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11/10/15 Springtime at Haw Creek Falls–A great place to spend a day in Arkansas

Haw Creek Falls, waterfalls in Arkansas

Springtime View of Haw Creek Falls in the Arkansas Ozarks

Taken with a Phase One IQ260 and Arca rm3di tech camera/40mm Rodenstock lens

This is a typical day at Haw Creek falls, and I was again lucky to be there without anyone else to stand around and get in the way during the shoot.  Haw Creek is a lovely smallish creek that runs in the Big Piney Creek, not far from these falls.  The falls are impressive since there is a large ledge that runs all the way across the creek and in higher water conditions the water will start to consume the entire ledge.  I like to catch water about like this, just enough to keep most of the ledge in play but not too much to flood out the rocks below the falls.  To get this shot, I used my Arca rm3di camera which allows movements like a large format camera with my digital camera back.  The shot is actually a composite of 3 images, Left, Center and Right.  The Left and Right segments represent 16mm of shift in those respective directions.  This allows you to create a very high resolution panorama without any of the issues like parallax.  The lens I used was as 40mm Rodenstock HR-W which allows for an excellent field of view when shifted.

You have to be careful when working Haw Creek as there tends to be a lot of wind blowing down the creek.  In most cases, I prefer to take a 1 to 4 second exposure of the water which in most cases will have a lot of wind blur in the trees.  So you have make sure to cover the tree movement with a second series of exposures around 1/125 to 1/250 to stop the wind movement.  It’s a simple process to combine the files later since I am using a tech camera and the movements are very precise.  To allow the longer exposures I used both a Circular Polarizer and a Neutral Density filter.    The polarizer will help with glare on the water and rocks and adds about 1.5 stops of exposure to the shot.  As this was a bright day, I had to use a 1.2x ND filter.  When I was taking the faster exposures for the trees, I left the polarizer on, but took the ND filter off as I no longer needed the extra exposure compensation.

As I already mentioned, Haw Creek Falls, tends to be overrun with people during the peak times of the year.  The best day to go is a Monday as there will not be as many people at the campground and thus less traffic around the falls.  There are some great swimming spots above the falls in the large pool that is created by the ledge.  It’s a great place to head to when you know you have some water running in the creek.  Also the Ozark Highlands Trail runs right by Haw Creek falls, so if you are planning a hike on this part of the trail make sure to stop and take a look.

The falls run year round, but the best times to photograph them are in the early Spring and winter when water levels are more consistent.  In the summer and fall you can sometimes get lucky after a locally heavy rainstorm and catch the falls running.  The fall display here is wonderful if you can catch it at the right time.

12/14/14 A nice view taken from the Mt Magazine summit

Fall Vista from Mt Magazine

Fall Vista from Mt Magazine

Fall for 2014 in Arkansas was not too much to write home about.  Colors were way off in most places, production mainly showing up in a dull brown color.  I attribute most of this to the weather pattern we had.  Warm, and then cold, and warm, then freezing the trees just did not have much of a chance.  I was at this same spot this year and the colors were just not the same, much more muted.  Still it was a nice day to be out for sure.  Read more about how this shot was taken here:  Mt. Magazine fall vista taken with an Arca rm3di.

09/16/14 Arca FPS (Focal Plane Shutter) lens issues clarified

Yesterday, I was very excited by Arca’s announcement of the new FP (Focal Plane Shutter).  I knew that this device was in the works well over 10 months but had been asked to keep all mention of it off the web.  Arca  is a small company based in France, with basically no website, so getting information about current and future products can be very difficult.  The FP shutter was the one single item that Arca was working on that really had my excitement and interest.  The main reason being:

  1. It was going to “fit” into the current r cameras rm3di or rm3dl in a modular fashion
  2. All existing lenses with R mounts would work
  3. Price point was going to be around $1,800.00 for the shutter and all electronics needed to run it.
  4. Focal plane shutter would allow shutter settings of 1/3, 1/2 and 1/10 of a stop.

With the actual announcement, unfortunately, a few of these previous statements did not come true.

The FP is a real item, and it will be a modular attachment to the current R series cameras, see my previous post for more information.  Here is a picture of the FP

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for R series Cameras

Knowing the Arca does excellent design and that they make very good products in regards to quality, I have no doubt that this FP will work as designed.  There are just a few issues to be concerned with that I see.

I. The lenses that can be used will need a new modified lens tube installed.  The lens tube is the first ring of the R mount, and you can clearly see it in this photo.

Arcs R mount 28mm Rodenstock

Rodenstock 28mm HR in Arca R mount

The first ring, closest to the lens, with the name Sironar Digital HR on it, is the lens tube that will have to be modified.  Modified is not a good word as basically you will replace it with a new one.  The lens will have to be measured, the measurements sent to Arca, and they will make a new ring.  I guess in the future with Arca, if you were to purchase a new lens, they might ship both rings.  OK, now lets add up the cost.  The rings are $350.00 each.  So if you are going to work with say 5 lenses, you will need to spend an additional $1,750.00 just to be able to use the new shutter.  I find this the most unappealing part of the deal, as Arca should consider giving a credit for the current ring as it will not be in use any more and might as well just be a fishing weight.   Plus you need to either drive your lens to an Arca representative or ship them and to ship and insure 10K of glass, I figure that will add about $250.00 to the cost.

