View Full Version : Getting an Arca-Swiss Discovery to take a 450 non-tele

Ken Lee
4-Jul-2004, 17:03
I have an ArcaSwiss Discovery, and am often wanting to use a longer non-tele lens, such as the Fuji 450 or Nikon 450. My Discovery came with a 16" bellows (not long enough for a 450), and I already have one extension rail, but even when added to the existing rail, I suspect it will still be too short to accomdate a 450.

I confess that there are so many options with this camera system, that I am somewhat bewildered about which is the best route to go.

I should point out that I had a Fuji 400 Tele. I made some satisfactory images with it, but found it lacking in coverage.

One option is to get another extension rail, and buy a longer bellows. Do other models come with longer rails ? For the price of the rail and the bellows, would it be better to just get something else ?

Would there be any value in trading up to another A/S model ? Is there a limit to how many rails you can slap together, and still have a stable camera ?

Any inights would be most welcome.

Doug Dolde
4-Jul-2004, 18:46
Ebony makes a 34mm extension tube that mounts between lensboard and lens. Will that suffice?

Ling Z
4-Jul-2004, 18:59

Arca Swiss long bellows are necessary, it costs about $400. I don't think you have to trade it up for another model such as an F-line metrics. I suggest you buy another optical bench, such as a 50cm telescopic. I have an optical bench table on my site for you: http://www.filmcapture.com/technique/arca_swiss/as_bench.jpg. You may take a look at it and decide which combination is best for you. Adding one more extension rail to your current setup may not be rigid enough.

Ling Zhu

Ken Lee
4-Jul-2004, 20:50
Ling -

Thank you for the information - does your site list benches which you make, or is this a list of Arca-Swiss benches ?

Jean-Louis Llech
5-Jul-2004, 02:11
In my opinion, you can't use a 450 lens on an original Discovery, as the rail is 30cm long, and is sold only with a 8,5cm extension bracket.
The bellows is 38cm long, so you'll probably have to buy another extension bracket (or a longer rail) and an another bellows.
Arca system is fully compatible with the Discovery, so you'll have no difficulties to find what you need.
In order to give you all informations, I've sent you the complete Arca Swiss catalog. This will help you to see what additional parts you need.

Ling Z
5-Jul-2004, 02:13

It's from Arca Swiss Camera System catalog. If you need a copy, I can email it to you. Or I think you can download it from Precision Camera Works, www.precisioncameraworks.com.

Emmanuel BIGLER
5-Jul-2004, 11:23
<HTML>Ken I assume that you are referring to the Fuji C, f= 450mm described here :
For this lens the flange-focal distance as you can read is 425 mm. So you should be able to determine exactly the distance between the board and film that you need. Add some additional extension to be more comfortable. Say : 2"-50mm.

Ken Lee
6-Jul-2004, 20:08
The Arca-Swiss carrying case is only really wide enough to accomodate the 30cm rail which ships with the camera. Otherwise, it might be terrific to get a longer, collapsable rail.

I have the 30 cm rail which comes with the camera, and a 25cm extension rail. Since the standards sit somewhat towards the center, the max distance I can acheive with the extension rail is around 19.5 inches, or around 487mm. Since the bellows draw for the lens is 425mm, that should leave some room for closer-than-infinity focusing. If I add the 34mm extension mentioned by Doug, then that ought to provide more room.

So it sounds like all I need to buy is the 700mm bellows. I wonder: can I still use my 150 lens with that 700mm bellows ? That's my shortest lens. If so, I could just leave the longer bellows on the camera.

Many thanks again for your help.

Frank Petronio
6-Jul-2004, 21:06
I suspect you'll need the optical bench to make things sturdy enough... I just got into the Arca-Swiss system myself so I'd like to hear opinions too.

