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Author Topic: phase back on arca-swiss 6x9  (Read 5995 times)
arossphoto
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« on: October 27, 2006, 04:06:59 PM »
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Hi,

I just finished reading the article Digital View Cameras in Use and on the Go. It was very informative, but I'm not sure what kind of additional components, if any, are required to attach a Phase back to a view camera like the Arca-Swiss 6x9.

The author states that he doesn't like sliding backs and instead attaches "the back to the rear carrier using the 'standard' Contax insert." Is this something that is included with the back when you buy it? Is it made by Phase or somebody else? It looks like you can buy a Phase back for either Hassy, Mamiya or Contax, so I'm assuming you are going to need some type of adapter for a view camera.

If I eventually decide to go this route I will probably look for a used camera, but I'm also uncertain if there are any problems mounting a digital back on any of the older Arca-Swiss cameras.

If anybody can help clarify some of these details I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Andrew
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MattLaver
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2006, 03:53:31 AM »
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The Arca 6x9 uses an adapter plate that fits in the rear frame and holds the film or digital back. Different film backs, by different manufacturers such as Horseman, need different adapter plates, and the same is true of digital backs. You would need an adapter plate that is specific to the mount  of back you are using on it such as Contax, Mamiya, or Hasselblad H/V.  The plate is specific to the mount, not the back manufacturer so a Contax fit plate will allow you to use any Contax mount digital back, from Phase to Leaf to Sinar etc.

The adapter plates are made by Arca themselves so you would need to order one from them, or via your dealer.

Keep in mind this is a fixed mounting solution, so no sliding function as seen in other options. The benefit being closer lens mounting for wides. The disadvantage being you have to take the back with plate off the camera to use a ground glass screen if you like to compose that way.

The other issue is availability. I've been trying to get a Contax mounting plate for my Arca 6x9 for seven months now with little success. I hear of others who have managed though so it is possible.

Hope that helps.

Matt
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Jae_Moon
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2006, 06:58:37 AM »
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Andrew:

I have been using Arca Swiss F6x9 with P45 since May and I have been pleased with my choices. I have 35, 47, 90 and 210 mm Schneider Digitar lenes.

To answer your questions and to add some of my commnets regarding the combination use:

1. You need to get H type mounting plate from an Arca dealer. Badger Graphic Sales is a good place to get Arca stuffs and digital lenses, both Schneider and Rodenstock.

2. Pro for a sliding back is its convenience. You don't have to put ground glass for focusing and remove then mount the back for a shot. Cons for it are a) it is expensive,  it is large and heavy. Unless you shoot mostly indoor, the weight and the volume of camera gears should be considered. Since I do mostly landscape shooting, I don't need extra 3# of weight and increased volume of my back pack.

3. A sliding stitching back is even more expensive than a regular sliding back. You should also notice that with a view camera like Arca Swiss, it take 2 seconds to shift the back by rotating a thumb screw. Also, it is not true when some say stitching can be made simply by aligning them in PS. Even Schneider Digitar has small 'pin cushion'effect that requires some size transformation within PS, and its wide angle lenses have noticeable corner drop off.

4. I bought my Arca brand new, and I found its ground glass does not focus perfectly. I believe the fresnel lens, in front of ground glass, introduce an error. I haven't got a satisfactory answer from Arca Swiss. However, I found a replacement focusing screen made by Maxwell Precision Optics (maxwellprecisionoptics@yahoo.com), and found it exceptionally good. A bright screen with small grains, and tack sharp focusing.

5. You don't need any additional bellow (other than the one come with the camera) since it function well for all my lenses, from 35 to 210 mm

I hope this help.

Jae Moon
« Last Edit: October 28, 2006, 07:02:53 AM by Jae_Moon » Logged
Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2006, 08:51:29 AM »
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The author states that he doesn't like sliding backs

There's arguments both for and against sliding backs. I use a Phase One back on a Linhof M679, sometimes with a sliding back sometimes without. On the plus side,

-it speeds the process up, and if you're taking a number of shots from locations in close proximity it speeds things up a lot

-it saves you removing and replacing the back after each shot, with the risk of dropping it or suffering from dust contamination

-depending on the design of sliding back it can allow very quick and accurate stitching. This gives both large, high quality files, and extreme wide angle shots. For example, the sharpest photographs I've ever taken in my thirty year career are with 55mm or longer Rodenstock Apo-Sironar Digital lenses stitched together on the sliding back to make an effective 49mm x 71mm sensor. Alternatively using the 35mm Rodenstock Apo-Sironar Digital lens on a sliding back gives the equal (in 135 format terms) of a 17mm ultra wide angle lens.

But of course there's no such thing in photography as a free lunch. Sliding backs are expensive, heavy, bulky, and in windy locations can add to vibration problems with their lousy aerodynamics!
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arossphoto
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2006, 10:15:42 AM »
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm getting a better understanding of the Arca system now, and I found a system catalog last night at robertwhite.co.uk so I understand the various components a little better. I'm also hoping that the live preview feature on the new P+ series Phase backs will be a viable option if you don't want to use a sliding back. I think you have to be tethered to use this feature, but I shoot tethered a lot now with my 1Ds, so that's fine with me.

