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Thread: arca 171 vs 141

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2014
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    37

    arca 171 vs 141

    Hey,

    I am yet to make my first foray into the large format world, but I have been extensively reading, and I have decided that I would like to get a second hand F series 4x5 arca. I have arrived at this as the arca seems to cover portability without loss of function quite well.

    I have an interest in 8x10, but I figure I need to start with a smaller format to begin with, and I want a versatile system that I can build upon.

    So, my question is around older vs new design (F, not looking at A, B, C models).

    141 is obviously the latest, but what are the advantages apart from the weight factor (which is prob negligible)? I have heard that going 8x10 is easier with the 171 lens boards (due to rise?). Also, I don't believe I need Orbix.

    In terms of the pictures I am looking to take, I am much more likely to be shooting landscape and architecture over conventional portraits, but lets just say everything apart from macro and product photography.

    So, with the all of the above in mind, does it make a difference what I go with?

    And if I came across a discovery, how easy would it be to upgrade to 8x10 from there?

    Danke!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Hampton, VA
    Posts
    294

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    Hi,

    I'd personally opt for an F with the 141mm rear frame and the 110mm front frame. That model has the most "universal" leather bellows of the Arca F's - you can use lenses from 55mm to 500mm telephoto (Nikkor) without changing the bellows, though the 500mm is about as far as you would want to stretch it. The leather bellows on the 171 rear / 141 front version won't extend quite as far.

    Some have expressed concern that the 141 rear frame does not protect the edges of the bellows when folded up for storage, while the 171 frame will. While true, I have never found this to be a problem.

    I don't think there would be any issue converting a Discovery to 8x10, assuming you could find the proper parts, though I have never done that. IIRC, the Discovery had 171 front and rear frames. On an 8x10 there can be an advantage to the 171 front frame (newer 8x10 models have 141 front frames), since you can get an adapter board to allow the use of 110mm lens boards. These are considerably smaller and so packing several lenses is much more convenient.

    I've got 4x5 and 8x10 Arcas, and I think they are great.

    Hope this helps

    Bob

  3. #3
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    2,824

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    I have a Discovery. I don't see why you could not upgrade it to 8x10. I have seen a 141 F Line. It is wonderfully compact. I don't know about converting one of those to 8x10 (in that I have no knowledge of the issues).

    In looking for a Discovery, I lucked into an auction for a Discovery with an expanding rail priced like a regular Discovery. I feel it is the best of the 171 F Line worlds for me. The monorail allows me to use up to my 450mm Fujinon C. The expanding rail allows you to move the camera onto one of the short rails and to slide the rail out. This makes for a compact and backpackable setup. You can leave the rest of the rail on the tripod so you can be up and ready to shoot right away. The front standard does not have geared focus. It slides easily and quickly, so it is easy to get the camera into rough focus. The basic function carriers are fine for shift. I don't feel the need for the more advanced ones. I also picked up an adapter board allowing me to use Technika-type boards. The only issue with the camera is the non tapered bellows forces you into the bag bellows with shorter lenses if you want to use some movements with, for example, my 125mm Fujinon.

    Hope this is of some help.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    37

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    Thanks Bob and Dave. Just trying to garner opinion before taking the plunge. I'm probably going to be limited to the second hand market, so trying not to make a mistake with that initial purchase.

    Is there anything to be careful of when purchasing a second hand F line (apart from normal issues like bellows)? I'm thinking that ú500-1000 is a lot to drop if you're not seeing the item in person.

    How easy is it to swap across the bellows in the field?

  5. #5
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
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    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    As for 8 x 10, you are not limited to ARCA options. There are forum members who can help you create something like this:http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ght=arca+irish. Or if you are handy you can do it yourself.

  6. #6
    Dave Karp
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    Dec 2001
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    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    You need to make sure the movements all lock down securely. And, as you noted, the bellows can be an issue.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    37

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    I'm always impressed by all of the home made projects out there. Alas, I am quite certain that I would fail miserably in such an endeavour.

