Technikardan 45S vs. Arca-Swiss F-Line 4x5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I'm trying to decide between a Technikardan and an Arca-Swiss 4x5 F-Line. I've played with a Technikardan (the local dealer has one), but have never seen or handled an Arca (I have the Arca catalog).

Several questions:

1) Is the Arca as rigid as the Technikardan? From the pictures of the Arca I've seen, its "U"-shaped standards don't seem as substantial as the "L"-shaped standards of the TK.

2) The TK folds up into a very compact package. Does the Arca even come close? I'll be carrying the camera around in a backpack.

3) The Arca lens boards are quite large. Is there an adapter available to use smaller boards?

4) How is the overall fit and finish of the Arca compared to the Linhof?

My application is scenics (primary) and architecture (secondary). Thanks!!

-- Dennis Kruger (, October 15, 2001


1. more rigid. No knock on the TK45s. It is a terrific camera with a very different design philosophy.

2.) No. The TK45s folds up smaller than the Arca-Swiss FC. 4.) same quality.

Either camera will do well for you. The biggest difference is that the Arca-Swiss F cameras are a base yaw free tilt design (not all base tilt cameras are yaw free designs by the way), while the TK45s is an axis tilt design. For landscape work yaw free design makes little to no difference. For some architectural work it will make some difference (ease of use) but only when you get into situations where you have an inclined monorail and have to swing either standard for either focus distribution or correcting perspective rendering. For studio work, I find yaw free movements to be indispensible.

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

If possible you really should either go to a dealer to see cameras or go to a show like the PhotoPlus East in NYC next month.

One persons needs and perceptions are not necessarily the same as yours.

One may have larger or smaller hands, left handed vs right handed, etc.

You should be the final judge of the features, accessories, fit, finish.

Not people that are strangers.

-- Bob Salomon (, October 15, 2001.

As to question 2, an Arca Discovery fits easily in a Lowepro Photo Trekker with the standards swung full to one side. You can even do this with the leather WA bellows attached. All in , with a 90mm SA and bellows attached, it ( folded ) measures 32 X 32 X 11cms. Still a lot of room left in the bag. I imagine the F-Line would be similar.

-- Michael Mahoney (, October 15, 2001.

I agree completely with Bob S. ; you should try to get your hands on both cameras and spend at least an hour with each camera, learning how it feels to operate. By the way Bob is the USA representative for Linhof, and very knowlegable, and only slightly opininated . While I have no current relationship with Arca-Swiss besides ownership of a 4x5 F-line Classic and two of their tripod heads, earlier this year I rewrote the manual for the monoball heads

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

I neglected to mention in my initial post that I live in Montana. Finding a dealer around here that carries LF equipment is darn near impossible, so I'll probably not be able to see an Arca unless I buy one.

The photo show in NY is not possible either, but my company's home office is in San Francisco, so I could probably justify a trip out there if any shows are scheduled.

-- Dennis Kruger (, October 15, 2001.

"Not people that are strangers."

Especially if that stranger has a fiancial stake in which brand you purchase.

That said. I do agree with Bob's advice to try before you buy, if at all possible. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. In fact, for many of us it is not. While they should not be treated as absolute gospel, it does help to read the opinions of experienced users (why else do we have these online forums). Just keep in mind, as Bob alludes, we all have our own needs and personal preferences. So, read as much as you can. Filter those opinions based on your own needs, and by all means get your hands on both cameras before plopping down a pile of hard earned cash - if you can. If not, well at least you've narrowed it down to two very well made cameras that many experienced users are satisfied with (I suspect you've already done a fair amount of reading to narrow it down to just these two). This is, IMHO, one of those cases where there is no wrong answer - only different answers. I think you would be happy with either camera - or at least I know I would be (for what it's worth).


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 15, 2001.

Dennis, I have a TK45 and I love it, have had it for 10 years and I am very happy with it. Having said that knowing what I know now I would probably would have gone with the Arca simply because you can convert it to an 8x10 fairly easy. For me the only option was to buy an to the TK45 itself, if you are not planning to go into larger formats, you cannot go wrong with this camera, I handle everything from 65mm (Nikkor) to 300mm (Sironar N) the camera handles everything well, heavy or light lenses, and of course the manufacture is without par.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, October 15, 2001.

Have you read the reviews on this site and at WWW.CAMERAREVIEW.COM? That might give you some additional ideas.

I can't say too much about the Technikardan, because I've never owned one. But, I have the Arca-Swiss and like it a lot for field use. While not as compact as the Linhof, it breaks down better than one expects. With the telescoping bench, you can rack both standards back onto one of 15cm rails, remove that rail and camera, and you have a fairly compact combination that can be stowed in a backpack. The remainder of the bench can be stored elsewhere.

I have the leather wide-angle bellows that works well for 210mm or 180mm lens down to about 75mm, or 65mm with recessed lensboard. (For shorter lenses than 65mm, one would want to purchase the synthetic wide-angle bellows.) For longer lenses, 240mm and above, I purchased the 700mm bellows. Note that the camera is rigid at 360mm. (I've heard that the Technikardan is not as rigid fully extended.) The Arca can take much longer lenses, but this requires at least one rail or perhaps two rails that are longer than the 15cm rails which come with the camera.

An adaptor exists that will take the smaller 6x9 110mm square lens boards. Arca also makes an adaptor for the Linhof Technika lensboards. Whether it's available is another question.

As for archtectural photography, I can't imagine having a better camera. Norman McGrath, the well known architectural photographer, has an Arca-Swiss and raves about it. He got the metric, which comes with geared rise and fall. One can also get the 6x9 conversion kit. But for my purposes, I would use the 4x5 for both formats.

