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I'm looking into used PB-4 or PB-6 bellows for my Nikon system that I use to do amateur botanical shots. Currently I use a couple of macro lenses and some extenders. The price of each bellows is about the same. Will either one give me anything the other won't? If so, what?

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    The PB-4 can do tilt/swing allowing you to change the plane of focus which can be very useful for manipulating the small DOF that comes with macro. Google scheimpflug principle. There's also an article here about using the PB-4 with a enlarging lens throughthefmount.com/articles_tips_bellows.html
    – moorej
    Jun 11 '15 at 14:38
  • Have you researched the two models to compare features? I don't know how likely it is anyone here has used both models.
    – MikeW
    Sep 10 '15 at 0:23
  • Yes, I picked up a used PB-6 (not the cheap one I was eyeing though); most pros have several of these lying around. I'm glad I picked up PB-6 because I can now use my Zeiss Planar lens that has a thick metal f-mount adapter. PB-4 wouldn't have had enough space, but PB-6 has enough. I wanted to put all this info I learned, but once this person marked this question for closing, I lost interest.
    – Emacs User
    Sep 10 '15 at 0:36
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PB-6 has more tolerances for more mounting rings, especially if one has to use old metal converters on medium and large format lenses. PB-4 can also mount those manual converters but for some tight angles may interfere with free movement of the bellows. PB-6 design is more accommodating.

That is the response I got when I asked a true expert, an expert who has been shooting macro photography for 37 years whom I met a local photography club meeting.

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I agree that the PB-4 is sometime narrow and cannot be used with big cameras with integrated grip (professional SLR / DSLR).

I found as well this interesting detailed article which explains the usage of modern cameras (like DSLR) to use with the Nikon bellows especially with the PB-4.

At the end of the page, there is a section "The PB-4 compared to the other Nikon bellows units" which give most of the differences.

To summarize the difference with PB-6:

  • PB-4 could be too narrow for mounting some cameras, I personally was able to mount D300, D500 and D600 without issue (sometimes I had to switch to vertical mount and rotate the direction after the camera is mounted)
  • PB-4 have the tilt & shift feature that the PB-6 does not have
  • The PB-4 knobs are in metal as the PB-6 ones are in plastic
  • PB-6 can be extended longer with an extension (PB-6E) where you can reach a ratio of 22.3:1 with a 20mm f/2.8 reversed (distance from the front lens: 34.4 mm) The PB-4 can "only" reach 12:1 but such a ratio is already difficult to manage (and the PB-6 alone has the same ratio)
  • PB-6 has an automatic aperture cable release port when you need an extra ring BR-4 with the PB-4.

For the build quality I cannot say too much on the PB-6 as I did not tested it, but even with its plastic knobs, it looks quite sturdy. Note that there is also only one rail in the middle as the PB-4 has 4 rails in parallel: I do not know if there are any advantages.

On my side I found a good second-hand PB-4 in a very decent condition and I would recommend it if the reproduction ratio is not a strong goal (PB-6 + PB-6E) and if the price is also decent. The tilt & shift feature is also interesting but quite difficult to master as well (live view can be helpful).

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