from the Nikon Coolscan 9000).

I have been shooting medium format film with a Pentax 67ii since 2012, and have scanned these films on an Epson V750. There is a lot lot learn about how to achieve the very best films scans from the V750. One crucial thing is finding exactly the right elevation for the film holder above the glass platter for maximum focus. Another thing is that one has to scan at 6400ppi (then one engages the dual optics) to get maximum resolution from these scanners. I usually downsize the unnecessarily large files in photoshop with bicubic sharper to 3200ppi or 2400ppi. I have read many tests of these Epson scanners (V700, V750, V800, V850), and most people agree upon that they are able to achieve about 2300ppi maximum resolution. Many people feel that these Epson are great for larger formats like 4x5, so and so for 120 film and not especially suitable for 35mm.

Never being quite happy with the scans of my medium format films, I have started to check out DSLR scanning. And so far I am surprised at how easily one can get good scans with this method. I use my Pentax K-5iis and a Kiron 100mm 2.8 macro lens attachted to a Manfrotto xProb 055 tripod. The center column of the tripod is reversed, pointing downwards. The films is placed in a film holder on top of a small Kaiser light table, and the room has to be completely dark. I have wanted to do scans that better my Epson V750, and therefore I have taken 10 shots of one 6x7 slide and stitched these into one very large file. The results from this DSLR multi shot method is vastly superior to anything I could achieve with the Epson. If I should need more resolution, I can take even more shots of smaller parts of the slide and stitch these together.

A good copy stand would make my work flow a bit more efficient. I would also like to experiment with other macro lenses and number of shots needed for producing good scans. A lot of people use the Pentax K-1 and pixel shift for film scanning, hopefully one day I will be able to purchase the K-1/K-1ii (or the successor). The K-1 and pixel shift would make high resolution DSLR scanning easier than with an aps-c camera.

I know my comment is not a direct answer to our question, but I meant to present what I believe to be a good way to "scan" film, if you have a good camera and macro lens, and are proficient with working with stitching and photo software.

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