View Full Version : New Arca Swiss Rangefinder?

Doug Dolde
18-Jan-2008, 22:16
Anyone know more about this one?


Emmanuel BIGLER
19-Jan-2008, 01:57
Hello from France
I have manipulated the first prototype in October 2006 and as of autumn 2007, the first cameras of this kind have been delivered to customers.
I'll have soon some feedback about this camera since I know a French professional photographer who just received one, the 6x9 model Rm3d.

There has been a discussion (in French) here, Nov. 2007,
with a feed back from another photographer, Brice Desrez who works with the Rm3d.

The professional photographer I know personnaly, Stéphane Spach from Strasbourg, France, is an architecture photographer and he works with a digital back.
He gives a very positive fedback here

We'll try to push both users to write a report on the Rm3d for galerie-photo.com, if.. and when done, some of the volunteers of the French forum galerie-photo.info will make a translation into English.

A companion article, again in French, by Cédric Mialaret
about his tests on the Rodenstock digital lenses, 35 and 45mm. Cédric is fluent in English and will certainly answer any enquiry about his test.

evan clarke
19-Jan-2008, 05:10
Here is a link to a small brochure..EC


Ken Lee
19-Jan-2008, 06:38
If you would like a crude translation of these web pages, you can visit Google Translate (http://www.google.com/translate_t). The service is free.

At the bottom of the page, you can enter in the URLs which Emmanuel has given, choose the languages, and it's quite fast. The site supports translation to/from many languages.

19-Jan-2008, 07:17
It's an exceptionally ugly camera.

However it will be interesting to see whether the AS shows any design improvements over the Silvestri Flexicam.

David A. Goldfarb
19-Jan-2008, 07:37
So is it in fact a rangefinder? It doesn't look like it has a standard rangefinder, but skimming the discussion on the French forum it looked like the lenses are calibrated for the body, so I suppose there could be an electronic rangefinder in there, or does that just refer to setting the infinity point? If it actually had a rangefinder, that would really set it apart from cameras like the Cambo Wide DS, Silvestri, Fotoman, etc.

Frank Petronio
19-Jan-2008, 08:21
It has that certain Graflex XL aesthetic appeal... that is really effing fugly. At least a $20,000 Alpa looks cool for the money.

Emmanuel BIGLER
19-Jan-2008, 11:34
To David Goldfarb : the rangefinder system is probably still in development.

The principle is as follows.
The helical mount has a fine pitch, is part of the camera body (unlike the Alpa and many others) and is common to all lenses. the fine pitch is of course aimed at properly focussing short focal lenghts of the last generation of digital lenses.

Each lens is calibrated for infinity-focus according to its exact focal length.
From this position a built-in sensor monitors the travel of the helical with respect to the infinity-focus position. How this system interferes with the tilting movement, I do not know ; probably you have to set your distance at zero tilt then apply the required amount of tilt which is very small when focal lenghts are short. One degree... or even less.
The information is compared (probably through something like Newton's formulae ;) ) to what an external rangefinder system says for the subject you are pointing at (do not know which kind of rangefinder system, Linhof had introduced for some time an electronic rangefinder for the Technika)

For the moment the photographer I know, S. Spach, did not wait for the rangefinder system to be completed, he uses a small manual laser rangefinder (found in a hardware store probably) and he transfers the distance reading to the helical manually. He does architecture photography and he is happy when he has done half a dozen of good images per day, so slowness is not an issue.
The helical he uses already has the built-in displacement sensor operational, so he his ready to couple it with the future rangefinder system.

So, the helical has a very fine pitch. This is good for short focal lengths but slooooow for long focal lenghts.
If you want to use long focal lengths beyond what can be reasonably mounted with the helical, you can use the Rm3D as the front standard of an A/S monorail with a bellows, the Rm3d attachements are the standard 110mm F-line attachement system, you can focus at the rear standard with the classic rack and pinion system (2 cm of travel for one 360° knob turn) and if you wish you can also use the front helical for fine tuning but then you loose the infinity-focus setting.

