View Full Version : Is Arca Swiss A Swiss Or A French Company?

Scott Fleming
12-Jan-2005, 12:19
Is Arca Swiss A French Company?

Or is it still a Swiss company that manufactures in France? Or do they just ship out of France?

Please, no politics. I just want to know.

Does anyone have any 'insider' info about the health of the company? I can't imagine that they are a growing concern given that the whole world seems to be in lust with digital capture. Given their unwillingness or inability to even put up a website, or a current catalogue, I have to wonder if perhaps they are so week that they could fold up and disappear at any moment.

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2005, 12:38
He's baaaaack!!!

Scott, didn't we answer a similar question for you on the photo.net forum a while back, when you hesitated to buy a Gitzo tripod because Gitzo was a French company?

Arca Swiss is a Swiss-French company (politically neutral). Actually, they are so strong and successful, that they don't need a website to advertise their products. They sell more than they can produce, while continuing to maintain the level of quality they are noted for.

Are you thinking of going back into large format photography?

Scott Fleming
12-Jan-2005, 13:08
Dang! Eugene

Wish I had a memory like that.

Thanks for your answer. Are they really THAT strong though? Not that it really matters I guess. I'd feel better going that way if there were more parts floating around like there are with Sinar and Toyo.

I'm not really coming back to LF. I just came to the understanding that MF digital capture is YEARS away for me. So I began to hanker after more MF tranny real estate. To my mind 6 x 8cm is an ideal aspect ratio and all the sq. cm. I could ever need. I wouldn't mind the full 4 x 5" but it's just too much trouble, expense and time killing to go back to. 6x9 gives cropping room. 6x7 might as well be square.

So I started to explore roll film options ... all of them .... and realized that the light portable monorail cameras are the most versatile. You just can't beat em. I DO miss the movements too. I could kick myself for selling my lenses but I don't miss the Toyo 45 A II.

tim atherton
12-Jan-2005, 13:23
We all just assumed the Buffaloes had got you...

roger michel
12-Jan-2005, 13:41
along the same lines, is french toast really french??

further, like film, it seems to be in serious decline. even places that specialize in breakfast don't seem to offer french toast anymore. i was going to invest in some real VT maple syrup, but if french toast is going the way of film, i don't want to end up with a lot of useless syrup on my hands (i don't like flapjacks, griddle cakes, hoe cakes, etc).

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2005, 14:15

Yes, they are that strong. Arca Swiss has been around for a while, and it looks like they'll be around for a long time to come. They are a top-of-the-line large format equipment manufacturer.

Since you like the 6X8 aspect ratio, if you haven't already done so, check out the Fujifilm GX680III. That camera has all the perspective control you will need, in a really neat medium format SLR.

Knowing you, I don't believe that you will ever be happy with a any type of LF monorail and a roll film back.

Larry Gebhardt
12-Jan-2005, 14:16

Frank Petronio
12-Jan-2005, 14:20
Scott, those 6x9 Arcas are pretty expensive and a steady supply of used stuff is unreliable on eBay or dealers. You might consider alternatives like Texas Leicas - Fuji 6x9 Rangefinders and older Zeiss folding cameras.

John Kasaian
12-Jan-2005, 15:13

Just exactly what did happen with those buffalos??

Michael Chmilar
12-Jan-2005, 16:15
Did you mean Freedom Toast?

Glenn Kroeger
12-Jan-2005, 16:18
At PhotoExpo, Arca indicated business was very strong, and growing for 8x10. Given the recent problems at Sinar, Arca looks relatively strong.

As for their origin, they ship and manufacture in Besancon, France, which is closer to Switzerland than Austin is to San Antonio. They also maintain manufacturing and design facilities in Horgen, Switzerland. The location in France gets them into the EU which is extremely beneficial for commerce in Europe.

Is Honda a Japanese company? Accords are made in Ohio! These distinctions are pretty meaningless today. Nowdays, I am happy to buy anything not made in China.

12-Jan-2005, 16:57
what is IN MY OPINION the best and more versatile 6x9 camera ?
Arca Swiss F line Compact Metric Orbix with a RB Mot 6x8 back and lenses :
55 Apo grandagon N
100 Apo sironar S
150 Apo sironar S
And don't forget the Roll film older adaptator and the binocular viewer !
But becarefull, i'm french !

PS : There is much more arca swiss users in US than here !

Jim Rice
12-Jan-2005, 17:12
From Mark Bittman's *How to cook everything* (Macmillian 1998, and recommended):
2 eggs
1 cup milk
dash salt
1 TBS sugar (optional)
1 TSP vanilla extract or cinnamon (optional)
Butter or canola or other neutral oil as needed
8 slices bread
Preheat a large griddle or skillet over medium low heat while you prepare the liquid mixture. Beat the eggs lightly in a broad bowl and stir in the milk, salt and optional ingredients (if you are using them). Add about one teaspoon of butter or oil to the griddle or skillet and, when it is hot, dip each slice of bread in turn in the batter and place it on the griddle. Cook until nicely browned, turning as necessary (you may find that you can raise the heat a bit). Serve, or hold in a 200 deg F oven for up to thirty minutes.

