View Full Version : Users of Arca-Swiss wide angle bellows (leather)?

Marco Annaratone
27-Mar-2005, 08:47
Hello everybody,

I just got a Schneider SA 72mm XL for my Arca-Swiss F 4x5 and installed the wide-angle bellows (the leather version) I bought new some time ago. When focused to infinity, rising (or shifting) the front or rear by more than say a half inch requires a lot of effort and both tilt and swing need to be locked tight otherwise the standards move all over the place. I just do not recognize my experience with the report that Barry Sherman has written on the AS wide-angle bellows in this forum. Even taking the bellows off the camera and shifting the front and rear openings with respect to each other while keeping them a few inches apart (simulating a rise or shift with a wide angle lens focused to inifinity) does require significant effort because the pleats instead of facilitating the movement make it harder by bumping one against the other.

Does the AS leather wide-angle bellows require some break-in? Am I doing something wrong? Are my expectations just unreasonable?


neil poulsen
27-Mar-2005, 09:12
If you're having a problem, I would recommend getting a recessed lensboard. Or, get the reducing lensboard to the 110mm smaller 6x9 lensboard, and then get a recessed 6x9 lensboard.

I have the leather wide-angle bellows, and I think that it's terrific as a general purpose bellows for wide-angle up to about 180mm lenses. I lost my standard bellows, and I haven't replaced it. When longer than 180mm, I use the 700mm bellows. These are the only two bellows that I really need.

I can see where the synthetic bellows might give you a little more room for movements. But, I would never swap it with the leather bellows. I would purchase it as an additional bellows.

Marco Annaratone
27-Mar-2005, 10:27

I have all my lenses mounted on Technika boards and therefore I have permanently installed the Arca-Swiss 171mm to Technika adaptor, which has a half-inch built-in recess.

Frankly, I do not see why I should spend hundreds of dollars in other boards etc so that my leather wide angle bellows can handle a 72mm lens. I expect it to handle it, period. Unless that is there is something wrong with my bellows or I just expect too much out of it.

What is the shortest wide angle lens are you using? You have no problem with rise, fall, shift when your WA lens is focused at infinity? The standards move up and down, left and right with the bellows smoothly following the movements? No bellows stiffness, in other words?


Louis Joyner
27-Mar-2005, 10:59

I just checked my Arca Swiss with the 171 mm lensboard and synthetic bag bellows. At 72mm lens board to ground glass distance, a rise of 60mm was easy. With a bit of pulling to unfold the bellows, I could get about 80mm of rise. (I don't have a 72 or 75 lens so had to measure. The setting I used for the test was a distance of 35mm from rear of front standard to front of rear standard.)

My shortest lens is the Grandagon 55 and I've never had any problems with bellows restrictions shooting 6x9; with 4x5 there is not enough coverage to allow much movement.

My longest lens is 180mm and I only run out of bellows (actually rail) at about 2 1/2 feet lens to subject disatance.


Marco Annaratone
27-Mar-2005, 11:33

great feedback, thanks a million. I ran the same test and if I block the front (rear) standard I can rise the rear (front) one 60mm as well. With effort. I am now leaning toward my expectations being misplaced. I was expecting a smooth operation but I have to lock one of the two standards and apply considerable effort on the other. But I can indeed achieve significant rise/fall/shift. Hey, I posted this on "beginners' questions", right? :-)

I still have the impression the bellows could/should be less stiff. Maybe some cream made specifically to treat leather can be applied and make the bellows become more supple overtime.

Emmanuel BIGLER
27-Mar-2005, 13:17
Does the AS leather wide-angle bellows require some break-in?
My understandig is that your equipement is fresh from the factory.I bought new some time ago OK.. well I assume that your bellows has only a very limited mileage on the odometer ;-) So do not worry, like any leather good it will indeed become more supple with use. This has been confirmed by A/S people to whom I directly asked a similar question. It is a fact however that tapered A/S leather bellows are (due to the tapered design) somewhat more compliant for wide-angle use. As far as any "shoe-cream" is concerned I would be very careful. I've never used any cream on my 6x9 A/S leather bellows.

Am I doing something wrong?
Certainly not. In fact those bellows are incredibly tough. The only thing which is to be avoided is excessive extension beyond a point where you are at risk of tearing them off their frames.

Are my expectations just unreasonable?
No. Expecting A/S leather bellows to be among the best view camera bellows ever marketed is simply reasonable ;-)

george jiri loun
28-Mar-2005, 06:43
I have the wide angle leather bellows (071010) 15 cm for F-classic 6x9. Although it is tooted as usable for 35-75cm focal length I found the same problems as Marco speaks about using it for 55mm Grandagon. After its closer inspection I came to the conclusion that the construction is not right - too many pleats (when compressed) that are in the way using maximum rise or fall. I decided to cut off the pleats and make simpler bag bellows that would allow easier function.