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Thread: Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

  1. #1

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    I became interested in LF this time last year and almost made the jump with a Shen-Hao. Time passed and for the last month Iíve really been searching the forum for what I need. To finalize my decisions I would like to request some input from you on several items. I currently use a Nikon F100/17-35AFS (and try to shoot like a large format photographer.) Iíll be shooting landscape and architecture, thus the need for a mono-rail. Iíve saved for over a year so Iím able to get the AS. Iíve read Jack Dykingas book (very well illustrated). Iíve never used/rented a LF camera and I donít want to rent something I wonít be purchasing. I just know Iíll love LF (hasnít ÖÖ everyone?)

    CAMERA: I read the few posts regarding the Misura and also read the article The Misura, a question of Guillaume Pťronne ( After what Iíve read I think I would prefer the Misura. I understand it does not have rear tilt, but according to Mr. Peronne, it isnít necessary. I do like the compact size and I do day-hike. Also, there is no geared front focus. Is that a problem? The rail folds up (rather than down on the F-line field) yet I believe Mr. Peronne stated in a post that the rail did not get in the way. Iím also interested in the AS F-line field and have studied it as well. So, AS F-Line field or Misura? There probably are not that many Misura users since itís still new.

    LENS: I love to shoot wide angle with my Nikon 17-35. I shoot more in the 20mm range with interesting foreground and Iím looking at the Schneider 72mm SA XL as my first lens, base on its specs. I know itís big to pack around, but Iím tough. I wonder about the difficulty with the 95mm ring size for filters, though. What do you think?

    FILTERS: Polarizer: I have the Lee system for my Nikon so I should build on this. Lee makes the 100mm slip over foundation kit specifically for 72 & 90 SA XL. But what about a polarizer in conjunction with the kit? Lee makes a circ. Polarizer to fit on the 105mm ring adapter, but how to attach filters? How about a B&W screw-in polarizer? How do you use 4x6 ND filters with the screw-in? Hand-hold? (This is what I do with the Nikon, but with a LF I assume the ND filter needs to be attached since you canít see the image once you close the shutter). And finally, what about vignetting when using the Lee hardware?

    Thanks for taking the time to read the long post and I appreciate your responses.

  2. #2

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    I just know Iíll love LF (hasnít ÖÖ everyone?)


    Many people try LF and don't like it. Now those folks aren't likely to be hanging around on this bulletin board, but you really should try LF before dropping $5K on the setup you describe.

    As for the Misura, I too am considering one, and the direction of folding of the rail is an advantage in my book. But the lack of rear tilts is something you have to be sure you can live with. As the article points out, it is still possible to obtain just about any relative positioning of the front and rear standards, but it could be awkward and you will have to set up the rail (and back) correctly to begin with. That will take some experince and practice. Having used a field camera for about 25 years, I think I can handle it... but I am still thinking about it. As for the lack of front focus, that is no problem as rear focus is actually preferred.

    You should also be aware that Arca-Swiss have introduced new smaller 4x5 standards in the F-line, comparable to the rear Misura standard. I don't know if these are available in a "metric" or geared version yet, but if architecture is your main goal, geared movements and rear movements may well be very useful.

    You should really rent some LF and try it first. Glazers in Seattle, Photomark in Phoenix, Lens and Repro in NY, and countless other shops will rent you a reasonable outfit.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Fremantle, Western Australia

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    I can't answer your question regarding the rear tilt from experience with such a camera. I use a field camera with rear tilt and find it indispensible. But I'm sure Arca would not put out an expensive camera that hasn't been well thought out, so go for it if your research has shown you'll adapt.

    Regarding the filters: polarisers on wide angle lenses can be a problem if you have any sky in the image. Do you like the polarised sky effect on your 35mm images when you use it with your 20mm lens?

    Have you considered the possibility of needing a centre graduated filter for the 72mm lens? They're quite expensive.

    I can't remember, but I think Lee makes a filter set (and holder) that is wider than 4x6 for these big lenses. Better look that one up for yourself.

    A 72mm lens in 5x4 "feels" much wider than you might think. Something to do with the fact that the image is proportionally taller than 35mm format. I used to really love my 24mm lens on a 35mm camera. Technically, a 90mm lens should match a 28mm lens on the smaller format, but I found my 90mm lens more than wide enough when I got into LF photography. You might find that 90mm lenses will be adequate for you too.

    Why not try renting the the different lenses after you've bought your camera? At least then you'll be able to make an informed decision based on your own experience rather than somebody else's.

    Personally, I'd be buying a second hand AS and second hand lens in a longer length (eg 90mm) and learning the ropes with that before purchasing an expensive wide angle lens with limited application. Have a really good look at Jack Dykinga's photos and make sure you could live with only those he's made with the 72mm lens (they're very difficult to compose!)

    As I mentioned earlier, I love wide angle lenses. For my Tachihara, I own a 75mm SA, a 90mm Fujinon, a 150mm Xenar, a 210 Rodenstock and a 270mm Cooke lens. I use the 270mm and the 75mm lenses least of all, and the 90mm and 150 most often. It's just too difficult to find compositions that suit the 75mm lens.

    Good luck with it. Let us know what you end up deciding.



  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    Hi Trey,

    like the other contibutors to your question I would highly recommend that you either rent a LF camera before you buy all this expensive gear, or even better look for a used one because I do not believe that you will be the only person who ever started out with the perfect camera. Reading about LF and actually working with LF cameras in the field are two very different subjects. I have been doing LF photography for two years now and I am on my fourth camera - I thought I knew exactly what I wanted when I started out, but I really did not. This is not like a 35mm camera. The camera has to fit your working style and having never done LF before I doubt that youknow what your style is.

