I wanted to see if my old Nikon PB-6 extension bellows, set on a railing, would work for photomacrography with my digital Nikon D70. Here’s a review and a photo of the bellows.
If I tell you the age of this bellows, I’ll be giving away too much about my age. So let’s just say (as I sometimes tell my kids) that dinosaurs still roamed the earth in the days of film when I bought the thing.
Vagure memories of how tough this piece of equipment was to use flitted through my primordial brain. I knew I would lose all the D70’s automation. Even the light meter would stop working. But I though there wouldn’t be any particular problem connecting my macro lens to the business end, and the D70 to the camera end, and using the thing in manual mode.
Silly me! Mechanically, the bigger body of the D70 got in the way. A little Google-based research disclosed: (1) the PB-6 is still in use, and is Nikon’s only extension bellows; (2) Nikon makes a piece that can be used to clear the mechanical obstacles in the case of “certain motorized cameras” (as the Nikon catalog puts it); (3) Talk on the internet suggests attaching camera bodies vertically rather than horizontally in the case of mechanical obstacles.
Well, I couldn’t find anyway to quickly email Nikon technical support, I couldn’t figure out the vertical mounting thing, and I didn’t want to spring for the extra height extender pieces that might (or might not) work. What I did was attach a 36mm extension tub to the back of the bellows. I figured I was going to use it to be very, very close anyhow, so what the heck?
The mechanics then worked fine, and I snapped the camera and lens onto either end of the bellows-with-extension tube.
As this picture shows, I can use this setup to get as close as I’d like (or closer!). I do find (as you can see in this photo) that stopped way down using the bellows, digital exposures seem to get a little pixelated (I was almost going to say grainy). This falls into the “feature” or “bug” sphere of things: I like the effect in this photo, but at times I’d prefer to have greater apparent clarity!