    So, would ebay purchasing be advised? Did you have the option of a return when you made your Discovery purchase, or did you just take a risk?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Hampton, VA
    Posts
    294

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    Quote Originally Posted by MilamBardo View Post
    How easy is it to swap across the bellows in the field?
    Very easy. They literally snap into place when installing, and one simple latch to undo on each end to remove. Some of the older F models (my 8x10 is this way) require the bellows to be oriented in a particular way (there is a dot on the frame), but newer models are completely square (at least the 4x5s are), so you don't even have to be concerned about the orientation.

    Bob

  9. #9
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
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    Posts
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    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    My camera was sold by a dealer with lots of feedback. There were lots of photos, so I had a pretty good idea of the camera's condition. It had some cosmetic flaws, which nicely lowered the price. It turned out to be a great deal.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Besanšon, France
    Posts
    1,495

    Re: arca 171 vs 141

    Hello from Besanšon, France !

    Regarding the choice between a former 171 mm F-line Arca Swiss camera and a current 141 mm, you should feel free to choose whichever model comes to you in good condition and at a price fitting within your budget.

    Although Arca Swiss no longer sells 171 mm format frames, many 171 mm accessories are duly supported and readily available, namely bellows.
    Function carriers did not functionnaly change between the 171 mm series and the current 141 mm series.
    4x5" monocular or binocular viewers did not change since the 4x5" attaching system for viewing accessories did not change betwen 171 and 141 models, and did not even change from pre-1984 Oschwald models.

    Personnally I have a F-metric "field" 4x5" model with front format frames in 110 mm and rear format frames in 141 mm.
    Actually the first camera I purchased was the F-line 6x9, so I extended to 4x5" with a tapered bellows and a rear format frame & ground glass in 141.

    Extension to the 8x10" format cannot be done with 110 mm frames in front, but you simply swap your 141 or 171 rear frame from rear to front, and attach a 141 (or 171) to 8x10" bellows to the 8x10" rear format frame, on the same function carriers. Same applies to 5x7" rear format frames, but 5x7" Arca Swiss extension kits are exceedingly rare on the used market, even in 171 mm.

    A choice you'll have to make is the choice of lens board size. Again since I started with the 6x9 model with 110 mm frames, I have all my lens boards in 110.
    110 mm Arca Swiss lens boards are quite robust and can even accommodate a lens with a barrel diameter bigger than shutter size #3.

    If you start with a 171-171 model like the Discovery, you can get a reducing board from 171 to 110 to attach 110 mm lens panels. So you can even consider to use lenses for the 8x10" format mounted on a 110 mm board.
    171 mm boards are quite large but have the great advantage that you can adapt almost anything to them with very little mechanical complexity: a perfect device for all kinds of D-I-Y projects.

    My first Arca Swiss camera, a F-line 6x9, was bought as a used item in the UK, was expertised and overhauled here in Besanšon in 2000. It was a wonderful experience since I could directly discuss with the Vogt family and ask all questions I had in mind as a novice.

    Arca Swiss F-line function carriers as well as the rack and pinion focusing system need to be cleaned, lube'd and adjusted from time to time; so this is a routine maintenance operation recommended if you buy a used F-line camera in order to enjoy all the smoothness and precision of the controls.
    In the USA, people at Precision Camera Works know how to do it properly and of course Rod Klukas will answer all your questions.

    I can understand that most our honourable Arcaphile forum members cannot come in person to Besanšon, and enjoy a direct servicing together with a friendly chat whith the Vogts
    In Europe, it is not uncommon that Arcaphiles directly come to Besanšon in person for any reason. Besanšon can be reached from Paris by high speed train in 2h30, so if some day you are in Paris, you can place a one day visit easily: there is a small train station located 10 minutes walk from Arca Swiss, with a local shuttle train connected to the high speed train! Besanšon is directly connected to the European motorway network (from Paris, travel time by car is 4h30, from Karlsruhe, Germany: 3h30, but from Berlin, Germany, about 10 hours; you'd better fly or take a train ) and many people also come by car from eveywhere.


    All the best!

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