The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The Novoflex Bellows Unit & Lenses
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.
Here is the same outfit, with the aperture control ring and double cable release added.

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 just below the half-way point of the page.)  The results are truly outstanding!  (There is much more information on that lens lower down on this page.)

Slide copying

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.


An impressive set-up capable of producing professional results of the highest quality.


[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.  Over many years Novoflex has made macro bellows, but of course one with the Pentacon Six mount is not part of their current range.

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.

The page reproduced on the right here from the Novoflex catalogue of the time lists the two Schneider Xenar lenses and one Novoflex lens (the N-200) and adapter rings needed in order to mount them onto the Praktisix/Pentacon Six version of the Novoflex bellows.  We will look at all three of these lenses below.  It was still the custom to give components a code made up of letters that (supposedly) made clear what the component was for.
In this case, the 150mm Xenar has the code “LEIXIAN” and the adapter ring to mount this lens onto the Novoflex bellows for the Praktisix/Pentacon Six (“TISBIG”) has the code “TISLEI”.  The codes for the 180mm Xenar and its adapter ring are also given.


150mm Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar

Here we can see a magnificent outfit comprising a Praktisix camera with pentaprism, the Novoflex bellows (“TISBIG”) and the 150mm Schneider-Kreuznach XENAR lens (Novoflex code “LEIXIAN”), mounted on the bellows via the Novoflex adapter ring for use of the TISBIG with the LEIXIAN (!!!) and with other lenses having Leica threads (the “TISLEI”).  (If you read it enough times, some of the codes begin to make sense!)


We don’t just think that this outfit should produce superb results; we know that it does, having used this very lens on these bellows, for some of our flower macro pictures, some of which can be seen here.

Here we have partially disassembled the components:  The Novoflex bellows for the Praktisix/Pentacon Six (“TISBIG”) are on the right.  In the foreground is the Joseph Schneider, Kreuznach lens cap, and behind it the 150mm Xenar on the adapter ring (the “TISLEI”).

The next two images enable us to see the 150mm Xenar and the TISLEI adapter ring more clearly.

Here we see the front of the 150mm Xenar lens and the front of the adapter ring into which it screws.
The TISLEI is able to recess the back of the lens below (or behind) the front of the adapter ring, in order to ensure infinity focus when the lens is on the Novoflex bellows.

And here we see the back of the 150mm Xenar lens and the back of the adapter ring into which it screws.  In this picture it is easier to see that the back of the TISLEI ring has a standard Praktisix/Pentacon Six lens bayonet.

Finally, here are two more pictures of the Novoflex bellows.

This view clearly shows the back of the bellows, with the Praktisix / Pentacon Six bayonet.  This is held in place by a ring with four screws.  It would clearly be easy to swap this for a different mount, if one had the required mount.  The above page from the Novoflex catalogue lists some of the mounts and the codes for them.

The 150mm Xenar is mounted on the far end of the bellows in this image.

And here we see the underside of the bellows unit.  The focussing slide has threads for both Ľ"  and 3/8" tripod screws.

In the above page from the Novoflex catalogue, what I have called the “focussing slide” is called a “built-in tripod rack”.  Both terms explain what it does: in macro photography it is often necessary to move forwards or backwards by tiny amounts, either to get the framing or the focussing right.  Without a focussing slide, one would have to lift up the tripod legs, totally disturbing composition, focus and possibly the subject, if it contains animals or insects.  When setting up, the focussing slide should be positioned near the mid point of the bellows rack.  The whole assembly can then be easily and quietly adjusted backwards and forwards, by fractions of a millimetre, if necessary.


These bellows (“TISBIG”) are designed to be used as illustrated here, with the focussing rail at the bottom of the assembly – or they can be mounted vertically on the upright column of a copying stand.  They are not to be confused with the elusive bellows for the 500mm Noflexar lens, which have the code name “TISBIG–U”.  The TISBIG–U is designed to be mounted “upside down”, with the focussing rail at the top of the assembly.  The image scales engraved on the focussing rail are therefore the other way up.  As the TISBIG–U is mounted above the lens, it is not designed to be attached to a tripod, and so it lacks the second set of rails that is found on the standard TISBIG, which is there for the focussing slide that is mounted on a tripod, as there is of course no focussing slide on the TISBIG–U.  More information on the TISBIG–U can be found here.


It would appear that these two Schneider Xenar lenses offered by Novoflex had been designed for larger-format cameras (larger than Medium Format).  On such cameras, the “flange distance” or “register distance” from the lens to the film is much greater than in Medium Format cameras. 