    I had a Linhof Technika and for many people it is the ultimate in Field Cameras, but after 9 months I realized that it just didn't work for me - the pictures I took with it were fine and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the camera - but it didn't suit the way I work in the field. I tried a mono rail - a Sinar - and loved the movements and the feel of the camera, but it was not a camera for backpacking. I tried wooden field cameras and realized that I really prefer metal cameras. I finally ended up with a Canham.

    Do yourself a favour and buy something used - camera and lens - you will not regret it. LF gear once used doesn't drop in value - a new camera however does.


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    No. Virginia

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    I don't know much about the Arca-Swiss other than I would love to have one. It would replace my dirt cheap Calumet 401. I strongly agree with Graeme and Juergen. The widest lens I use on 4x5 is a 90mm. It seems so much wider than a 20 on a 35mm. I and maybe you, will just see differently with L/F. If you buy a cheap monorail on e-bay you can also try a cheaper wide angle lens. Live with it for a while. You have your heart set on some very high end equipment. By all means rent that wide angle lens before you buy. The wider lenses get very dark, very fast, with a view camera.

    Please start off with a 1 or 2 hundred dollar Calumet, Graphic View etc. You can resell them for the same amount or keep it as a spare. Never under estimate the happiness that having a spare camera can bring. As the saying goes, poop happens.

    For the most part I'm a field camera type but I never leave home without an extra camera. Don't ask why.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    If you choose to ignore the majority of these experienced photographer's best advice - start out with a moderately priced camera to see how you really handle the larger film size (the Shen-Hao or Wista would be an excellent choice) - I'd get an Arca Field set up like the one Dykinga has, including the compendium lenshade (for the 6x9 front - smaller than the 4x5 compendium) precisely because finding filers and rings for large lenses is a PITA and expensive. Follow the book young Jedi - you already own it - and it is a good guide right in fronot of you.

    For me, the Lee system looks like a complex, time-consuming (mounting it at each lens switch) and expensive pain, which can be replaced with a one-time purchase of a proper compendium shade.

    The Misura is a neat looking camera aimed at the luxury retiree market. If all you want to do is take photos with only front tilt and rise, save yourself thousands and just get a $100 Crown Graphic. Get into the F-line for full movements, compatibility, and practical economy.

    A pair of Rodenstock 90mm Grandagon and 180mm Sironar is a nice way to start - "lifetime" lenses, not too expensive or bulky, then add more extreme lenses once you master those.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura


    Why not get an Arca- Swiss Discovery with a 135 or 150 "normal" lens to begin with, and see if you are really going to enjoy using a LF monorail camera for outdoor photography. A camera like the Discovery will maintain it's value, and you can always trade up in the future if you find that you want something else.

    A 72mm. lens is not the best choice to use as a beginning lens. An extreme wide angle lens on a LF camera is not the same as it is on a 35mm. camera.

    Read what Jack Dykinga says in his book about the type of filters to use in the field, again, before investing in a filter system for your new LF outfit.

  8. #8

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    I'd do what Eugene suggested and others but maybe buy a 90mm first since you like wide angles. I think your current Lee filters will work on a 67mm diameter lens like most standard 90s, so you would be able to start out with a good usuable outfit and build on it later. As sexy as those big super coverages wide lenses seem, the size and cost of the lenses, filters and holders is substantial. It is easy to spend $1000 for accessory stuff just for the 72XL lens. Checked the price on a screw in 105mm polarizer lately?

    The biggest problem you face is that you don't know what you want because you have no experience with LF cameras - this is not a knock against you, its just that you WILL from opinions and preferences later on. And I doubt that anyone including yourself can predict those for you. So you could buy a really nice starter camera and one lens outfit for $1000 - 1500 and then sell it for the same after you've used it for six months or a year. No one will ever be able to tell any difference in the pictures you make with it and the most expensive outfit you could imagine.

  9. #9

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    Thanks Everyone! I guess I need to put the brakes on. This is why your responses or so appreciated; it's like having several mentors to guide and support you. I'll keep the research going, but still have my heart set on A-S. Maybe at least I can reduce the costs and look into the discovery with 90mm to start as Eugene suggests. (However I do like the smaller front standards)

    I'll look at renting from Grassers as well. It's just that the cost of rentals for a week or two plus fed-ex, etc could be a good down payment on a camera. Even if I didn't like a camera/lens that I purchased, at least I could sell it and not be out $300-400 in rental fees/postage.

    I sincerely value your continued support.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    BesanÁon, France

    Arca-Swiss F-line field / Arca-Swiss Misura

    The elements of the new F-line Arca Swiss 4"x5" cameras have been presented at the last Photokina and in New York in sept/oct 2004. This has been discussed here.

    So the issue about rear tilts is solved : you chose what you want. If you want the most compact and light weight you can go for the misura. You can refer to the two misura articles on for technical details on the misura.

    If you prefer full front/back redundancy you'll simply chose the new F-line series with 140 mm lensboards, the camera is similar to previous F-lines with the 171 boards. Except that it is significantly lighter and heavier with respect to the classical 171 "square" camera series (Discovery, F-classic and metric). The new 'field' model is simply composed of a 6x9 front standard, a new 140 mm 4"x5" rear standard, two function carriers plus the misura 6x9 (110 mm square)-to-4"x5"(140 mm square) bellows. So those already equiped with a F-classic 6x9 (unchanged in the new series) just have to get a misura bellows and a rear 4"x5" frame in the new 140mm dimension.

    A new long bellows for this configuration is available. "metric" frames will be introduced in the new 140 mm standard. All new configurations take the optional Orbix tilting devices, the manual one and the geared one as usual.

    Those who cannot live without all geared movements and prefer the Arca Swiss Monolith will just have to connect new 140mm frames & bellows to their existing base.

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