Arca Swiss 4x5: full size or compact front? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm buying an Arca Swiss F-line 4x5. I'm unsure, however, what front to get. The smaller front standard from the 6x9, which uses much smaller lensboards, is an attractive option (I think this is called the 4x5 F-line FC). However, I seem to recall hearing the smaller lensboard with the necessary tapered bellows will restrict movement, compared to the standard (huge) lensboard. Does anyone have this camera with a 6x9 front? What has been your experience? Does it significantly restrict movement? I do a fair amount of architectural photography, but also a lot of backpacking, so both movement and compactness are important considerations. Another thing I just thought of, is there a 4x5 to 6x9 bag bellows available, or is it even necessary with the tapered bellows? I expect to use lenses as wide as 58mm XL.

Also, I will at some point want to use it as a 6x9. Does it make sense economically to add 6x9 parts to a 4x5, or is it best to simply bite the bullet and buy a second camera? I'm wondering too if the individual standards and bellows cost as much as a whole camera?

-- Ted Kaufman (, January 31, 2002



There was a recent thread on a very similar question, so it would be helpful to search back and review that thread as well as this one.

If you do a lot of architectural photography, then you might want to consider the full size front standard, and buy the Arca-Swiss to Linhoff Technika lensboard adapter. That way you will have full movements with the benefit of the smaller Technika-style boards. Just leave the adapter on the camera all of the time, and switch the smaller boards.

It is possible to mix and match the Arca-Swiss camera parts, so you can build a 6x9 camera from a 4x5 or vice versa. However, I don't know which is less expensive, buying a new one or just buying new format frames.

There are many F-Line users on this forum, including architectural photographers, so I am sure you will hear some good feedback from them.

-- Dave Karp (, January 31, 2002.

I would concur with Dave. The Arca to Linhof board adaptor is a far more elegant solution. I don't think having a 6x9 front and tapered bellows is much of a weight savings and it is certainly not any more compact IMHO.

-- Donald Brewster (, January 31, 2002.


If you want the small front, and a 69FC, then the cheapest way overall is to buy a 69FC, then add the 4x5 rear and tapered bellows via the appropriate format conversion set. On the other hand, this means making the total investment up front if you want 4x5 now.

The main movement restriction with the smaller front is less rise, since the front standard is shorter.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, January 31, 2002.

I have an Arca, and personnally, I wouldn't want the small standard along with the larger 4x5 rear standard.

For example, someone made an adaptor that takes the smaller Graphlex Pacemaker boards for may camera, and they work fine. They're small, convenient, less expensive, etc. I think that even the 110mm boards on the 6x9 Arca are a bit large. Or, you can get the Linhof adaptor board for the 4x5 model.

-- neil poulsen (, February 01, 2002.

Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I still can't decide which choice to make, but I appreciate your input.

-- Ted Kaufman (, February 01, 2002.


How do you plan to carry the camera? The reason I ask is that going to the smaller front board may not make a practical difference in how much room the camera actually takes up. If your primary interest is in reducing the size of the lensboards, then go with the large front board. When shooting 6x9, why not purchase a 6x9 back for the 4x5 and use that as your medium format setup? The Arca Swiss camera is so compact that with this setup it might still be super portable, eliminating the need to have two cameras, or a second set of format frames, bellows, etc.

Just a little input, for what its worth.

-- Dave Karp (, February 01, 2002.


I was faced with the same dilemma/choice two years ago. I ended up going with the full sized 4x5 front with the adapter for the smaller 110 arca boards. I didn't want to loose the front rise movement that the 6x9 front would require. I shoot architecture and have been very happy with the cameras abilities. The 110 boards are very manageable in my opinion and my whole setup fits in a Lowe backpack. It is one heavy bugger however, but I don't scale the Tetons and rarely go more than a mile from the car with the camera and tripod. That said, I don't think you would get any huge savings in weight going with the 6x9 front, but you will probably regret the loss in rise doing exteriors and some interiors. Just my two cents worth. Good luck and enjoy the decision process.

-- Chip Williams (, February 05, 2002.

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