The Novoflex bellows at maximum extension, with 150mm Schneider Xenar, mounted on a Pentacon Six from one of the last years of production.

As best as I am able to measure (not very accurately!), it would seem that the 150mm Xenar requires a rear extension from the back flange of the lens to the film plane of about 135mm.  The distance from the front flange of the Praktisix / Pentacon Six body, back to the film plane of the camera is 74.1mm.  This leaves about 61mm space between the front flange of the Pentacon Six and the rear flange of the 150mm Xenar lens, in order to achieve infinity focus.  The Novoflex bellows have a minimum extension of approximately 60mm.  Thus, when this lens is mounted onto the Praktisix or Pentacon Six via these Novoflex bellows, when the bellows are extended by about 1mm beyond minimum extension infinity focus is still possible!  What could be better for a visit to a botanical garden, a zoo or a park – or even for a walk virtually anywhere?!  The lens and bellows can be used for normal photography with focus all the way up to infinity and also for detailed, close-up shots, when desired.  (Of course, there is no mechanism to stop down the lens aperture automatically.)

Likewise, the 150mm Xenar can be used on the standard Praktisix / Pentacon Six bellows to achieve infinity focus.  In fact, as these bellows have a minimum extension of just 19mm, they need to be extended almost to their half-way point in order to achieve infinity focus with this lens.  Further extension allows closer focus. At the maximum extension of the Pentacon Six bellows, which is approximately 101mm, the in-focus subject is about 96 cm
from the camera film plane (not from the front of the lens).  At this extension, the width of the original scene that would be recorded on film is approximately 21 cm.  (For European readers, that is the width of an A4 sheet of paper, held vertically.)

The Novoflex bellows are better suited to the Xenar lens, with the minimum extension being very close to giving infinity focus, while the long maximum extension of approximately 195mm allows subjects approximately just 60mm wide to fill the frame, i.e., very nearly at a scale of 1:1, which means that the image recorded on the film is very nearly life-size and prints (or screen images) will reproduce the subject larger than life-size!

Decades later, the Exakta 66 publicity claimed the same infinity focus for the Schneider Symmar 135mm and 180mm lenses that it was planning to mount on its newly-developed bellows.  Unfortunately, the length of the minimum extension with their bellows (66mm) was too great, so this turned out to be impossible.  For more information, see here.  However, infinity focus with the two Symmar lenses for the Exakta 66 could be achieved with these lenses when using the Pentacon Six bellows.  See here.

The Praktisix / Pentacon Six bellows had one advantage over the Novoflex bellows: they had a cable-release socket to enable the aperture pin on the Carl Zeiss lenses that were designed for the camera to be depressed, by means of a double cable release.  See here.  However, this is not a solution for hand-held photography.

Aperture automation when using the Zeiss lenses could also be achieved with the Novoflex bellows by the addition of the Special Aperture Control Ring, along with a double cable release.  See here.  However, with these lenses, infinity focus is not possible on any bellows.  There would also be no purpose to adding this ring to the bellows when using the Xenar, as it doesn’t have an aperture stop-down pin (and infinity focus would be lost, too).

Results of tests with the 150mm Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar

In February 2019 I returned to the churchyard of St Peter’s Church, Benington, which I had visited two years earlier to test the Makro Kilar / Macro Zoomatar lens.  (See results here.)  This time I took the above 150mm Schneider Xenar on these Novoflex bellows, mounted on my usual Pentacon Six.  For February, it was exceptionally calm, warm and sunny.  Film used was Fuji PRO400H.

For the macro shots, I knelt on the ground (on a piece of plastic sheeting that I had brought with me!), and I put the angle finder on the metering prism, so that I could have the camera as low as possible and yet view the image from above.

1/250 sec f/8 Hand-held
[150Xenar_03.jpg (C566_3)]

1/250 sec f/11 Mini-tripod.  The tripod was not up to holding this outfit steady, or I would have increased the depth of field by choosing a smaller aperture, and in consequence of that, a slower shutter speed.
[150Xenar_07.jpg (C566_7)}
The tripod was actually making it harder to hold the outfit steady, so all the rest of the shots were taken hand-held, at 1/250 sec.  Metering was, as usual, with the Pentacon Six metering pentaprism on stop-down mode, and exposures were spot-on, except when I knowingly under-exposed by up to one stop, needing to use 1/250 sec because of the unreliability of the tripod and relying on the latitude of the film to record the shadow details.  This is not the way to get the best results.  The mini-tripod, bought when I was a student many years ago, went into the bin the next day.  It was not worth even giving away.  Now the search is on for a fairly small tripod that will hold a Pentacon Six rock-steady for macro shots, nearly at ground level and with the camera the right way up.

