lens range for arca swiss discovery

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hi, i plan for a LF camera, and looking for arca swiss discovery,my practice is 135mm is about 35-50mm focal length, my question: 1/ what is the widest focal length lens can be used in discovery, with changingn into W/A bag bellow? 2/ what will be the longest lens that i can use ? 3/ some recommend the toyo GX, or Cambo CF, but i am not familiar with those 2, and any comments in choosing the camera? many thanks

-- benz (wchiping@hotmail.com), February 04, 2002


For 4X5" a 162 mm lens equals a 43 mm lens on an SLR camera. A 150mm thus equals a 40mm lens and a 135mm would equal a 36mm lens. So, your estimations are correct. (The length of the diagonal of the film format corresponds to a normal focal length. For 35mm film it is 43mm, for 9X12 cm it is 150 mm and for 4X5" the diagonal is 162mm.)

1/ According to the Discovery flyer, you can use a 47mm as the shortest lens. (Which equals a 12.5mm lens on a 35mm camera!)

2/ The longest lens is in this case limited by the bench length, which is 30 cm (12"). But rail extensions of different sizes and types are available. The other obstacle is the max extension of the bellows, i.e. 38 cm (13"). But again, there are longer bellows available as well. With extension rails, extra bellows and an extra multipurpose standart you can go to 1200 mm lenses. All it takes is extra money. :-)

3/ Even though I havn't used neither the Toyo nor the Cambo, they are both good cameras. But the Arca-Swiss is definitely of a higher quality, matched only by the Sinar and the Linhof range of cameras. There are many different ideas among the contributors in this forum about which is the best camera system, but noone will tell you that the Arca-Swiss is wrong. The choice of camera also depends upon your use of the camera, as they differ in construction in order to be better suited for particular needs, while trying to meet as many different needs as possible. Personally I would suggest that you take a look at the Sinar F range cameras as well, but you will not make a mistake buying any of the cameras you mentioned. If you are on a budget, don't forget to have a look at used cameras as well.

To my experience, there are many mistakes to be made when starting in LF. Apart from the film handling, everything (!) is manually set, and learning LF is a process that takes time. You can avoid some of the mistakes by choosing a better camera, which have guides to tell you how to do certain things, like finding the Depth of Field, finding the correct angles when tilting the lens/film plane etc. Most of my experience is with the Sinar system, which have guides that helps you setting all of these values fairly correct. This improves the chances of success, which is important for any beginner. Having to waist several days and several roundtrips to the darkroom in order to adjust for a parameter in order to get closer to an acceptable result takes a lot of patience. In my opinion it is better to use that time to progress a bit further with the pictorial content instead of making new mistakes.

-- Björn Nilsson (b.w.nilsson@telia.com), February 04, 2002.

I have the Arca Swiss Discovery and really enjoy it, its a wonderful camera. I find the bag bellows is needed with a 110. Its possible to use the standard bellows with a 110 but it causes trouble when using movements. The bag bellows eliminates any problems. I suggest that if you are using lenses wider than 135mm with a Discovery you should include the bag bellows in your basic set-up. Fortunately the bag bellows will work up to the maximum extension of the standard rail, so I leave it on the camera nearly all the time. Using the bag bellows I can focus a 180 to about 3 feet, the limit of the standard rail length. This appears to be near the maximum extension of the bag bellows as well. I use as short as a 65 on this camera and at that focal length with the bag bellows I can apply more movement than the lens will cover. If you want to work closer than about 3 feet (1 meter) with a 180 a rail extension is needed along with the standard bellows. At about 135mm and longer you'll be fine with only the standard bellows.

-- Henry Ambrose (henry@henryambrose.com), February 04, 2002.

I, too, have the Discovery and wanted to add on to what Henry had to say. I have a 90mm lens and am able to use the standard bellows with it. However, the movements are about nil at infinity with this short of a lens and the standard bellows. Fortunately, I just haven't run into a problem -- yet. It really depends on what you are going to be using it for.

The question of the longer lens also depends somewhat on if you are going to be focusing at infinity or less than infinity (this is the bellows compensation factor). I'm able to focus a 300mm down pretty close to 1:1 with the long bellows and rail extension.

Telephoto lenses will allow you to somewhat circumvent the limitations of bellows draw and rail extension because their infinity focusing point is well under lens length.

-- Jennifer Waak (jen.waak@visi.com), February 04, 2002.

I've used a 90mm SA with the Discovery, and found the standard bellows fine for most shooting. You're more likely to be limited by lens coverage than bellows. The real concern would be using rise/fall and shift in combination with tilt/swing. You will get binding fairly quickly in that situation.

Having said that, the leather WA bellows is a joy - long enough to cover the 30cm rail and short enough for WA lens use. You could leave it on all the time. Too bad you can't buy a Discovery with the leather WA bellows as the 'standard' bellows.

-- Michael Mahoney (mike.mahoney@nf.sympatico.ca), February 04, 2002.

thanks everybody here, so that means i can use the wide angle bag bellow instead of the standard bellow , and put it all the time in the camera? so instead of buying the standard bellow , i buy the bag bellow instead , just one bellow (wide angle bag), will it be a fine idea? also, the wide angle bag bellow of arca has 2 versions , 1 leather , and the other synthetic , which is much cheaper,will it be a good offer instead of the leather one?

-- benz (wchiping@hotmail.com), February 04, 2002.

You have not stated which lenses and how you will use with your camera. If you will use lenses shorter than 180 you can leave the bag bellows on all the time unless you want to focus very close, then you will need the standard bellows and a rail extension for the 180 or longer. I've never seen the synthetic bag bellows. I have the leather version. I don't know if they are the same length.

-- Henry Ambrose (henry@henryambrose.com), February 05, 2002.

thanks henry, i mainly in landscape and macro . the synthetic W/A bellow, as well as the leather one , has length of 20cm,yes, i get what u said.They were shown in the Arca products catalogues. my most used focal length in 135mm camera: 35mm and 50mm. so will it be better to take the W/A bellow instead? what about if i take the macro pics? can i have a 1:1 magnification by using lens of focal lenght 150mm with W/A bellow? prbobably not , may be i just do it by a lens of 100mm, esp in W/A bellow, am i right? thanks

-- benz (wchiping@hotmail.com), February 06, 2002.

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