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Thread: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    15

    Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Hello, I was recently offered a good deal on an Arca Swiss F-line 6x9.
    I'm very set on getting into the Arca Swiss system, but a bit hesitant on which bullet to bite. Could you help me out?

    - Here are some pictures. The previous owner says he bought it second hand in the mid nineties.
    So is this a post-1984, 171mm standard F-Line?

    - Can I mount modern (post 2004, 141mm) accessories? Will Orbix work?

    - Am I getting stuck with legacy equipment that is hard to adapt to modern Arca equipment?

    - Is getting a 171mm somehow better as conversion kits are easier to mount?

    - I'm keen on getting into 4x5 and 5x7. Will these other accessories I was offered by another seller fit the post 1984 F-line? (See the last photo)

    Cheers,

    Etienne
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails unnamed (2).jpg   unnamed (1).jpg   unnamed (5).jpg   $_57.jpg  

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
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    Besanšon, France
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    1,495

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Hi !

    Quick answer: YES / no problem to all questions except the last one, the other stuff 4x5" and 5x7" is pre-1984 equipment and compatibility is limited with current F-line equipement.


    In detail:

    The previous owner says he bought it second hand in the mid nineties.
    So is this a post-1984, 171mm standard F-Line?


    F-line = Yes, but 171 mm = no since it is a 6x9 cm model with 110 mm lens boards and 110 mm format frames. However, all the camera as shown is 100% compatible the with current Arca Swiss system and is extensible to the 4x5" format by finding a used 110-171 tapered bellows, a 171 format frame and a 171 springback / graflok / ground glass back.
    Or you can purchase a new 110 to 141 mm conversion kit with the current 141 mm 4x5" back.

    With the 6x9 F-line camera you can use : 2X3" cut film holders, 120/220 rollfilm backs, medium format digital backs, polaroid backs for 3x4" film-packs (like Fuji FP-100C, now discontinued by Fuji, but may be another company will some day re-start manufacturing equivalent products)

    - Can I mount modern (post 2004, 141mm) accessories?
    Yes, rails and function carriers did not change since 1984.

    Will Orbix work?
    The Orbix tilting system, either the manual or the geared model can be added to any F-line front format frame made since 1984, but the frame has to be sent back to factory.

    - Am I getting stuck with legacy equipment that is hard to adapt to modern Arca equipment?
    No, your 6x9 gear is F-line and is 100% compatible with current Arca Swiss system parts as well as with all F-line parts manufactured since 1984.

    - Is getting a 171mm somehow better as conversion kits are easier to mount?

    171 mm accessories have been discontinued in 2004, but you can find them as used items. Otherwise, except of course size which commands the choice of lens panel size and bellows attachment size, 110, 141 or 171 mm accessories are equally easy to mount / handle / operate ...

    - I'm keen on getting into 4x5 and 5x7. Will these other accessories I was offered by another seller fit the post 1984 F-line? (See the last photo)

    You can go for those pre-1984 (=Oschwald) parts if you wish, but compatibility with modern F-line (post-1984) is limited.
    Bellows attachement systems are different, but you can adapt all kinds of format frames, Oschwald or F-line on all function carriers, Oschwald or F-line.
    171 mm lens panels are compatible between Oschwald and F-line cameras. 171 mm lens panels are used for both the 4x5" and the 5x7" format with Oschwald cameras. You can use an adapter board 110 mm to 171 mm to mount lenses fitting your 6x9 camera to the 4x5" or 5x7" model.
    All my lenses are mounted on 110 mm lens panels.
    Alternatively you can find adaptors from the Linhof 96x99 mm lens boards to Arca Swiss 171 or 141 mm boards.
    The 4x5" monocular or binocular (reflex) viewers can be attached either to an Oschwald or F-line 4x5" either 171 mm or 141 mm.

    I would recommend to use Oschwald function carriers on Oschwald rails only for better smoothness.
    You can only attach Oschwald bellows to Oschwald format frames
    You can only attach F-line bellows to F-line format frames.

    If you are tempted by the 4x5" and 5x7" Oschwald parts,
    the set of parts shown on the 4-th picture seems to be complete and ready to use for both formats. If you need other bellows than shown, you have to find them on the used market. If some of Oschwald bellows in the kit are damaged, preciously keep the attachment frames and have the bellows renewed. Those Oschwald bellows attachment frames are no longer manufactured.

