Novoflex BAL-EOS Bellows - first impressions

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scastle Contributing Member • Posts: 777
Novoflex BAL-EOS Bellows - first impressions

I recently purchased the Novoflex BAL-EOS bellows package. I've used it now for a week or so, and here are my impressions and thoughts on it so far.

A bit of background. I lived in Germany for 5 years (moved back to the US in 2018) and while there encountered, used, and purchased some Novoflex products. They are very well made and are almost completely compatible with Arca-Swiss mounts. Unfortunately, there is about a 20% markup for them here in the USA over their cost in Germany, even taking into account the 19% VAT there, which importers do not pay. Even so, having purchased a macro rail while living there, plus other assorted bits, I decided to spring for the BAL-EOS.

This bellows is a package containing the BAL-F bellows, the EOS-RETRO reverse adapter for EF-mount lenses, and two 58mm adapter rings to connect to the bellows. This permits full electronic communication between the camera body and the lens. If your lens happens to have a 58mm filter mount you don't need anything else if you want to use an EF-mount lens reversed for macro work, but you must purchase a suitable reducer ring for other lens filter sizes. Or you can use the EOS-RETRO for a lens not reversed but with the bellows between the lens and the camera.

I quickly learned that only two of my lenses will work with the BAL-EOS system in normal arrangement (not reversed), owing to the larger extension. The image formed is just too far away from the sensor, and no amount of varying the zoom and focus would form an image there, even at minimum extension. The only ones that worked were the EF-S 18-135 and the EF 100 Macro.

Using the EF-S 18-135, the best magnification I could get was about 1x, and I had to zoom longer than 100mm for that, with the working distance idiotically small at about 2cm.

With the EF 100 Macro, I could get 3x magnification using the full extension of the bellows. This was a bit disappointing; I was hoping for more like 5x, but the bellows just does not extend enough for that using a 100mm lens. (The thin lens formula suggests the extension would have to be close to 500mm for 5x.)

However - this lens isn't really 100mm at 1x when you focus it as close as it goes. It's more like 75mm. I already owned a set of Kenko extension tubes so I decided to see what would happen if I added the full set on the camera side. This adds 68mm to the extension, and I could get about 4.2x using that. The working distance was still reasonable, close to 75mm.

The 100mm Macro is the only prime lens I have at this time. I think a good lens to try would be the EF-S 60mm Macro. Also, using reversed lenses with reducer rings that will fit the EOS-RETRO device need to be tried. I seriously considered sending the whole package back and instead getting the MP-E 65mm Macro, which is not that much more expensive, but I decided to keep the bellows and get reducing rings so I could experiment with reversed lenses.

Other than pics of the caliper scale I used for measuring the FOV, I don't have any photos yet to show. That's next on the list of Things To Do While Sitting Around The House. Hmm, it's snowing right now. Snowflakes..?

Feel free to diss my decision or sneer at my choice. I don't care.

Shane

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