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steveo
1-May-2014, 01:07
I've recently taken delivery of my first view camera its an Arca Swiss Model B and I'm having some bellows troubles.

The accordion bellows have small holes in the top corners which aren't obvious when all the movements are neutral but when I put some rise on either standard they're quite obvious.

I bought some bag bellows at the same time and whilst they look fine they don't quite mate with the standard; the little catch at the top is the opposite way round from the accordion bellows. Almost like the leather has been attached to the wrong side of the frame.

I'm now trying to decide:
whether to take the hit and post it all back to the dealer and buy the next cheapest one I can get from a different dealer (this will end up costing net 80)
Try to fix the accordion bellows
try and make the bag bellows fit.

Any advice?

Richard Johnson
1-May-2014, 08:20
It would be cheaper to return it rather than having to have a new custom bellows made. The chances of finding a good used bellows for an older (pre-1980) Arca-Swiss B are nearly zero. It may be that they gave you the bag bellows for a newer Arca F or botched a DIY repair. If you are impatient you could remove the bellows and experiment with reattaching it using Contact Cement.

Holes in the standard bellows have been covered in numerous places... there are patches that can be made but nothing beats a good lightight bellows and if you paid and were promised a good bellows then the seller should honor that obligation or give you a discount/refund.

If you decide to have new bellows made from a place like custombellows.uk, you need the proper sized bellows frames from the front and the back of the old bellows to attach to the replacement bellows, nobody will have an old camera's bellows frames in stock. However it will take a few months and may cost more than the camera is worth (they are very good however!)

If you are hot to use the camera and the bellows holes are modest then you could always cover the camera with a darkcloth and use simple tape or rubberized coating patches to get you through. In most cases you can avoid fogging the film with some common sense.

mike rosenlof
1-May-2014, 08:24
http://www.precisioncameraworks.com/Pages/arca_core.html says:

"Rails and format carriers for both the old and new series are compatible. Old lensboards will work on the newer cameras, but only the flat versions (not recessed) of the newer lensboards will fit the older cameras. None of the bellows or format frames/standards are interchangeable."

(old series are model A, B, C, new series is the current F or M lines)

If that bag bellows is for the new system, it won't fit. There are many ways to fix the bellows, look around this site and you'll find info. Most involve tape or some kind of liquid rubber. You can also buy a new bellows, see ebay, or there is a respected bellows manufacturer in the UK whose name I don't remember.

toyotadesigner
1-May-2014, 12:29
This company might be able to help you:

http://www.custombellows.co.uk/

steveo
1-May-2014, 14:17
It would be cheaper to return it rather than having to have a new custom bellows made. The chances of finding a good used bellows for an older (pre-1980) Arca-Swiss B are nearly zero. It may be that they gave you the bag bellows for a newer Arca F or botched a DIY repair. If you are impatient you could remove the bellows and experiment with reattaching it using Contact Cement.

Holes in the standard bellows have been covered in numerous places... there are patches that can be made but nothing beats a good lightight bellows and if you paid and were promised a good bellows then the seller should honor that obligation or give you a discount/refund.

If you decide to have new bellows made from a place like custombellows.uk, you need the proper sized bellows frames from the front and the back of the old bellows to attach to the replacement bellows, nobody will have an old camera's bellows frames in stock. However it will take a few months and may cost more than the camera is worth (they are very good however!)

If you are hot to use the camera and the bellows holes are modest then you could always cover the camera with a darkcloth and use simple tape or rubberized coating patches to get you through. In most cases you can avoid fogging the film with some common sense.


Cheers guys that was pretty much what I thought but its nice to have your thoughts echo'd back. The cost of returning it and trying to find another is a little beyond me till I try it decide if I'm going to move my RB67 kit on.

I did have another look at the bag bellows and managed to fit them, I don't know what I was doing wrong last night. They're light tight and supple and I've a 90mm arriving tomorrow so I can at least get started.

I think I'll try and repair the standard bellows for the time being

Richard Johnson
1-May-2014, 16:09
You can probably use a 135mm lens with most bag bellows, some are longer even.

If you are handy then you could buy a cheap third party bellows, like from a Sinar, and swap the Sinar frames with Arca frames if you're brave and handy. Or maybe have one of the Chinese copycat bellows makers from eBay do one to your specifications and glue the frames on yourself.

