Bellows use the same working principle as extension rings, they just enlarge the distance between lens and film, without any optical elements. Because of the greater extension, the distance to the subject can be reduced and greater imaging scales can be achieved. The infinity focus possiblity gets lost, however. The image on the film gets larger, but also darker, because not all light is hitting the file that came through the lens.
Different from extension rings, bellows can be adjusted continuously, not only in steps. The achievable extensions and thus the achievable image scales are much larger as with extension rings. On the other side, bellows are much larger, heavier and much more delicate than an extension ring set and therefore not as easy to take with you all the time.
The extremely limited depth-of-field with macro shots made with bellows, combined with the unavoidable loss of light due to the extension, make hand-held use of bellows practically impossible. Bellows should always be used with a tripod to get satisfying results.
All original Konica bellows do not provide a possibility for fully automatic AE exposure. None of the Konica bellows has a coupling for the largest aperture or a direct aperture actuator lever. As there is no coupling for the largest aperture, the built-in light meter can only be used in stopped-down mode. On all Konica bellows – with the exception of the Auto Bellows AR – the aperture must be closed manually prior to exposure. You can avoid this if you use the Auto Ring and Double Cable Release, which was a separate accessory. With the Auto Ring, at least the automated closing of aperture prior to exposure is possible.
All Konica bellows are quite rare and difficult to get, but there are some other possibilities. Third-party manufacturers like Novoflex or Admiral made bellows for the Konica system as well. From Novoflex, there were bellows available which could be used with many Systems – Konica among them – that have couplings for aperture lever and widest aperture, thus allowing for use of automatic AE exposure. As bellows do not contain any optics, no deterioration of image quality has to be reckoned with compared to oringinal Konica accessories. A further possibility is the use of M42 lenses with M42 bellows and the Praktica Lens Mount Adapter. M42 bellows can be found easily.
Konica offered some different bellows over time. For some of these bellows, additional accessories were available, i. e. for duplicating slides.
- Extension Bellows
Simple bellows for the older F bayonet. The guide is a round geared rack, only the lens plate can be moved, the camera plate is fixed.
- Extension Bellows II AR / 2 AR
Simple, older bellows for the newer AR bayonet. The guide is a round geared rack, only the lens plate can be moved, the camera plate is fixed.
- Extension Bellows 2D AR
Better equipped, older bellows for the AR bayonet, allowing for larger image scales. The guide consists of a geared rack and a second rod. Both plates can be moved, but only the lens plate can be adusted with the geared rack, the camera plate must be pushed by hand. The slide duplicator Slide Copier AR was part of the bellows.
- Bellows 3 AR
Simple, younger bellows for the AR bayonet, successor model of Extension Bellows II AR / 2 AR. Modern linear track. Both plates can be moved, but only the lens plate can be adusted with the geared rack, the camera plate must be pushed by hand. The lens plate can be turned, so that the lens can be used in reversed position withour additional accessories. The slide duplicator Slide Copier 2 AR, which was available seperately, can be used with these bellows, just like the Macro Stand AR.
- Auto Bellows AR
Better equipped, younger bellows for the AR bayonet, successor model of Extension Bellows 2D AR. Also with modern linear track, but with the Auto Bellows AR both plates can be moved by the gear rack. The lens plate can be turned, so that the lens can be used in reversed position withour additional accessories. Auto Bellows AR are the only Konica bellows that allows for automatic closing of aperture without additional accessories by aid ot the double cable release, which was delivered with the bellows. The Auto Bellows AR also contained a focusing rail, with which the whole assembly of camera, bellows, and lens can be moved without having to change image scale. The slide duplicator Slide Copier 2 AR can be used with these bellows, and seems to have been part of the bellows at least for some time in some countries. The Macro Stand AR also can be used with these bellows.
Double Cable Release AR
A double cable release for the mechanical Konica bodies. Before introduction of the electronic bodies, it was part of the Auto Bellows AR and Auto Ring, but was also available seperately. It consists of two mechanical cable releases which are triggered simultaneously by a common push button.
Double Cable Switch AR
A double cable release for the electronical Konica bodies. Since introduction of the electronical bodies, it was part of the Auto Bellows AR and Auto Ring, but was also available seperately. It consists of a mechanical cable release for triggering the bellows or the Auto Ring, and of an electrical wire that plugs into the accessory socket on the electronical bodies.
Allows for reverse position of lenses with a 55 mm filter thread together with bellows or extension rings.
Auto Ring and Double Cable Release
Enables for automatic closing of aperture to preset value when tripping the shutter release.
For precise focusing of a setup with extension rings or bellows is possible without changing the magnification ratio. With the focusing rail, the complete setup of camera, bellows or extension rings, and lens is moved back or forth, the setup itself is not changed in any way. Can also be used with the copy stand.
Slide duplicators (Slide Copier AR / Slide Copier 2 AR)
For copying slides or film negatives. Framed slides, film strips or film rolls can be used.
Slide Copier Adapter AR
Is mandatory if the slide duplicator shall be used with the lens in reverse position, i. e. for copying parts of slides or negatives.
Macro Stand AR
A stand for holding small objects like stamps or similar. Can be used with Bellows 3 AR and Auto Bellows AR.
Bellows adapter 57mm F1.2
The extremely fast lens Hexanon AR 57 mm / F1.2 does not have the 55 mm filter thread as do most Konica lenses. For this reason, the Reverse Adapter does not fit that lens. With this adapter, lenses with a 62 mm filter thread can be used in reverse position on bellows. On Extension Bellows II AR / 2 AR and Extension Bellows 2D AR you will also need the reverse adapter.