We reported above that with the 150mm Xenar on the Novoflex bellows, it is also possible to obtain infinity focus, so here are a couple of shots focussed at or near infinity, taken on the same occasion.

1/250 sec f/16, Hand-held
Here it was eight minutes past one on 27th February.  The Macro Zoomatar shot (here) was taken at about seven minutes to eleven on 9th March,  two years earlier.  The lighting for this tower is clearly better in the morning than in the afternoon, which must be borne in mind when comparing the two shots.

[150Xenar_01.jpg (C566_1-2)]

1/250 sec f/22 Hand-held
Here we see that even when the lens is focussed at a distance of three or four metres and stopped down to f/22, the depth of field is still quite shallow, as would indeed be the case with any 150mm lens.  However, this picture again shows even illumination right into the corners with the 150mm Xenar (which is to be expected, as this lens was designed for formats larger than 6×6).

[150Xenar_1415.jpg (C566_14-15)]

This 150mm Xenar lens must be at least 60 years old, but it still delivers superb results.  Multi-coating had not been invented, but the single coating on this lens does an excellent job.  I have not needed to increase contrast with any of these shots, but on the contrary, to reduce contrast slightly with some of them.  Definitely a lens worth using with confidence!

180mm Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar

The Novoflex catalogue page that we reproduce above lists two Schneider-Kreuznach lenses that Novoflex was offering for use with their bellows for the Praktisix / Pentacon Six: a 150mm Xenar and a 180mm Xenar.  Lenses of different focal lengths have different characteristics when used for macro work.  Lenses with a longer focal length enable macro work at a greater distance from the subject, which can have advantages:
  • this diminishes the danger of shadows of the camera outfit being cast on the subject, especially when artifical lighting is used;
  • this reduces the risk of startling live subjects or frightening them away.
However, photographers who are accustomed to using longer lenses in order to bring the subject closer may be surprised that when they mount a lens on bellows for macro photography, the longer the lens, the less that it magnifies the subject.  This is for a simple optical reason:  to shoot a subject life-size onto film or a digital sensor with a regular 50mm camera lens, it must be extended by 50mm, part of which will be achieved by the focussing operation of the lens itself.  To achieve life-size reproduction with a 100mm lens, it must be extended by 100mm, and so on.  Thus, with a given bellows extension, the longer the focal length of the lens, the longer the extension that will be required to achieve 1:1 reproduction onto the film or the sensor.  Once the maximum extension of the bellows has been reached, the longer the focal length of the lens, the less will be the degree of magnification.

With this in mind, we will now look at the 180mm Xenar.  The Novoflex code for this lens was “XUR”, as can be seen on the above catalogue page.  This lens is much bigger and heavier than the 150mm Xenar, which has a 39mm Leica thread mount.  The 150mm Xenar requires the Novoflex “TISLEI” mount converter to Praktisix / Pentacon Six, as shown above.  The 180mm Xenar has a mount that I measure as 56mm, and so it clearly cannot use the “TISLEI” mount adapter.



The Novoflex adapter ring for the 180mm Xenar (code “XUR”) has the code “TISXURRING”.  It can here be seen mounted on the lens.

The next two images enable us to see the 180mm Xenar and the TISXURRING adapter ring more clearly.

Here we see the front of the 180mm Xenar lens and the front of the TISXURRING adapter into which the lens screws.  It is not necessary for this adapter ring to recess the back of the lens significantly below the front of the ring.

And here we see the back of the 180mm Xenar lens and the back of the TISXURRING adapter into which it screws.  In both of these pictures we can clearly see that the back of this ring has a standard Praktisix/Pentacon Six lens bayonet.


This side-by-side shot of the two Xenar lenses enables us to compare them and their Pentacon Six mounts.  As must be the case, especially in order to achieve the same maximum aperture of f/4.5, the 180mm Xenar is significantly bigger than the 150mm version of the lens.  In contrast, the TISXURRING for the 180mm Xenar is slimmer than the TISLEI ring that is used for the 150mm Xenar.

When the Novoflex bellows that are shown on this page are fully extended, the point of focus with the 180mm Xenar is approximately 470mm from the front of the lens, which is approximately 778mm from the film plane in the Pentacon Six or Praktisix.  At this distance, the subject area that is visible on the focussing screen of the camera is approximately 80mm wide.  A little more than this will be recorded on the film, but with standard masking in an enlarger or a slide mount, this will be very close to what is actually seen by the viewer of the resultant image.

