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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.



04/11/13 My thoughts on the Phase One Investment Protection Policy

New Phase One IQ2X Medium Format Digital Backs

Phase One is the company that produces one of the largest lines of medium format digital backs.  They were pioneers in the production of Medium format digital products from the first scanning backs to their newest lineup the IQ series of backs.   One of the marketing tools that Phase One uses is the “investment protection policy”, in a nutshell:  From the Phase One website.

The program is simple

  • Phase One / Schneider Kreuznach lens purchase is protected for 50% of original purchase price for 12 months*
  • Phase One camera body purchase is protected for 50% of original purchase price for 12 months*
  • Phase One digital back purchase is protected for 90% of original purchase price for 12 months*
Until about 6 days ago, the period of time for the digital back  “investment protection” was 18 months instead of 12.  Just recently Phase One changed this time frame and shortened it by 6 months.  I was surprised to find out that both of the dealer contacts I work with were not aware of this change.  The change of time frame concerned me since I am considering yet another upgrade, this time to the IQ260.  Depending on you interpret the “original purchase price”, I would have qualified  90% of the original purchase price of my IQ160 towards a IQ260.  The real question here is,  what is the purchase price? [Read more…]

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.

03/23/13 Copal no longer to be in the manual leaf shutter business–possible bad news for Tech Camera users

On the Luminous Landscape website, I ran across a posting about Copal and the possibility that they will no longer be manufacturing leaf shutters.  Copal is a large company and appears to still be involved with many other aspects of electronics and cameras.  The leaf shutter that is in question, is commonly called a Copal Shutter 0.  This shutter is a leaf design and manually operated.  The main area for the use of this type of shutter is with large format cameras (view cameras), and the emerging tech camera market.  All of the lenses that are made by Rodenstock and Schneider use this type of shutter.

Copal shutter mounted to a Rodenstock 28mm HR lens

Copal shutter mounted to a Rodenstock 28mm HR lens

The Copal shutter like the one shown in the picture above is a very critical component to a tech camera solution as currently Rodenstock and Schneider both don’t make a shutter.  The shutter is placed in between the lens elements during the manufacturing process of the lens.This type of shutter is called a “leaf” shutter and is totally independent of the camera body.  The leaf shutter is fired by a manual cable release that screws into to the shutter.    I have never seen a Rodenstock or Schneider  lens that is sold without a leaf shutter installed.  The process of placing the shutter in the lens, should be done by the lens manufacturer to ensure the optics maintain the best alignment.

For out of warranty repair I know of only one location in the U.S that can work on a lens like this is Precision Camera Works, in Niles IL.  They are specialists in the entire Arca line of cameras and also can work on a lens like the Rodenstock 28mm with a Copal Shutter installed.  Outside of this you would have to contact the lens manufactures to see how they would handle a repair.   Of course Precision Camera works is a non-warranty type of service, but they might be able to save a shutter that has broken or has become misaligned in the camera lens.

Copal Shutter mounted on a Rodenstock 28mm HR lens

Copal Shutter mounted on a Rodenstock 28mm HR lens

As this issue starts to hit the various large format camera forums, I am going to try and get a better handle on just what the scope of this announcement will mean.   Currently I don’t know of any other solution other than the Copal shutter for all of these lenses.  I have seen old Nikon large format lenses with a Nikon leaf shutter, however I have been told that this type of shutter was actually made by Copal.  Copal has a electronic shutter that can be used on these lenses, but it requires power and it has a very limited shutter speed range.  I don’t feel that this type of shutter will work in the field.

For now Copal really is it and I am going to try and find a used Copal 0 and keep it as a spare.  I noticed that B&H photo is out of stock of these currently, and plans to get more in sometime in early April.  I am also going to call Schneider in NY some time soon to see what their solution will be since without a leaf shutter, Schneider and Rodenstock both will not be able to produce a workable lens. I am hopeful that Copal may revisit this issue and continue to make this style of shutter, but it also shows just how few of the Schnieder and Rodenstock lenses are being sold currently.

I emailed some questions about this issue with Copal to Rod Klukas, the U.S. Arca Rep.  Rod is much closer to this type of concern since he is talking to Schneider, Rodenstock and other similar companies on a daily basis.  Here is Rod’s answer and it does illivate some of my immediate concerns, but I am still going to purchase a spare Copal in the near future.

“Currently, Rodenstock is still refining their Electronic shutter, though it is hard to use on recessed board-actually impossible and has a
top shutter speed of only 125.  Unacceptable to many portrait fashion shooters.  
Schneider has the SES, which is not so portable so great for studio but…   I believe they are working with Mamiya on a replacement mechanical shutter using some parts of the current Mamiya shutters in the LS lenses on the Mamiya/Schneider lenses.
The HartBlei is really not very precise.
There are some others working on things right now as well.
Copal is currently manufacturing what they say is a 2 year plus supply, by the end of the year, when they will stop.  So there should be at least a year or so of shutters.  And by then some of these new shutters should be available.”

Here is a link to the post on the  Luminous Landscape forum.

07/28/12 Screen protection options for Phase One IQ Series Digital backs (IQ140,IQ160, & IQ180)

One of the most impressive features of the Phase One IQ Series of Digital backs, (IQ140, 160 and 180), would have to be their LCD screen.  This screen, which has been compared to the quality of the Apple retina displays, is a vast improvement over the LCD screens that were used on the older Phase One backs like the P45+.  With the IQ series, you have a screen that gives the photographer 100% positive feedback during the image capture processes.  The most critical piece of feedback being the ability to quickly zoom in to a 100% view of your image and check for focus.  The LCD size on the Phase One IQ series backs are 3.2 inches.  The screen on the IQ backs is a touch screen and thus allows you to move around the information being displayed without having to hit any physical buttons.

The ability to zoom into 100% to check the image for critical focus is one of the most important features for my work since I use a Tech Camera.  Anyone using a Tech Camera knows that obtaining critical focus is one of the most challenging aspects to their use.  Phase One’s sensor does not work well with “live view” so most people myself included will take the shot based on focus settings they think are close, then view the captured image on the screen and from there fine tune the focus if needed.  The touch screen design of the Phase One IQ back lets a photographer do this in seconds rather then minutes.  If the LCD screen is damaged, scratched, or has had some of the anti-reflective coating rubbed off, this process of zooming to 100% and checking the focus can become much more difficult.

[Read more…]