The Nikon PB-4 macro bellows setup from last week generated quite a bit of reader emails. Most of the requests were for a more detailed look at the Nikon bellows. We had some down time during the Snow Leopard upgrade this past weekend. So we took a few shots of the PB-4 for those who were curious about its details.
The Nikon PB-4 is no longer in production. EBay and Craigslist are now the main sources for one. These units were built like tanks, so as long as the bellows is light-tight, the rest of the unit will likely be in excellent shape. Expect the prices to range from $100 to $300 depending on luck and included accessories (adapters, slide copier, etc...).
A bellows is actually a very simple contraption. A lens attaches at one end, the camera body at the other. The bellows main purpose is to allow the photographer to vary the distance of the lens relative to the imaging plane (film or CCD sensor) of the camera. By adjusting this distance, one can control the focus and the degree of magnification of the subject.
One of the more diffcult things with shooting good macro photos is achieving proper focus. A ridgid and stable rail supporting the bellows is the key. There are multiple ways to get an image into focus, as both ends of the bellows can be moved as well as the rail itself.
To mount the camera body, the connector must moved to the end of the rail. Once attached, the body may be rotated to the desired orientation. A viewfinder magnifier is also a great tool for achieving proper focus. A while ago we had adapted an Olympus Varimagni viewer for use with the Nikon to assist in our astrophotography. It should come in handy for our macro photography efforts.
There is an additional feature of the PB-4 which we did not cover in the FirstLook: the PB-4 has the ability to shift the focus point from the center of the image plane to other horizontal locations. This is achieved via a lateral movment of the lens relative to the image plane. We'll save that discussion for a future article. In the meantime, let us know if have any further question on this Nikon bellows. We'll be happy to talk more about this interesting piece of gear. [Permalink] - Nikon PB-4 Bellows FirstLook