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Thread: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

  1. #1

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    Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Hi everyone!

    I thought that maybe someone here could help me to find out if a certain type of Arca Swiss bag bellows is compatible with my needs.

    There exists a variant (on 171 x 171 frames) that is made of a kind of black synthetic "leather" (not the grey vinyl model). I was unable to find it in any catalogue or list. I thought it might perhaps originally belong to some pre f-line series. I would however like to use it with my Arca Swiss F-metric w/microorbix (also 171 x 171). So the size is alright, but with the different models there might still have been differences in the way the frames attach to the standards.

    So anyone knows these bellows? And could anyone tell me for sure if they will either definitely fit or definitely not fit the camera?

    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    hello from Besanšon, France !

    basically there are two categories of 171 mm Arca Swiss bellows

    1: the old ones, pre-1984, named: "Oschwald"
    2: the recent ones, post-1984, named: F-line.

    All F-line, 171 mm size bellows are compatible with all post-1984 F-line 171 mm cameras, but are not compatible with any pre-1984, Oschwald camera.

    So the only question is: is this bellows a pre-1984 "Oschwald type" or a post-1984, F-line model ?
    An Oschwald bellows will not fit a F-line and vice-versa.

    However if you have an Oschwald camera and a damaged Oschwald bellows, you should preciously keep the attaching frames, the bellows can be repaired with new fabric or new leather.
    Old Oschwald bellows frames have been out of stock for years, and 2012 Oschwald owners have to live on the existing stock of old bellows frames..

  3. #3

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmanuel BIGLER View Post
    hello from Besanšon, France !
    So, you are sitting directly at the source

    basically there are two categories of 171 mm Arca Swiss bellows

    1: the old ones, pre-1984, named: "Oschwald"
    2: the recent ones, post-1984, named: F-line.

    All F-line, 171 mm size bellows are compatible with all post-1984 F-line 171 mm cameras, but are not compatible with any pre-1984, Oschwald camera.

    So the only question is: is this bellows a pre-1984 "Oschwald type" or a post-1984, F-line model ?
    An Oschwald bellows will not fit a F-line and vice-versa.
    Thanks for this clarification. But how would I distinguish the two types, before and after 1984?

    So, if I am unlucky it is an "Oschwald type" that is on its way to me from the US and it will not fit my F-metric. It looks like new on a photograph, but it might still be pre 1984... So, are there any outer signs to identify which is which?

    The one in question is made of a kind of a probably synthetic black "grain leather". The frames show the white orientation mark and the parallel grooves, just like my standard and long bellows. Only difference: They are not in the AS catalogue that can be found online (from 2000?). So the question is really if there were bellows like the one I described between 1984 and 2000.

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Sorry, it is too late to edit the above post.

    Only difference: They are not in the AS catalogue that can be found online (from 2000?). So the question is really if there were bellows like the one I described between 1984 and 2000.
    I meant of course that the bellows in question is not in that catalogue, the others are.

  5. #5

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Emmanuel is one of the experts on Arca, and he gave you a very complete answer. To summarize, regardless of the bellows material, whether the bellows will fit your camera comes down to the bellows frame. If the frames are a thick design in black plastic, then they're the earlier Oschwald design. If they're instead thin black metal, then they're the F-line design. If your bellows are indeed an Oschwald model, then they won't fit your F-Line camera.

    In that case, you could make new F-line-style bellows frames. If you're handy with tools or better yet a Bridgeport, you could start with 171 lensboards and cut or mill out the center to replicate the bellows frames, and then simply replace the Oschwald bellows frames with your new ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmanuel BIGLER View Post
    2012 Oschwald owners have to live on the existing stock of old bellows frames..
    They can likewise be machined from aluminum. While probably not worthwhile to do so for the somewhat plentiful 4x5 bellows, I have made some for the 5x7 Model C rear bellows frame.
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

  6. #6
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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    The Oschwald Frames are Nylon/Plastic type material and are knotched. This is the easiest tell on what model they fit.
    As Emmanuel said above the frames are like gold, so if you find a trashed bellows it still has value.

    The 171 frames use a metal frame type, and have a couple of rounded raised ridges on the body side of frame as well, all the way around the frame.