    If some parts are missing in the 4x5" - 5x7" kit, you should consider for example finding Oschwald rails and Oschwald function carriers, they can be found easily at an affordable price. Specific 5x7" Oschwald parts are very hard to find but you can attach them to function carriers and rails used for the 4x5" format, which are easy to find.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    15

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Hi Emmanuel, thank you for the detailed answer. I have some more questions which are perhaps better suited to a PM, so I've sent you a message.

    Cheers

    Etienne

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    Forest Grove, Ore.
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    3,326

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    From Emmanuel, your getting an expert opinion. I might add a couple of points.

    One thing I notice is that the 6x9 includes an attachment to hold a compendium lenshood. That's good, because these parts are rare. Plus as I understand from Precision Camera Repair, there are two types for the 6x9 front frames. So, that can make this piece all the more difficult to find.

    Emmanuel points out that the 5x7 is a complete system. I see that this outfit includes the bag bellows, which is nice.

    Out of curiosity, do you have a strong drive to photograph using 6x9? If you got an Oschwald system, I believe that you could later get a Classic-F 6x9 format change kit (front frame, back frame, classic f 6x9 bellows) and mount it on the Oschwald function carriers. You can obviously do the same with the earlier, Oschwald 6x9 change kits. But for a variety of reasons, the Classic-F change kits are better.

    The Classic-F systems have a light trap system to make the camera's interior light-tight. The Oschwald system relies on a foam strip around the perimeter of the frame (front and rear) to keep the interior light-tight. So, there's a potential added maintenance to having the Oschwald system.

    Classic-F 5x7 change kits are hard to find used, are expensive when new , and can be expensive when found used.

  5. #5
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,824

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    My experience may prove of some use. I have a 4x5 ARCA Swiss Discovery, which is a very basic 171 F-Line camera. I was lucky to purchase it with the 30cm telescoping rail. I purchased an Oschwald rear format frame from a forum member along with a 171 bellows frame. It is VERY hard to find an Oschwald bellows frame, but you have one with this system. I had to make mine myself out of modelmakers plywood, brass strips, and JB Weld. (I know, it was beautiful!) I sent the bellows frames to a bellows maker who made a 5x7 Oschwald to 171 F-Line bellows for me. (You can purchase 171 size bellows frames on Ebay or have a machinist cut a bellows frame out of a flat 171 size lensboard.) I permanently attached the wooden rear bellows frame to the camera with double sided heavy duty mounting tape. The Oschwald format frame fits right into my camera's function carrier. Now I have a 4x5 and 5x7 camera using mostly parts from my Discovery. The A-S system is very flexible.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    79

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    As an Arca Swiss 4x5 owner, I recommend the equipment in general. Having owned an F-line 6x9 in the past, the reason that I sold it was that the 6x9 backs that I had with the system were Graflok, and I wasn't crazy about what boiled down to a photographic juggling session with equipment in order to focus compose, remove ground glass, attach roll film back, take photo, then reverse sequence only to repeat again. Not being crazy about dealing with all of that, I decided to go with the Calumet C2N back for my Arca 4x5.

    FWIW,

    Ed

  7. #7

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    Dec 2001
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    NJ
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    6,475

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Ed, there are insertion type backs for 2x3. With 2x3 gates, even. Toyo makes one that may be too thick for some spring or Graflok backs. And there's always the despised Adapt-A-Roll 620. Mine have served me well.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    15

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    How much do you folks think is a good price for the Ochswald gear you see in the last picture? In Euros?
    Just curious.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Good information, Dan! I wasn't aware of these being available. Interestingly enough, when I had the camera, I was trying to work with a well-known dealer on finding something that would allow me to sidestep the entire Graflok issue, and they never made any mention of insertion backs for 2x3. Oh well, the C2N works well with 120 film. I need to get some more practice with 220 film, though.

    Ed

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
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    10,341

    Re: Some questions about the Arca Swiss

    Quote Originally Posted by EdC View Post
    Good information, Dan! I wasn't aware of these being available. Interestingly enough, when I had the camera, I was trying to work with a well-known dealer on finding something that would allow me to sidestep the entire Graflok issue, and they never made any mention of insertion backs for 2x3. Oh well, the C2N works well with 120 film. I need to get some more practice with 220 film, though.

    Ed
    The 69 Linhof Rapid Rollex for 23 cameras easily slips into any 23 camera.

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