An accordion-like folded light-tight leather or rubberized fabric sleeve connecting a lens to a camera body.
Typically seen on very old (especially pre 1960s) cameras, on large view cameras and as add-on accessories for macro photography. In macro photography the bellows extend the distance between the film plane and the rear of the lens, allowing closer focus. In the case of lens-mounted shutters (ie: leaf shutters rather than focal plane shutters), automatic bellows contain coupling mechanisms connected to the camera, but non-automatic bellows often require double shutter releases - one cable going to the camera and one to the lens. A specialized form of bellows, bag bellows, does not have folds and instead is a loose bag for use with wide-angle lenses, where the bunching-up effect of regular bellows is a problem.
Bellows also allow for flexibility in lens movements, which allows for perspective control and other effects.
cf. bag bellows, converging verticals, macro, movements, perspective control lens, view camera.
Entry last updated 2002-05-08. Term 118 of 1487.
Previous term: behind the lens.
Next term: between the lens.