Arca swiss 69 vs. Linhof 69 vs. Fuji 680 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi guys,

I am looking for a tilt & shift capable medium format for Landscape as a hobby (may accumulate stock) and to replace my Mamiya 7 and 4x5 Toyo with Schneiders. The reason being Mamiya 7 have no tilt and I do quite some a bit of those from the 1 foot to infinity in focus kind of photos. And setting up 4x5 is too slow, always end up the interesting light being gone.

My questions is anyone know the web site of Arca Swiss and Linhof so that I can find more information about them? Will these 2 camera end up as slow as my 4x5 Toyo?

And any other medium format suggestions? I don't like Flexbody and SL66 though.

Thank you in advance. Chin.

-- chin fan so (, October 08, 2001


for tilt movements, very limited shift, fast setup, and integration into an entire system, the Hasselblad Flexbody is perfect. what slows me down with 4x5, is setup time, loupe focusing, dark cloth, film holders, metering, weight, bulk, dust ....

of course, these are all the things we love about Large Format, but you are clearly looking for convenience. Landscape requirements are few, and your '1 foot to infinity in focus kind of photos' are a walk down Flexbody avenue.

-- daniel taylor (, October 08, 2001.

We can mail you the brochures on Linhof if you are in the US.

-- Bob Salomon (, October 08, 2001.

or is that a walk through Flexbody park? HP marketing has been real responsive about sending Linhof literature, and a call to Arca Swiss in Chicago (I think) yielded a nice package of information. other than that, reap the rewards of a search.

-- daniel taylor (, October 08, 2001. the best link for arca stuff !

-- dg (, October 09, 2001.

I looked for a long time for a MF system with movements that would be faster to use than LF. I eventually figured out that it was the movements themselves that take time (tilt/swing does, anyway; shift is quick, even handholdable with some MF systems). Using tilts with a 6x9 or 6x6 system will be no faster than with a 4x5 or 8x10 system; if anything, the tilt effect can be harder to see during focusing with smaller formats (particularly with SLRs like the GX680, in my experience). The main advantages of MF cameras with movements don't involve speed of use but rather lower film costs per shot and (sometimes) compactness (you didn't say cost was a factor but MF systems with movements generally cost more than comparable LF outfits).

Yes, some camera systems with movements have brighter ground glasses, fresnels, faster lenses, better viewers (e.g. binocular viewers), and more convenient controls than other cameras do, but the biggest single determinant of how long it takes to set up a shot is probably whether you want to use movements (especially tilt and swing), not what format you're shooting.


-- Micah (, October 09, 2001.

The Fuji 680 III might be a bit faster as it is an SLR camera. Mamiya makes two lenses designed for use with their tilt / shift adapter for the RZ67 camera.

With the Arca and Linhof cameras be as slow as your 4x5 Toyo? possibly slower I think; you'll have a full set of back movement possibitielies to contend with.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 09, 2001.

ok well all viewcameras are definitely slower than a MF rangefinder however with the Tk23 or Arca you can use a binocular or monocular reflex viewer which greatly enhances speed. i recently swithed to a Tk23 with a finder and can get the image set and focused and shot from 20-30 seconds,if the camera is already on the tripod. i think the advantage to the mf viewcamera is rollfilm and the myriad of choices as opposed to 4x5 sheet

-- robert (, October 09, 2001.

Can u tell me how can a binocular enhance the speed of focus? Does it help speeding up tilt and focus as well?

-- chin fan so (, October 09, 2001.

you need to work on your technique. Practice practice, practice, even if you are just in your house, practice. Maybe what you really want is a Sinar X with the built-in tilt swing calculator.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 10, 2001.

I used a Toyo 45A for over a decade, and now use an Arca-Swiss 69FC for most of my field work. Here are my observations.

The Arca is somewhat faster to use. The wonderful binocular viewer is one of the factors. Composition is faster, and in rapidly changing light, I find I can focus accurately enough, even with movements, to forego using a loupe. The binocular also helps because it serves as a "holder" for the groundglass when it is removed and replaced by the roll-film back. I can also store the Arca with a normal or moderate wide angle lens attached, and with the rail clamp acting as a quick release, the camera is very quick to set up.

Having said that, the difference is not an order of magnitude... and when movements are tricky and require loupe focusing, most of the time advantage is lost. Still, I would say I have gotten a few shots that I would have missed with 4x5.

Clearly one can effect some of the same advantages with a 4x5. A good binocular viewer helps, although it will be larger and heavier. Some field cameras can be stored with a lens, although they must still be unfolded. A good quick release also helps.

I think the main reason for using 6x9 is bulk and convenience, particularly when traveling. Quickloads are very bulky, as are changing bags and film boxes. I can effortlessly carry two five-packs of 220 film (160 shots) in my jacket through the metal detector at an airport. Eight boxes of quickload is a bit more involved not to mention expensive. I also enjoy the wide range of emulsions, and easy availablity of film in cities and towns that are not photo centers.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, October 10, 2001.

I too am considering the same MF question. I am a former LF user and a current MF user but want to have the shift and tilt functions. The Flexbody is a real option but I'll end up with 645 format for a horizontal shot and I really want a larger neg. I am considering going back to LF and using a 6 x 9 back instead of sheet film. Does anyone have experience with these roll film backs? I welcome any comments about this as an option.

With thanks, Keith

-- Keith Fedoruk (, October 10, 2001.