You can also re-use a calibrated lens on any A/S monorail camera with an adapting board, bayonet-to-110 or bayonet-to-141. No more helical of course.
Again the calibration that has been done when mounting the lens on the bayonet is no longer useful except if you can properly set the distance between your function carriers to match the infinity-focus position. This is not so weird, you could imagine a kind of a simple gauge that defines a reference distance between the carriers for each calibrated lens and automatically defines the infinity setting. One gauge per lens... Ahem..

Doug Dolde
19-Jan-2008, 13:11

Sent by Rod Klukas

19-Jan-2008, 14:40
I am more interested in the P1 ball head, I can not find the technical date of this ball head anywhere, even the weight of the ball head.

19-Jan-2008, 14:57
Have a friend who has waited FOREVER and it probably still isn't ready (I am talking well over a year...), as he backed out when he discovered that you basically need a tripod anyway and you have to submit your lens to have the rangefinder calibrated, etc. and I think he just got plain tired of waiting....he picked up an M line 4 x 5 arca with orbix, I think...sweet camera...

So, as to when you might get one, assuming you want one (they aren't cheap)...who knows....

George Hart
19-Jan-2008, 15:03
I am more interested in the P1 ball head, I can not find the technical date of this ball head anywhere, even the weight of the ball head.

I really cannot understand why this company, whose products are well-received and popular, does not even attempt at a marketing strategy. No web-site. Ancient PDF brochure which is rigid and not user-friendly. Crippling lack of information on new products. Dismal.

David A. Goldfarb
19-Jan-2008, 16:25
I suppose the cameras and tripod heads market themselves. They are probably selling everything they can make, and additional marketing would require increasing production capacity, which may cost more than they want to spend and could change the character of the business in ways they may not want to do.

What I wonder is why they seem to have discontinued the B2 and haven't come up with a replacement for it. It's a fantastic tripod head, and there's nothing else like it out there really.

Frank Petronio
19-Jan-2008, 20:15
No offense David, but wouldn't the Sinar Pan-Tilt do that just as well for 1/3 the cost?

I think the owners of Arca are so freaking anal that no website or brochure would ever satisfy them, so they never get one done or their designers quit out of frustration. It speaks well of quality and precision of the actual already-produced products that are "in stock". But I wouldn't count on seeing this new camera this year or next and I damn well would never send my lenses to France for calibration as I might not see them again for another decade or two...

David A. Goldfarb
19-Jan-2008, 21:09
The Sinar Pan-Tilt would do just as well with the 8x10P, but the B2 also works nicely with my birding setup (35mm camera and a 600/4.5), the flatbed cameras that can't be leveled with the rail clamp like the Sinar, and the panning is smooth enough for cine/video. It's stronger than my Majestic or Gitzo G1570M (both of which I sold after testing out the B2), lighter than the Majestic, and isn't too stiff for lightweight cameras like the 1570. I got it second hand for about twice the price of a used Sinar Pan-Tilt and sold the other two big heads to offset the cost, so it wasn't too outrageous a splurge.

Frank Petronio
20-Jan-2008, 07:08
Oh I'm envious of course and I do like the pairing of an Arca-Swiss product holding up a Sinar ;-)

David A. Goldfarb
21-Jan-2008, 08:14
Emmanuel Bigler sent me a PM saying the B2 still seems to be listed at major suppliers in Europe, so perhaps it's still available. I already have mine, but for others, that's good news.

Emmanuel BIGLER
27-Jan-2008, 09:47
Brice Desrez reports about his architecture work with the Arca Swiss Rm3D and a Leaf Aptus 22 Mpix digital back here


Sorry to date the text is in French so we'll try to find a volunteer to translate into English.
There are few technical details given but the photographer explains that he works with a dark cloth as he would work with a 4x5" ;)
Not kidding, he explains that he eventually got accustomed to focusing on a small GG and for him the problem is solved.