Arca Swiss basic : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've seen an advertisement for a used Arca Swiss basic in 'B' condition for sale for $400. I presume this model differs from the F-line basic? If so, are any of the current F-line accessories (e.g., bellows/fresnel glass) compatible? I haven't looked at the camera yet, so I'm uncertain what is meant by 'B' condition.

-- Jim Chow (, February 21, 1999


If this camera is silver and chrome finish than it is an older, pre "F" series Arca camera. Should still be a great field camera. "B" stands for Base tilts; but there is also a base and axis tilt model availible. The monorail is different, but will work with modern function carriers. The biggest difference is that the attachment frames for the bellows, lens board and camera back are very different for the "F" (and M cameras.) Arca does make new bellows for the older frames, but you will need to contact the factory. Old style lensboards will fit the new cameras but not, I think, vice-versa. The newer cameras have a much better groundglass/fresnel assembly and the graflock mechanism may be different enough that the two generations are not interchangable. the function carriers on the F cameras is much heavier duty. Having said all that, the older camera is reputed to be an excellent lightweight field camera. The Arca Swiss cameras are very interesting as you can clearly see how the camera design evolves, permutates and redefines itself over time.

-- Ellis Vener (, February 21, 1999.


As Ellis says, the older silver Arcas are quite a bit different from the new F-line and M-line cameras. If you want to expand your system by adding additional format carriers etc - even the lens hoods are a bit different, it might be as well to avoid the older one. However, if you want a stand-alone camera an older one should be fine. They're still nicely made.

Even the "new" black cameras have changed slightly since their introduction. The monorail has a taller profile than the original - as I found out when I bought a second-hand one, and other parts have been improved. Some dealers "sit" on stocks for years, and even if you buy a brand new item, it may already have been superceded...

I started with an F-line Basic, and have added to it with M-line carriers and ormat frames etc. It's all goods sruff - beautifully designed and built, and lovely to use.

-- David Nash (, February 22, 1999.

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