Nikon BR Bellows & Macro Accessories

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 21, 2019
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Nikon BR-2 BR-2a BR-3 BR-4 BR-5 BR-6

Nikon BR accessories are designed to be used on a Nikon bellows or for macro photography. They can be used to reverse a lens, control aperture diaphragms, and attach filters to reversed lenses. They are:

Camera bellows that will work well with the BR accessories are the Nikon PB-4 and Nikon PB-6.

WARNING: The BR-2 and BR-4 will cause damage to camera mounts and lens CPU contacts. The BR-2A and BR-6 do not cause damage.

Quick Note: Lenses with electronically-controlled apertures cannot be reversed. A lens must have a aperture ring that physically controls the diaphragm.

Nikon G series, Canon EOS, Sony E-mount, and Fuji X-mount lenses will not work. Film era lenses are good choices. Also, the focal length should be 50mm or wider. Telephoto lenses will not work.

Nikon BR-2A & BR-2 - Macro Reversing Rings

The BR-2 and BR-2a are reversing rings with a male F-mount bayonet on one side and male 52mm threads on the other.

They are designed to allow the front filter threads of a lens to screw onto a camera or bellows. Most lenses will perform better at magnifications above 1x when they are reversed.

Any lens with 52mm front filter threads can be attached to the adapter. The adapters can be mounted to a camera, extension tubes, or bellows. There is also an earlier version marked “BR 2 F Nikkor Japan”.

Nikon BR2 BR2A Lens Reversing Ring 52mm Thread

Both rings are made from nickel-plated brass. These are of higher quality than cheap aluminum third party options.

Other manufacturers made reversing rings in the film era. Unfortunately, it is difficult and expensive to find Canon FD, Minolta SR, and Olympus OM reversing rings.

Unlike F-mount lenses, the rings can be mounted in 3 different orientations. There are dots on the outside edge of the rings indicating where it should line up with the female mount.

Changing the mounting point will rotate the attached lens 120 degrees. This is useful if when a lens is mounted, the aperture ring is facing down.

Prevent Damage

A camera can be damaged by using a Nikon BR-2. The adapter can rub against the CPU contract in the mount, it has a tighter fit, and may not mount correctly. The BR-2A is the replacement and will not damage equipment. The differences are:

  1. Stop screws have different sizes, offset, and screw drives. (Slot drive vs JIS B 1012)
  2. The BR-2 has slightly wider bayonets with square edges. The BR-2A has been machined to have rounded edges.
  3. The BR-2A sits further away from the mount, but neither appear to rub against the meter coupling ridge.
  4. Dots on the outer edge have different positions and the pin lock channels are slightly different.
  5. The engraved Japan is smaller on the BR-2A.
Nikon BR-2 BR-2A

If you don’t intend to use the adapter directly on a camera, the BR-2 is less expensive. Another option is to use the ring with an adapter to another camera system.

BR-3 – Filter Ring & Lens Hood

Nikon BR3 Mount Adapter Ring for reversed lens

The Nikon BR-3 adapter functions as a lens hood and has 52mm filter threads. It can be mounted to the rear of a lens or the BR-4. I like using it for protection and to prevent flare.

At 17mm long it is big enough to prevent a piece of equipment from accidentally hitting the rear element. They can be found used on eBay for less than $15. A cheaper option is to cut the back off of a lens cap.

There’s a hole on the side for the locking pin release. Light will get through when it is attached to a reverse mounted lens.

If you want to use filters, be prepared to use gaff tape or something else to block the light leak.

Nikon BR-3 f-mount adapter 52mm filter threading

Nikon BR-4 & BR-6 Rings – Auto Diaphragm

The Nikon BR-4 and BR-6 diaphragm rings provide ways to control lens apertures and attach filters to reverse mounted lenses. Both of them leak light.

Combined with a cable release, the Nikon BR-6 or BR-4, will provide automatic aperture control. Both adapters are spring-loaded to keep the aperture diaphragm open.

When the cable release is triggered or locked, the diaphragm will be closed down. The lever on the side of the adapters will also control the diaphragm and can be locked into place.

Light is able to get through gaps in the ring where the lever is located.

Nikon Cable ReleaseFitting
AR-4Nikon Thread
AR-7ISO Thread
AR-10MD Thread

Nikon BR-4 Ring Reversed Lens Aperture Opening Adapter

Nikon BR-4 auto diaphragm ring

Mounting a Nikon BR-4 onto a camera with an Ai meter coupling ridge will cause damage. The flange on the adapter has the same dimensions as non-Ai lenses.