Kerry L. Thalmann
12-Jan-2005, 17:18
As Glenn mentioned, ARCA-SWISS manufacturers and ships products in France purely for economic reasons. Switzerland is not a member of the EU. So, if ARCA-SWISS did not have a manufacuring and shipping center in France, their products would be more difficult to obtain and more expensive for their European customers. Short of Switzerland joining the EU, this was the most cost effective solution for ARCA-SWISS to supply their products to customers in EU countries. Many US companies did the exact same thing - build manufacturing facilities in EU member countries, for the exact same reasons.

WRT to the stability of the company, ARCA-SWISS is one of the few large format manufacturers that seems to continue to introduce new and improved products at each and every Photokina (Misura in 2002, the new 140cm F-Line cameras in 2004, etc.). Their 6x9 cameras are also well suited to use with the "medium format" digital backs. Compared to many other large format manufacturers, they seem to be well positioned to continue to serve, supply and support the traditional large format market as well as the ever growing digital market. I don't expect them to "fold up and disappear at any moment". Even if they did, their products are so well built, my ARCA-SWISS F-Line will still be capable of making images long after I am not.


Ellis Vener
12-Jan-2005, 17:48
According to my conversations with them they are selling every 6x8cm and 8x10 camera they can make. C1 head sales have also picked up. I believe the lack of a website is something that will be resolved. When? I don't know. They do have catalogs from last year. I know because I have one somewhere in my office.

Frank Petronio
12-Jan-2005, 18:01
So, if not having a website and taking forever to deliver new parts means a company is prospering, then dang, all those stupid companies with informative, functional websites and on-time deliveries must be really sucking wind ;-)

Scott Fleming
12-Jan-2005, 18:27

I see I have generated some activity. We aim to please.

I'll just open another window here ... and go down the list. So much easier with Mac and Expose.

Eugene: Already responded and I think you show up further down.

Tim: I never did it. I shot them a bit with the Mamiya 645 and learned somewhat about the difficulties of photographing dark subjects framed by neutral and highlighted surroundings. I really wanted to get them on a frosty morning with their breath showing in the dawn ... alas I hate getting up that early. (Tim, there is no 'es' in the plural of Bufalo)

Here's Eugene again already: I checked out the Fuji 680 way back when. Too big. Too heavy. Too ..... 'one of a kind'. ALTHOUGH ... Danny Burke likes it .... but he also has an Ebony. Appreciate the opinion on AS. Thanks for the suggestion Eugene. I know you are sincere. May I say ... in all humitlity I hope ... You Don't Know Me.

Frank: Thanks. No thanks.

John: See answer to Tim. & ... I wish I had done it. Recently I went back and dug through my 'old' (it's all relative) 4 x 5 trannies and actually came up with some keepers. In fact one of my very fave images turns out to be a 6 x 9 crop from those days. http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/image/36849397 (http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/image/36849397) (there is a huge version of this available for some unknown reason its' even too big for 23'' monitors) ... Like photography in general ... any subject, unless you get REAL lucky requires many hours of study and pursuit to get the 'special' shot. The Bison are no longer available to me and I never achieved success there.

Glen: Thank You. Very helpful. You are a prince amoung men. (this isn't helping your sales however)

dg: Thanks. I have nothing against the French people (unless they are Parisian) it's that 'expletive deleted' Chirac I disdain. Perhaps you are the man to tell me why the word 'Orbix' no longer apears in any Arca Swiss literature?

Kerry: Thank you. You are also a prince amoung men. If you are ever in town may I buy you a drink? No. Dinner and all you CAN drink. I have learned so much from you! GREAT human being.

tim atherton
12-Jan-2005, 19:27
" (Tim, there is no 'es' in the plural of Bufalo) "

actually there are three optional and accepted plurals: buffalo, buffalos or buffaloes

up here we don't keep em as pets but they run free and wild, so when you meet a herd on the highway you let them chose whichever plural they want... 'cause that 20 or 30 each the size of a large SUV

12-Jan-2005, 19:35
Hi Glen,

I think your life eveyday is very busy and harsh because you need to identify what thing aound you is made by China or not. Maybe you don't know, air in this planet travels a lot. There are some air made in China and somehow travels to your place. You may need a mask on your face to make sure not to breath this 'Air'. HaHa!!!!

Glenn Kroeger
12-Jan-2005, 19:39
I have nothing against items made in China... I buy them all the time, but SOMETHING has to be made elsewhere otherwise, ultimately, trade and currency exchange will collapse. So I am simply relieved to see some things I want aren't made there.

