Topic: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

I picked an illumitran 3 cheaply on e-bay,and hope to copy some old slides/negs with it.Has anyone tried this approach?

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

I realize this is a very stale thread, but I thought I'd comment anyway. The main problem with using an old slide copier is that it's intended for use with a full-frame film camera. Unless you have a full-frame digital, you will be copying crops of your original slides.

I don't own an illumitran, but I do own a nice Nikon Bellows and slide copier, and since copiers like the Illumitran generally have a bellows at the heart of the system, this is a valid comment.  With my bellows and copier, I cannot get down to a 1:1 crop with my APS-C digital camera. I'm using a 55mm Micro Nikkor with a slide copier tube assembly attached to the front of the lens and about 25mm of extension, which gives me almost exactly 1:1 -- just a bit less, actually.

Pentax makes an excellent 35mm macro lens that will work with a bellows and an APS-C camera to provide 1:1 dupes. But 35mm is an uncommon focal length for macro lenses, and I haven't been successful in finding one in Nikon or EOS mount that will work. My 35mm f/2 Nikkor definitely will not work (won't focus close enough), haven't yet tried one of my Canons, but they'll likely have the same problem.

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

I don't know the Illumitran, so I don't know if a shorter focal lenght is applicable. But if 35mm is a good focal length, isn't it possible to use the illumitran in combination with a 35mm MF lens like Flektogon or Noflexar to get the right reproduction ratio? M42 extension ring(s) if needed, they don't cost you much.

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

Well, that's why I mentioned trying my 35mm f/2 Nikkor and that it would not focus close enough with my bellows. A bellows is a bellows is a bellows, whether it's attached to an Illumitran or a copy stand or what have you. Which is why I also mentioned the Pentax 35 macro. The fellow that I saw use the Pentax 35 macro just uses it with a slide copier attachment with his Pentax DSLR. He doesn't even need a bellows or any other sort of extension.

If I could scrunch together my PB-4 just a little bit more, I could use my 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor with it, and with my APS-C NEX attached, but it amounts to just a bit too much extension for me to get 1:1 with my setup. I'm thinking that, in my situation, perhaps something along the line of a 40mm might be about right. I should try one of my zooms and see if any of them might give me the ratio I want -- if they focus closely enough. But I won't want to use them for the duplication process because they won't have the resolution and contrast that I get with a good macro.

The only other possibility that would work for me would be to get a hold of some very narrow extension tubes to vary the distance behind my Micro-Nikkor or to find a tube with a helical in it so I'd have an infinitely variable amount of extension.

Last edited by cooltouch (2015-03-08 04:07:28)

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

The Nikkor itself has an impressive helical, so I would think that you can take a normal thickness extension tube (behind the PB-4 or between Nikkor and PB-4) and use less of the focusing capability of the Nikkor?
Anyhow, an variable extension ring would be fine for other macro work too, I think.

For 40mm an enlarger lens for 35mm could be interesting? There are some good ones made.

Last edited by Minolfan (2015-03-08 15:30:56)

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

Hmm, honestly, I haven't tried adding extension between the PB-4 and the 55 Micro lens. It seems to me that I'd wind up with a greater magnification, but perhaps not, if I use less of the focusing extension of the lens, is what you're getting at, I guess. Well, it's worth a try.  I'll report back and let you know what I've found out.

Re: Using a digital camera with an illumitran slide/neg copier

Heh, I wasn't thinking clearly when I posted my last response. It makes no sense talking about adding extension behind a bellows, since that is exactly what a bellows is -- a ton of extension. Duh!

Nonetheless, this topic got me to thinking and I decided I was gonna sit down with all of my Nikon extensions and adapters (I have many), AND with my Nikon PB-4/PS-4 bellows with slide copier, and with all of my Nikon mount macro lenses: my 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor, the "legendary" 105mm f/2.5 Kiron macro (mine happens to be wearing a Vivitar Series 1 label, but doesn't matter -- it's still the Kiron), and a Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5. With respect to the adapters, I have a PN3, a set of Nikon extension tubes: K5/K4/K3/K2/K1, BR2/BR3 rings, a set of four aftermarket extension tubes, and I even tossed my Vivitar 2x macro-focusing teleconverter in the mix, just for grins and giggles.

