How good is ArcaSwiss U.S. sales and tech support? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Does anyone in the U.S. have any RECENT experience with ArcaSwiss sales/

I ask because I'm in the market for my first 4x5 camera (I'm moving down from 8x10 and 11x14, although I've borrowed and rented 4x5's) and the Arca-Swiss cameras (reviewed elsewhere on this home page) sound intriguing; I've been impressed with my B2 head--others rave about the B1--so I think the company makes quality stuff).

Unfortunately, I can't invest several grand into a camera I can't find out anything about (because I worry that if the company won't help my BUY their camera, they're even more unlikely to help me get accessories, parts, and repairs). The "distributor" listed in those quarter-page black-and-white ads in the magazines is a woman working out of her home in Chicago who usually isn't there to answer her phone and doesn't return messages or send info even when you leave your name, address, and phone number (as I have). I'm also a bit frightened by the Switzerland issue; I know that Mike Kirk is no longer the repair guy for the A-S ballheads (they must go back to Switzerland now) and I can't afford to be without my main camera for six days, let alone six months (as the 4x5 reviewer was when his A-S monorail broke).

Thus I'm considering the Sinar f2. Sinar has been very responsive when I've called their number (toll-free), I can actually find dealers all over who stock--and even rent--the equipment, the large catalog clearly illustrates and explains each exorbitantly-priced item, and there are so many Sinar cameras and accessories available everywhere, new and used, that I figure I can rely on getting replacements/repairs when I break something (and I will, as I'm pretty rough on my equipment).

In the ArcaSwiss 6x9 review on this web site, the reviewer says Calumet stocks ArcaSwiss. Maybe I'm missing something, but I live a few blocks from the big Calumet store in Chicago and go there so often that I know every employee by first name--but I have never seen any A-S products there (cameras or tripod heads) nor have I seen any A-S items in any Calumet catalogs in the past couple of years (I tried calling them but they're closed for the holidays). If Calumet carries A-S, I'll be very interested in the product line; if the only source is the phantom phone number in the ads (and if I have to wait for parts to come from Switzerland) I'll probably do more than hesitate.

Arca-Swiss users (especially those in the U.S.): any comments or advice? The camera looks very promising, but support can be more than half the equation... Thanks in advance for your help!

-- Bill Daily (, December 27, 1997


I can't help you with respect to Arca-Swiss support because I haven't needed it during the two years I have owned the 4 x 5 F-line. But information and a good A-S catalog including all parts and accessories with stock numbers has been available recently at The "F-Stops Here" in Santa Barbara, CA. Phone 805-898-8800.

As you have learned, Calumet no longer handles A-S. They dropped the line at least two years ago. I bought mine from them as a close out demo. Calumet L.A. did refer me to a store in Phoenix AZ that stocks parts, and I'm now trying to find that address for you. I bought a lens board from them so I do have the address somewhere, I'll email it direct to you if I can come it with it.

You probably know that the B&H catalog says that they are an "...authorized A-S full line dealer...", but I have never contacted them for A-S gear.

The Arca has been the solution to all the annoyances I ever experienced with woodies, and now I can't imagine using anything else. Sorry I can't be of more help regarding service and support.

-- Gordon Vcikrey (, December 27, 1997.

Boy, thanks a million for the tips, Gordon! I went straight to bhphotovideo's web page to check it out (I hadn't seen it there before in the Large Format section because they simply called it "Arca" and it was under "Field Cameras," not "Monorails" or whatever the second grouping is). After figuring out that I'd have to view it in "Text" mode to get my printer to print it, I printed out at least 15 or 20 pages of useful info, and I must say that the ArcaSwiss line sounds even more appealing than before. Then I checked F-Stops Here's ad and saw that sure enough, they say "Ask us about ArcaSwiss," so I'll call or e-mail Jon there (I've had very good experiences with them/him and would rather give him the order if I'm optimistic about A-S post-purchase support). It's funny, but this case shows how the internet is exactly reversing a disturbing trend of recent years: in this case, I'm FINDING OUT about the equipment from the huge New York mail-order house (although F-Stops Here says info on A-S will be coming soon to their web page at but if I buy it I'll probably PURCHASE it from the friendly, local-style store (in Santa Barbara) even if it costs a smidge more....

Anyway, I'm enthused, and I apologize for sounding so huffy in my initial post when I was frustrated by A-S sales support. Thanks again, GV!...

(BTW, if other A-S users have had repair/tech support positive experiences or problems, I'd still welcome hearing from them.)

-- Bill (, December 28, 1997.

Bill, You might also check out Badger Graphics at They carry the AS line. I have not used their service so I can not comment on that aspect. Ric

-- Ric Raymond (, December 30, 1997.

I'm in the market for a portable 4x5 and I _was_ considering the Arca Swiss 4x5 Discovery. I live in New York city an no one here carries them. The lady in the Arca Swiss office in Chicago did not send me the promissed catalog (yes I managed to catch her on the phone once). She confirmed that no one in NY sells them. The closest place I could see one was in Washington DC. I kept calling Arca for a week after that every day and got voice mail every time. I was on a bussiness trip in Toronto and apparently they have a distributor there (MC Photo I belive). B&H will take 10 weeks to get one for you but you have to pay first and you can't return it. I can't imagine it would be easy to get support once you buy one.

-- Vincent Maciejewski (, March 04, 1998.

Dear Vincent

Please be informed that ARCA-SWISS is available in New York through Photo Gizzmo (stocks cameras) as well as B&H who also stocks cameras. ARCA-SWISS has its own specialized service center in Chicago and if it takes longer than three (3) days, ARCA-SWISS can even offer you a loaner camera. If you do need help or service in Canada please do contact our Distributor:

Amplis / Markham ONT. 001-905-477 41 11

Kind regards

ARCA-SWISS Customer Service

-- Martin Vogt (, June 25, 1998.

I can't help with comments on Arca support in the US, but I did have problems with dealers in the UK. There was a period when there were no official distributors (there is now a very good distributor). However, I directly contacted Arca Swiss in Switzerland a number of times, and they were VERY helpful. I have F-line and M-Line cameras and a B2 head - it really is superb kit.

-- David Nash (, August 07, 1998.

I've been using the Arca for about nine years now, and after the wide angle bellows leaked I had to learn that the Arca Service even in europe is getting worse. There was no Arca dealer in Germany that was able to deliver this bellows and what really made me angry: the actual standard bellows purchased directly from Arca-Swiss is of such an inflexibility that it might be a problem for those who have a 58mm or even a 47mm lens. Besides: the price for this absolutely useless camera part is about 200 $ . I am very unsure concerning the future of this swiss camera line. I hope my english wasn't too bad.Good luck to you all

-- Matthias Hoffmann (, September 17, 2001.

I would check Badger graphics as stated before....I bought a Gandolfi from them and they are easy to deal with, good customer service and support, AND they have the best prices.....good luck.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, September 17, 2001.

Hi, My name is Rod Klukas and I have used Arca since 1985 and have dealt with them since 1986 through a variety of dealers. I try to carry most items in stock. I help many people and though I do this and I teach large format at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, not all buy from me. Thats OK. As a customer you deserve the best Arca Swiss and any seller can do for you. The address above is my personal E-mail and i can be reached at as well. I have a method of focusing the Arca which also determines the minimum F-Stop as well. If you e-mail I will send it out to you. Obviously I will need your Snail mail address. I shoot 4x5 and 8x10 Arcas and my wife shoots a 4x5 metric. Any question don't hesitate to contact me. Rod

-- Rod Klukas (, July 05, 2002.

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