View Full Version : arca swiss f line field camera

Brad Rippe
22-Feb-2005, 21:50
I am thinking of buying a new (141 mm) Arca Swiss f line field camera. After much research, and emailing Jeff at Badger, there still seems to be a question on which bellows comes with the field camera as the standard bellows. Both Greg Miller and Tom Westbrook posted photographs of their new Arca Swiss field camreas, but both have very different bellows. Greg stated that his extends to over 40cm, with approx. 11 pleats. Toms seems to have a limit of 30cm, with about 7 pleats. Both bellows appear to be leather, not synthetic. I need about 36cm minimum extension for a nikon 500t lens, and, I understand I will need a 15cm rail extension. I don't want to purchase an additional bellows if I don't need to. Does anyone know for sure which bellows comes with the field camera? Has anyone purchased one recently? Someone mentioned that Gregs bellows appears to be the Misura bellows, which seems to have the extra extension I need. I've used various view cameras since 1975, in fact I learned on an Arca Swiss monorail. I now have a folding field camera that I wish to replace with the Arca field camera which will be simpler and easier to use. One other question, Does anyone think its possible to adapt the ebony lens shade to the Arca camera? It seems like such an elegant solution without resorting to the very expensive Arca Swiss compendium lens shade. Thank You all for any thoughts or ideas.

Donald Hutton
22-Feb-2005, 22:11

Greg and Tom have different models - Tom has the older model - Greg has the newer model. I'd drop Greg a line - he is the only proud owner of a new model I have heard of. I am pretty certain that the newer model has a slightly longer bellows which hamper the use of really short lenses (like a 47XL) but allow the use of longer lenses. I had a previous model F-Line field (like Tom's- and with the wide angle bellows, I could only use up to a 180mm with it, although I could also use a 58mmXL on a flat lensboard too - I had a standard bellows as well which enabled me to use my 500T, but it had annoying "sag").

They are fabulous cameras. My most significant complaint is that the front standard on the field model does not allow nearly as much front rise as the full size standard (about 25mm I think as against 60mm for the full size standard). This is a common issue with modular systems - I had a Sinar 8X10 F2 and the front standard is the same F2 4X5 front standard, except on 8X10, it needs to utilize most of the available front rise just to be in the neutral position. It's not an insurmountable issue with the Arca, as indirect front rise is a breeze. It's a little more annoying with a monorail of the proportions and weight of the F2 ("field" my a...).

I finally sold my Arca and went back to an Ebony (in truth, 2 Ebonys...). If you are seriously considering the Arca, have a look at an Ebony 45SU...

Emmanuel BIGLER
23-Feb-2005, 02:29
Yes Brad, in simple words, the new F-field 6x9-4"x5" 110-140mm uses the same leather bellows as the misura's with more pleats that the previous 110-171 leather bellows. The apo-tele-xenar 400 (f=387mm) with a flange-focal distance of 285 mm can be used with the misura's leather bellows. For short focal length this bellows can accommodate a 35 mm with the recessed 110 board. This already offers a wider range of useable lenses than previous F-line leather bellows. For flange focal distances longer than ~300mm another longer 110-140 synthetic bellows is planned, I do not know if it is already available.

On the Arca Swiss F-line system to attach front accessories you just need to get the compendium clamp. The clamp attaches to the top of the front standard by a simple "quick-click" system. This clamp is designed to hold a rod of diameter 8 mm. If you can attach any compendium or accessory on a 8mm rod by any means ( any additional home-made stuff might be required), you are all set and you do not have to touch anything on the camera itself.

Frank Petronio
23-Feb-2005, 05:18
A compendium is such a dramatic improvement over a simple flag that I'd put up with the weight and expense. Surrounding the lens with a shade eliminates all the bounce light, not just from one direction. Listen to father Jack Dykinga (or whatever his name is.)

Westbrook has the 171 - 110 model, not the 141 model.

Tom Westbrook
23-Feb-2005, 05:27
The photos on my web page are only of the older model with the bigger rear standard. Greg has the new one. I've added a note to that effect to the top of my page.

> The apo-tele-xenar 400 (f=387mm) with a flange-focal distance of 285 mm can be used with the misura's leather bellows.

Interesting, Emmanuel. Do you think it would handle a Nikon 300mm M lens (ffd=290.0 mm)? Seems likely-- a 5mm difference isn't huge. Is there anything left over for movements? If so, it might actually make some sense to convert to the new one (price aside) since I now carry around extra rail and the long bellows just for that lens. I'd have to wait for new format conversion kits to become available, since I couldn't justify buying the entire camera.

Also, I think they should give this new camera line a new name. F-Line Petite? F-Line "Light" for the US market? Might help with all this confusion.

BTW, anyone know if the regular 4x5 f line camera (with the bigger front standard) was changed to the 140mm standards on both ends?