These two lenses can be seen on “technical bellows” that give the Pentacon Six many of the advantages of a View Camera here.
Next, we show some pictures of the 180mm Xenar mounted on a Pentacon Six that is on a tripod, ready for use.

Here the outfit is mounted on the Arca-Swiss B1-G monoball head, which is described in more detail here.  For more information on the focussing slides (which are part of the current Novoflex range!), see the image and text on the far right here.
The bellows are here set at infinity focus for the 180mm Xenar.

With the lens at infinity focus, we do not need the precise degree of lateral and front-back adjustment that is provided by the Castel-Cross, so here we have removed it.  In this image we can see a little more of the Benro Mach3 TMA28C Carbon Fibre tripod, which is superbly able to hold this outfit rock-steady (unlike the tripod that we took with us for the test shots with the 150mm Xenar that can be seen above!).

Here the bellows are at maximum extension.
Even though the Novoflex bellows have their own focussing slide, here we have added the Novoflex Castel-Cross focussing slides, which as well as increasing the range of movement backwards and forwards, in order to obtain perfect focus, also enable precise movements to the left and the right, in order to obtain the best-possible composition without having to move the tripod.  Such a set-up is highly recommended for macro work.


Results of tests with the 180mm Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar

In April 2019 I returned to Benington, this time with this 180mm Xenar, and two good tripods, the Benro that can be seen in the above photographs, and the Induro GIHH100CP, which is described here.  First, for comparison purposes, I took a hand-held shot of the church.

The lens is mounted on the Novoflex bellows shown above, and full-frame coverage is of course obtained at (near) infinity with this larger-format lens.  Exposure (again on Fuji PRO400H film) was 1/250 sec f/16.  In fact, in this particular churchyard, a lens with a focal length of 180mm is too long for a good view of a significant portion of the church building, however I include this picture for comparison with the results from the 150mm Xenar above and the 90mm Macro Zoomatar shown here (near the bottom of the page).


I set up the Induro first, and was so happy with it that I didn’t use the Benro tripod on this occasion.  The crocuses were now gone, and in fact I had difficulty in finding any suitable flowers to photograph, so here are the only two close-up shots that I took.

180mm Xenar on Novoflex bellows.  Induro GIHH100CP tripod with Arca-Swiss B1-G Aspherical ball head 1/250 sec f/9.5

180mm Xenar on Novoflex bellows.  Induro GIHH100CP tripod, Benro GD3WH geared head 1/125 f/11
Even at f/11, we can see that the depth of field is extremely shallow.
As stated above, for macro photography, the longer the lens, the less that it magnifies the subject.  For both of these photographs, the Novoflex bellows were at very nearly maximum extension, slightly adjusted to obtain exact focus.  To this we must add that the longer the lens, the less the depth of field (the in-focus range).  This can mean that finding the right distance to get an in-focus image can be difficult with longer lenses.  However, after using the lens a few times, one knows intuitively the approximate distance at which to place the tripod, and a further tip to help with getting the outfit at the right distance is given below.

A small amount of vignetting is observable in the top corners of the right-hand image above.  It is probably also present in the other images taken with this lens at near-maximum bellows extension, although the out-of-focus and generally darker background of many macro photographs makes this less obvious, and indeed it may not be objectionable in any case.

Here is the setup for the above shot: Induro tripod, Arca-Swiss B1-G Aspherical head, Novoflex bellows and the 180mm Xenar (not visible from this angle), with my usual Pentacon Six.  It may just be possible to see here the blue flower that is in the above photograph, revealing both how small it is and that we are at quite some distance from it – not critical in this instance, although getting further away is generally useful when photographing live subjects (butterflies? birds? frogs? bees?).

On this occasion I found that my angle finder was not in my photo rucksack, so I had to lie down on the ground to look through the viewfinder, which was not a problem, after many dry and sunny days.


And here is the setup for the above shot: Induro tripod, Benro GD3WH, Novoflex bellows and again the 180mm Xenar.  For both of these shots I used the same standard Arca-Swiss Quick-Release plate (see here).

With the Benro geared head, I found positioning the subject within the frame much easier than with the ball head.  (Although
later the same day, for distance architectural shots with extremely heavy and long lenses, I preferred the Arca-Swiss ball, in order to hold everything absolutely rigid on the Berlebach tripod!)

