View Full Version : ARCA-SWISS 50cm 4x5/6x9 Bellows

Kerry L. Thalmann
3-Jul-2005, 13:45
I recently purchased a group of items on eBay that contained an ARCA-SWISS 38cm 4x5/6x9 tapered bellows. This was the main reason I purchased this this lot. I already have an ARCA-SWISS F-Line field camera with the wonderful 4x5/6x9 leather bag bellows, but wanted something to use with longer lenses.

The bellows appear to be in fine shape and fits my camera properly, but I have a question about the construction of this particular bellows. It actually seems to be two different bellows glued together to form one. The back part is made from a rather stiff, heavy material. This section is approximately 4" long when the bellows is fully extended. The remainder of the bellows is made from a smoother, less rigid material. The two halfs are glued together. It seems like a rather odd way to make a bellows, but they appear to be light tight and the frames are definitely genuine ARCA-SWISS. Here's a photo of the bellows: http://www.thalmann.com/Ebay/ARCA-SWISS_Bellows_2.JPG

Does anyone out there own an ARCA-SWISS 38cm 4x5/6x9 tapered bellows? If so, is it of similar construction to the one described above, or is it made from one type of material? I got a good deal on this bellows, but I'm curious if I got the real deal, or something someone cobbled togther from two separate bellows.


neil poulsen
3-Jul-2005, 13:59
I have the long 760mm bellows, or whatever size it is. It's pretty clear that it's two standard bellows joined in the middle. As expensive as Arca equipment tends to be, I applaud any cost savings that they want to entertain.

Kerry L. Thalmann
3-Jul-2005, 14:10
Actually, I was wrong in my original post. The bellows I purchased is NOT the standard 38cm 4x5/6x9 tapered bellows. I just put it on the camera and racked it out until the bellows was stretched to the limit. The measured extension from the front of the lens board to the ground glass was a hair over 550mm. So, it appears what I actually bought is the 50cm 4x5/6x9 tapered bellows. This is even better (and what I hoped I was buying - the seller wasn't sure) as it allows plenty of extension to use my 450mm Fujinon C. The lot I bought also came with an older style 40cm rail section. It's a perfect match for the 30cm telescoping rail I use with this camera. Combined with one of the 15cm rail sections and the 30cm extension bracket, I can take full advantage of this new, longer bellows.

So, now I'm guessing the 50cm bellows is made by glueing an additional short section of 4x5 bellows onto the back of the standard 38cm 4x5/6x9 tapered bellows. As long as it remains light tight and doesn't come unglued, that's fine by me.


Kerry L. Thalmann
3-Jul-2005, 14:29

I also have the extra long 70cm 4x5 ARCA bellows. It rarely gets used (it came with the camera along with the standard 38cm 4x5 bellows and the 4x5 wide angle leather bellows - I have since converted the camera to an F-Line field model with the 6x9 front standard). I never noticed it until I read your post, but it is indeed made from two standard bellows glued togther. They did a great job hiding the seam. On that one, both halves are made from the same material. So, it's much less obvious that it's two pieces glued together.

Actually, the two different materials on the 50cm 4x5/6x9 bellows appears to have an added benefit. The front section is made from a thinner, more flexible material. This allows full front rise with lenses down to 135mm (or 110mm with a more modest amount of front rise) without having to switch to the bag bellows. The stiffer fabric used at the rear keeps the bellows from sagging at longer extensions. Since the bag bellows handles lenses up to 240mm, there is signifcant overlap in the range of focal lengths the two bellows can handle. This will reduce the need to swap bellows in the field - only requiring a switch when going from one extreme to the other.


george jiri loun
3-Jul-2005, 14:30
As you describe it the construction is surely intentionally made of two pieces - the stiffer part makes sagging more difficult. And glueing two pieces together is in no way a bad sign - it's just simply double security...

Tom Westbrook
3-Jul-2005, 15:46
I have the 50cm tapered bellows for the 'Field'. I bought it new back in 2003, I think. It's entirely made of the same synthetic material, layered on the inside with cloth to give it a matte surface. The synthetic material looks more like the tapered part of your bellows, but hard to tell just from a photo. I have a couple of pictures of it here (http://www.tomwestbrook.com/Photography/as_accessories.html#bellows). It is glued at the point where the square section meets the tapered section, so that hasn't changed, just the materials. I'd be interested to know if yours does sag less than mine. Since I know you are a bit of a weight junky: mine weighs about 260g (± 5g).

Kerry L. Thalmann
4-Jul-2005, 17:24

I weighed my new (to me) 50cm bellows last night and they weigh 242.57g (give or take).

Mine don't appear to sag as much as yours, but I don't think they've really seen much, if any, use. Also, in the photo on your web site that shows ~30cm of extension, did you first rack them out to 50cm and then back to 30cm? Or, did you go from min. extension up to 30cm? On most cameras the bellows seem to have a bit of "memory". The worst case situation for inducing bellows sag seems to be to go from max. extension to something in the intermediate range. The bellows on my Canham DLC were really prone to sagging in the mid range (210mm - 360mm) after being racked out to the max. 21" - the velcro sag strap really made the sag on the DLC bellows much easier to deal with.

I just got my "new" 50cm ARCA bellows, so I don't know if they'll eventually sag more once they are broken in. So far, they don't seem to sag enough to worry about bellows caused vignetting.