Jim Rice
12-Jan-2005, 19:59
I concur with lauding Kerry's contributions to our community. And I'll get him as fed and drunk as he wants here, as well.

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2005, 20:51
I'll make a wager with you Scott, If you ever do purchase an Arca Swiss monorail, with a 6X9 roll film back, and find that you are still satisfied with it after using it for six months, I'll wine and dine you at the place of your choice anywhere here in Texas (I live in Irving). You see, after the episode with the Toyo 45AII, I believe that I do know you, and I'm not worried about loosing this bet, at all.

12-Jan-2005, 20:56
Hi Glen,

Your sky is smaller than mine.

Scott Fleming
12-Jan-2005, 21:37
Aw, Jeez!

I hate it when people are able to bait me into being defensive but you went and hit the sweet spot Eugene. Look at these. Hopefully you have a decent monitor. Click on the largest size.

<a href= http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff (http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff)<a/>

Now tell me I'm dicking around. (for a beginner who can't settle on a system anyway)

Scott Fleming
12-Jan-2005, 21:47
I should have known better than to try something in HTML.

http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff (http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff)

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2005, 22:29
I took a look at your work on your website again, Scott. Since you stated that you believe that the Fuji 680 is too big and heavy, how are you going to feel about using a bulkier and heavier monorail camera, along with a rollfilm back, for the type of scenics that you enjoy doing? You stated several times on other threads that you decided that large format photography was not for you. A monorail just doesn't appear to me be the right tool for the job. That's why I feel that you're just "dicking around" (to quote your descriptive terminology).

Frank Petronio
13-Jan-2005, 05:46
Isn't a Contax 645 enough? I mean, that's a pretty sweet little camera.

Scott - Thank goodness Gitzos no longer have that "Made in France" sticker.

John Hurshman
13-Jan-2005, 07:24

Your original post may have set a record for the most traffic in 24 hours!

I use an Arca Swiss F-line Field for 4x5, roll film and digital back. It is a fine platform for all of these applications (at least for me). It is a VERY flexible system. For web info, try "http://www.precisioncameraworks.com"; they are authorized US repair/service center. Their web page has links to Arca Swiss info, including a catalog in .pdf file. Regarding "Orbix", it still appears in the linked .pdf catalog, and is very much available. I am considering it as an upgrade to my system.

Good luck.


evan clarke
13-Jan-2005, 10:21
For Frank

"So, if not having a website and taking forever to deliver new parts means a company is prospering, then dang, all those stupid companies with informative, functional websites and on-time deliveries must be really sucking wind ."

It just means they may have more product than they have sales. Also, corporate culture is convinced that the hype they dish out is more real than their products, they advertise because they are expected to advertise..Evan

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 11:03
Eugene, (and Frank)

Well, maybe you are right. Though I do like gear I like the image more. I have one room of my home dedicated to my office and I've now pretty much covered every available sq ft of wall space with framed prints of my work. I like getting to know them so to speak. I see ways and means of improving them or think of perspective changes or exposure improvements. I think of those images in my head that I have not been able to make happen yet. I dream of sharing them with folks who can actually see something of what I can see in them. I fantasize about hanging them in my own gallery someday with perfect lighting and adequate viewing area.

Though I enjoy the adventure of making the captures ... the print is what I live for. I don't really care what tool I have to use to get them. It seems to me I could aproach my vision most effectively with MF digital capture. 22MP would not be enough but folks who have these backs tell me that rezing them up to double size is still a better file than any scan of even 6 x 9cm could ever be. So I have the Contax 645 and I'm waiting. It is going to be about a three year wait I think. Three years till I can afford a well used probably tired 22MP Phase One. I figure whatever is the new and top of the line MF back at that time will still be at least $25k.

I used to really think I wanted to print to 30 x 40. My 16 x 24 prints have convinced me that 24 x 32 will be enough. Besides that's as big as one can go given 32 x 40 mat board and untill I have an adequate studio and many thousands worth more gear I don't evision going larger. So I only need 44MP. Untill digital comes down out of the stratosphere I will just have to content myself with 6 x 9cm. 4.5 x 6cm is just not enough. My scans are starting to look soft as Chromira prints at 16 x 20". I really enjoy crisp detail in my work and that is why I think digital capture is superior.

Will I enjoy the extra work of lugging a view camera around and setting it up and struggling with focus? No. I'm going to make it as easy on myself as I can with the improvements available over what I had with the Toyo 45 and I am hoping that shooting rollfilm will be a lot better than 4 x 5 quickloads but I don't know. So maybe you will be proven correct Eugene. I plan to have fun finding out.

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 11:06
John H.

Thanks. I have spoken with the guy at Photomark in Phoenix. He's sending my something. I'll check out the Precision site in the meantime.