Emmanuel BIGLER
7-Jul-2004, 05:41
<HTML>To Ken : the answer is in the Arca catalogue that you can download in .pdf from this website. The 700 mm 4"x5" square bellows
is listed for a minimum focal length of 240 mm. I'm afraid that this is the absolute minimum where all pleats are pressed together so, probably no way to focus a 150 mm except at 1:1 ratio ;-). Be prepared to swap bellows.. I do not know if there is a World Contest of Arca Swiss F-line Bellows Swapping, but the world record is probably in the range of a 10-20 seconds ;-);-)

To Franck : I have got a 50 cm (20") non-foldable rail unit and I use it as is with my 6x9 standards (at home, not in the field !), just with the short 8.5 cm "bracket", this rail is extremely rigid but I've never pushed it to hard limits. However for longer rail lengths I would actually prefer to use the combination of a long "bracket" (up to 1 metre / 40 " !!) plus two smaller sliding rail units ; the rigidity of the long bracket is probably similar to the rigidity of a long rail of same length. But it is more convenient to slide rail elements than moving the geared function carrier for long travels... Certainly if you combine a long bracket with a rail of exactly same length you would get someting extremely rigid, this is possible (although not in the spirit of A/S telescopic rails) but the maximum rail units are 50cm (20") long.</HTML>

Ken Lee
7-Jul-2004, 08:22
I'm beginning to wonder if it wouldn't just be easier (and cheaper) to get an old Calumet with long bellows, and just leave the Fuji 450 on it: Leave it in the car, and just take it out when I need it.

Or toss the whole ArcaSwiss system and get something with "native support" for longer lenses, like a 5x7 ShenHao with a reducing back.

Frank Petronio
7-Jul-2004, 09:09
Geez, the A-S system, while expensive and confusing and poorly supported, is just so darn NICE after using lots of other cameras that I can't see going backwards. I won't diss all the other brands, but I'm converted and a believer now.

I took 40cm and 30cm rails, plus a 40cm bracket, from an older pre-F-line camera to use instead of the Discovery rail that came with my camera. Not only does it avoid the stupid mounting block the Discovery is saddled with, but it is lighter, and I think better made, than the current rail system. The price was certainly a lot better. Most of the time I use the 30cm rail with an Arca plate bolted on, but when I use my 300mm lens I set it up with the bracket with 70cm of rail. Seems like enough length to keep me satisfied...

Jean-Louis Llech
8-Jul-2004, 02:36
I would like to add that, if you use a longer rail, the overall stability of the camera will be necessarily weakened, except if you add a second support point.
If you need a system to make it sturdy, look at Jack Dykinga's book, page 87 : He uses the Kirk bracket to support the weight of the rail with long/tele lenses : the lens (and most of the weight) is centered on the tripod head, and the Kirk bracket supports the back of the rail.
This Kirk bracket is no more available, but Manfrotto sells an analog system : Long lens camera support Art.# 359 (Bogen code 3252).
I am maybe wrong, but it looks less sturdy that Kirk's bracket.

David Karp
8-Jul-2004, 10:06

A Calumet 45NX with the standard bellows and standard monorail will work fine with a 450mm lens. I used mine with a Nikkor M 450mm and it was stable enough. The Fujinon is lighter, so it will be plenty stable. These cameras have some nice features, like the revolving back. If most of your work is close to the car, it might be cheaper to pick up a used 45NX than an Arca-Swiss long bellows!

Hope this helps.

Carsten Wolff
30-Jul-2004, 20:33
Ken, I've got an old Arca-Swiss B, which I often use with the 450 fuji and originally used with a 19" Artar. Most Arca bits are compatible, i.e. Discovery Standards run nicely on 40 year old arca rails... What I simply did was after playing for a while with the 4x5, I saw a cheap 5x7 for sale (with leather w/a bellows and reduction back), bought it for less than 500$ and combined the 2 bellows (synthetic 300mm one off the 4x5 and the leather bellows off the 5x7) with the help of a 3rd standard in the middle. The 5x7 came with 2x 30cm (read: 27cm) rails and slider which gives me about 70cm useful length). Added benefit of the 5x7: I adapted it to fit a 617 Canham panorama back. I even take this setup hiking; love the whole system. Being lazy I usually only take the front standard and standard bellows off if I use my 90mm; i.e. 135mm is. To make the system more manageable I use Linhof boards.