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Thread: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

  1. #1
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    Quick question for you fellow Arca users:

    What is the MAX and MINIMUM extension with the 38cm 4x5 171x171 bellows?
    I've read online about them belong able to focus a 450C Fujinon @ infinity(what I aim to do ideally), but I also use a 90mm lens at the short end. It'd be nice for one set of bellows to be able to handle it all if possible.

    Wanted to check with ya'll prior to pulling any triggers on used 4x5 stuff for my 8x10 Arca system.

    thx,
    Dan

  2. #2

    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    Hi Daniel, I'm sure others with more experience with this system will join in my memory of this system is a little vague.

    I owned an Arca Swiss Discovery and as I have mentioned on other threads, it was the ultimate camera with a 150mm lens. I like 150s so this was a good match. It would probably be great with a 180mm, 210mm maybe OK with a 135mm. My first purchase was I think around $400.00 for a new folding monorail. The system was a little heavy but worked great with the 150 for backpacking.

    The problems came later when I wanted to try a 90mm and a 300mm lens. I purchased some used items, but still expensive, like a leather wide angle bellows to use with the 90mm and with the folding rail this worked great but I would switch back to the normal bellows to use the 150mm. I was more of a long lens person so when I bought a 300mm, I bought the tele bellows and additional rail so I could focus in close without restrictions. the system worked well but it was becoming to big, heavy and cumbersome. I ended up selling the whole system and with some of the money I bought a 35mm film rangefinder which I used for a few years. I recently bought a woodfield and I am getting back into LF.

    If I could have done things over I would have used the money to buy a new 150mm rodenstock apo sironar s and left it at that. The other option would have been to buy one of the much more expensive Arca Swiss cameras as they have a more universal bellows. There wasn't a lot of used Arca stuff in those days.

    If you really want a 450mm I would get the tele bellows, there's a little arca swiss plastic bellows support gadget as well. I had the 38cm bellows and I felt I was stretching it with the 300mm. I'll assume you have the collapsible rail or a rail longer than the discovery's 12 inch rail but for others considering longer lenses with the 12 inch rail then I would look into either a single long rail(which will require you to assemble and disassemble the camera a lot), you could get one of the collapsible rails(expensive even used) or there is an extension rail that screws into the standard rail which is a lighter option though maybe not as sturdy.

  3. #3
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    Hi John,

    I have an 8x10 F-line, and was planning to use the rail and front standard(with rear carrier to hold 4x5 rear standard). My longest lens is the 450C, but would like to be able to use it on the monorail when the 4x5 Chamonix is a bit too light for gusty conditions, or when I just feel like using a bigger camera!
    So, hence my interest in finding out specs of what most Arca users who have experience with the 38cm bellows feel they can stretch to, Max/min.

    thx,
    Dan

  4. #4

    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    For myself, I had that exact bellows on my Discovery and I wouldn't use it with a 90mm and I wouldn't use it with a 300mm unless I was planning to use the 300 only at or near infinity. That may sound conservative, it's just that I have always remembered the day when I bought my first LF camera. It was a used monorail, I took it into a dark closet and shined a flashlight through the hole in the lensboard, the effect was something like hundreds of little white lights shining through the bellows, kind of looked like Christmas really. After that experience I tried never to compress or extend a bellows to far.

    Here are some very knowledgable people who have posted on the LF forum on arca swiss over the years, I hope they don't mind me using their names: Emmanuel Bigler, Rod Klukas and Evan Clarke. Perhaps you could pm them or just do a search for their threads.

  5. #5

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    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    I tried a 121mm S.A. with the standard 38cm bellows and 171mm lensboard, and it's a bit tight. Assuming one's using a flat lensboard, I could get about 1.5 cm of rise before putting (for my tastes) too much stress on the bellows.

    I didn't mount an actual 150mm lens. But measuring 6" between the g.g. and a flat lensboard, I could get about 2.5cm of rise before placing too much stress on a standard bellows.

    One could use a recessed lensboard and improve on this a bit.