    Hope this helps.
    Rod
    Rod Klukas
    US Representative
    Arca-Swiss International
    480-755-3364


    Digital Camera Solutions including R-series Technical Cameras, Large Format View Cameras and Ballheads. 480-755-3364

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Thank you all so much for your valuable answers!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Schneider View Post
    Emmanuel is one of the experts on Arca, and he gave you a very complete answer.
    Although I am quite new to LF and to this forum I was already aware of that. Reading this forum I had come across many of Emmanuels postings. I hope I did not express anything but gratefulness. Yet I still did not know how to practically distinguish the two models. Now I do, thanks to all of your very helpful answers. I was aware that fitting depends on the frame design rather than on the bag material. But I thought the bag material and outer appearance would maybe give a hint to the period of its production, pre or after 1984.

    @Ron Klukas
    Thanks for the precise information. According to this description I think I might after all get the model that will fit my F-line camera. But if I am wrong and it is indeed the rare Oschwald design I will be glad to give it to someone here needing one.

    Thanks again. This forum is a truly amazing wealth of bundled knowledge and experience!

  8. #8

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Well, I do not have any Arca Swiss Oschwald 171 mm bellows handy, and I'm sure that Rod's description will suffice.

    And, yes I'm typesetting this message in a place located 5 minutes away by car from Arca Swiss International, but old Oschwald bellows frames are no longer in stock. When you come and meet the Vogt family, you'll understand immediately why a a small family-owned business who already has thousands of spare parts in stock have decided not to continue the manufacture of Oschwald parts.

    Arca Swiss Oschwald cameras are not rare at all on the used market and are quite affordable, but potential buyers should be well aware of the situation regarding bellows frames for those cameras that have been discontinued 1/4 of a century ago.
    Arca Swiss Ochwald parts are often sold as separate items and it is easy to rebuilt something from separate sources & various vendors worldwide, those parts are a kind of hobbyist's dream for all sorts of do-it-yourself large format camera projects.
    But beware that if some critical parts are missing, you could spend a lot of time and money finding them.
    However, as John Schneider says, there are many possibilties to machine parts by yourself, Oschwald bellows frames are probably among the least critical parts of the system, together with flat lens boards, that any hobbyist can machine himself or with the help of a serious craftsman, anywhere in the world.

    If you are not afraid to depart from the elegance of Swiss Precision Engineering, a good stock of gaffer-tape will do miracles Hey ! Everybody knows that the movie industry worldwide heavly relies on gaffer tape, and not that much on Swiss Precision Mechanics

    Not kidding: as a general advice to buyers of Arca Swiss parts, you should always insist that the vendor precisely describes, in writing, and with a guarantee of being able to return the item with money back, whether the part is actually a pre-1984 Arca Swiss Oschwald part or a post-1984 Arca Swiss F-line or M-line part. If the vendor does not know, no need to blame him, ... do not buy, It is as simple as that.

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    Re: Arca Swiss 4 x 5" bag bellows compatible with F-line?

    Emmanuel, thanks for coming back again.

    If you are not afraid to depart from the elegance of Swiss Precision Engineering, a good stock of gaffer-tape will do miracles
    Very useful general advice, I'll think of you next time I use tape This time however there will be no need for me to dive into DIY. As I wrote in my first post I use a modern F-metric and was on the contrary afraid of having bought bellows too old to fit my camera.

    Not kidding: as a general advice to buyers of Arca Swiss parts, you should always insist that the vendor precisely describes, in writing, and with a guarantee of being able to return the item with money back, whether the part is actually a pre-1984 Arca Swiss Oschwald part or a post-1984 Arca Swiss F-line or M-line part.
    You are absolutely right. The only problem was that I realised too late that there even existed Pre F-line bellows with 171x171 frames which still might not fit. The bellows in question looked like new and the frames looked exactly like my other bellows' frames and were 171x171. It is hard to ask about a problem when you are not aware of its existence Doubts started only later when I realised I could not find this model in the catalogue. But thanks to Rod's description I am pretty sure now that I bought the right one, even if it cannot be found in the catalogue of 2000. Within a fortnight or so I will know for sure...

    And, yes I'm typesetting this message in a place located 5 minutes away by car from Arca Swiss International, but old Oschwald bellows frames are no longer in stock. When you come and meet the Vogt family, you'll understand immediately why a a small family-owned business who already has thousands of spare parts in stock have decided not to continue the manufacture of Oschwald parts.
    Sometime ago I came across some documentation on the company including an interview with the family. Should I ever come near Besanšon I will definitely try to pay them a visit!

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