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 11:13
Glen Kroeger

Did you get my e-mails regarding the matter you proposed to me?

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 12:05
John H.

Boy that IS a good link. I found this link there: http://www.tomwestbrook.com/Photography/arca_swiss.html (http://www.tomwestbrook.com/Photography/arca_swiss.html)

This is the best I've found yet for Arca Swiss info. I'm surprised I didn't find this with google and this board. I did a few days of searching before asking any questions here.

Kerry L. Thalmann
13-Jan-2005, 12:52
Since you stated that you believe that the Fuji 680 is too big and heavy, how are you going to feel about using a bulkier and heavier monorail camera, along with a rollfilm back, for the type of scenics that you enjoy doing?

Actually, the 6x9 ARCA-SWISS F-Line Compact is lighter and folds up more compactly than the Fuji GX680III. And the lenses for a 6x9 monorail are smaller, lighter (by a substantial amount) and less expensive than the equivalent Fuji 680 lenses. The GX680 has it's advantages (primarily automation), but in terms of size and weight, it's a beast.

Fuji GX680III Body = 94.9 oz.
50mm Lens = 44.1 oz.
100m Lens = 32.1 oz.
150mm lens = 24.9 oz.

Total for body and three lenses = 196 oz. = 12 lb. 4 oz.

ARCA-SWISS 6x9 F-Line Compact = 80 oz.
47mm Super Angulon XL = 10.9 oz. + 2 oz. for lensboard
100mm APO Sironar-S = 6.7 oz. + 2 oz. for lensboard
150mm APO-Sironar-S = 8.8 oz. + 2 oz. for lensboard

Total for body and three lenese = 112.4 oz. = 7 lb. 0.4 oz.

So, for the camera and three lenses, the ARCA-SWISS system is over 5 lb. lighter. I didn't include other acessories like roll film backs, prism finders, etc. as I don't have weights for all these items. In many case, these items are heavier for the Fuji (things like batteries and a charger to run all those electronics are VERY heavy).

I'm not rying to say one system is "better" than the other, just pointing out that a "large format" monorail system, in this case, is smaller and lighter than the medium format SLR.

Of course, the SLR offers automation and greater ease of use, but the monorail can handle wider (down to 35mm - the Fuji is limited to 50mm) and longer lenses. With the ARCA-SWISS, you can also chose from a huge variety of lenses from all four current manufacturers. With an adapter, you can use standard large format lenses on the Fuji, but you lose most of the automation that makes the Fuji attractive in the first place. The Fuji is great in the studio, but there is a reason you don't see many people shooting with them in the field.


Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 13:11
Thanks Kerry,

I knew this but didn't feel like 'proving' it to Eugene. You are so detail oriented. I'm lazy.

There is another great reason to eschew the Fuji. Folks selling them are not willing to price them realisticly. They often go without bids on ebay. Even IF one were able to get a decent price on a system now you'd never get even half of it back if you wanted to sell it in a year or two. With AS I think the resale will be solid. Not that there is a LF shooter born every hour but there is a huge number of dedicated LFers many of whom will ever dream of moving up to the top of the line when they can or when good used systems come on the market ... as they will I believe. Ask Glen?

tim atherton
13-Jan-2005, 13:28
the link to the Arca Catalogue at Precision Camera Works is here

http://www.precisioncameraworks.com/Media/Syst.pdf (http://www.precisioncameraworks.com/Media/Syst.pdf)

this is the same as the print version the Arca US distributor sent me

Armin Seeholzer
13-Jan-2005, 14:05
Hi Scott

Nice to have you back and alive.
The Arca Swiss started in Switzerland many years ago and they still have an office in Horgen Switzerland. The production is now in France because of cheaper workers there and all this kind of staff.
It could also be a little reason because of the EU but it was for sure not the main point! But the leader is still Swiss and maybe also some others!
They can now produce cheaper but the cameras are still very expensive so they have more in there own poket and the company should be doing well.

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 14:35
Hi Armin,

Thanks. I don't know if I'm 'back' or not but then again I didn't realize actually that I had left. Time sort of just rolls along unnoticed by me. I think I got into the habit of hanging with the digital disciples for some reason. You know, those guys who just can't bear the idea of loading a roll of film for some reason. It's beyond me why they are so phobic. Maybe we all will get there one day but to my mind if you are truly dedicated to producing fine art photography I just can't see how you can totally abandon film at this time. I think most of the DDs are more into producing web pages actually and or reaping the benefits. This of course has nothing to do with the high volume pros of most ilk. They pretty much have to go all dig all the time to stay ahead of the curve.

