View Full Version : Importance of the Micrometric Orbix feature on an Arca Swiss

20-Feb-2008, 15:58
For all those out there that have this feature on their Arcas, how much do you value having it and how much does it help with your photographic abilities? In other words, tell me more about your opinions on this feature, if it is worth a $600 upgrade and what in specific are the things that you feel are invalueable to you, making the $600 upgrade seem like a mute point.

Also, what can't an Arca do without the Orbix that the Arca with an Orbix can do? Is it just a yaw free extra that makes operation much more yaw free or does it also help achieve movements you could not otherwise obtain without it...and does it help to release the pressure on the front carrier for longevity sake. I have never seen anyone mention this part of it, but it seems the Orbix helps keep the front function carrier from having to be stressed over time and thus, one benefits from a possible function carrier issue down the road, though one could also say that the Arca function carrier is sturdy enough to last a lifetime.

Have not seen a thread on people's opinions about their specific fondness of this feature so I thought it would be a nice thread for the Arca owners or those that have been on the sideline knowing all the great words said about the feature, but simply have not taken the plunge since they know they can live without it and have $600 to spend on film, etc.

Cheers all!

Bob McCarthy
20-Feb-2008, 18:33
I think it's all about convenience rather than importance

20-Feb-2008, 19:48
I think it's all about convenience rather than importance

So rather than doing something more than the "regular" version can do, it's only purpose really is to have the one handed shifting of the front standard instead of having to deal with walking up and being a more mechanical/more effort based process?

Curious to hear more voices on this one and their own personal experiences. Thanks Bob!

Sheldon N
21-Feb-2008, 00:03
I've worked both with and without orbix on my Arca.

Orbix is mainly a convenience thing, it's very easy to loupe the ground with one hand while dialing in tilt with the other. It's also much easier to dial in very fine changes in tilt, helpful with a wide angle lens. With a reflex viewer you can dial focus and tilt in simultaneously with both hands (one on each side of the camera) to rough focus very rapidly.

Without orbix it's a little harder to partially loosen the front standard, manually push/pull the tilt into place, then check focus, then repeat until you are ready to lock the standard down. The Arca base tilt is as smooth as anything so it's totally doable without orbix, but for micro-fine tuning it's so much easier with orbix. After getting used to orbix on my camera I now know roughly where on the ground glass to focus first, then when I dial orbix in both near and infinity snap into focus at the same time.

To me it was worth the cost of upgrade - about $500 after buying an orbix 4x5 field camera, swapping front standards, selling the resultant non-orbix camera for a lower price.

I don't believe that there are any movements you could do with Orbix that could not be achieved without it. It's more about how easy it is to achieve the correct tilt angle, not whether it is possible.

I don't think orbix itself makes the camera yaw free. The Arca is yaw free, but that refers to the fact that you can use indirect front rise (point camera/rail up, then relevel both standards) and still have swing work on a horizontal plane level with the horizon. On a camera that is not yaw free, swing works on the same plane that the bed or rail is oriented on (swing arc not aligned with horizon when standard is vertical but rail is not). The determining factor on whether a camera is yaw free is whether the swing function sits above or below the tilt function. It's not really a big deal for most people. Product shooters care about it the most.

The one "yaw free" extra that orbix would give you is if you needed to use indirect front rise to achive more rise than the front standard rise allowed, plus you needed to dial in some additional front tilt, plus you needed to use front swing but also needed to keep the swing axis horizontal to the horizon. The base tilt would allow you to level the front standard (and swing axis) then the orbix would allow you to dial in the little bit of extra front tilt without affecting the swing axis. I have a hard time imagining what kind of situation would require that combination of movements. Maybe shooting on an angled hillside while standing in a hole dug in the ground. :)

I don't think there is any durability issue involved in choosing orbix. Both the orbix and non-orbix standards are very sturdy and should last the lifetime of the camera.

For me, orbix was the whole reason I chose the Arca line - so it was a must have.

Don Hutton
21-Feb-2008, 08:19
Orbix (either kind) is simply front axial tilt. The camera already has base tilts, but some folks find using base tilts less convenient than axial tilt. You need to change your procedure slightly to get minimal iterations, but it can be done very simply with either base opr axial tilt. Rod Klukas has a very useful little flyer which explains a great method for using either effectively. For most people, axial tilt seems to provide a more intuitive method. One of the "issues" with using front base tilt is that the focussing iterations can have more of an effect on your composition (i.e. you may have to move the position of the front standard around further to achieve focus). Personally, I don't have a particular preference. I've owned two Arcas - one with and one without. The most significant difference was that one was cheaper! But, if you're spending $4500 on a camera, you may want to go the whole hog and get every movement possible....

21-Feb-2008, 08:45
I have a 4x5 Field Classic with micro orbix and a 6x9 Field Compact without it. I shoot still life and portraiture with the 4x5 and macros only with the 6x9. I find using the micro orbix a convenience for shooting still life and portraiture. It would be over kill for use with macro work for me. Was it worth the extra $500? Since I bought the 4x5 camera new (the 6x9 used) and it came built with it, I would have to say yes. I also have a lovely Ebony 45SU that I am thinking about letting go since I find I use the Arca more.

Emmanuel BIGLER
21-Feb-2008, 11:20
Hello to the arcaphile gang !
I have the 6x9 and 6x9-4x5" 'field' A/S camera.
I have the manual orbix, not the geared one (=micrometic one).
The orbix is perfect for very small front tilts used in landscape photography, it is very convenient with the 6X9 model which uses shorter focal lengths than the 4x5 (in principle, but you can focus a 55mm with the 4x5 A/S 'field' bellows easily).
The shorter the focal length (whichever the format), the smaller the front tilt angle required to bring the (supposed horizontal) ground as the principal plane of sharpness.
With a 75 mm located at 1.5 metre above ground the required scheimpflug angle is only 3 degrees ! So you need something precise. The orbix allows you to set the angle without loosing too much of focusing on the ground glass.
The manual orbix is a very special device since ist is self-locking, it will not move except if you push at the right place. Some find it difficult to handle hence prefer the geared model.
On the manual orbix, there is a click-stop every 5 degrees. So I know with the 75mm that I will probably never need a full click in classical landscape-scheimpflug except if the camera is located close to the ground level.
An arcaphile friend of minewho loves to take pictures with mittens in winter advertises for the micrometric orbix : the left hand sets the scheimpflug in front and the right hand sets the focusing plane at rear. The micrometric orbix has click-stops every 2.5 degrees.

21-Feb-2008, 18:43
Excellent info and personal experience so far. I appreciate it a lot!

Thanks all and keep it coming:)!