Carsten Wolff
2-May-2014, 08:31
I have had an Arca-B as my main camera system for probably 12 years now and to me its the bees knees. I have added e.g. F-frames and now have a mix of new and old bellows and standard-frames. Mail me pics of your problems (digital ones are ok ;)) and in all likelihood I'll be able to give you cheap, reasonably easy solutions, that work, or tell you to walk away from it l:). I e.g. use the old (fantastic) 5x7" leather bag bellows with a modern front frame after adaptation. Modern, ridge faced 171mm bellows can be made to fit the old frames nicely as well. Same for lens panels. Bellows-flanges are a mix of screws and removable glue-joins...usually no dramas there. I now use a very well made Chinese Linhof lens board adapter (the only thing I found ludicrous about the Arca system). Frames go onto the old function carriers anyway. Like with an old car, eventually I'll end up with all new parts perhaps; so be it.

However, if things don't fit, when they had been purchased as a matching kit, should be sorted out by the dealer in any case!

steveo
2-May-2014, 14:41
I have had an Arca-B as my main camera system for probably 12 years now and to me its the bees knees. I have added e.g. F-frames and now have a mix of new and old bellows and standard-frames. Mail me pics of your problems (digital ones are ok ;)) and in all likelihood I'll be able to give you cheap, reasonably easy solutions, that work, or tell you to walk away from it l:). I e.g. use the old (fantastic) 5x7" leather bag bellows with a modern front frame after adaptation. Modern, ridge faced 171mm bellows can be made to fit the old frames nicely as well. Same for lens panels. Bellows-flanges are a mix of screws and removable glue-joins...usually no dramas there. I now use a very well made Chinese Linhof lens board adapter (the only thing I found ludicrous about the Arca system). Frames go onto the old function carriers anyway. Like with an old car, eventually I'll end up with all new parts perhaps; so be it.

However, if things don't fit, when they had been purchased as a matching kit, should be sorted out by the dealer in any case!

Yeah I've been looking at compatible boards, the few lens boards I've seen have been pretty dear. I've got everything to fit but need to try and repair the normal bellows or replace them with oem versions. What bellows did you buy to fit?

Another question, should there be a light trap where the DDs goes in? When the film holder is in place I can see light through a gap between it and the back.

John Schneider
5-May-2014, 09:48
I used a 4x5 Arca A/B for a good while before moving to an F, but the older Arca's are a very good system as Carsten points out. Most of the newer 171 parts will fit the A and B models, and the original 171 models are now getting old enough that parts are reasonable inexpensive. I *may* have a set of 171 bellows kicking around; I'll have to check.

There should be a foam light trap on the rear standard; when the back snaps on the connection should be light tight. If not, it's easy enough to remove the old foam and glue in (or the self-adhesive foam is easier) new strips of foam.

You shouldn't pay more than $30 or so for used lensboards; you want the older style without ridges if possible. KEH often lists them as "171, older F-Basic" or some-such. A better solution in the long term is to use an adapter lensboard (to Linhof Technika size is the most common choice); you pay a bit more up front but then you can use secondhand Linhof-compatible lensboards, which are <$20 typically, and it makes carrying extra lenses much easier as the unnecessary bulkiness of the 171 Arca boards is eliminated. I only use the 171 boards for bigger lenses (like a 210 Super Angulon and brass lenses) that won't physically fit on a Linhof board.

steveo
5-May-2014, 14:11
I had a little more time to dig at the weekend and it looks like some one has tried to refurbish the rear standard. It looks like its been japanned, poorly, the seal was a peice of synthetic leather which had been coated in the paint they covered the standard in; obviously this was rendered useless as a light trap because it was painted rigid. I've removed that and I'm waiting on some open cell foam to replace it with. I took it out this morning any way and It was fun!

Thanks John I had been considering hacking the current lens board and fitting a Linhof adaptor then just getting boards as you suggest. I've not got any heavy lenses at present but I can always get another 171 lens board if it need it.

kleinbatavia
23-Jun-2015, 07:57
I have had an Arca-B as my main camera system for probably 12 years now and to me its the bees knees. I have added e.g. F-frames and now have a mix of new and old bellows and standard-frames. Mail me pics of your problems (digital ones are ok ;)) and in all likelihood I'll be able to give you cheap, reasonably easy solutions, that work, or tell you to walk away from it l:). I e.g. use the old (fantastic) 5x7" leather bag bellows with a modern front frame after adaptation. Modern, ridge faced 171mm bellows can be made to fit the old frames nicely as well. Same for lens panels. Bellows-flanges are a mix of screws and removable glue-joins...usually no dramas there. I now use a very well made Chinese Linhof lens board adapter (the only thing I found ludicrous about the Arca system). Frames go onto the old function carriers anyway. Like with an old car, eventually I'll end up with all new parts perhaps; so be it.

However, if things don't fit, when they had been purchased as a matching kit, should be sorted out by the dealer in any case!

Pretty off topic, but did you ever (re-) paint a frame or standard? My old rear standard has the paint flaking off, I would like to fix it... Thanks!