View Full Version : Standard vs. Universal

28-Jan-2013, 03:04
Hello again,

I would like to know what is the difference between a LF standard camera and another one with Universal bellows? What is/are the main difference(s) between both and which one should go with?

28-Jan-2013, 03:41
The terms are a bit loose, with Universal bellows I'd expect to be able to use Wide angle lenses and also longer focal length lenses without needed to swap them for a set of Wide angle bellows.

Standard seems to imply there's other types like Wide angle or extra long. Some cameras need Wide angle bellows, often bag bellows to compress sufficiently with very short focal length lenses, another option is recessed lens boards..

So really it depends very much what LF camera you have in mind.


28-Jan-2013, 04:45
At least going by German language catalogues there does not seem to be a maker making that distinction in recent years - standard, universal, normal, regular etc. are used interchangeably as terms for the only type of multi-purpose pleated bellows in each makers catalogue, with wide (bag) bellows the only other option.

In the past, there was a greater variety in pleated bellows, and then a distinction between a Universal (high flex, full movement on normals, limited wide capable) and Standard (stiff, for normal lenses and restricted movements, as the shortest variation of stiff, self-supporting long bellows) bellows may have made sense.

C. D. Keth
28-Jan-2013, 08:39
What chamonix calls a universal bellows is a regular bellows with a little baglike section on the front end to help flexibility with short lenses.

28-Jan-2013, 08:41
"Universal bellows" would imply that the bellows will work with a wide range of focal lengths, say 75mm-300mm as an example.
There are some bellows makers in China making exactly that, what looks like a regular bellows with a bag at the lens end to provide more movements.
Some other makers like Arca have a different-looking bellows that are supposed to perform the same function.
I've never used one, personally, but the colsest I've come are the Linhof TK45 bellows, which give decent movements with wider lenses, while easily accommodating longer focal lengths.

Bob Salomon
28-Jan-2013, 08:53
The Linhof Master Technika has a non-interchangeable bellows that gives full movements (as much as the camera and lens will allow) from 35mm to 360mm.
The Linhof Kardan Standard had a fixed bellows that allowed full movements with lenses from 58 to 360mm.

Drew Wiley
28-Jan-2013, 16:58
The first time I spotted the term was in relation to an Ebony camera. My Ebony has a superb leather universal bellows which is functional from about 90mm to around 400mm. Shorter lenses than a 90
can be accommodated with a recessed board; but the real issue is the limited engagement of the
gear focus track at that point - which can be increased by using base tilts to bring the standards closer together. With their dedicated wide-angle cameras, they use a bag bellows. Bob- I didn't think the
Technika handled 360 - are you talking about a tele? (That's what my brother used on a Technika)

29-Jan-2013, 01:27
Thank you very much for all the answers!

Well, i don't know which bellow i have with my Shen Hao then, also i ordered [but not yet finalized or processed yet to be shipped] 72mm lens, so i am not sure if this lens can be accommodated with my Shen Hao with the current bellow i have or i should change it or at least get a recessed board.

I am also planning to buy an Ebony one over my Shen Hao, a bit i can afford Ebony and i can't afford Linhof Master, from the specifications of that Ebony i look for it says it can accommodate 35-800 ["USABLE LENSES: 35mm* - 800mm (telephoto)*35mm - 47mm (except 47XL) lenses require recessed lensboard"], so does that mean i will be fine with my 72mm when i get it sooner or later?

If i get that Ebony one day, then i will leave Shen Hao for something else, maybe change the bellow to bag bellow for ultra wide lenses, until now i want to know what is the limitation of my Shen Hao available bellow, from the site it is says about bellow specifications of my Shen Hao "Bellows extension from 50mm-360mm", the site added a new recently note that says "CAMERA NOW COMES WITH A UNIVERSAL STYLE BELLOWS. NO PLEATS IN THE FRONT OF THE BELLOWS", didn't see that note in the past when i ordered mine, so not sure if i should change mine, all helps and opinions here will be very helpful for me, and i appreciate it, i want to shoot with LF as soon as possible and enjoy it.