II. The shutter is going to be controlled via a wifi attached controller.

The dEx controller.  I have to assume that this is not “part” of the shutter so it’s safe to say add another $1,200.00 to the total cost.  Plus it’s wifi controlled.  This is a new technology to implement, so I hope it’s well thought out.  If the wifi connection fails or disconnects in the field,  it appears you will not be able to fire the shutter.  This means you would have to removed the shutter from the R camera and the new modified lens tube, then reinstall the original lens tube.

Looks like the cost of the FP will also be a bit more than I had anticipated.  Here is an estimated breakout of the cost for using the shutter with 5 lenses.  This is based on pricing that was released late on the 18th of September 2014.  Pricing is much higher than I expected.  This easily approaches the cost of the Alpa FPS.  So competitive advantage based on pricing appears to have possibly gone out the window.  I was also hoping that the lens tube replacement would stay at $350.00, not $490.00.  More information needs to be out on that soon.

  • Cost of Shutter……………………………………………..$2,940.00
  • Cost of 5 lens tubes……………………………………….$2,500.00
  • Cost of mpu for shutter…………………………………..$1,400.00
  • Cost of wireless controller for shutter…………………$1,200.00
  • Total cost for FP shutter………………………………….$8,040.00

One other thought, as it appears that the dEx controller will be making a wifi connection, but to what?  I can’t see the controller depending on a digital back’s wifi (mainly because right now so few of them have it).  So what is the wifi all about.  Do you wifi to the controller with say a iPhone, to make the settings i.e. change shutter speed (that would be about all you could change on a shutter)?  If so, again, I have to wonder about that, as it makes you very dependent on the battery life of your phone and the battery life of the dEx.  To me it would be so much more efficient to have a hard connection to a device that can set the shutter.  It would become serendipitous to carry both lens tubes on any trip so if the shutter fails or can’t make a connection, you could re-install the old lens tube, pull out the shutter and shoot with the copol shutter already in the lens. This would of course only apply to lenses that already had the copol shutter installed.  I wonder if Arca will still sell new lenses with copols.

Even with the extra costs, I believe overall this is a good investment long term for a R camera user, and once a Phase One back comes out with Live View that is full frame and works with movements with minimal crosstalk effects (which create color saturation loss on shifts), the photographer in the field will have quite a system.





09/15/14 Big news from Arca Swiss–New FS (Focal Plane) shutter for R series cameras

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for Arca Swiss Cameras

##################UPDATE LATE 09/15/14#######################

09/15/14 Final details from Rod Klukas–U.S. Arca Representative

I heard from Rod a while ago, he is out at Photokina.  Here are the missing details.

“The FPA is similar in depth to Rota slide ot mount.  But you will need a new lens tube to use the FPS.
You can send me the lens, for measuring and checking.  I take precision measurements and check out another thing.
Then I can return the lens to you or the customer for use without FPS shutter.  A new tube to be used with the lens and the FPS combo will be custom made
in France.
If using FPS, you use the new FPS tube, if not go back to the old tube to use lens with Rotamount or Centerl/Leaf shutter.
Cost for FPS tube is $350.00 each lens.  Still far cheaper than a whole set of lenses.  And quite compact.
32mm lens is widest useable lens.”
I am not sure, even though I own and use one, exactly what the lens tube is, but it sounds like it’s part of the various set of rings that come with each R mounted lens.  From Rod’s notes, it’s apparent that if you wan to use the FPS on your existing lenses, you need to send them to Rod, (if in the US) or your Arca dealer to be measured.  Then Arca/France will make a new tube for the lens.  Sounds a bit tedious, and is not what I had expected, but I guess it works.  The cost of 6 tubes @ $350.00 is $2,100.00, the estimated price of the shutter unit itself is $1,800.00, and I can safely assume the electronic module to control it another 1,200.00.  So I guess you would be close to 5K to move to the “shutter”
This is disturbing enough, but the lack of being able to use the 28mm Rodenstock HR is a real killer for me.  Sounds like if you want a wide lens and use the shutter, you will have to upgrade to the 7.5K Rodenstock 32 HR-W.  Not what I really wanted to do.



I opened my email this morning, and I found this link!!  Well all I can say is that it’s about time.  Arca Swiss has been working a new modular shutter for their R series cameras for over a year now.  I first heard rumors about this shutter back in January of 2014,  and was told that users should expect shipments of the Focal Plane version in the May 2014 time frame.  May rolled around, and nothing happened, and then June, July, etc.  Finally now in early September, Arca as taken the bull by the horns and announced what may be one of the most significant single additions to their R camera line since the original R cameras were first announced about 8 years ago.

