The Novoflex Bellows
for the Pentacon Six
The highly-regarded firm of Novoflex, located in what was at the time West Germany, made its bellows available with the Pentacon Six mount.
[C436-36] The Novoflex bellows, on the right, next to the bellows produced by Pentacon
This smart unit has an integrated focussing slide. The lens
mount at the front and the camera mount at the back can be
exchanged for other mounts, facilitating the use of Pentacon Six
lenses on other cameras and lenses with other mounts on the
Pentacon Six – naturally for macro work only, especially if one is
using lenses designed for 35mm-format cameras.
|The Novoflex bellows on the Pentacon Six, using the 80mm
Biometar lens, metering prism and angle finder, which with
its dioptre correction and extra magnification facilitates
accurate focussing, which is always particularly difficult
to achieve in macro work with any camera and lens.
|The bellows unit made by Pentacon has a lever – seen at
8 o’clock in the top photograph – that presses on
the lens aperture pin, to maintain the aperture at
maximum, which is really essential for focussing on moving
objects in macro work – especially as a very small
aperture is usually desirable to increase depth of field
as far as possible.
As explained on the Pentacon bellows page, here, a double cable release automatically stops down the lens just before the shutter fires.
There is no such aperture pin lever with the Novoflex
bellows, making the use of the Pentacon aperture control
ring (also illustrated on the Pentacon bellows page)
highly desirable. Naturally, this increases the
minimum extension of the bellows.
The double cable release that came with the Novoflex
bellows is also of West German design. It works
well, but has a long rigid end section that screws into
the aperture control tube. This section fouls the
aperture ring on the 80mm Biometar, making installing
the cable release and changing the aperture
difficult. Using the original, East German,
double cable release avoids these problems.
Of course, older lenses without aperture automation
from other manufacturers can be used (via a suitable
mount) on these bellows. In that case, no double
cable release is required – but users must remember to
stop down the lens manually before firing the shutter!
You can see the results of using an old
Schneider-Kreuznach 150mm f/4.5 Xenar lens here. (Scroll
down to near the end of the page.) The results are
One of the great plusses of the Novoflex bellows is the slide
copying attachment that Novoflex made for it. This
magnificent accessory makes the copying of Medium Format (or
smaller) slides easy.
[C436-29] The supplementary bellows attach to the slide copier and the front of the lens,
ensuring that no light can enter and degrade the image.
|The observant among you may have noticed the name “Hasselblad” on the slide copier. This outfit, here supplied with the Pentacon Six mount, was at the time of manufacture the best in existence for Medium Format macro work and slide copying.||
Novoflex bellows for the Pentacon Six are hard to find and usually fetch a very high price. A newer version than the unit illustrated here has bright blue knobs but in other respects appears identical (from photographs of it that I have seen).
|I am grateful to Martin Grahl of
Novoflex for the following publicity photograph from the
company archive. It shows the bellows mounted on a
Praktisix camera, an early version of the 80mm Carl Zeiss
Jena Biometar lens, the supplementary bellows and the
slide copier. Martin comments:
“the TISBIG-bellows together with the Novoflex version of the BIGSON bellows lens hood. ... The CZJ Biometar 80mm ... accepts the BIGSON lens hood w/o adapter ring, when set at the near focusing range.”
We note that in this photograph the supplementary bellows (or BIGSON lens hood) for the copier have a square section, as opposed to the octagonal-section bellows that can be seen above.
Other publicity photographs taken at the same time show the bellows with the Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 180mm and the Xenar 150mm.
It all looks very easy, but I personally would not hand-hold the copying set-up (even though movement should not cause problems such as blurring or lack of sharpness, as everything would move together). I would also prefer a background that had a neutral colour, such as a brightly-illuminated white wall (which, like the background here, would be completely out of focus to the camera lens). Nevertheless, the photograph is very informative and very attractive. It will no doubt have attracted the attention of photographers in the 1950s and 60s.
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© TRA August 2007 Latest revision: June 2018