Steinheil Munchen Culminar 105mm f/4.5 Bellows Macro Lens Review f4.5

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Steinheil Munchen Culminar 105mm f/4.5 Bellows Macro Lens on Novoflex Bellows with Exakta Mounts

Lens separated from Tiffen #509 Series 5 Adapter Ring and Kodak Series 5 Lens Hood (Novoflex Bellows in background)

Front View

A close-up view of those 14 beautiful aperture blades.

Nikon Lens Mount (purple) compared to Steinheil Lens Mount (green)

I use the colored rings to show a size comparison of a Nikon's bayonet mount and the Exakta's bayonet mount on the Steinheil. Notice how much smaller the Steinheil is. It is for this reason that I was able to produce the images below without the use of an adapter.

The Exacta mount is almost the perfect size to fit inside Nikons lens mount. I took the pictures below by HAND HOLDING the lens inside a Nikon D90. After slapping the mirror into it I found that if you position the Steinheil lens at the top of the Nikon mount the mirror will swing freely. So I simply mounted the D90 on a tripod (Bogen 3050 Old Style and a complete different story) and held the lens in place while exposing the images below. I'm tickled with these initial results.

I'm glad to have found this lens, now if I can just get a good adapter everything will be fine. I have been looking for weeks and can't find the right one.
NOTE: I finally purchased an adapter and can't wait to use my Exakta mount lenses, such as this Steinheil, on a digital camera.

The images below were a test of the Bokeh, or "out of focus" regions of the Steinheil lens. Different lenses produce different results. This Steinheil produced awesome results with the scene at all aperture setting, however, wide open (f/4.5) it creates noticeable halos or doughnuts. (more on this at bottom of page)

Steinheil @ f/4.5

Steinheil @ f/5.6

Steinheil @ f/8

Steinheil @ f/11

Steinheil @ f/16

Steinheil @ f/22

f/4.5 & f/22

This example shows the image at f/4.5 and at f/22. Notice the beautiful way in which the lens treats the out of focus areas (Bokeh). This lens is useful at all apertures, something rarely found in a lens. Wide open, at f/4.5, this lens does produce edges in extreme highlights, (doughnut looking highlights in the left image) but at 5.6 and higher they are gone.

Some lenses aperture opening have a shape, rather than a smooth circle like this lens. The "Shaped" aperture openings produce more of a star or pinwheel type effect in their out-of-focus highlights... mimicking the shape of the aperture.

"Fixed Focus/Bellows Lens/Short Mount" lenses require a bellows or adapting them and moving the camera to focus, but to those looking for great optics, this lens is a no-brainer. Try to get one in a mount that has adapters available. This sample is in Exakta mount and I looked long and hard to find the adapter and have never found another one. Old lens mounts, body caps and other thing are an easy way to adapt bellows lenses for use on your camera.


My next project will be to do a similar shoot using a lens that produces inferior results to show clearly why you should buy top quality lenses if you want top quality results, and that, just because a lens is old or manual, does not mean it's inferior and in fact may be superior.

Kert Kley


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