Gem Singer
13-Jan-2005, 17:03

I'm only attempting to prevent you from making the same mistake you made when you purchased the Toyo45AII outfit. No matter what Kerry says, I still don't believe that any monorail, with a roll film back, is the right tool for the job. Judging from the type of scenics that you seem to enjoy photographing, I say, stick with a medium format camera and roll film.

My wager is still on. Let me know how you are doing after using your monorail camera, outdoors, for six months. Somehow I'm kind of hoping that I loose this bet and look forward to wineing and dining you at a restaurant of your choice.

Kerry L. Thalmann
13-Jan-2005, 18:32
No matter what Kerry says, I still don't believe that any monorail, with a roll film back, is the right tool for the job.


I never said the monorail was the "right tool for the job". Just pointing out, that in this case, it is smaller and lighter than the Fuji medium format SLR. In fact, here's my exact quote:

"I'm not rying to say one system is "better" than the other, just pointing out that a "large format" monorail system, in this case, is smaller and lighter than the medium format SLR."

Judging from the type of scenics that you seem to enjoy photographing, I say, stick with a medium format camera and roll film.

Is that directed specifically at Scott, or landscape shooters in general? I checked out the images on Scott's web site and didn't see anything that could not easily be shot on large format. In fact, it looks like classic LF landscape subject matter to me. Yeah, it might be easier to shoot it on medium format (or 35mm or digital), but with a little practice and planning (be there 20 minutes early), I don't see any images on Scott's web site that couldn't have been taken on 4x5 (or 5x7 or 8x10). Why do you think a medium format SLR would be a better tool for these types of images? I'm not trying to be argmentative, just genuinely curious. I've been shooting similar landscapes on 4x5 for many, many years - including several years using monorails (Technikardan TK45S, ARCA-SWISS F-Line Classic and Toho FC-45X). I did try a medium format SLR (Bronica GS-1), but peferred the upside down world of the ground glass to looking through a tiny window. I'm not saying one way is better than the other - different strokes for different folks. I'm just trying to understand why you feel the medium format SLR is a better tool for the job than a monorail with a roll film back.


Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 19:48

****I'm only attempting to prevent you from making the same mistake you made when you purchased the Toyo45AII outfit.****

I know you are Eugene and I truly appreciate it. You are an astute observer and I AM a bit of a loose canon. I used to be much worse but now in my fifties nature is forcing me to tone it down. Somebody had to do it.

I find it the height of irony that I am again looking at LF cameras. My Toyo sat completely ignored for many months. It is not that it was a mistake ... it was an invaluable learning experience. It only cost me a few hundred dollars. Actually I think I broke even on the gear. The money I expended on processing was well spent.

I did make two errors in the beginning that I could have worked through with instruction. asa 50 transparency film and f/32. I did not fully appreciate that movements could get me the DOF I needed without always stopping down so far. Because I really like 'dark' and 'mysterious' subjects I found myself attempting exposures in the 20 to 30 sec realm. Of course I was bracketing extensively. Still my 'hit' rate was low. Being fifty miles from a lab added to my frustration. Concurrent with my migration to 645 I switched to Astia which is 100 asa and I began making exosures at f/11 and f/16. I have since learned (thank you Kerry Thalman) that many LF lenses are fine if not best at f/16. Shorter exposures where reciprocity failure need not be equated increase ones chances of proper exposure.

Additionally the Toyo Field is a fine field camera but you are never going to put a digital back on it, the bellows draw is limited and it is what it is .... a field camera. A field camera requires a lot of fiddling. Whereas a monorail like the AS can simply be 'put' where you need it. Being that I was nearly always shooting at the extremities of possibility ... I simply had too many hurdles to overcome. Many tried to warn me but it's like trying to warn a teenager about the dangers of life. They need to hear the warning but they will have to work it all out by themselves. I count it very good indeed that I have at least some trannies from those days amoung my keeper file.

So, I appreciate your intentions and I'm definitely listening more than last time round. I'm not rushing into anything. I have to put the tractor to work and earn the $10k or so I'm thinking of spending first. In that time I will contemplate and ponder. I hate to say it ... but ... IT'S all good.

Gem Singer
13-Jan-2005, 19:58

Please do not take my remarks personally. They were not directed to you. I was not even referring to Arca Swiss cameras. Only 4x5 monorails, with roll film backs, in general. I was referring specifically to Scott Fleming and his past history with a Toyo 45AII camera and his negative experiences with 4X5 chromes.

Let's put a stop to this needless discussion and wait and see what path Scott follows. Thank you.

