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06/29/12 Alpa finally announces their ability to tilt shift, well sort of !!

With this announcement on their newsletter, Alpa of Switzerland has announced that they will now offer a solution for photographers using various Alpa cameras that will let them have tilt/swing on lenses shorter than 70mm.  Here is the link to the Alpa newsletter:

As I understand it, you will be able to get tilt or swing, but not both at the same time, as only Cambo has that ability.  Maximum tilt or swing will be 5 degrees.  Current camera bodies will have to be retrofit for the adapter.  The following lens range will now work:

Schneider:  no wider than 60mm
Rodenstock: no wider than 32mm

This means that the Schneider 28XL, 35XL, 43XL, 47XL, will not work with the adapter and the Rodenstock 28mm and 23mm.  OK, lets look at this a little more.

  1. From my use, the ability to have tilt is more important on a wide than on medium telephoto.
  2. Alpa has left out 4 of the best Schneider wides and 2 of the best Rodenstocks.
  3. If want to use 1 of these 6 wides, you will have to take the tilt/swing adapter off the Alpa camera body, and mount the lens.
  4. From the pictures on Alpa’s site, I can’t see if there are any guides to show you how far you have tilted up or down.  They must have something for this, it just doesn’t show in the pictures.
  5. It appears that if you want to tilt up, you would have to take the adapter out and rotate it 180 degrees and placing the knob at the bottom or turn the whole rig upside down.
  6. The knob to me looks very smallish and depending on where it’s located with a lens attached may be hard to get to.

Overall, in the land of tech cameras, there are 3 real players, Alpa, Arca and Cambo.  When I was looking to make a decision and realized that each of these has their own unique lens mounts I realized that I really needed to make the right decision as there would be no going back or switching brands without a big loss.

The decision quickly came down to Cambo and Arca as I realized that Alpa was more expensive than either of the other two and for that price point you got less, function.  The only Alpa body that allowed a large amount of horizontal shift was the Alpa Max and without a de-centered lens, you still couldn’t get the same amount of rise and fall @ 25mmR and 18mmF that the Acra rm3di gave @ 30mmR and 20mmF.  Rotate the Arca 90 degrees and now you can get 30mmL and 20mmR horizontal shift!.  Back to Alpa, after briefly looking at the max, it was the overall price point that steered me away.  The Max body without any handles was 1.3K more than the rm3di from Arca.

I am glad to see that Alpa has taken care owners by allowing them to “retro” fit their current bodies and now have a somewhat workable tilt/swing option.  However I still prefer the Arca solution as it allows for a very easy accessible knob and you can have tilt up and down without taking the adapter out and flipping it upside down.  Both Arca and Alpa will required you to move the plate if you want swing, again with Arca one movement gets swing to either side, it appears that with Alpa you will have to move it each time.  I am not a big fan of moving items like this unless I have to when on the other end is a Medium Format back.  I just don’t like to expose the sensor to anything unless I have to.

Alpa seems lacking even with their new adapter since you are so limited in both the lenses that can be used and the method that has been implemented for tilt and swing.