Which Large filter system for Arca-Swiss?

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I have both F-line and M-line 5x4" Arca cameras, and am considering purchasing an Arca compendium hood.

However, some of my lenses (or prospective lenses) are fairly large - around 112mm. I have thought about buying a huge 127mm screw-on Polariser with appropriate step-up rings for each lens.

However, if I want to use graduated neutral density filters, the Arca filter holders only accept 100mm filters, which will be too narrow. I know they make a "carton" which accept 125mm gels, but they would be of no use for graduated filters.

The only filter system I've seen which is probably big enough is the Sinar 125mm square system. However, I'm not sure how it would work with the Arca bellows and the screw-in polariser - I don't think there is a screw mount on the front of the Sinar holder.

I am also considereing mounting a graduated filter in something like an Arca Bellows Frame (I can get filters made to measure), and clipping it into an additional front standard in front of the lens. I could therefore use the rise of this standard to move the graduation, and could mount the Arca bellows to the front of this standard. I'm not sure about vignetting with wide angle lenses.

Sorry about the length of this question. I'd appreciate any advice.

-- David Nash (nashcom@btinternet.com), August 22, 1998



Good question! I'm not sure there's a single solution.

First, the polarizer: I don't think anyone makes a polarizer larger than 105mm (which B+W sells for $400 in the U.S.). Even if someone does sell one, a handful of step-up rings will get expensive quickly ($62 each). And even if money isn't an issue, it would be a drag for field work to carry around so much glass. I know nothing about your photographic tastes, but I can't picture using the monster 210 Super Angulon lens (the only one I know of with a 127mm front) on any 5x4--not when there are lenses like the Apo Symmar 210 and the Sironar S 210, both of which cover over 300mm and take 72mm filters. But perhaps you want to be ready to shoot 8x10. (Btw, according to another LF page contributor the 210 SA has been discontinued; see "210 Super Angulon discontinued" under the "8x10 and larger" category on the home page. As I've lamented elsewhere, I can't believe there are no current true 8x10 lenses between 165mm and 300mm, but I think the SA210 was the last, and its size renders it pretty unwieldy; on about half the cameras out there, including Wisners and Cambos, its 5-inch-plus rear element won't pass through the front standard without some cutting.)

Re: the grad filters; if you can get them made to measure, your solution about mounting an amply large one in an A-S frame and standard sounds ingenious. If the filter is large enough, I'm sure you could get it close enough to the lens' front element to avoid vignetting unless ArcaSwiss has unusually thick standards.

When faced with a similar dilemma--several different lenses, all with large front elements, for both 5x4 and 10x8--I realized that only the SA210's filter size was huge; the rest were all 95mm (Nikkor 360, 300, 150, and Schneider 72) or smaller (various slower but excellent Nikkor M's and Fuji CS's). I don't use grads (I don't shoot any color) so I decided to go with round 95mm glass filters (with appropriate step-up rings) for all of the lenses except the SA 210, for which I bought the Sinar 125mms; these are about 119 mm across so they vignette slightly even though I tape (!) them directly to the lens, so they're not ideal. . . but unless you want to go gel, they may be the best solution you can buy off the shelf (note, however, that you can't exactly buy them off the shelf: although Sinar still makes the holder for the 125mm filters they discontinued the filters themselves a couple of years ago, so you'll have to find them used). For more info on the gel route, you might want to look at the thread under "Glassfilter for 210 Super Angulon?" in the "8x10 and larger" category on the home page).

Bottom line: it's a matter of balancing which lenses you'll have (and when you'll have them) vs. which filters you'll want to carry and use most often. I just resigned myself to never using grads or polarizers with the 210 SA (I use it mostly indoors anyway), and the 95mm glass solution, though plenty expensive, is much cheaper than buying five-inch disks of glass and works fine on the smaller lenses since I don't use grads. (If and when I start using grads for 105mm and smaller (diameter) lenses, the Lee compendium with a choice of one or two resin filter slots looks the most promising, although I suspect it would seriously vignette with the 72mm XL--but then, almost anything but a glass Slimfilter would vignette with that lens. I s'pose that's why there's gaffers tape, which of course works better for color resin filters than for grads....)

Don't know if this answers your question, but I hope you can get something out of it!

-- Micah Marty (sterlingbk@aol.com), August 22, 1998.

Kodak makes gelatin filters up to 6" square I believe. Large filters may be best mounted at the rear of the lens. Frequently the rear lens element is smaller. Plus there is potentially less of a flare problem.

Calumet and others sell special holders that mount on the back of the larger lensboards of viewcameras.

-- Bob Eskridge (besk@shtc.net), August 24, 1998.

I use the Arca Swiss 4x5 F-Line (along with a Canham DLC which can use the same A/S compendium. the largest filter diameter on any of my lenses is 82mm (a 90 f/4.5 Grandagon) but when I use the center weighted filter that filter size steps up to 105mm. Currently I am using Sinars 100mm filter system and holders although I am looking at High-Techs filter system.

Now for my suggestion, talk to Harrison & Harrison in Hollywood, they make filters primarily for the motion picture industry, they probably invented the grad. filter and may have something ready made (and expensive!) to fit any lens you can come up with. I am sorry i don't have a web or e-mail address but the best place to start might be www.harrisonandharrison.com or a search throught the usual browsers. Please let us know what you find out!

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), August 25, 1998.

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