It also cannot be used on any lens that has CPU pins. Damage will occur if the force is used to try to get the adapter onto a lens.

The BR-6 has a notch to avoid hitting lens CPU pins.

The BR-4 has a male and female F-mount bayonet. A BR-3 is needed to use filters on reverse mounted lenses.

Unlike the BR-6, It can be used with forward-mounted lenses on a bellows or extension tubes. This may be helpful for use with any of the Micro-Nikkor lenses, such as a Micro Nikkor 55mm f/3.5.

None of the Nikon bellows lenses have auto apertures. The Novoflex Auto Bellows Noflexar 105mm f/4, is the only other lens where the setup might make sense.

Nikon BR-6 Auto Diaphragm Ring

Nikon BR-6 for lenses with cpu contacts

The Nikon BR-6 has a female F-mount and 52mm threads. A notch gives clearance for lenses with CPU contacts.

G series and other lenses with electronically controlled aperture diaphragms will not work with the adapter.

Lens compatibility will be limited to Nikon D-Series and older manual focus lenses, along with some third party lenses.

Working Distance & Reflections

BR-4 + BR-325mm

Also, keep in mind potential problems with reflections.

The Nikon BR-6 has a black finish. The flat face of the BR-6 is large enough to hold a flag stuck on with double-sided tape.

Alone or combined the BR-3 and BR-4 leave several areas of nickel exposed. That could cause unwanted reflections.

Nikon BR-5 – 52mm to 62mm Step Down Ring

Nikon BR-5 Adapter Ring 62-52mm for BR-2A Reversing Ring & 62mm Lenses

Step-down rings have opposite gender threading as step-up rings.

The Nikon BR-5 is just a well made step down ring. I believe it is made of aluminum and isn’t worth the $20 price tag.

This is an important difference if you want to attach lenses with filter threads that are larger than 52mm to a BR-2 or BR-2A.

Lenses with 49mm, 55mm, and 58mm filter thread sizes are more common than 62mm.

Large sets of step-up/down rings for sale can require multiple rings to get to 52mm. The cheapest and easiest way is to buy specific rings that make the step straight to 52mm.

BR-1 – Nikon S-Mount Macro Adapter

The Nikon BR-1 is an adapter designed to be used with the Nikkor-Q 13.5cm f/4 short mount bellows lens on a Nikon Model 2 bellows.

They are expensive and hard to find. Unless you’re a collector, it doesn’t have a practical use.

6 comments on “Nikon BR Bellows & Macro Accessories”

  1. Just got a used PB-4 sans manual, accessories, including focusing target, etc.
    Any suggestions for use on a D-810?
    I was considering using it with my old(with aperture rings)AF 18-17 e/2.8 purchased w/my D-200 body, then discontinued zoom w/macro capabilities that Nikon refused to repair due to "unavailable electronic focus parts" - ended up with a good manual lens + expense for a new 20-70 AF with VR, my go-to lens, especially now that the old guy with back troubles has hand shakes - d/k what I'll do when we're forced to go to z-mount lenses where a simple prime weighs in at a kilogram, and a Z-7, and set of S-class zooms can be yours for the price of a small condo.

    1. Zooms won't work well on the bellows. You want to use primes. A flash and light diffuser will also be helpful as ambient light is never going to be enough at the apertures you'll be using to maximize your depth-of-field.

      Here are some suggestions that should be easy to find and under $100.

      You might want to get a PK-13 extension ring to make mounting the camera easier.

      The various versions of the Micro Nikkor 55mm will work well. They have short barrels and require an extension tube to get to 1:1 magnification. The bonus from that is it can double as a bellows lens allowing you to use the tilt/shift functionality while still being able to focus to infinity.

      The downside of the 55mm Micro Nikkors is that they are plagued with problems from grease breaking down. Look for f/2.8 versions as they are "newer." Check for haze, oily aperture blades, and stiff focus rings.

      For higher magnification it is hard to be a 4x Amscope microscope objective with RMS adapter. You should be able to find a Nikon F-mount to RMS adapter. I ended up using a F to M42 and then M42 to RMS. The adapter and objective should cost you less than $30.

      Another option if you want to get ~2X magnification is to reverse a wide angle lens like a 28mm. This can be nice if you also shoot landscapes or do other things with wide angles.

  2. Dear Nathaniel
    Thanks for this information. I have a D200 and the BR-2 (not 2a) has good clearance to the CPU contacts. Can you confirm which bodies don't have CPU clearance?

  3. Dear Nathaniel,

    Thank you for this page. I was about to buy on e-bay a nammed BR-2A adapter that was in fact a BR-2.I always search for information before buying something, and I found your site !

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