What I was hoping to accomplish was to see if I could get closer to a 1:1 reproduction ratio with the slides I'm duplicating. Prior to this, I was getting close -- about 80-85% I guess. And I really didn't like losing all that resolution. The camera I'm using now for my slide dupes is a Sony NEX 7, which provides 4000 ppi on the vertical. Now 4000 ppi is the same as one of those expensive Nikon Coolscans provides, so I was eager to see if I could duplicate the results and save a lot of money in the process, plus having a slide duplicator that doubles as a very nice camera, to boot. All this is why I didn't like losing 15-20% of my available resolution just because I couldn't get things set right with my duplicating setup.

Prior to this, I had been using a "digital slide duplicator's" gutted and stripped down tube and slide stage assembly that I threaded directly into the front of my 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor, and then I added about 25mm of extension to the rear of the lens.  Here's a photo of the setup when I was using it with my EOS DSLR:

The above image shows the gutted duplicator tube attached to the 55mm macro, and the extension attached to the rear of the macro lens. And attached to the base of the extension tube, you can see the adapter that converts from Nikon to EOS mount. Now I use an adapter for NEX.  Beneath this setup, off to the left is the slide stage and to the right is a roll film stage, which is very handy for duping negatives or unmounted slides.

So tonight I sat down with the adapters and extensions and tried them out, one-by-one. I continued to use the same duplicator tube and slide carrier. I discovered that the longest adapter -- the PN3 -- was too long to work. The image wouldn't quite get into focus. The progressively shorter adapters all managed to get the image into focus, but here's where it got curious -- it didn't matter what the extension was, as long as there was room enough for focus adjustment, the image, when it came into focus, was exactly the same size -- no matter which adapter I used. So this tells me that, as long as the distance between the lens and the subject does not change, there is a pretty substantial range of adapter lengths that can be used behind the lens, as long as the lens itself has enough room for focusing. Which a macro lens tends to have. So I learned something from all this, even if it was sort of frustrating because I wasn't able to change the size of the image -- and that's what I was after.  But unfortunately, using my setup, I had no way of varying the distance between the lens and the subject, which I began to suspect was what I needed.

So after trying every available combination of extension and getting the same results, I turned to my PB-4/PS-4 bellows with slide copier extension and thought maybe it was worth a shot, given that I could vary the distance between the lens and the subject with this setup.

First thing I wanted to try was another macro lens. Well, turns out that both the 90mm Tamron and the "legendary" 105mm Kiron were just too long to work for slide duplicating. So I turned again to my trusty old 55mm Micro Nikkor. Now, I had tried it using the bellows once before and wound up with crops of the images, which obviously I didn't want. So first thing I did was try varying the distance between the lens and the slide and then fine-tuning things by opening and closing the bellows. Well, I was able to achieve focus -- even full screen -- but unfortunately the bellows were cropping the image such that only the central  70-80% of the image was being recorded.  Which is exactly what I was afraid of. No amount of adjusting the slide stage, the lens standard, or the camera standard was able to bring the subject into focus where I was getting a full frame image.  So back to using the tube and extensions. I might be able to have better results if I can vary the distance between the slide and the lens, but to do that, I'll have to scrounge up some 52mm extension tubes. I found some on eBay, but dang, they're expensive. Oh well.

UPDATE: I discovered that the K tubes, which are components of the Nikon extension tube set I own, have 52mm threads. Well, now, that's handy. I've been using the aftermarket tubes for the dupe contraption's extension and my Nikon tube set had just been sitting in their box, stuffed in a drawer. Frankly I had forgotten all about them until yesterday, when I went rummaging through all my stuff, looking for close-up items.  Glad I ran across them now. They may end up being just what I need to get closer to 1:1. But they may also achieve the opposite effect, I dunno. It seems to make some sense that, the further away from the lens I locate the subject, the smaller it will be. But the closer I move it toward the lens, the more close-focusing capacity the lens needs. So it's a balancing act.  I dunno, nothing may come of it, but I'm gonna give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Last edited by cooltouch (2015-03-13 22:29:15)