I'm also curious what version of the 6x9 you guys are using. The Monolith with full geared movements and orbix looks very nice, but it's also big, expensive and probably hard to find used. Are full geared movements and the orbix feature really that important? I shoot some tabletop stuff, and also interiors.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Cheers,

Andrew
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MarkKay
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2006, 11:30:32 AM »
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It depends on what you want.  In general most of the arca swiss view cameras with orbix are hard to find used. It sounds like you will not be doing a lot of hiking and therefore I do not believe the size  and weight is as big of an issue for you.  if you want geared movements that are very precise, you may want to consider a Rollei X act-2.  The issues discussed by the previous posters also apply.  I personally could not see not using a sliding back but that is my preference.  I agree they are bulky and  expensive. However, I do not like shooting tethered and if this is not an issue for you then perhaps not necessary.  

Quote
Thanks for all the replies. I'm getting a better understanding of the Arca system now, and I found a system catalog last night at robertwhite.co.uk so I understand the various components a little better. I'm also hoping that the live preview feature on the new P+ series Phase backs will be a viable option if you don't want to use a sliding back. I think you have to be tethered to use this feature, but I shoot tethered a lot now with my 1Ds, so that's fine with me.

I'm also curious what version of the 6x9 you guys are using. The Monolith with full geared movements and orbix looks very nice, but it's also big, expensive and probably hard to find used. Are full geared movements and the orbix feature really that important? I shoot some tabletop stuff, and also interiors.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Cheers,

Andrew
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2006, 12:12:26 PM »
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Are full geared movements and the orbix feature really that important? I shoot some tabletop stuff, and also interiors.

Andrew, IMO geared movements are pretty much essential with a digital back. I used a 4x5 Linhof Master Technika for about twenty-five years before moving to 6x9 film on a Linhof M679, and then to a Phase P25 back also on the M679.

Going from 4x5 film to 6x9 film required an increase in the level of operating precision, but it was a modest change that I soon got used to. Moving from 6x9 film to a 37mm x 49mm sensor was a completely different experience. The level of precision required is at the limit of practicality. If you want to see the full benefits of digital capture on a large format camera then every single adjustment needs to be meticulously checked in the ground glass, focus needs to be perfect, and you must have absolute rigidity in the camera's chassis and standards. If you're working with interiors or product shots I'd forget saving weight, you should go for the heaviest camera you can find and quality gearing is a must.  

Another area that I think is important with a digital back is the quality of the ground glass screen. Given the much higher enlargement factors for digital compared to large format film, you'll need a correspondingly higher magnification loupe. I was content with x4 loupe for film, but for digital I'd prefer x8 to x10. Unfortunately x7 is about as high as you can go before you're just looking at the grain of the ground glass rather than the image.

It's this higher enlargement factor that makes digital with large format cameras so demanding. Large format cameras evolved to deliver about x4 or x5 enlargement with critical quality. But digital needs about twice this level of precision, and IMO there's only two or three full movement technical cameras that are capable of delivering this level of exactitude.

A final point, I may have misread your post but I was surprised to hear you say you have to be tethered to use a sliding back with a Phase One, that's not the case with my P25 and Linhof M679, and for tabletop and interior work a sliding back would be a very useful accessory.
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arossphoto
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2006, 02:12:25 PM »
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Hi Gary,

Thanks for the feedback. It was very helpful and confirmed a lot of my assumputions about view cameras and digi-backs. But I have limited experience with view cameras so I wasn't too sure.

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...I may have misread your post but I was surprised to hear you say you have to be tethered to use a sliding back with a Phase One, that's not the case with my P25 and Linhof M679,

I was referring to the new "Live Preview" feature that will be available on the new P+ series Phase backs that were recently announced. This will provide a full-time live video preview when shooting tethered with Capture One software. The idea is you can compose and check focus on your monitor rather than the ground glass.

Cheers,

Andrew
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ericstaud
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2006, 04:47:12 PM »
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I have used the H25 on a GX680 for several years.
The image on the focusing screen is very small compared to 4x5.
Swings and Tilts with the H25 are more about understanding scheimpflug and making educated guesses than seeing the results on the screen while you moving the lens (like it was with 4x5).

The difference between sharp and out of focus is often the difference of .3mm of lens movement.  I would not use that setup untethered.  The 100% view on the computer monitor was a must.  I would often make 2 to 5 captures making micro adjustment to focus, checking each one on the screen before getting it right.... I am also photographer who excells at focusing a 4x5 with swings, tilts, and shallow focus.  So for those who find focusing a 4x5 difficult, it is much worse moving to a MFDB on a view camera.

I am now using an Alpa with the Aptus 75, and always am meticulous about checking focus at 100% on the backs screen.  If I had a ground glass I might use it for initial composition, but not for focus.

The Palm Pilot style of checking focus was a very nice feature on the Aptus backs.  I don't know what it is like checking focus on the P-series backs.

Hope these random observations create a little more perspective to the subject.

-Eric
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