View Full Version : arca levels

Richard Schlesinger
12-Jul-2005, 16:27
On my Arca Discovery I find that the levels on the front and rear standards do not quite agree. This is not so terrible. However, a level placed on the rail does not agree with the levels on the standards by a larger amount. And when I place my Starett precision level on the ground glass it does not agree with the level on the rail. I returned the camera to Precision once (the front swing lock was loosening when I tightened the tilt) and they took care of this stuff. I think. But shipping the whole camera back to them for alignment gets expensive and time consuming. I have e-mailed Precision asking for instructions to do this myself, but in the past they had me send the whole camera. Does anyone know how to do this? Is there a manual somewhere? Or maybe it doesn't matter (but I think it does). Any and all help would be appreciated.

Alan Davenport
12-Jul-2005, 17:10
I don't think it matters very much. Maybe a little, but probably only in architectural photography, and then the only thing that matters is that the film plane be vertical if that's what you want. Everything else can be determined by what you see on the groundglass. Yeah I know, that's probably the single malt talking.

My little Tachihara doesn't have built-in levels, so I use a small torpedo level from Sears to true the back when I set up. Works well enough.

John Cook
12-Jul-2005, 18:37
I'm sorry, I haven't a clue how to take an Arca Discovery apart.

But until someone comes up with a better solution, I would suggest a pocket full of these:


Tom Westbrook
12-Jul-2005, 19:49
I have an F-line and I only care if the levels on the rear standard are aligned properly. It's probably not ideal to use the rail as a level reference since that might not be perpendicular to the standards when the latter is settled at the detents. All that matters is that the standards are parallel when the two sets of levels agree (even that is icing on the cake since all you want to do is see what's in focus on the GG). If Precision Camera Works aligned everything for you, I'd guess you can assume it's all as it should be--they do good work. My rear detent has a little play in it so I have to remember to push the standard forward a touch to get it parallel with the front when resetting the camera to zero state.

The level vials are only glued on, BTW. I broke one of the upper rear standard levels a few years ago (about a week after getting the camera) and Precision sold me an extra level and told me dig out the remains and to use black silicone adhesive to stick the new one back on.

Ben Diss
13-Jul-2005, 11:34
Those little bubbles are just to help you get close. I bought a little bubble level from B&H years ago that I use on the GG, but if I had to buy one now the one from Lee Valley would be what I would choose.

As for the Starrett level, you're not talking about the one that measures to .0005 degrees are you? I didn't know they made one small enough to fit on the back of a GG.


Frank Petronio
13-Jul-2005, 18:47
One of the (few) advantages that a Sinar Norma has over the Arca is that the detents and thus the leveling/alignment are user-adjustable. On my Arcas it always bugged me that the levels wouldn't agree, when my older, cheaper cameras did.