View Full Version : Ebony owners - do you polish or leather feed your bellows?

26-Feb-2008, 02:03
I bought an SV45TE on eBay, and the bellows are pretty stiff compared to a friend's well used SV45. I think they are quite probably too stiff to squeeze tight if using something like a 75mm lens (though I haven't tried this).
It was suggested that I leather feed the bellows to soften them up, but when I asked the retailer what to use, they weren't so keen on the idea at all!
Do many of you feed your Ebony bellows, and if so what do you use?
Looking at the bellows, they seem to be material on the inside and maybe leather on the outside (though they don't smell of leather particularly, so possible there is a protective coating or something). They are the original bellows (so I'm assured and they look original) but just not been used very much at all.

26-Feb-2008, 05:29
I would imagine that the leather has been pressed into the perfect shape for folding and you probably won't get it much more pressed by softening the leather .You might even end up being able to compress it less as the leather expands when it softens?

I've had a 45SU for only 6 months and haven't noticed much change and it's been fine with all lenses I've tried (down to 80mm so far)


Jim Becia
26-Feb-2008, 05:38
I have owned my Ebony SV45TE for about 4 years now and have never done anything to the bellows other than wiping it clean. It might have been a little stiff when I purchased it, but it has worked perfectly from the start without any special treatment. Jim

26-Feb-2008, 06:00
They should get better with use - mine were the same on the 45SU as I knew from the spec that the camera should take a 65mm lens but I was having trouble with a 90mm to get movements.

As for feeding the bellows, I know of people who've used leather furniture food (e.g. like from Ikea) and others have used shoe creams. I guess there's products used in the saddlery business that would do as well.

Somewhere in the bowels of the Ebony website, there's an article on things to use - it's some type of oil if you can get hold of it (maybe neatsfoot oil but don't quote me on it.) I couldn't find the page by looking down throught the Ebony site - I once found a link to it via a search engine.

There's also something that's available in the States that seems like it will do the job. It's in a green tin AFAIR at about $7 a pop IIRC. It was too expensive to import a tin to the UK so I didn't try. It has an "Olde" Worlde" name or look to it.

This is some info that might be useful although it's for bikers leathers so bear that in mind...


Michael Gordon
26-Feb-2008, 09:01
I feed my Ebony bellows Lexol (http://www.lexol.com/lexol.html).

26-Feb-2008, 10:06
I just dust it off at the end of the day.

Ben Hopson
26-Feb-2008, 10:14
The Ebony site says to use Mink Oil. I have used it on mine once or twice in the last four or five years and it seems to keep the leather soft and pliable.



Ling Z
26-Feb-2008, 10:37
Yes, Mink Oil is great for Ebony bellows. You can buy it from ACE Hardware for less than $10 in the States.

26-Feb-2008, 14:07
i have used lexol and red wing shoes makes a leather oil that works well . i have a wisner with kid skin bellows .

27-Feb-2008, 22:20
That's great, and thanks for the links to Ebony's site. I'd never heard of mink oil before.

Baxter Bradford
28-Feb-2008, 07:51
Mine are treated to liberal amounts of Ocean fresh salt-water spray......

Thanks to others for the list of things I should be treating them with! They are now 5 years old....