ARCA-SWISS, so many choices need advice. : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am getting ready to make the jump into LF 4x5 view cameras, my preliminary research leads me to consider the Arca-Swiss brand as a front runner. I've been looking into the F-line of cameras, and I'm surprised at all the avaiable versions i.e. metric, com, c, ect. This is what I'm looking for in a LF camera, the items are listed in order of their importance:

1)High build quality. 2)Structurally rigid. 3)Very durable adjustments. 4)Fairly portable.

I would appreciate any user advice in selecting an Arca-Swiss model that best meets these critera. Thanks a lot. Bob Pellegrino

-- Robert Pellegrino (, June 28, 2000


Bob, contact to Arca customer service about your question and request electronic catalog for your convenience. Depending on what kind of photography you do and how much extension you use most of the time, you would probably choose from F-line Metric 4x5 C, w/o C, M-line 4x5 C or w/o C.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, June 28, 2000.


It can seem complicated, but really you can narrow the choices down to a few.

1. Do you need geared shifts and rise/fall? This is the "metric" option, adds some weight and cost but worth it if most of your work is studio or architecture where these movements are common. Otherwise stick with the F.

2. Do you want the folding rail, or optical bench rail. This mainly depends on maximum extension and portability. The 40cm folding rail that comes with the 45FC is nice, but when folded at 20cm is too long to easily pack. The 30cm folding rail that comes with the 45F-Field is small enough to pack, but requires an extension to use lenses longer than about a 210mm. The 30cm optical bench is heavier than the folding versions, but will extend long enough for a 300mm lens, and when the camera is detached on one of the 15cm rails, packs nicely.

3. Do you want a 4x5 or 6x9 front standard. The 45F-Field uses the 6x9 front standard for less weight and smaller boards, but less available rise. If you go with the 4x5 front, get an adapter to use the smaller 110mm or Linhof boards.

4. Bellows. Depends on your lenses, but most AS bellows work over a larger range of lenses than the charts indicate.

For what its worth, I went with the 45F-Field, but got the 30cm optical bench rather than the folding rail. The leather bellows are wonderful for 75-210mm lenses, but when I backpack, I use the 38cm conical bellows which covers my 110-300 range. The camera is relatively light (less than 6 lbs), folds nicely and can pack with a small lens in place, and is very rigid even when extended for my 300mm lens.

For specifics, you can also talk to Jeff at Badger Graphics or Rod at Photomark (Phoenix). These guys are the best U.S. reps for Arca-Swiss and both are fine people to do business with.

Good luck.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, June 29, 2000.

"High built quality - structurally rigid - durable adjustments - portable". Yes, the ARCA fits the bill, but so do others.

The Arca field seems to be the most popular here - it has the 4x5 back but the smaller front from the 6x9 model with conical bellows, thus you safe space by carrying lenses on smaller boards. If you plan on getting the 5x7 rear standard any time in the future, it may not be your best choice, since you would then have to buy the 4x5 front standard (ARCA does not make a conical bellow to connect the 5x7 rear to the 6x9 front).

I myself have the 6x9 - even smaller and fits into my medium format (Lightware) case easily.

The metric is good if you need precision movements on the shifts (if you are heavily into architecture or table top stuff). For the field I find I can set the shifts easily enough and don't miss the gearing.

If you buy the camera from Robert White in the UK you can save $$$.

-- Andreas Carl (, June 29, 2000.

You can also save lots of $$$ buying Nikon, Schneider, and Rodentstock lenses from Robert White in the UK. Buy Fuji lense from Badger Graphics in the US.

-- Bruce Gavin (, June 29, 2000.

Hello Robert,

I purchased an Arcs Swiss 4x5 F Metric and have never questioned my decision. I use it for architecture and landscape work. I have the leather wide angle bellows and use it for my 90 and 210 lenses. The camera is solid as a rock, very well made, compact and a pleasure to operate.

Personally, I love the geared movements that the metric has. I also have the adapter that allows the use of 110mm lens boards. A must if you want to travel and carry several lenses in a reasonable pack. The finish on the camera is silky smooth and the parts fit together like a glove.

After using the camera for a while is just seems to fade into the background. You begin to concentrate on your subject and forget that the camera is there. This is something that I was never able to do with my Canham.

Once locked down, the camera is extremely rigid. I have never had anything move on me. The controls are intelligently located and the locking mechanisms do their job without complaining.

What else can I say. I highly recommend the Arcs Swiss F-Line 4x5 and especially the metric version should you need and/or like the precision of geared movements.

-- Mike Kravit (, June 29, 2000.

All Arca cameras fit this description. My advice is to get an F-Line (I think this is now known as the F-Classic) with the 30cm optical bench. with the two two rails and the full length bench you can move both standards on to one 15cm section and remove that section for packing into most camera cases or backbacks and you'll have about 40cm of total rail length at full extension, enoughto easily use a 300mm lens of standard design if you so choose. I have this camera (except it has a 40 cm bench and I trimmed one rail section to 15 cm).

-- Ellis Vener (, June 29, 2000.

I would like to thank all those who took the time to answer my questions. I always prefer to get actual hands-on infomation from product users. Thanks again. Bob Pellegrino

-- Robert Pellegrino (, June 30, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