Can you get a Graphloc international back for the Linhof that comes standard with the Arca Swiss? This is helpful for shooting 6x9.

"Arca" stands for "All-Round Camera", and I think it lives up to its name.

In any event, it sounds like you have a delightful choice to make between two fine cameras.

-- neil poulsen (, October 16, 2001.

"Can you get a Graphloc international back for the Linhof that comes standard with the Arca Swiss?"

This is standard on the TK45S. I've used my TK45S with roll film backs from Wista (6x9) and Horseman (6x12) and they fit like a glove.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 16, 2001.

"I neglected to mention in my initial post that I live in Montana. Finding a dealer around here that carries LF equipment is darn near impossible, so I'll probably not be able to see an Arca unless I buy one. "

Not at all true.

Just ask Marcia at F11 in Bozeman. She is very experienced in large format.

-- Bob Salomon (, October 16, 2001.

One last item to consider-- The standard classic f -line Arca comes with 38mm bellows which could be a problem for longer lens use-- though a longer bellows is available. And now with micrometer orbix-- geared axis tilts are available. It is shear delight to focus with my right had while gear-tilting with the left. Oh yeah, I think the AS is less money too--

-- David Goldes (, October 16, 2001.

I've only used the Arca (2.5 years now).

1) it is very rigid

2) With the telescoping (I think that's their term) it's relatively small for a 4x5, but it's not tiny. I'm under the impression the TK folds considerably smaller.

3) Arca _might_ sell one. Steve Grimes could certainly make one to fit any smaller board you like.

4) It's very high quality on the Arca.

I have the classic F-line (I think) there is the compact version with the smaller front standard. I've been very happy with it all around, but I don't backpack the thing.

-- mike rosenlof (, October 16, 2001.


Like one of the folks above, I've had my TK45 for about 10 years. Here are a couple of considerations you may not have heard.

As you've probably learned from handling one, there are several components in its base which slide relative to each other as you extend the camera. These and the shift movements can be rather "stiff" in sub-freezing temperatures. I live in Anchorage and spend more than a bit of time outside with my camera in the winter, so this isn't theoretical.

A second problem that I've found with the camera is that the standard bellows sag a bit more than I would like in warm weather. This only becomes an issue when the extension exceeds about 300 mm. Whenever I use my 355 mm conventional lens or my 600 mm telephoto, I place a support between the bellows and the rail to avoid having some of the optical path blocked due to the sag.

That being said, I'm still quite happy with the camera, and would purhcase another if anything happened to the one I have. Aside from the camera itself, there is the support that Bob S. provides in this forum. I don't know of any other large format camera company or sales rep who regularly participates. He's been very helpful when I've had a problem that required a bit of attention.

With respect to trying the Arca: have you considered renting one? I doubt that it would be cheap, but, as you may have noticed, we all tend to hang on to these much longer than most folks hang on to their 35 mm cameras.

Best of luck,

-- Bruce M. Herman (, October 16, 2001.

The current model is the Technikardan 45S, successor to the TK45. You may want to compare the T45S with the TK45--the changes are barely noticeable. Whether you buy the Arca or TK, you cannot go wrong--both are great cameras. On a calm day you likely will never experience any problem with lens shake with either camera fully extended. TK45's small lens board is advantageous when you have to store several lens in a camera bag or pack. Arca Swiss larger bellows opening accomodates lenses with larger rear elements, the type of lenses you might buy if you want the lens to cover both 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 formats. Most field photographers avoid the 8 x 10 format lenses because they cost too much, weigh too much, are too bulky, and the filters are extraordinarily expensive. With TK 45 you have only the 4x 5 format camera. It folds up to the size of a textbook. It is extremely easy to focus with whatever focsl lenght lens. With some of the 4 x 5 Arca Swiss models (not all), you can buy a kit to upgrade the camera to 8 x 10. Field photographer Jack Dykinga has a website showing landscapes taken with the 4 x 5 Arca-Swiss F Compact. Arca Swiss offers an Orbix that allows geared axis tilt, but I am unsure whether the Orbix is available for the F Compact, or is available only with the M-series. The geared axis tilt is overkill for landscapes--you do not need it and it adds weight. People have different preferences regarding center lense tilt vs base lens tilt. I prefer the center axis tilt of the TK st

-- David (, October 16, 2001.

I erred in saying that if you buy the TK 45, all you have is the 4 x 5 format. I forgot about the fact that Arca and TK 4 x 5 cameras can be used with roll film backs, allowing 6 x 12, 6 x 7, 6 x 6, and 6 x 4.5 formats, and Polaroid 545 & 545i film holders, with Polaroid films' unique dimensions. When lens shifts are used with these smaller formats, you will encounter more situations where you will not see any light dropoff, that otherwise might occur with the 4 x 5 film format. Thus, you will more frequently not have to use the center filters that will involve a loss of 2 f-stops. I do not know how much lens shift is required before any light dropoff is noticeable with the XL 110 lens--the wider the coverage of the lens, the less likely you will see light drop with lens shifts. Light drop off is very noticeable for 4 x 5 format with shifting of the Rodenstock 115 mm lens. Have you checked the price for the Rodenstock 82 mm center filter for that lens? Similarly, if you adopt the strategy of bying the Arca Swiss with lenses that barely cover 5 x 7 or 8 x 10, for later upgrade of you camera to that format, you will encounter the problem of light drop off with lens shi

-- David (, October 20, 2001.

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