No keith, no one in this forum has ever used a rollfilm back on a large format camera. this explains why there are no previous entries on the subject in the archives. It is I admit a pretty radical idea. Who might make such a device? If they are already on the market the makers are very clever indeed.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 10, 2001.


I still cannot figure how a binocular can facilitate focusing, especially on a tilt movement, can u explain more?

Thank you. Chin

-- chin fan so (, October 10, 2001.

keith, there's plenty of roll fil backs for 4x5 check in the archive in two differents category film and holder roll film there is two type : graflock (you need to remove the ground glass) or insert as 4x5 holders! The sinar Vario or Zoom is the best: you can mix different formats in one roll (from 4.5x6cm to 6x12cm) The linhof are very good for film flatness but bulky and expensive the best value for money is suppose to be Horseman graflock back (available in 6x7, 6x9 and the more expensive 6x12)

-- dg (, October 11, 2001.

Chin, I agree with everything Glenn said about the Arca. I have only had my Arca 6x9 FC Metric for a few months. It is my first view camera, though I have been using rise & shift on my Nikons for many years. In other words, I've had to learn swings & tilts recently. The way the binocular viewer helps is by enlarging the image (so I don't use a loupe or my reading glasses) and flipping it right side up. I can see the effect of my tilts & swings just fine, though of course it would be even easier to see with a larger format. In spite of being relatively inexperienced with this type of camera, I can set it up really fast. I just got back from a week shooting architecture in NY and PA, had to work fast because I didn't want any cars in the downtown pictures, and did most shooting at dawn & dusk in rapidly changing light. I was surprised at how seldom I wished I had a faster camera.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, October 13, 2001.


when I use my 80mmF5.6 on my Toyo 45Aii, the found the rim very dark and it's very hard to check the focus for the upper and lower part of the fresnel screen with or without a loupe. I wonder a binocular or monocular will significantly help giving that the image is already that dim. Did u ever use a pretty wide angle with the binocular?

Thank you. Chin.

-- chin fan so (, October 13, 2001.


I'm a big fan of the Arca too, but let me suggest a simple test for you to try to improve your focusing. while under the darkcloth and looking at the edges of your image on the groundglass try tilting your loupe so it points more or less towards the center of your lens. When using wide angle lenses, monorail cameras with bag bellows can be easier to do movements with than technical/field or press design cameras with fixed bellows. The Toyo AII is a technical/field type design.

Glenn and I both use the Arca-Swiss Binocular Reflex finders on our cameras. This is a mirror in a box type device that attaches to the groundglass assembly. In the case of the Arca the "housing" is hinged at it's base so the photographer can tilt the mirror to the optimum viewing angle for any part of the image on the groundglass. other manufacturers (including Toyo I recall) have a mechanism in their Bino Reflex Finder housing to tilt the mirror to get the same effect. When collapsed the A-S B.R.F. is smaller than the Toyo, Horseman or Sinar B.R.F. devices as well.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 14, 2001.


try to point the loupe more towards the center of the lens may lead to the loupe being not flaten or say not full contact with the fresnel screen, then the image is not focus through the loupe anymore, so this way doesn't work, but thank you for your idea anyway. I try to rent a binocular but not success here in Toronto, I may have to take a risk to buy and try it out.

Thank you. Chin.

-- chin fan so (, October 14, 2001.

So, don't use the center of the lupe, use the edge that is closest to the groundglass. You might also try reversing the lupe so the collarthat you would normally rest against the ground glass is against your eye. This will give you a much wider range of movements. I've been doing this for years and learned to do this when I apprenticed with a guy who did a lot of 4x5 and 8x10 work. Trust me on this, it really does work.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 15, 2001.

about the silvestri tilting loupe :"A long standing problem with large format cameras is that of focusing in the corners of the ground glass, especially when using short focal Length lenses. With normal loupes the corners tend to be dark and with the new ultra wide angles over 90' things get darker and using lots of shifts, really really dark!! Clever Sig.Silvestri has come up with a solution with his "tilting loupe" this excellent 6x loupe of "real metal" construction introduces an innovative way to view the entire image on the ground glass screen. The loupe uses a tilting mechanism which allows it to incline up to 45' - the system is simple and functional and allows the loupe to be used efficiently right into the corners and aligned with the light beams. The loupe also comes with a conventional base to enable it to be used in the normal perpendicular position. "

-- dg (, October 15, 2001.

Chin Yes, I use wide-angle lenses, the Schneider 80/4.5 SS and 65/5.6 SA. (Remember with 6x9 format those are only moderately wide.) The only time there is problematic darkening is with extreme shift. Then I can't see to focus one side. I try to avoid such shifts so I don't get uneven tones. If I have to do it, the focus is no big deal with my subjects anyway; architecture is far away and f/22 usually takes in what I want.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, October 15, 2001.

Ellis and others'

my loupe is a Peak 22X loupe, it doesn't focus when I reverse it, can u tell me what loupe u use? Sacripant suggest the Silvestri tilting loupe, I wonder should I get this one or the monocular.

Thank you all Chin.

-- chin fan so (, October 15, 2001.

i use either a big Pentax 5x lupe or a Schneider or Fuji 4x lupe. A 22x magnifier is way, way over kill and explains much about why you are having such a hard time using tilt with your camera.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, October 15, 2001.

i've just bought a technikardan S 45, it's a fantastic camera, you can use roll film holder like the sinar (insert without removing the gg) you can use polaroid 545, and 6x12 back (sinar zoom 2...), and you can go to the 4x5 way as well. It use technika lens panel, small and most popular...

-- dg (, December 10, 2001.

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