Arca Swiss bellows alternatives : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

A number of cameras these days come with standard bellows that permit using lenses as wide as 65mm and as long as 360mm+. Thus my disappointment that the standard Arca Swiss F-line bellows permits no wider a lens than a 135mm and not very long on the telephoto end, either. This could very easily require one to buy three bellows--the normal that must be purchased with the camera, a wide bellows and a long bellows. Aside from the considerable expense, this seems to me incredibly unweildy. I don't know why Arca Swiss makes bellows with such limited range, other than it allows them to sell more.

So I wonder if anyone has had a bellows made by alternative bellows companies, such as Camera Bellows in England? Will they, or another bellows manufacturer, make a bellows that will fit an Arca Swiss and offer the flexibility afforded by something like Canham's super bellows? I'm really looking for a convenient and cost efficient option to buying and carrying around 2 or 3 bellows for lenses between 65mm and 360mm. I want one bellows to cover that range, with full movement. That's not asking too much, is it?

-- Ted Kaufman (, May 18, 2002


Ted: Have you actually tried the limits of the bellows on the short and long ends? My experience is that all Arca bellows are much more adaptable than they state. I'm currently using the 6x9 front/4x5 back setup, so my normal bellows is tapered, but it will actually handle both a 47mm on the short end and a 450mm on the long end! That's pushing it, and there's not much movement, but it will work. My recollection is that the standard 4x5 bellows had similar characteristics. If you need more movement, a two-bellows setup is best: bag and long. You don't need the normal here, as the bag and long bellows overlap.

-- Scott Atkinson (, May 18, 2002.

Having left my standard Arca-Swiss bellows somewhere in New England, I get along fine with the leather bag bellows and the long bellows. The bag bellows works easily with lenses up to 210mm, and the long bellows works with lenses of larger focal lengths. So, two bellows is enough. As for expense, this was expensive! My wallet still hasn't recovered. But no one ever made the claim that Arca-Swiss is inexpensive.

As for the standard bellows, I was easily able to accomodate a 360mm lens, which meets most lf needs. You mention tele-photo lenses; one should be able to accomodate a tele-photo lens up to 500mm with standard bellows. Also, most monorail standard bellows won't accomodate anything below a 150mm with movements, unless one is thinking of a compact field camera, like a Wista or something. But, these cameras won't accomodate anything above a 300mm lens.

-- neil poulsen (, May 18, 2002.

Hi Ted-

I have an Arca f metric and use the standard bellows (nominal 38cm) easily with my 110mm XL. I also use it with a 720mm Tele Nikkor with a 25cm extension rail racked out to 550mm albeit stretched a bit but still with reasonable movements. I think you really need to try it out with the lenses you intend to use since Arca seems a bit conservative in their specs.


-- Jim Bancroft (, May 18, 2002.

yes, Vamera bellows can make up a set of bellows for you. The pyramid shaped bellows forun on cameras lijke the Canham DLC & MQC or the Linhof TK45s cameras have more potential range than cameras that use bellows with a square cross-section like the Arca-Swiss and Sinar and Horseman monorails 9etc) because the pyramidally design lets the smaller bellows nest inside of the larger sections.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, May 18, 2002.

Thanks for all the responses. I have to admit, I'm surprised to hear AS is so conservative in rating the capacity of their bellows. I guess I'll just have to see what I can get out of the standard bellows, then take it from there. At least it sounds like a two bellows system is a reasonable likelihood.

-- Ted Kaufman (, May 18, 2002.

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