Bellows, Extension Tubes and Slide Copiers

Canon Bellows FL

Above is a Canon AT-1 attached to a Bellows FL. In the center is a 50mm f/3.5  S.S.C. Macro lens and on the right end is a Canon Slide Duplicator. This piece of precision engineering allows the duplication of slides or negatives. With my Canon R attached it permits amazing recordings of film negatives to digital files of tremendous detail. Even today it is a wonderfully useful device.

Canon introduced bellows into their equipment lineup in the 1950’s as focusing units for very long lenses and later as macro photography aids. But they were very much more and even today in the era of the mirrorless digital camera these fifty year old devices can serve as useful kit.

Canon’s first use of bellows units was for focusing extra long lenses. The early long lenses, 600mm and up, did not focus internally and so these lenses came with a bellows unit. Focusing also required a Mirror Box so that accuracy of focus could be ascertained. I don’t know what the earliest Bellows Units were called but in January of 1960 the Bellows Unit R was introduced and it is the first  of the named Bellows Units I can find.

Canon Bellows R

Bellows Unit R

As I said, Canon was using bellows to focus their very long lenses. When
one of these lenses was puchased it came with the bellows unit. I have
not found a name for them to this
point.

However, in January of 1960 Canon
came out with the Bellows R to serve as the focusing unit for these long lenses when used on the Canonflex. But they were intended for much more.

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The image onthe left is from the Canonflex RM User Instructions. It mentions as the first use for the Unit the focusing of long lenses. But then it goes no to mention copy work and macro photography. Up to the advent of the SLR camera copy work and macro photography were difficult to the point of impossible. But the through the lens view created a whole new range of possibilities.

The Bellows R is finely made. There is no “play”  between any of the parts and the rack and pinion gearing is precise. If you like fine equipment this will please your heart.

I still use my Bellows R. I have an FD to R converter so that I can mount my Canon R on the bollows and I then have the use of all of my Canon FD lenses.  But, more than that, I can mount almost anyoptical device on my digital camera. 

Canon Bellows R
Canon Bellows R
Canon Bellows R

The front of the Bellows R has a Canon R mount for the Canonflex. But, because there is no provision for aperture adjustment, all FD lenses will fit just as well.

On the rear of the Bellows R is a ring that rotates to lock the camera to the Unit. This mount is fixed to the Bellows Unit and does not move.

The bottom of the Bellows R is flat and contains a flush mounted tripod mount. The focus knob is shown here is on the top  and the knob bellow is a lock to fix the position of the lens.

Canon Bellows R

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Canon Bellows R

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Canon Bellows R

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Canon Bellows Focusing Device

This image is cut from the Canonflex Brochure in the Library. It shows a Canonflex on a long focus lens. The Bellows Focusing Device is shown in black. I have no other name for it and can find no reference to any other designation. It is certainly longer than the Bellows R and looks more substantial.

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