Atca Swiss, is it good? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I recently saw an Arca Swiss F-Metric 4x5 in a store. I fell in love. Can anyonne tell me where this camera is made and if it is of good quality? I have never seen one before.


-- Bill Smithe (, March 11, 2000


Bill: As the name suggests, Arca-Swiss is headquartered in Horgen, Switzerland, although they now have moved part of their operation across the border into France just north of Geneva. Their LF system is one of the worlds finest (as its price suggests) and most versatile. The system is modular and consists of rails, standards, bellows and accessories from 6x9cm to 8x10 inch.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, March 11, 2000.

I've had the standard F-Line Arca-Swiss 4x5 for a few years, and like it a lot. You can find reviews for this camera on this site and at WWW.CameraReview.COM. Without going into details more than adequately covered in these reviews, I would offer my own personal preferences:

o With the 30cm telescoping monorail, it can store conveniently in a backpack. o Consider getting the leather, wide-angle, bellows. It can expand enough to use a 180, or even a 210. If you plan on using long lenses, 400mm+, you can accomodate between about 65 and 600 with this bellows and the long 700mm bellows. o You can also obtain a front adaptor for smaller lensboards. Check -- it might be possible to get an adaptor for the Linhof Technika board.

The negative with this camera is it's expense, especially if you purchase new. But, once over this hurdle, you can have a great camera.

-- neil poulsen (, March 12, 2000.

As far as monorail cameras go, my opinion is that the only better camera currently or recently made is the Sinar P2, and that is in a completely different weight class. The Linhof Technikarden 45s is the only camera of comparable quality. Arca Swiss owners tend to love their cameras: how it handles, working with it, etc. but are not in love with Arca Swiss distribution in the United States. Here is a website with more information about the system. And here is a URL with swveral users reviews.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 12, 2000.

Hi Bill, The Arca Swiss cameras are, as the name says it, Swiss-made. in my eyes this casmeras are the most intelligently designed and superbly crafted tool one can find in the LF market. This cameras are probabely a little bit more expensiv than others but worth every $. (the other swiss LF camera Sinar is not half as good designed and crafted, but with a lot of PR noise advertised. ARCA SWISS cameras are rugged and in the same time very light wight. I use a 8x10 M-Line for years now with great pleasure and no complain. With the ARCA SWISS DISCOVERY you will have a camera for a reasonable price. Good luck, Urs

-- Urs Bernhard (, March 12, 2000.

Opps, a . . . here we go. As to Urs' comments, I concur! I also do not think that the Technikarden is of comparable design to that of the Arca-Swiss. neil

-- neil poulsen (, March 12, 2000.

Among Arca user's: Larry Ulrich, Jack Dykinga (Arca-Swiss FC) and I think but I couldn't check: John Wawrzonek. The only reproach I have seen so far made to Arca Field cameras is the limited rise possibility of the 8x10 front frame. It has only 40 mm and the 8x10 back has none. I suppose it is possible to give a little more by tilting both the front and back standards. A 4x5 Arca Discovery shouldn't be that expensive. All Arca's 4x5 can be upgraded to 5x7 and 8x10.

-- Paul Schilliger (, March 12, 2000.

Arca Swiss F metric is definitely a very good camera. However, Urs Bernhard is wrong, when pretending that the Arca Swiss' handling and craft is better than the other Swiss product Sinar. I've tested both in the field and Sinar is just as good if not better. I recommend the Sinar f2 (for field use) which is about the same price than the Arca Swiss. And from what I've heard, the service of Sinarbron in the U.S. is far better than the one of Arca Swiss. Somebody please correct me here, if I'm wrong. I've decided on Sinar f2 on my behalf. On the other hand - as P. Schillinger mentioned - Larry Ulrich and Jack Dykinga swear on Arca Swiss. And I trust those superb photographers just as well.

-- Tom Castelberg (, March 13, 2000.

The Arca-Swiss 4 x 5 camera lens boards are very big: 171 mm x 171 mm. Arca-Swiss sells a Linhof lens board adapter. The Linhof lens boards are much smaller, about 96 mm x 99 mm, and make it easier to store several mounted lens in a camera bag. The 4 x 5 Arca Swiss F-Class is heavier than many 4 x 5 cameras. It weighs about 3.2 kg (7.04 lbs). In contrast, the Arca-Swiss F-Classic 8 x 10 is relatively light compared to other 8 x 10 cameras: it weighs only 3.9 kg. The Arca Swiss F-metric-C weighs 3.4 kg, while the 8 x 10 weighs 4.1 kg. Arca Swiss sells an asymmetrical lens tilt accessory, called the Orbix, for all its F-line cameras, which will greatly ease lens tilts for sharpness adjustment, compared to the standard base tilt adjustments. There is a choice of monorail extensions that give the Arca Swiss 4 x 5 cameras almost unparalleled flexibility if you should seek to use very short and very long focal length lenses. I have no idea how compact the F-line cameras are when stored in a camera bag. I recommend that in deciding what camera to buy, you give consideration to how transportable the camera is in whatever camera bag you would prefer to use. Some of the camera bags that can accomodate a larger size 4 x 5 camera weigh in excess of 12 lbs., while other bags that are designed to accept a more compact 4 x 5 camera weigh only a couple of lbs (e.g., Zone VI 4 x 5 camera bag). The Linhof Master Technika 2000 is one of the most compact 4 x 5 cameras when folded: it measures approximately 7 in x 7 in x 4 in. It weighs about 6 lbs. It does not require a bag bellows for wide angle lenses. It can accomodate lens between 35 mm and 360 mm standard focal length, and up to 500 mm telefoto design. Its lens movements would likely be more restricted than what can be readily achieved with the Arca-Swiss F-line cameras, especially using the Orbix. Unlike the Linhof MT 2000, the Arca Swiss F-line is a full system camera; you can upgrade to 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 without having to buy an entirely new camera. Like the Linhof and Sinar cameras, the Arca-Swiss's durability would be especially appealing to professionals who may take 1500 or more pictures an excursion. The operability of the F-line in the field is a real plus. You can easly gain access to and handle the large knobs while wearing gloves.

-- David Caldwell (, March 13, 2000.

Bill,just a quick note from another arca fan. I have the 4x5 F line field. It has a tapered leather bellows and the 6x9 front standard so it takes the small (110 mm) lense boards.This is great for having extra lenses without the space needed for those large boards.I carry mine and three lenses,meter,quickload holder,two boxes of film and acc. in the small f64 backpack. good luck you might want to talk to jeff at badger graphic or rod at photomark

-- emerald estock (, March 14, 2000.

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