    A 180mm lens is no problem.

    For me, a 450mm lens isn't doable with the standard bellows. I stretched my bellows until there was 16" between the g.g. and a flat lensboard. That's the limit that I would want to extend my bellows.

    Moreover, if one tried to extend the two 15cm rails on a 30cm expandable bench to 18" between the g.g. and a flat lensboard, the rail's are going to be unstable. I don't like extending the inside ends of the rails out beyond the two knobs that tighten the bench. Stopping at this point would give one about 17.5" between the g.g. and a flat lensboard.

    Given that one has the long 700mm bellows, this can work very nicely with the leather bag bellows. The latter will work fine with lenses up to 180mm. The former will work well with lenses 240mm and up. Not having tried it in practice, I can't offer an opinion about a 210mm lens. I haven't tried this focal length with either the bag bellows nor the 700mm bellows.

  6. #6

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    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    What is the MAX and MINIMUM extension with the 38cm 4x5 171x171 bellows?

    Hello from France!

    The official specs for the standard Arca Swiss F-line synthetic bellows in 171-171 are listed at the end of this invaluable document, page 21 of 22:
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ARCA.pdf


    6x9 - 4x5" "field" F-line cameras, 110-171 bellows
    24 cm 35-210 mm wide angle
    38 cm 150-300 mm standard
    50 cm 210-480 mm long


    4x5" F-line cameras, 171-171 bellows
    20 cm 35-210 mm wide angle
    20 cm 35-180 mm wide angle
    38 cm 150-240 mm standard
    70 cm 240-600 mm long

    And yes, official Arca Swiss specs are conservative! But synthetic bellows cannot be compressed at all on a 171-171 configuration, once all pleats touch each other, you definitely reach the minimum. When stretchnig the bellows, however, people usually exceed the recommended values; this is the reason why Arca Swiss has now added 4 small (but STRONG) screws in the corner of the supporting frames for some leather bellows

    110-171 "field" configurations are definitely more flexible since, in general, a tapered bellows is more compressible than a "square" synthetic bellows; and Arca Swiss molded-leather bellows (they already existed in the sixties on the Arca Swiss Oschwald catalogue) much more compressible that synthetic bellows.
    For example, I'm using a 110-141 "Field" 4x5" F-line camera with the universal leather bellows (similar to the misura's), I can use from the 45 apo grandagon on a recessed board to a 270 mm non-tele lens. And of course several longer tele-lenses in focal lengths up to ~ 400 mm ( I have a Schneider tele-arton 360, flange focal distance = 210 mm)


    Perhaps you could pm ...
    pm received and answered

    hint: when searching the 'net for something related to Arca Swiss products, specifiying "Swiss" in addition to "Arca" will help filtering out 471 various species of Arca, some being known since 1758; however, never advertised for sale on e-Bay, although being, in a sense, perfectly Arca-compatible

  7. #7
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    OK, thx guys.

    This would be a 171x171 configuration.

    I have the older lever-style optical bench w/ 2x20cm rails on it and the 55cm 8x10 bellows. But wanted to get a rear 4x5 171 frame(use rear carrier already owned) + bellows to use w/ the front standard.

    But it appears I'd need to carry both bag and long(70cm) bellows to get full capability with the system, poo....

    Thx for the help,
    Dan

  8. #8
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Arca 38cm bellows max/min extension question

    I have a Discovery with the expandable rail. With the rail and the standard bellows racked all the way out, I can use a Fuji 450C to make photos at infinity. I am at the edge of the bellows' ability to expand, but at least seemingly without overtaxing it. It is a stiff bellows. I have to go to the bag bellows to use my Fuji 125mm. (I have the synthetic bag bellows.)

    I recall that when Scott Rosenberg (forum member) was using an ARCA Swiss, he had Custom Bellows make a bellows for him out of the material they use for Canham cameras, which made it much more flexible, and capable of handling longer lenses without having to purchase the long ARCA Swiss bellows. That might be worth investigating. There might even be a post about it on this forum somewhere.

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