I was disappointed at the lack of flowers in the churchyard on this occasion, and set out again the following day, this time to Letchworth Garden City.  However, I again found that most of the early spring flowers were past their best, and the larger summer flowers were not yet out.  With flower photography, going on the right day is everything!  Again, I only took two photographs, neither of them particularly geat images.  Here they are.

180mm Xenar on Novoflex bellows, Induro tripod, Benro GD3WH geared head 1/125 f/11 No cable release

A shot that was really only taken to finish off the film, in the absence of other flowers.
180mm Xenar on Novoflex bellows, Induro tripod, Benro GD3WH geared head 1/500 f/16 No cable release

Here is the setup for the above shot: Induro tripod, Benro GD3WH geared head, Novoflex bellows and again the 180mm Xenar.  On this occasion, I made sure that the angle finder was in my camera rucksack, which saved me from lying on some very bare grass and dusty earth.

Once the camera is at the right distance, the Benro GD3WH geared head makes composing for macro photography easy.


And here is the setup for the above shot.  In this image we can see the 180mm Xenar lens.  And here is my tip for making composition and focus easier:  Following my experience on the previous day with the Arca-Swiss Quick Release plate, which is quite short, on this occasion I took my 9" custom-made QR plate (see here), which made finding the point of focus easier, as I could slide the whole setup much further backwards and forwards, without having to move the tripod, and then could fine-tune the distance by using the focussing slide that is built into the Novoflex bellows.

Of course, the phenomenal resolution of Medium Format images, even when using supposedly “more grainy” 400 ISO film, enables us to crop these images quite drastically for even greater impact.

Here we have gone for a tight crop, and only now notice some details for the first time.

This dandelion “clock” had passed its best by the time I got to it.  The result is nevertheless satisfactory.

When we crop a picture, we do not, of course, need to retain the square format of the whole original frame.
Here we have gone for a mild vertical crop


And here we have chosen a horizontal crop.
Here again, the resolution reveals details that we are unlikely to have spotted when looking at the flowers with the naked eye.
This picture also shows how shallow is the depth of field with the 180mm lens, even when stopped down to f/16, as here.


We also realise that for many purposes (magazine covers, for instance) images are sought that have a striking point of focus, plus a large surrounding area that does not distract from the main image, and on top of which text can be added, such as the title of the publication and key details of contents.  Beautiful macro photographs with plenty of uncluttered and often out-of-focus space around the point of focus can therefore be highly desirable.

200mm Noflexar N-200

The Novoflex
Noflexar N-200 was designed for use, via suitable adapters and bellows, on both 35mm and Medium Format cameras.  This 200mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 and a minimum aperture of f/22.  Just as with the above two Schneider Xenar lenses, two accessories are required in order to use it:
  • a suitable adapter tube with the appropriate camera mount at the rear end
  • bellows (as none of these lenses incorporates any sort of focussing mechanism)
The basic components


In this picture we can see the Novoflex Noflexar N-200 lens.  To its immediate left is the lens shade, which is mounted by bayonet.  On the far left of the picture is the Novoflex adapter with the Praktisix/Pentacon Six mount, which has the name “TISNORING”.  On the far right is the adapter for Leica mount (M39), which has the name “LEIAN”.  It has an M39 thread with a pitch of 26tpi.  A previous owner has screwed onto the M39 thread an M39 to M42 ring, which I have not been able to remove.  However, this is not a problem, as I don’t have any bellows with an M39 mount, but I do have M42 bellows.
Next we show each of these adapters mounted onto the N-200 lens (without the lens shade).  Each of the adapters is simply screwed onto the back of the lens.  No tools are required to do this.



The N-200 mounted on 35mm bellows and cameras

The N-200 is here mounted (via the M39-M42 ring) on the clever Novoflex M42 bellows, which are automatic – although this is not relevant with the N200, which is a manual aperture lens.  For these three photographs I have set the bellows at the extension that gives infinity focus with this lens.  It is clear that there is still a lot of extension available on the bellows, to make macro photography possible.

Here the N-200 lens is mounted on a Praktica VLC2 35mm camera made by Pentacon in Dresden.

By adding a suitable M42-to-camera adapter, it is possible to mount the bellows, and therefore also the 200mm Noflexar, onto a full-frame digital camera, as in this photograph.