Frank Petronio
13-Jan-2005, 20:16
Worrying about whether a camera will take a digital back in the future is going to cause you a lot of anxiety and will never be a sure bet. First, very few of your affordable 4x5 lenses will have sufficient resolution for that "future" back - that's why Schneider and Rodenstock are making special digital-only lenses with more resolution but smaller image circles. Second, while an Arca (or Brand X) might work with a Graflock mounted digital back, when it comes to using wide angle lenses you may find yourself on shaky ground. Getting a 25 or 35mm wide angle digital lenses to work, even though the camera's specs claim that it will, may be very frustrating (imagine pinched bellows, pinching fingers, standards bumping into each other, etc.) And third, most pros are gyrating towards all in one-battery and card solutions, like the latest Phase One. Or they will be jumping on the next Canon 1Ds Mark 3. Or ??? Who knows? But I wouldn't be surprised if professional digital cameras don't look anything like our current 35mm SLRs or Medium Format 645 SLRs or View Cameras. The chips are out performing the lenses, yet the alignment of lens to CCD is critical, so hanging a 44mp back on even a robust Arca F rear standard may not give you the precise alignment you're going to want. And movements are going to be ever more micro precise and critical - that's why Linhof made the M679 camera with geared everything (like the Horseman, Rollei, Sinar P3, Arca Monolith) etc. But do you really want to take a micro-geared, super precise $10,000 camera with a $20,000 back and $5,000 lens out into the field? With wind and sand and salt?

Also, with the surge of people buying cameras like the 1Ds2 - which will do most of what many professionals "need" - the larger chips and back may never acheive the critical mass needed to bring their prices down to sane "hobby" levels. That $20K state of the art back may still be $20K in a few years, while the DSLR may top out not because of technology, but simply because few people need more than a 48 mb RGB 8-bit file.

Which means, in the end, go out an buy the camera you want for TODAY - whether it's a $100 Graphic or a $3,000 Ebony - and just enjoy using it. The price of the film gear will continue to fall, but hopefully you will enjoy using it more than it depreciates.

Just to bust your balls, you could always get a used Kodak Pro Back for $6000 and put it onto your Contax system with its excellent lenses - it "only" makes a 48 mb file, but landscapes I've seen from these set-up sure look like 4x5 quality to me. And I have seen 30x40 from that combo, and they look great.

Kerry L. Thalmann
13-Jan-2005, 20:17

Although you mentioned me by name in your post, I did not take the comments personally. I was (and still am) interested in exactly why you feel the Fuji GX680 is the "better" tool for the job. Just because, I shoot large format doesn't mean I think it's the right tool for every job, or every user. And even though I've settled on large format as my personal tool of choice, I'm still open to alternate approaches and different tools. I have never personally used a Fuji GX680. I find the concept intriguing (a medium format SLR with movements), but have always been put off by the cost and weight (ironic, coming from a 4x5 shooter). In fact, I have never even spoken to anyone who has used the big Fuji (maybe I should hang out in the medium format forums for a while). I have studied the specs, but that only tells me so much. I really would be interested in the opinion of someone who has used this camera system for shooting landscapes. As I mentioned, I have used a Bronica GS-1, and I have a friend who uses a Mamiya RZ-67, but both of those cameras lack movements. So, they really aren't the same as the GX680.


Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 20:39

Good post. I concur.

I don't worry about what view camera might take a DB in the future. I think I might have a beter chance with an Arca Swiss Metric with Orbix over any field camera but It doesn't really matter. As you have said, to paraphrase, ... everything is changing so fast none of us likely have any idea where things are going.

Gem Singer
13-Jan-2005, 20:46

I have never owned or used a Fuji 680. I have only handled it in a camera store, way back when it was first introduced. I realized immediately that it
was a large and heavy camera and would be better utilized as a studio camera, than a field camera. I did not recommend the Fuji 680 as an alternative to a 4x5 monorail with a roll film back. I only mentioned it to Scott because he stated that he preferred the 6X8 format and desired a camera with movements. The Fuji 680 was the only camera that I could think of that fit that description. I'm sure that you probably know of a few others.

I have the feeling that you are yanking my chain now. I also realize that I probably deserve that type of response from you. Please re-read Scotts answers to my remarks. Scott and I were talking directly to each other. Now, can we please drop this discussion?

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 21:04

I forgot to address your mention of the Kodak back.

Here lies danger. I ask myself this same question. I just can't bring myself to do it. Because Kodak bailed and because it has been surpassed already by '6 whole megapixels' ... I don't want it. Not fully rational I know. Michael Reichmann tells me the same. I also see into the futre and realize this is a never ending round robin. Unless one is amoungst the talented few who can ride the crest of the wave, early adopters, you have always to deal with this 'hand me down' syndrome as I call it.

I might add that this is a new wrinkle in photography. Ansel or Annie or whomever might have had such and such camera but Joe Sixpack could still buy the same film and even step up for the same processing as the greats ... if he wanted to. Not anymore. The $30k MF digital back or the LF scanning back guys are really 'cookin on another planet'.

