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1 26816 12/10/2006
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(From company literature) Nikon PB-6 Bellows. The PB-6 renders reproduction ratios to nearly 11X, depending on lens used and mounting configuration. Its modular design offers a versatile system of close-up and macrophotography. Suitable lenses: 20mm - 200mm.


  • Extension: 48 to 208mm, continuously variable
  • Support Movement: 180mm / 7.09 in.
  • Dimensions (Length x Width x Height): 238mm x 98mm x 155mm / 9.37 in. x 3.86 in. x 6.1 in.
  • Weight: 1 kg / 2.2 lb
  • Notes: Manual focus only

Keywords: Nikon Bellows


Registered: December 2006
Posts: 9
Nikon PB-6 Bellows review by anabasis
Review Date: 12/10/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $250.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: good build
Cons: lack of movements

The PB-6 Bellows attachment came out with the F4 and continues through the F6 as the main accessory for macro photography. Unlike some previous models, the PB-4, this model is solely a close-up attachment and does not allow for swing or tilt. This is a step backwards as the movements have great utility in the macro world for both perspective and depth of field control.

The basic unit has allows for three motions, you may move either the lens stage or the camera stage back and forth, and also the whole rail forwards and backwards. This feature allows for a set bellows extension (which gives a specific magnification) while moving the whole assembly back and forth for fine focusing control.

The front stage is where the lens is mounted, either normally or in reverse via an optional adaptor. The front stage allows for manually closing down the lens, or using a double cable release. For my use, I stick with manually closing down the lens so as to eliminate any vibration that might be caused by the cable release.

The after stage allows for mounting of any F-mount camera. The big trouble is with newer cameras, especially those with battery packs. To avoid shorting out electrical contacts, an 8mm PK-11A extension tube is placed between the PB-6 and the camera. In addition, bellows spacers are required if using any camera with a battery pack (including the F5 and D2 series). The spacers are between the rail and the stages and basically move the bellows up in height. When using some cameras, most notably the D2H/D2X or the Kodak 14 series, a longer extension tube is required to move the camera mount away from the stage to allow for the front extruding battery pack from getting in the way. I have used a PK-13 tube with good results to overcome this issue. Using any of these tubes will alter the subject to film/sensor plane distance and the magnification scales must be adjusted accordingly.

The manual that comes with the PB-6 is excellent, and indispensable. There are several charts that are very helpful in determining subject magnification with a variety of lenses in both the normal and reversed positions. The chart also gives recommendation on apertures based on various lens’ performance.

For the most part, I use one of several Nikon primes on this setup for magnifications of life size to about 9x. Some of my favorites are the 24mm f2.8D, 55mm f2.8 micro, and the 105mm f4 bellows Nikkor. These lenses give a variety of reproduction ratios and are very sharp, which is critical for macro work. The 105 bellows lens is an old lens, but designed specifically for the bellows attachments, and gives top notch results to about 1.3x life size.

As can be imagined, photography using the bellows system is not for the hurried or faint of heart. Aperture is manually controlled, and metering is very limited. Due to the immense light loss inherent in moving the optic so far from the film plane, focusing is an issue, and when DOF is measured in 1/10th of millimeters, makes it all the more critical. Focusing is done by moving the staging back and forth very slowly with the lens wide open to place the desired subject in focus, then the lens is stopped down. Metering can be done with certain bodies on Manual and/or Aperture priority via stop-down metering, and bracketing or use of digital screening is highly recommended.

If film is to be used, I highly recommend getting an F-series camera. The 100% viewfinder area helps with measuring reproduction range, and the ability to interchange both screens and finders is very helpful. Currently I use a Nikon F4s with the DW-21 6x magnifying finder and an M-screen. This combination helps greatly with focusing by offering the brightest possible screen (with axis lines measured in mm) as well as a magnified focusing screen to aid in focusing. The use of digital bodies is also possible, but current Nikon design does not make any allowance for interchangeable finders which makes focusing a bit more difficult even with a bright screen and 2x magnifiers.

In the end, the PB-6 offers great potential and flexibility to gain a wide array of magnification ratios from prime lenses. While taking a good deal of effort to use properly, the results are simply stunning.


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