To gear or not to gear : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After much consideration of features, weight, system versatility, etc, I've decided to make the switch from my beloved Linhof Kardan Bi to something in the Arca Swiss F-Line. My one remaining decision is how much I need geared movements. The cameras I've narrowed it down to are the F-Line Compact and the F-Metric Compact. I will be using the camera for landscape, architecture, and occasionally some stuff in the studio. Because I will be using this camera through the remainder of my college career and I'm assuming well into my professional career, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be worth the extra $705.00 to go for the F-Metric model so I could have geared rise and shift. Though my budget as a college student certainly doesn't allow a whole lot of room for that extra $705.00, I'm not sure that over time the convenience of geared movements wouldn't pay for themselves since I'll be using it to shoot architecture the majority of the time. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

-- David Munson (, October 15, 2001


David, I suppose you're the one who can best answer this, as $700 has different significance to everyone, as does the convenience of geared movements. FWIW, the non-geared rise on my Discovery is very smooth, well damped, and usually goes exactly where I put it. The shift is another story, with the smallish release knob usually stiff, but again I can usually get it where I want with little trouble. I'm assuming the F-Line shares similiar standards. If there was a geared movement I'd want, it would be tilt/swing.

-- Michael Mahoney (, October 15, 2001.

The student price on the Linhof Kardan M is $895.00 and the street price is $1170.00.

This camera uses all lensboards, backs, bellows, viewing devices that your B uses and it has a fully geared monorail. It also, except for the shift control, works like the B for rise, tilt, swing. Shift is push rather then geared. It is axis tilt only rather then base, yaw free base and axis like the GT.

It can be converted to a GT.

It can be converted to a telescopic monorail.

If you are so use to the B why not look at another Kardan

-- Bob Salomon (, October 15, 2001.

Hi David, Look for an old thread where I asked the same question. The person who answered something like "it will only hurt to spend the money for a minute, but you will thank goodness you have the geared movements every day you use it" was completely right. I have nothing to compare it to, but the geared rise & shift on the FC Metric are great, especially because I have tendinitis in my index finger and too much twisting is a bad thing.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, October 15, 2001.

David: I originally bought the Arca 4x5 F-compact, which comes with a 30cm collapsible rail, but then switched out the compact rail for the standard 3-piece, 30cm telescoping monorail. This makes the camera slightly heavier, but has a couple advantages: 1) I think it's a bit more solid, and 2) the telescoping rail extends out to 40cm or so. (F-compacts used to come with 40cm rails, but these aren't that compact--so they've been replaced with 30cm/12-inch versions, which I don't think is long enough!)

This telescoping assemblage, which I think is now called the "F-classic," is almost as portable as the F-compact. To pack it, you can simply run both camera standards onto one of two 6-inch rail sections, then remove the section from the lower, longer "extension bracket." The camera then fits in the same exact space as the F-compact; the longer extension bracket stores flat nearby. (Does this make sense? It's late at night.) I also don't think there's any appreciable difference in setup or breakdown time between the two models.

As to gear vs. no gears: Arca movements are very smooth. I don't feel at all deprived without geared movements--but then, I haven't tried them! Isn't the Metric version even taller and chunkier?

-- Scott Atkinson (, October 16, 2001.

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