Frank Petronio
13-Jan-2005, 21:39
I don't feel at all inadequate using film even though I admit to being tempted. And I do have a little $1000 DSLR which is great. But I recently finished up a long and profitable job, and took the cash that I thought I'd put into a professional Canon digital system and instead I put into film gear: Leica, Rollei, and more Arca goodies.

It's not simply a matter of resolution. It also has to do with the process, archivalness, and value. To paraphrase David Meunch, "When I shoot a subject in 4x5, I know I've created a "master" document." In other words, if he did the same image with a 1Ds2 or a medium format camera, there would always be a nagging doubt that he could have done it better with a 4x5. Now, I know the logical conclusion is that if 4x5 is good, then 8x10 or ULF is even better, but let's not quibble ;-)

When I use digital I shoot too quickly, and I'm always "chimping" or looking at the LCD between shots. I really think I'd have a hard time working with a 1Ds on a tripod like I see so many people doing - every bone in my body tells me that you handhold 35mm bodies and it just plain is unnatural to be fussing around a 35mm SLR body like its an 8x10 set-up. I know that I could shoot much faster with a digital, but darn it, I just like the process of using a Leica in low light for handheld stuff, a Rolleiflex for portraits, and a 4x5 for carefully composed stuff. Maybe I'm too Catholic about it, but it also works.

I scan my 120 on a lowly Epson 3200 most of the time, and frankly, my Nikon D70 produces a similar quality file - and is much easier to use. But I just can't get the same sense of depth or bokeh from the D70 (even with the 50/1.4 wide open) as the Rollei. So I'm back to using Rolleis. Same with Leica versus digital - being able to switch the digital to ASA1600 is fantastic, but being able to see through a bright rangefinder and getting the depth/bokeh of the Leica lens - well, I'll suffer with 35mm film for a while longer. And so on - especially if you like wide angles on 4x5 - there isn't any ideal wide angle/high rez solution for digital yet - and don't ask me to compare my Noblex to digital stitching...

I'll pay for this of course - not only for film, but for hours scanning - but I think it makes a difference. But you wouldn't know until you try it both ways. I respect digital photographers, and I still shoot a lot with my DSLR (and probably more time in Photoshop than ever) but you should try things and do what works for YOU.

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 21:49
Yeah! Hey Kerry!

Give Frank a break! He was only giving me the re-entry razzing I no doubt deserve. ;-) ;-) :-)))

Kerry L. Thalmann
13-Jan-2005, 21:52

Sorry, I misinterpretted your recommendation of the Fuji GX680. I was not trying to "yank your chain". I was genuinely interested in the pros/cons of using the GX680 for landscape shooting. As far as I know, it's the only current medium format SLR with movements (not counting tilt/shift lenses).

I was also unaware that you were addressing Scott directly. Evidently you and Scott have some history that I was not aware of. My comments regarding the GX680 vs. the 6x9 ARCA-SWISS were more of a general nature (not Scott-specific).


P.S. If Scott REALLY likes 6x8 and doesn't want to crop, I believe Mamiya makes a back in this format, and I also believe ARCA-SWISS makes an adapter to use this back on their 6x9 cameras.

Scott Fleming
13-Jan-2005, 21:56
I meant Eugene not Frank.

Emmanuel BIGLER
13-Jan-2005, 23:22
Kerry and others.

I can hereby confirm that the motor-driven 6x8 Mamiya rollfilm back fits perfectly the Arca Swiss 6x9. It simply fits the baby graflock Arca Swiss adapter exactly like any baby graflock back, Mamiya RB67, Horseman 6x7 or 6x9. I did not actually use the 6x8 back but I had the opportunity to meet a professional photographer friend who uses the Alpa 12 camera fitted with this back. So I just tested whether the back could fit or not and realized that it was simply a standard baby graflock back, nothing special or magical. So I joked with this friend argueing that with the same price he paid for his Alpa 12, I could afford.... etc, etc (no advertising for a particular brand of compact 6x9 view cameras, plus top-notch optics and a good stock of film ;-);-) The 6x8 format has the favour of this European photographer because the aspect ratio is closer to the A4 format (final destination/aspect ratio of many of his images) and because he only uses colour slide film, for which he brackets 3 exposures - 0 + ; 3x3 makes 9 frames and 3 pictures on one 120 rollfilm in 6x8. 6x7 would leave a frame alone, 6x9 would leave 2 frames. (OK you can change film and continue on the next roll ;-)

BTW one thing I did not test was : is-it possible to couple the Mamiya 6x8 film back advance with the view camera lens through the flash synch socket ? I know that the motor-driven 6X17 back by Canham has a built-in delay feature allowing automated wind-on with any view camera lens throught the flash synch cable. If this was possible with the mamiya back, it would be an interesting feature for bracketing with a view camera. If some of you know the answer, I'd appreciate to know.

