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Thread: Just bought this camera

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    London, UK

    Just bought this camera

    This was a bit of an impulse purchase, and will be a project camera. I hope to add a digital back in time, and extra lenses of course.

    Did I goof? Does anyone know anything about this model?

    I just bought this:

  2. #2
    Ted Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    New Hampshire

    Re: Just bought this camera

    The quick answer is that it is an earlier model Arca Swiss. From the pictures it looks like it has both base and axis tilts but hard to be sure. Someone else who is an Arca expert will chime in with details.

  3. #3
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    North Carolina

    Re: Just bought this camera

    I can see from the images that it does not have axis tilt -- look how the verticals in the standards inset into grooves in the frames.

    IMO, this makes the camera completely worthless for digital conversion -- you should ship it directly to me, so I can evaluate where it has any remaining value for film photography...
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Besanšon, France

    Re: Just bought this camera


    Welcome to the Arca Swiss club ;-)

    The camera looks fine.

    This is a pre-F-line Arca Swiss "Oschwald" 6x9 monorail camera.

    It is 100% compatible with ... all pre-F-line cameras. Pre-F means made before 1984 and Oschwald is the name of the founders and previous owners of the Arca Swiss company. The camera was made in Switzerland, at the time the factory was located downtown Zürich before moving to Horgen nearby. The compatibility with the present F-line is however very limited (see below).

    You do have base tilts although the shape of the function carriers is different from the current F-line.

    The top of the rail with the rack-and-pinion focusing mechanism is similar to the present F-line type II rails but older type-I rails like yours are not unlikely to show up from time to time on the second-hand market. In order to hold the camera on a tripod you can screw directly a 1/4" screw into the rail, but I would recommend, if this part was not sold with the camera, to get a type-I sliding dovetail clamp which will allow a much easier use. The type-I sliding clamp is very probably still in stock at the factory.

    To use it with lenses of short focal lengths, you'll probably need a recessed lens board.
    Then come some problems since this camera has been discontinued for 22 years. But taking into account the modularity of the system, several work-around exist.

    The shape and fixing system for lens boards is not the same as the current F-line. So it might be difficult to find a recessed lens board. The size of the boards is slighty smaller than the current 110x110mm F-line boards. Check for the light-tight foam traps just behind the lens board, they can be renewed if necessary.

    Bellows frames are also different from the current F-line. So if you use the camera as-is, you won't probably have any problems. But do not expect to easily expand the system, except by looking for used A/S pre-F-line elements. If the bellows id damaged, no problem, keep the frames and have somebody attach a new bellows. This is the solution suggestde by the Arca SWiss people at the factory, since the stock of old parts available at the factory is extremely depleted if not empty.

    If you were living in Northern America, I would suggest to ask the question to Precision Camera Works in Chicago who service Arca Swiss cameras. May be they can have good suggestions.

    But since your forum member profile tells us that you live in Tallin, Estonia, simply place a phone call to the main factory in France,
    After all, the distance between Tallin (Estonia) and Besançon (France) is only 2/3 of the distance between Chicago and California ;-)
    the Michelin web travel guide suggests : 27 hours drive only ;-)

    ARCA - SWISS International
    29, Quartier de l' Europe, Espace Valentin,
    F-25048 Besançon (France)
    phone : (33) 3 81 85 40 60
    Fax : (33) 3 81 85 40 69

    they speak German, English and French and they may help you but be prepared to find a local craftsman to make some mechanical parts for you as well.

    One of our distinguished forum members, Mr. Kerry Thalmann, is supposed to own quite a substantial number of Arca Swiss cameras and parts, I think he found a solution for pre-F-line lens boards, at least those in 171 mm for the 4"x5".

    Your camera is expandable to 4"x5" either by finding the proper 4"x5" tapered bellows and back back or by attaching a front pre-F frame to a current F-line tapered bellows and a current back.

    For any question please feel free to ask me.
    Last edited by Emmanuel BIGLER; 4-Sep-2006 at 10:27.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    London, UK

    Re: Just bought this camera

    Emmanuel, wow - that was SUPER HELPFUL! Thanks.

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