Using the N-200 on the Pentacon Six

Here I encountered an unexpected problem!  I mounted the N-200 with the TISNORING onto the Novoflex bellows shown higher up on this page, but I was not able to obtain infinity focus!  These bellows, which have the name TISBIG, gave infinity focus with the 150mm and 180mm Xenar lenses and were used for the macro photographs taken with the Schneider lenses that are reproduced above.  I then mounted the lens onto the Pentacon bellows (which have a minimum extension of 19mm).  I found that with an extension of 50mm, infinity focus is possible with this lens and the TISNORING, but the minimum extension on my TISBIG is approximately 58-61mm.

Fortunately, I have more than one TISBIG bellows, so I looked at the others.  What I saw surprised me.

Both of these are “TISBIG” bellows.  Both of them are at their minimum extension.  The one on the left is the unit used above with the two Xenar lenses.  Its minimum extension is approximately 58-61mm.  The one on the right has a minimum extension of slightly under 50mm.  How is this possible?  When we take a closer look, we can see a difference.

We need to look at the front standard of the bellows, which is at the top in these two pictures.  On each of the bellows the design of the front standard is identical.  To attach to the two extension rails, it has a short tube for each rail at its base on one side of the standard and a long tube for each rail on the other side of the standard.

The short tubes have an external round section.  The longer tubes on the other side of the front standard have an external, tapering square section.

In the bellows on the left, the long tube is at the back of the standard, thus limiting the minimum extension to about 58-61mm.

In the bellows on the right, the front standard has been mounted (presumably during manufacture) the other way round, with the short tube at the back of the standard, thus giving a much shorter minimum extension of approximately 49mm.

We must assume that Novoflex made this change in order to obtain infinity focus with the N-200 lens!

Although the bellows unit on the right looks the older of the two – it definitely has much more wear! – it must be the newer one, with the reduced minimum extension.

To the left here we can see the Noflexar N-200 lens mounted on a Pentacon Six via the TISNORING adapter and the Novoflex TISBIG bellows unit that is on the right in the above two photographs.  Although this bellows unit appears to have been heavily used, it still works perfectly.

In this photograph the bellows are near to their minimum extension, at the setting that gives infinity focus with this lens.

To the right, a picture taken with this setup (using our “red/silver” Pentacon Six).  The film is Fuji PRO400H.  Exposure is 1/250 f/11, hand-held.  I note a tiny amount of vignetting in the top, left-hand corner, but the result is otherwise perfectly satisfactory.  With this lens and this shutter speed, I could possibly have obtained a sharper picture by using a tripod.  However, the picture was merely taken to demonstrate infinity focus with this lens, which has obviously been achieved.

We next took some photographs with this N-200 lens, using the left-hand TISBIG bellows unit in the two pictures above but the same “red/silver” Pentacon Six.   The same roll of Fuji PRO400H film was still in the camera and the Novoflex bellows were on maximum extension.  We used the Benro Mach 3 TMA28C tripod with the short centre column, the Benro GD3WH 3-way head and a long Arca-Swiss-compatible focussing bar.  The distance from the front of lens shade to the yellow flowers was
17"/43cm.  Exposure was 1/125sec at f/16.



The picture to the left here shows the setup for the macro photograph presented below.

Here is one of the photographs that resulted from the above setup.  The lockdown conditions imposed by the government because of the Covid-19 pandemic prevented me from going to public gardens or parks, so this picture was taken of flowers in a small basket.  This means that the distance between the flowers in the foreground that were focussed upon and the background is quite small, limiting the scope to see the bokeh produced by this lens.  Even so, a certain idea can be obtained of how it performs.  The in-focus area is extremely sharp.

We note a tiny amount of vignetting in the bottom corners of the image and a larger area of more signifcant vignetting in the top corners.  We know (from the infinity focus picture) that the N-200 lens fully covers the 6 × 6 format (which is actually approximately 54mm × 54mm), so the vignetting must be caused by a physical obstruction at some point, either in the bellows or the camera body.  The light rays from the N-200 are straighter than with the 180mm and 150mm Xenar lenses and so must be striking something in their path.  As we do not see vignetting on the Pentacon Six even with much longer lenses (in non-macro mode), I conclude that the obstruction may be in the bellows, although we have seen that when we use a non-standard setup, obstruction of the light path can occur within the camera body (see here).

Click on the image to see a larger version of it.  With many browsers, clicking on the larger version enlarges the image still more.

For information on tripods suitable for low-level photography, see here.

For information on Novoflex bellows with the Hasselblad 1600F/1000F mount, which may also fit the Salyut/Kiev 80/Kiev 88, see here.

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© TRA August 2007  Latest revision: July 2020