What is this, well, it’s a Focal Plane shutter, that will fit as a module in a R camera, examples, rm3di, factum, rm3dl.  I also should work in the large scale Acra cameras for 4 x 5 setups.  This could not come at a better time, (well I sure would have liked to see Arca not wait till September) as the Copol manual leaf shutters are no longer being made.  You can read more about that in this article I wrote over a year ago.  If you use a tech camera, with Schneider or Rodenstock lenses with a Medium format back, then the stoppage of the Copols is a big deal.  There are some still left in inventory, but within 2 years, I expect those to dry up.  Which means that all the lenses need some form of a new shutter.

Arca answered this actually two ways:

  • The announcement of the Focal Plane module that fits into the existing cameras ( I would love to see just how the shutter fits in the camera)
  • The announcement of a new leaf shutter that is electronic and fits around the lens.  This is much larger situation and could have some fit problems as all these style shutters do.

Here is a picture of the new Leaf shutter that will fit on the actual lens.

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

If you have any existing Copol shutter mounted lens, then you will have to send it back to Arca an maybe even Rodenstock or Schneider to have the shutter replaced.  As this will need recolimation and I am not sure if Acra can do that but it’s very critical.

Both of the shutters will be controlled by an controller that is a separate purchase.  I am assuming that it will connect to the back somehow maybe via the PC port or via USB.

If it’s only USB, this can possibly cause a big issue for users like myself who are using Surface Pro computers in the field to tether to.  You only get the one USB connection on the back, and if it’s taken up by the tethering connection, then you would not be able to use the shutter.  Not good.

You can see the controller unit here:

Arca Swiss dEx controller

The Acra Swiss dEx controller

From looking at these pictures the dEx controller has a mini USB port on the right side, which implies to me that it’s going to attached to the back via the USB port, which will eliminate the use of the port for tethered operation.  THIS IS A HUGE SHOW STOPPER FOR ME IF IT ONLY ATTACHES VIA USB, AS IT MEAN, NO MORE TETHERED OPERATION IN THE FIELD.  Being able to shoot tethered in the field with a Surface Pro 2 is major advantage for me.

Looking at this, I am imagining the following.  The control unit is attached to the FP shutter via USB.  But what does the shutter to connect to the back with?  When you look at the shutter, there are several ports with different labels.  Maybe it connects via the flash sync port or the one directly below??

From talking to various Arca reps, I know that this shutter has been in the works now for almost a year or longer.  I am glad to see Arca announce it, and hopefully they will be able to ship it in volume soon.  More pictures are needed maybe even a video!!,  MAYBE EVEN A WEBSITE WITH LINKS!!!!!!  I know that’s too much to ask.



04/03/13 How to get a better grip on a Arca rm3di– Arca Grip extension

Grip extension for Arca rm3di

Grip extension for Arca rm3di

I have written a short article describing the advantages of using the grip extension for the Arca rm3di technical camera.  I have used the rm3di now for over 1 year and have the grip extension installed on my camera.  The extension is a one piece part made from the same material as the rm3di.  It can be installed in about 5 minutes and once installed it give the photographer a much more secure grip.  The stock amber/yellow handles are nice but they make a flush fit and don’t allow for the ability to get your fingers involved in the grip.  The extension adds about 1.4 inches of extra height.  It  is angled back away from the lens which frees up more room for your hand.  The stock amber/yellow handle then just screws back on top.  Acra gives you all the parts needed to attach the extension.  You can read more about it here, Arca Swiss Grip Extension.

03/06/13 Follow up on New Phase One IQ260 Medium Format Digital Back

I received a detailed email response from Doug Peterson at Digital Transitions.  Digital Transitions is one of the largest Phase One dealers in the United States and has been very helpful in informing me about the features of the new IQ260.  There are the questions I asked immediately followed by Doug’s response.  Needless to say the sleeping giant has woken and hopefully these new announcements are just the start of series of new products from Phase One.

After reading your notes, I was wondering if the live view features are any easier to work with, or since it’s still CCD technology, with it work they same way as the Live works with the current 160?.
Live View is the same as the 160. No better. No worse.
The one hour exposure is amazing, and I was curious if this also had any effect on noise for higher iso work, on the 260?  mainly iso 400, to 1600?  Not as much in long exposures but just lower overall noise.  I am sure the iso 50-200 range will still be very clean
Normal high ISO is going to be similar to the 160, with some modest improvement.

Using the “long exposure mode” for standard high ISO work at short exposures: I have no clue, and honestly hadn’t thought about it. I’ll check into this right away.
Does the 260 still have sensor plus?
Yes. Up to ISO3200 (and my guess is ISO1600 will be decent)
Will phase be offering any upgrade incentives for 160 to 260? upgrades, like they did for the P65+ to 180?
Yes. There will be a cross grade offer. Michelle can provide you details.
Wi-Fi to any iOS device, will that allow you to use live view on a iPad? to help focus?
Live View WILL be implemented for iOS wireless, but that will not be ready out-of-the-gate. Only review of captured images (immediately after capture) will be ready at the time of launch. When Live View support is added it will still be the same quality as when you use it on the LCD of the digital back; this doesn’t suddenly make it CMOS.

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