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Minolta Focusing Rail

Anders Stavland , Feb 05, 2011; 05:18 a.m.

I am interested in Macro Photographing and had read John Shaw´s excellent book Closeups in Nature.
There he mention that Minolta has a good focusing rail. This is now discontinued and could be difficult to get hold of.
I have sometimes seen advertised Minolta focusing rail on ebay, and also focusing rail with bellows.

How is this Minolta focusing rail is compared to the newer Novoflex model and also Kirk an RRS rails.
In my opinion this old Minolta focusing rail are at least as good as the newer focusing rail.
I hope there are some Minolta veterans out there who could help me with this matter.
Thanks in advance.


Matthew Muskovac , Feb 05, 2011; 09:31 a.m.

I have the Minolta focusing rail, macro copy stand, and bellows from the 80's. Minolta equipment from that era is of excellent quality IMO. I believe all three were purchased separately. The rail can be used by itself. Minolta made several different styles over the years, mine has a dovetail rail, others have a dual or triple rod rail. I believe the rod ones are earlier.
I also have a Nikon PG-2 Focusing Stage ("rail" would have been a better name). This one is nice because it has a swivel to rotate the camera to vertical. This one looks similar to my Minolta and is also excellent qualilty. There is one with a starting price of $150 on ebay, a reasonable price if you can get it for that.

Of all the ones you mentioned, Novoflex would be the lowest quality IMO. RRS stuff is probably the best made stuff in the business. I don't have any Kirk stuff but I think it is pretty good also.

Matthew Muskovac , Feb 05, 2011; 10:24 a.m.

I take back what I said about the Noveflex, I was confusing them with another cheap brand. Novoflex is German made and is also excellent. I have used these also.

Also, regarding used rails. Some of the Minoltas will be very old. I have seen used ones at camera flea markets in poor condition. Condition is important for a precision mechanical device.

Scott M. Knowles , Feb 07, 2011; 10:02 a.m.

I have a number of autobellows and focusing rails for sale. I'm working on a description and photos of each item but for now I can say all is excellent or better.

dan Mar , Feb 08, 2011; 05:16 a.m.

Am i correct in thinking that there was a bellows that had allowed front shift or tilt movements? and if i am , which one was it?

Manuel Odabashian , Feb 08, 2011; 03:24 p.m.

The autobellows 3 is probably the best minolta rail if you want the bellows too it has movements which allow you to get greater depth of field like the nikon which eother a PB-5 or PB-6 but i may be wrong on that the autobellows 3 is very smooth unlike a canon that i tried i have no experience of the nikon or novoflex

Scott M. Knowles , Feb 08, 2011; 09:24 p.m.

The AB-IV has front swing and l/r shift in horizontal mode and tilt and up/down shift in the verical mode, but since it's made for use with micro/macro lenses for close up photography, the amount isn't much but can be significant.

Jeff Adler , Feb 16, 2011; 09:41 p.m.

There is the Auto Bellows III and the Bellows IV. There is no Auto Bellows IV. The Bellows IV has no front standard movements and requires you to set the aperture manually. The focusing rail for the Auto Bellows III also fits the Bellows IV. Some bellows units, like the Canon Bellows FL, have the focusing rail built in. The Konica Auto Bellows and Bellows III share the same removable focusing rail. It is much less fun to use a bellows without a focusing rail. If you try to do this and focus by extending and retracting the bellows you will be changing the magnification. Focusing rails can be used without bellows too. I have the separate focusing stage for the Olympus Auto Bellows focusing rail.. The rail is reasonably long so this is handy in some situations. As self-contained medium tele macro lenses became more popular, bellows units, at least for field work, became less popular. I have many macro lenses and bellows units and if I have the time I sometimes prefer using a bellows.

Scott M. Knowles , Feb 18, 2011; 03:12 p.m.

I sit corrected. I have the AB-III's (one with connecting cable) which has front standard movement. Thanks for reporting the error.

Terry Evans , Feb 22, 2011; 03:46 p.m.

Jeff and Scott, can you recommend a ring flash for my Minolta 100 2.8 and A900?

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