View Full Version : Upgrading Arca to 8x10 or Deardorff?

2-Nov-2014, 19:38
Dear all,

I have an Arca 4x5 field camera. I am thinking getting into 8x10. There are two options for me at the moment.

a) upgrade the Arca to 8x10 with format converting parts.
b) buy a used Deardorff 8x10

Someone in my region is offering a used 8x10 conversion kits for the AS and I also found a nice Deardorff (with front swing) at roughly the same price.

I mainly do landscape/urban scape.

Which option would you choose?


neil poulsen
2-Nov-2014, 23:52
I've put some thought to this question. I have an Arca 4x5 and happened to run across and (impulse) purchase an 8x10 Deardorff in really excellent condition. It's quite a beautiful camera.

Since then, I had an opportunity to purchase an Arca 8x10 conversion kit for about what I would receive by selling the Deardorff. For the following reasons, I decided to keep the Deardorff.

> The Deardorff can easily handle the lenses I have for it, which include the following focal lengths: 250mm, 355mm, 450mm, and 600mm. The Deardorff has plenty of extension for the 600mm, without having to extend the bellows beyond a point of stability. The smallest focal length that I would use on 8x10 is a 210mm, so no need for a bag bellows. Even with smaller lenses, one still has the sliding front on a Deardoff to make rise and fall more convenient.

> I bought a PhotoBackPacker case for it, and together, they fit conveniently into my backpack. Even off the monorail, the Arca would require more room.

> Setup is more convenient with the Deardorff. I use Bogen hex heads, and I have 4"x4" hex plate that I leave mounted on the bottom of the Deardorff. It's an easy matter to remove the Deardorff from it's case, mount it on a 3039 Bogen head, and open it up. For my purposes, the Arca would require some manner of assembly, perhaps even having to slip the conversion kit onto the function carriers.

> 4x5 and 5x7 reduction lensboards are prohibitively expensive for an Arca, but are affordable for a Deardorff.

> There's something about the charm of taking photos with a well finished flatbed camera that can't be matched in a monorail.

It wasn't a one-sided decision. I saw the following advantages of the Arca over the Deardorff.

> The compendium bellows lenshood that I have with my Arca is better than the Lee compendium bellows that I purchased for the Deardorff. No adapters to mess with, etc. Nor is it necessary to mount the lenshood onto the lens.

> While I've never tried an Arca 8x10, I've heard that monorail 8x10's are more stable in breezes.

> As I recall, the Arca 8x10 has a bail to help insert film holders. I think that this is probably a nice feature to have. Less chance of jarring or nudging the camera out of position.

> Movements are probably more precise with an Arca. I have a level I use to make sure that the Deardorff is aligned front to back.

All things considered, I determined that the Deardorff was a better camera for my purposes.

Teodor Oprean
4-Nov-2014, 19:19
A Ritter 8x10 might be worth considering as well.

Peter De Smidt
4-Nov-2014, 20:27
In that situation, I'd favor the Arca. Both are very good cameras, but the Arcas are amazing. Compact, strong and easy to use. In your case, you're already familiar with how and Arca works. That'll make switching between the formats a breeze.

5-Nov-2014, 16:36
I wrote a review of the Arca 8x10 (before I deleted my website) and it's quite a good system. My Arca began life as a metric 4x5 and I added the 8x10 conversion kit a bit later on. One of the important points about buying into Arca-Swiss is the fact that it is a modular system, thereby saving the user the hassle of owning multiple cameras. I don't know how Neil has his Arca set up but I can have my 8x10, from its stored position in the backpack to set up and focused (depending on subject), in thirty seconds.

It's fun to own cool cameras too, so if the bug bites the Deardorff is a good option.

evan clarke
5-Nov-2014, 16:42
Buy a Chamonix, I have two Arca 8x10s the Cham is the bomb

Christopher Barrett
5-Nov-2014, 17:02
Hmm... I currently own the Arca M-Line 2, Rm3d & F-Line. I also just bought the Chamonix 4x10. The Chamonix is really beautifully designed and engineered. The Arcas are also beautifully designed and engineered (but very different). For walking around doing simple compositions without much movement, I love the Chamonix. For precision and ergonomics, the Arcas are in an entirely different league that I don't think any other manufacturer can touch.

Totally different animals and both a joy to use. Tough call.

Curious, though, I have a hard time believing a monorail would be more stable in wind than a flat bed.

5-Nov-2014, 22:14
Yeah, the Arca F-Metric 8x10 is pretty light by 8x10 standards and is a sail in the wind.

7-Nov-2014, 03:46
I have an F-metric 4x5 on order and my mind has also been on what I would do if I needed (wanted) an 8x10. I think I would go with an Arca-Swiss 8x10 as I imagine I would be used to the movements/process of the 4x5 that the 8x10 would be a smooth transition…but I will cross that bridge when the time comes.

john borrelli
10-Nov-2014, 18:53
It would be difficult to get more knowledgeable responses on LF and Arca than Neil and Evan, if Emmanuel Bigler contributes you have another Arca Swiss expert. I hope these contributors don't mind me mentioning them and no offense to the other contributors intended.

I am an amateur so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. For 4X5, I owned an upgraded Arca Swiss Discovery and now I own a Wisner Pocket Expedition. The Arca was heavy, particularly with the extra bellows and rails, to use a wide, normal and long lens I had to carry a bundle of heavy stuff. I could use those same 3 lenses with my present camera. 90mm would be tight but usable, without carrying around extra parts.

I miss the Arca's ground glass compared to the Wisner(even with the Hopf upgrade). The rock-solidness of the Arca is also missed, and the Arca Swiss ball head worked great with the camera. The Wisner, like a lot of nice wood fields, are gorgeous cameras whereas Arcas are more utilitarian in their looks.

The Wisner Pocket Expedition, it is said, borrowed on the Deardorff for some of the designs of its movements and I think you will find some of these designs a little more fiddly to use than Arca's perfect ergonomic designs that you are accustomed to. All the best, John