Glenn Kroeger
23-Feb-2005, 06:52

The new bellows would easily handle a 300mm M Nikkor, but you would need a rail extension. I would estimate that the new bellows can extend to about 360mm or more.

Yes, there is a new "square" camera with 140mm frames on both ends.

daniel dumitru
23-Feb-2005, 07:05
To all,

I just purchased the conversion kit for my 6x9 Arca-Swiss to have the rear standard come up to the 4x5 format. The leather bellows is the 11 pleat one noted above and it is my understanding that Arca-Swiss just finished redesigning all of their bellows which is why it took me 3 months to get this new version. In my various adventures in attempting to find out why it took 3 months to get a product from Badger Graphics I was given the name of the person who is in charge of all importing for Arca-Swiss to the US. Her name is Diane and she is based out of Chicago and her number is: 773-248-2513. She is very pleasant to deal with, returns all phone calls, and although she is not a large format photographer is infinitely knowledgable about all aspects of the Arca-Swiss line, what is new, and all the various version out there, new and old. I would strongly recommend all who have questions about the Arca-Swiss line (new or old versions) give her a call. She was very helpful to me and is the person all distributers in the US call to get information about Arca-Swiss, what is and what is no longer available.

Dan Dumitru

Frank Petronio
23-Feb-2005, 09:05
Also, word is that Diane is finally building a website for Arca-Swiss (although I am not the one doing it or it would have been done years ago ;-)

Who knows? Maybe by '06 or '07 we'll see product photos of all the cool new gadgets...

Emmanuel BIGLER
23-Feb-2005, 09:57
About possible extensions of the misura leather bellows.
My understanding, confirmed by a recent e-mail exchange with Guillaume Péronne (France) who uses the misura routinely is that there is no sharp/definite/absolute limit between "can do" and "can't" because it depends on how much lateral/vertical shift you wish to preserve on your bellows and how hard you accept to put it to an unbearable torture ;-)
I would say that a 300 mm flange focal distance, whatever the focal length might be, is a reasonable limit above which you should, Northern American guys, hard-press Diane Henry from Arca Swiss Inc. (Chigago, USA) until she delivers the long misura bellows to your usual dealer ;-);-)Do not forget that sometimes you wish to take pictures of objects located slightly closer than infinity, so you need some extra length as a reserve !

Personnally I dislike to pull Arca Swiss leather bellows beyond their nominal and alleged "conservative" extension values ;-);-) yes I confess that I'm an adept of the belt-plus-suspender approach in anything related to photographic equipment ;-);-) but it is good to know that sometimes your suspenders can be stretched a little more than nominal specs ;-)

Greg Miller
23-Feb-2005, 10:32
Just to confirm Glenn's comment, I have the 300mm M Nikkor and the bellows easily can handle the lens. You do need an extension rail however.

Brad Rippe
23-Feb-2005, 13:23
Thank You all for your comments, they are extremely helpful. Don mentioned the Ebony camera and for awhile I was definitely looking at those, but I pretty much have decided on the Arca field camera, especially with the bellows question answered. I want to bring it with me backpacking even though its heavier than other choices, I'm willing to bring less other stuff, like food or water. (only kidding!) Thanks again everyone, and especially Greg and Tom for posting photographs of your cameras. I'll make the purchase in about a month, and I'll let you know how it goes. By the way, I have a Linhof Technika V in excellent condition for sale, although this seems like an Arca Swiss group. The collective body of knowledge in this forum is astounding!

guillaume p
24-Feb-2005, 01:06
Emmanuel gave you the 'conservative' answer…
In France, he is known to be a wise person… So I am not. ;-)
I never wear belt or suspensers, so I will tell a little more…
I made the following experience :
misura on a 42 cm rail
extension to a flange focal distance of 360 mm
Results :
this is, in my opinion, the extreme extension supported by a misura type bellows. Movement will affect bellows geometry. There's a little more extension before to tear the leather of it's frame… I don't know exactly… my test is not a 'crash test' ! ;-)
My conclusion is that a 360 mm extention is possible but we are here out of the range of good performance of the bellows.
Isn't it the characteristic of good bellows to give a little more than expected from ?

Richard Schlesinger
25-Feb-2005, 16:58
Badger sells a compendium for the Arca which is a great deal less expensive than theone Arca makes and works really well.

Tom Westbrook
28-Feb-2005, 20:49
I heard from Diane Henry today (now Diane Graham-Henry) that there is a format conversion set, which might be of interest to owners of the previous version of the 'Field' (I'm guessing this is what Daniel was referring to above). The new Arca part number is 022345. She said the price is $1,432, but also mentioned that there is a price increase planned in the near future. The format conversion sets include the rear format frame (new 140mm size), the film holder/ground glass/fresnel and new bellows. The new bellows fits the existing 6x9 front standard, as was mentioned before.

Ed Kelsey
20-Feb-2011, 16:47
I actually prefer the synthetic bellows over the leather ones. I have had problems with the leather sagging causing vignetting.