Arca Discovery Expansion : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking to buy an Arca Swiss Discovery for field use, to replace a Gowland (don't ask). Everything seemed to fall nicely to hand when I checked it out at B&H, but the sales guy couldn't tell me whether a) an extension rail is available, or b) the Discovery standards could be used on an F-Line rail. Any ideas?


-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 02, 2000


I believe the answer to both is yes, but I will check my Arca catalog when I get home tomorrow. I know the standards will run on other rails.

-- Glenn Kroeger (, September 02, 2000.

Of course there is extension rail and brackets available for the Arca-Swiss Discovery. Since all the parts are interchangeable the F-Line Rail should work with the Discovery standards (however I haven't literally tried it). The Discovery is a good rigid camera. The rail itself is short at 300mm. The standard bellows is short and unflexible. Its hard to get full movement at infinity. I dislike ow the swing scale is on the inside away from side facoing out on the standards. The swing is also locked by the shift knob. Of course it moves a bit when you just need to get one movement. The screen has the corners cut off (minor but I want LF to be precise). The levels are very usefully (unlike some cameras). While the recess boards are more sexy, the older flat boards are fine and cheaper. I think the extension bracket(the part that actually attaches to the tripod) could be optional equipment. This would save bulk. It light but rigid. If you think you need swing/tilt and D.O.F. calculators a la Sinar F-Series. You can easily get the Rodenstock D.of. Calculatr. Arca-Swiss main drawback is the customer service. Order for the Swiss are long. Not many people sell it. However I highly recommend buying from Amplis if you are Canadian. Photomark(Rod K.) and Badger Graphics(Jeff) are LF page's favourite stores because they have stuff in stock and they actually know the products.

-- David Payumo (, September 03, 2000.

So the Discovery is distinguished from the F-Line by the carriers and standards, not the rail and bellows then? Do I infer correctly that one could later build a "hot-rodded" Discovery with, say, an F-Line front standard, or an Orbix setup? Thanks, again.


-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 03, 2000.

Oh, hey! One other thing (Says Lt. Columbo). Any reason to buy it at B&H for $1325 and not Adorama for $1195? Badger?


-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 03, 2000.

I've recently been in contact with the Arca-Swiss reseller and he told me that the Arca-Swiss discovery had been especially designed for young aspirant professional photographers, so that the system can evolve with the carreer of the photographer. Every thing is modular in the Arca system, so you'll be able to buy extension without problem.. Like already said, the rails are compatible between all models.. you can have various type of them : a folding one for compact model, one with extension .. many kinds, many sizes all fitting with all model and which you can add.. The down size of this modular concept is that you have to buy a lot of stuff..

-- Christiane Roh (, September 03, 2000.

Sorry, I forgot to add, in case of question, you can ask Arca-Swiss directly by Email at They are answering very quickly. They did even answer privately to one of the question I had asked on the news group.

-- Christiane Roh (, September 03, 2000.

Yes. Everything is compatible with the F line. It is an excellent value with great quality and can be customized to your needs at a later date. Swings, tilts, shifts and rise are all independently controlled by separate knobs. A 210 is very usable in the standard configuration for everything from table top to landscapes.

-- VNC (, September 03, 2000.

Thanks for all the help. The only remaining concern seems to be parts and service. OTH, ain't a lot that breaks on a view camera. But it does raise the question: Just who is the "official" U.S. distributor/point-of-service contact, or is it all gray? Linhof's got HP Marketing; Sinar's got its own. What about Arca? And what about the home company itself. Is it now in fairly stable hands?

I dunno why I'm even worried. My other hobby is high-end audio. Just try and find a stable manufacturer in that business!


-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 03, 2000.

Interesting. When I called B&H asking about the Arca Swiss Discovery, I was told that there would not be one at the store for me to look at when I got their because its a "special order, there aren't any in stock", and therefore "not returnable" once purchased.

-- Raven (, September 03, 2000.


Maybe a demo model was all they had, but have one they did last Friday when I was in there. I work just down the block, so I'll double-check, but I believe they also had a few in stock in stock. Their website says they do. Most of the other Arca Swiss gear is listed as Available (meaning special-order)


-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 03, 2000.

I second the recommendation to check pricing from Badger and Photomark... even if the same price, these dealers know the product and provide invaluable advice and support.

As for the groundglass, if it is like the F-Line, while the corners are cut off, these corners do not intrude into the image area of the 4x5 film. The ground glass is oversized, and the precise image area is marked by reference lines on the glass.

-- Glenn Kroeger (, September 03, 2000.

Perhaps someone else remembers. There's a site that posts feedback about the different retail outlets. I looked through it one time, but I can't remember how to get there. I would advise checking for Adorama on this site.

-- neil poulsen (, September 04, 2000.

from my experience it is almost always worth the extra $ to buy from someone who knows the product well. although i don't know them photomark and badger are highly praised on this site. another one to try is louis @ photogizzmo (212.463.0130). he knows a lot about large format, deals with arca (and likes their products), and is very helpful with any questions or problems. last time i was there he had a discovery in stock. b&h is great for some things (filters,cases,some new cameras) but for anything important i recommend service before price. adorama, on the other hand, has never been anything but a complete pain for me. i refuse to do business with them and would rather do without than purchase from them ("not if you were the last person on earth...")

-- adam friedberg (, September 04, 2000.

>>b&h is great for some things (filters,cases,some new cameras) but for anything important i recommend service before price.<<


I agree. Thing is, I am, literally 150 yards away from B&H. I've found their service to be quite good, once you get beyond the inate something (reserve? brusqueness? other-worldliness?) of many of the Hasidim who work there.

Not a complaint, mind you. In fact, I've never had anything but satisfying encounters. One just has to adjust a little. It really is like stepping into another world. I can see how someone placing a phone order from, say, North Carolina, might be a little baffled. Sure, I'm painting with a broad brush here-- One of the Large-format guys is (I think) caribbean or west-african; and he's not the only non-hasid, but it really is something for a secular jew like myself to see. The last time I heard yiddish in conversation (not just a few odd words of "Yinglish") must have been 30 years ago.. at my grandparents' dinner table. Weird, and refreshing.

Back to the matter at hand. It may just come down to tax versus shipping. Are either B&H or Badger "authorized" retailers, or is it all Gray, when it comes to Arca in the U.S?

-- Marshall Arbitman (, September 04, 2000.

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