The Novoflex Bellows Unit &
Bellows Lenses for the
The highly-regarded firm of
Novoflex, located in what was at the time West
Germany, made its macro bellows available with the
Pentacon Six mount.
The Novoflex bellows, on
the right, next to the bellows produced by
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
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.
To the left here we can see
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.)
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.
This is an impressive set-up
capable of producing professional results
of the highest quality.
Those who are particularly
observant 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
The supplementary bellows
attach to the slide copier and the front
of the lens, ensuring that no light can
enter and degrade the image.
Novoflex bellows for the Pentacon
Six are hard to find and usually fetch a very high
price. Novoflex has made macro bellows over
many years and still does, but of course bellows
with the Pentacon Six mount are not part of their
Several years before
the launch of the Praktisix (which was in 1956),
Novoflex started making bellows for 6×6 cameras and
at the time they called the bellows SIXBIG.
These bellows were also made for the Exakta 66
“vertical” of 1953-54, images of which can be seen
on the history page on this website about the older “Exakta 66” cameras, here.
Martin Grahl of Novoflex tells me that the SIXBIG
bellows seem to have been catalogued between
1954 and 1961.
I am grateful to Martin Grahl
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.
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.” [bellows_bm_copy_hood.jpg]
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.
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
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.
here are two more pictures of the Novoflex
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 ¼" and 3/8"
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.
“FROM INFINITY TO
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
Novoflex bellows at maximum extension,
with 150mm Schneider Xenar, mounted on a
Pentacon Six from one of the last years
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
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
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,
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
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
Results of tests with the 150mm
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/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
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
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).
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
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:
diminishes the danger of shadows of the camera
outfit being cast on the subject, especially when
artificial lighting is used;
reduces the risk of startling live subjects or
frightening them away.
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 next two images enable us to see the
180mm Xenar and the TISXURRING adapter ring more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
180mm Xenar on Novoflex
bellows. Induro GIHH100CP tripod with
Arca-Swiss B1-G Aspherical ball head 1/250 sec
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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.
the camera is at the right distance, the Benro
GD3WH geared head makes composing for macro
meant that 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
We must assume that
Novoflex made this change in order to
obtain infinity focus with the N-200
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
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
In this photograph the bellows are near
to their minimum extension, at the
setting that gives infinity focus with
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
Exposure was 1/125sec at f/16.
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.
Current location of the Novoflex
factory in Brahmsstraße 7, Memmingen, Germany
reproduced in the book “NOVOFLEX 70 JAHRE
Innovation & Indeen aus Memmingen”
(See more information here.)
It’s great to see
a Škoda Octavia Estate in “Novoflex
colours”. Perhaps it’s a company car!
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.
To go back to the beginning of the macro section, click here.