View Full Version : Fixing the Bellows on my Tachihara Clone

25-Feb-2009, 14:34
Hello All

My Osaka Field Camera (identical to a Tachihara) has developed quite a few pinholes on the front 4 or 5 bellows creases, which I have dotted with gaffer tape on the inside, and as I don't tend to use long lenses (longest is a 210, and then not so often), it doesn't tend to cause me any problems, especially as I always place a cloth over the top of the camera when I shoot.

I have also recently bought a Rodenstock 75mm and in both setups that I have used it for, I have had some vignetting.

I have looked into replacement bellows, through Camera Bellows, but have a potentially more interesting solution:

If I removed the bellows from the front standard, and cut off the damaged front section of the bellows, and then reattached them, problems solved? (or not!?).

As the longest lens I am likely to use would be the 210, I would presumably have enough length, and surely I would also have less compression in them at 75mm, hopefully resulting in less vignetting (which seems to be caused by the compression of the bellows obscuring the film at extreme movements).

Can anyone offer any opinions as to whether this idea would work? Also can anyone suggest a suitable glue (available in the UK) that I could use to reattach them?

And of course, if I messed them up, I could always go and get them replaced, presumably with a shorter bellows (unless I am missing something obvious here!)

I would appreciate any input into another of my hair-brained schemes! :)


Maris Rusis
25-Feb-2009, 14:56
I have repaired bellows so bad that they were barely hanging together by covering them with 3M #850 black polyester tape.

This tape is very black, very thin, very strong, with a very secure non-creep, non-bleed adhesive. The tape is ultra flexible and follows all the folds and creases of any bellows. An entire bellows covered with this tape is not bulked up or stiffened.
The down side is that a roll is near $100 and most retailers want to sell you a minimum lot of 12. The one roll I got years ago has done 3 cameras and 2 enlargers and there is plenty left for more.

25-Feb-2009, 15:12
This stuff in the link is the cat's meow :)
and so is it's cousin in the spray can application.
Easy to control, just do as little at a time as you need.

It is the result of my searching for hours on bellows repairs, and my recent personal experience.


25-Feb-2009, 15:13
And its sold at Walmart.

shadow images
25-Feb-2009, 16:08
Liquid electrical tape is what i used on my Deardorff. Seems to be holding fine. Make sure you do light coats

25-Feb-2009, 16:43
Thanks for the info.

I checked that liquid electrical tape out, it sounds like good stuff, and is available in the UK!

However, I do like the idea of chopping the bellows down, making them shorter and hopefully minimising or eliminating the vignetting from the 75mm.

Does anybody have any thoughts on that idea?

25-Feb-2009, 17:40
What I don't understand is why you should get vignetting with a 75mm.
I have had never problems when using it on a Linhof Master Technika, something must be in the way.

Put the 75 on the camera, focus and take the rear (focussing screen part) off and check.
At 75 your bellows will sagg (bend through) less than with a 150mm because of the compression of the bellows.


25-Feb-2009, 23:31
Thanks for the info.
However, I do like the idea of chopping the bellows down, making them shorter and hopefully minimising or eliminating the vignetting from the 75mm.

Does anybody have any thoughts on that idea?

My first reaction to you cutting the bellows is that now the front opening will be too big to fit the front standard...there may not be enough material to seal it correctly...
And on the other end you may shorten the bellows for a longer lens and have problems over extending the shorter bellows...just my two cents...

Bert Hillebrand
26-Feb-2009, 15:26
I have successfully repaired pinholes in my bellows using "Silastic" which is a multi-functional sealant made by Dow Corning GMBH Germany, made in Belgium and probably available in most countries. It is a one-part non-slumping 100% silicon rubber for general purpose industrial application; it comes in a 90ml tube, and is easy to apply with a brush or spatula.
Good luck
Bert Hillebrand

26-Feb-2009, 16:12

Thanks for all your continuing replies.

I think that the front section of the bellows, the section with the pinholes, could be cut off as it does not start to taper outwards until after the damaged section. They are starting to sag a bit as well, so I think that shortening may be a viable option. Of course, though, I would need to take accurate measurements before getting the scalpel out!

Although I am not immediately familiar with the Linhof, previously referred to, I imagine that it is a somewhat better camera than the Tachi, hence your lack of problems with the 75mm. I have taken the back off to see what the obstruction was, and it is the compressed bellows getting in the way, which is why I think that shortening them may help in that respect. In both instances I was using the lens, I was shooting architecture and did have the camera at some pretty extreme movements, probably beyond what is recommended, but hey! that is what happens shooting architecture!

I am still considering my options, so keep any further opinions coming. It always helps to get as many as possible before attacking a camera with a scalpel! :)

All help is much appreciated.


27-Feb-2009, 15:20
What you can do as test is taping 2 or 3 foldes together and see what happens with your 75.
If it works and does not interfere with the other lenses you are using you can decide to cut the bellows down a bit.

Good luck !


kev curry
1-Mar-2009, 03:35
Just my opinion Rab but I think cutting the bellows down sounds like a terrible idea:-) I think the process of cutting and regluing would prove to be more involved than it first appears unless of course your already confident with that sort of thing. But then I cant see how that could make any real difference in solving your vignetting issue.

I just took a ruler to the bellows on my Tachihara and the height of the bellows is 115mm exactly where they are glued to the front standard. 4 full pleats along from this point the bellows taper and increase to measure 120mm, so cutting off 4 pleats would only give you 5mm more of extra space. The height of the front standard measures 120mm so cutting off 4 pleats should prove to be about the max before regluing to the front standard becomes a significant problem. ie the opening of the bellows would exceed the size of the standard.

I very occasionally use a 75mm lens in a very deeply recessed lens board on the tachi and movements are restricted. Ive never shot at infinity but I think using, like you say ''some pretty extreme movements'' is really out of the question, particularly if your at, or close to infinity. I think its a matter of the right tools for the job. The tachi is a great camera but not first choice for architecture. I suspect that's where your problems lie. Could you not repair the pin holes in the bellows using one of the effective, inexpensive and nightmare free solutions being offered earlier and maintain the cameras original integrity, and then maybe look around for a really 'cheap' monorail to fully enjoy shooting architecture, there's tons of them about?

1-Mar-2009, 05:30
Yesterday I found an even better way of fixing your bellows problem:
The Lotus view camera range has a great way to shorten your bellows without cutting it, the have a strap connected to the middle of the point of the bellows where it is no longer tapered and a ring mounted on the front standard.
The strap has Velcro att at the bellows side and at the end of it.

Look for Lotus at this forum, otherwise Google or Apug.


Addition: go to: www.lotusviewcamera.au/index.htm

In that way you can repair your bellows and have no problems with your 75 and use your bellows to the fullest.

3-Mar-2009, 14:34
Thanks again for more replies.

I guess a suggestion was made today (also on here) of using a recessed lens board, which is a good solution, as replacing the camera is not an option at the moment.

I am pretty competent at fixing stuff, but of course cutting into my bellows would be scary nonetheless!

I will certainly get some of that liquid electrical tape which I presume would be a better solution that little tabs of gaffer tape that I have on there at the moment, though I have never really suffered from fogging as I always put my dark cloth over the bellows anyway, which is also just a way of drawing attention away from the camera when I am shooting in an urban environment.

Sorry for the delay in responding, I am doing an MA (equivalent to an MFA in the USA (I think!)) and it has been taking up all my time!