Glenn Kroeger
14-Jan-2005, 02:30

1. Do you mean the Fuji motorized 6x8 back?

2. We were trying not to mention Alpas to Scott, since they are probably the perfect camera for him but will drive him to the poor house! Imagine how much plowing he will have to do to buy just one component!


Ditto! Like you, I have been toying with a Canon 1DsII but its just too "fiddly" right now... tiny buttons, tiny histograms, tiny screen, enormous needless bottom grip. I can't help thinking we are just a year or so away from that resolution in a package that works better. So I bought more Arca equipment!


For me, it was the size and weight of the lenses for the Fuji 680 that turned me off. The body sans viewfinder is barely manageable, but in the space I can fit 3 view lenses, I can only fit one Fuji lens.

Glenn Kroeger
14-Jan-2005, 03:04

I see you DO mean the Mamiya 6x8 motorized back (for RB)! But I can't see how it is triggered for advance when not on an RB body?

Scott Fleming
14-Jan-2005, 07:54
This thread must die. It's getting cumbersome for my crappy dialup connection.

I've been all over Alpa like white on rice. Cute camera. There are guys making nearly as capable shift cameras out of old polaroid folders and Graphic Views for one/tenth what an Alpa would cost. Then there's Cambo Wide and Silvestri, Brooks Veriwide and Plaubel Veriwide 100. Actually I would very much like to have a Plaubel Veriwide 100 with a modern 47mm Super Angulon lens and new machined brass takeup real gears. A dream toy if ever there was one. But for the Plaubel I researched all these three years ago.

http://bigcamera.com/index.htm (http://bigcamera.com/index.htm)

http://homepage.mac.com/rof/PhotoAlbum23.html (http://homepage.mac.com/rof/PhotoAlbum23.html)

http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/veriwide.html (http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/veriwide.html)

http://digilander.libero.it/clabo/mamiya/69w/ (http://digilander.libero.it/clabo/mamiya/69w/)

Frank Petronio
14-Jan-2005, 08:00
I had two Veriwide 100s. Lousy mechanics - great idea. When they worked they were great, but too delicate.

If somebody made a new version it would be a fanstastic camera.

Oren Grad
14-Jan-2005, 08:39
Kerry -

Check out Danny Burk's review of the Fuji GX680III:

http://www.dannyburk.com/fuji_gx680iii.htm (http://www.dannyburk.com/fuji_gx680iii.htm)

Kerry L. Thalmann
14-Jan-2005, 11:11

Thanks for the link to Danny's review. I know others want this thread to die, but I actually found the first hand report of a GX680 user very interesting. In spite of the weight, Danny really likes the camera. It certainly has features and automation well beyond anything available in any large format camera. However, if I'm going to carry a 10 pound camera, I'd prefer a bigger film size (4x5, 5x7 or 4x10) over the convenience and automation. Or, ideally, I'd prefer a bigger 4x5 negative AND a lighter camera. But, that's just based on my personal preferences. From reading the review, Danny is obviously quite happy with his camera and prefers it in many situations to his 4x5 Ebony SV45U2.

Still, comments like:

"I came to the conclusion that carrying the Fuji would require little more effort than my 4x5 system."

"With the lightest normal lens (135mm f/5.6) attached, it weighs just under 10 pounds."

"However, the loaded backpack is very heavy…it can certainly be done for some distance, but is heavier than is comfortable, especially over uneven ground."

Lead me to conclude this is not the camera for me.

Also, just a correction to my earlier post - and hopefully something Scott will find useful - The actual weight of an ARCA-SWISS 6x9 F-Line Field is 68 1/4 oz. - not 80 oz. as I stated above. Also, I just used current large format lenses that closely match the focal lengths of the Fuji lenses. If I was to actually assemble a kit based on a 6x9 monorail camera for field use, I'd probaly go with even lighter lenses. For example, I'd substitute a "plain" 47mm f5.6 Super Angulon for the larger 47mm SA XL. I'd also probably use a 100mm APO Symmar and my little 150mm Germinar-W to round out the kit. That would get the weight of the camera plus 3 lenses down to about 5 lb. 13 0z. Of course, this is an academic exercise for me, as my 4x5 Toho with three lenses (90mm, 150mm, and 240mm) weighs even less ( 4 lb. 2 oz.).


roger michel
14-Jan-2005, 13:08
that french toast recipe looks familiar. is it from the photographer's formulary cookbook??

at this rate we'll all be making our own film AND french toast.

perish the thought.

roger michel
14-Jan-2005, 13:11
and by the way the best 6x9 cameras are the horseman (technical) and ebony (squishable).

Ellis Vener
14-Jan-2005, 13:27
"and by the way the best 6x9 cameras are the horseman (technical) and ebony (squishable)."

Well, that is one opinion. I can't say I agree with it though.I prefer the Arca-Swiss 69FC metric with an Orbix tilt over bot hthe Ebony & Horseman designs.