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Author Topic: Arca R Mount: Can You Do It Yourself?  (Read 3524 times)
Kumar
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« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2012, 09:05:43 AM »
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Re: Temporary export for repairs

This is about my experience in Japan when I had to send off my Imacon 132C to Hasselblad. I went to the customs office in Kobe and explained to them that I wanted to send the back to Denmark for repairs. I showed them proof that I had purchased it from a private seller, with the Paypal invoice showing the value. I also showed them the relevant correspondence with Hasselblad. I filled in a form that had the item description, serial number, the value for insurance and customs purposes (the same as the Paypal invoice), the reason for the "temporary export" and Hasselblad's and my addresses. The customs officer put his seal on a number of copies of the form. I then had to take the forms to the customs officer sitting in an office in the post office building. After verifying what I was exporting,  he pasted one copy on the outside of the box, one went inside the box (that he sealed), one for me, and two for the post office. This ensured that Hasselblad wouldn't be charged duty when it reached Denmark, and neither would I when it was returned to me in Japan. It took an hour at the customs office, five minutes at the inspector's office and ten minutes at the post office.  All said, a fairly easy and pleasant process.

Perhaps a similar procedure would exist in the US for upgrading equipment?

Kumar
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buckshot
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« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2012, 10:39:22 AM »
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That sounds great Kumar - all very well organised.

The only thing I would say is that you were genuinely sending the DB for repair, so no need to falsify the reason for return. Since their DBs have to be returned to Hasselblad in Sweden for servicing/repair, I would presume they have the correct procedures in place for temporary importation.

This last part is the difficult one and, as far as I have been able to ascertain (including a call to my border services agency), this cannot be negotiated by simply attaching the correct form to the package (otherwise unscrupulous shippers would take advantage of it to avoid import duties and taxes).

The receiving company must have the correct facilities in place for temporary importation (usually in the form of a 'bonded warehouse'), otherwise when they receive a package valued at $5k marked 'camera lenses for adjustment' (i.e. correct value and description) they will be charged import duties - just like you or I would be if accepting the package.

BTW:When sending my lenses to be retrofitted, I was informed that if such charges were incurred, they would be passed straight back to me to pay! Er, thanks.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2012, 10:47:00 AM »
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If you can use a screwdriver and a lens wrench / lens key then you could mount your own lenses. There's no helical on the Arca mount, so as long as it's machined correctly my cat could do it.

I'm sorry, but the attitude that 'it has to be done at the factory' is the photographic equivalent of 'rust-proofing' in 'The Dealership' epsiode of Seinfeld*. I've mounted/unmounted any number of lenses in a variety of helicals/mounts/lensboards over the years without a hitch; I just remounted a 47mm digitar onto a Fotoman helical and mount for a friend, adjusted the lens for infinity focus and bingo, she creates tack sharp images as every bit as wonderful as those I've seen produced by the same lens in Alpa and Cambo mounts - and for a whole lot less than what the 'big three' charge.

Since Henry Fox Talbot fell head first out of a tree we've been tweaking helicals and taking lenses apart, cleaning the shutters, screwing them back together, carting them around in cases on planes, trains and automobiles, knocking and bumping them, getting them baking hot and freezing cold, soaking wet etc. - but now in the digital age they have all suddenly become so fragile and delicate that attaching them to a dumb old helical and then to a piece of machined metal (and perhaps installing an angled sync and cable release socket) is, apparently, beyond us. This can now only be done in hermetically sealed rooms by folks in white coats with PhDs and exotic accents (at least, that's the scenario I imagine). This is utter madness.

Have you used an Arca R system at length? Have you (personally) mounted and calibrated an Arca R lens for use with an IQ180 or Aptus II 12?

First let me say that I understand your indignation and your comments about dealers (I love Seinfeld) is understandable; I assume you've worked with some shoddy ones (of which there are many). I would ask you however not to generalize those experiences on all dealers, especially not if you've never met or worked with them. Search my name on this forum or the general internet, call me, stop by the office, or ask any of our customers here or offline and you will find your statements are not true of me. This is NOT an undercoat to a car, and I would not sell or push the equivalent of this.

The precision required to place infinity on an Arca R mount for f/8 is much higher and more knowledge-intense than your statement implies.

First, several of these lenses exhibit fairly significant focus shift, so the testing of the proper placement of focus cannot be done wide open, but because testing stopped down increases DOF the analysis of proper infinity is most assuredly non-trivial.

Second, the level of possible accuracy on an Arca R is extraordinarily high. If all you've used is the helical on the Fotoman or the Alpa HPF ring then you haven't experienced in practice how minute the possible level of adjustment is. The level of precision, when using multiple lenses, requires that the calibration of the mount itself is less than one tick's worth of focus. For reference on a 47XL the difference of one tick when focused at 150cm distance (5ft) is 1 cm of subject distance. How would you propose the end user calibrate their focus to this accuracy (remembering they must do this while stopped down)? The mechanical mount itself is machined about as precisely as can be hoped, but even from one specific lens to another specific lens the variation is such that every lens MUST be calibrated to the mount. This is done by Arca by means of shimming the rear element of the lens under the retaining ring to insure perfect placement of that lens both fore-aft and is then tested to insure perfect planarity.

I agree that for the majority of photographic history this level of mounting precision was not remotely necessary. Required precision of mounting varies as a function of focal length and with larger formats of film the focal lengths were longer. With a 300mm lens an accidental 1 degree of tilt and a fore-aft movement of 1mm is not of much significance. With a 23mm lens an accidental 1 degree of tilt is a huge change in the placement of the focus plane.

Required precision of mounting also varies as a function of resolution you wish to achieve. If you have a slightly misaligned lens with a P25 (9 micron, 22mp sensor) it will not be as evident as with an IQ180 (5.2 micron, 80mp sensor).

Required precision also varies based on how you will be establishing/evaluating focus. With an 8x10 you were focusing on a ground glass; regardless of where the lens is placed you were establishing and evaluating focus directly. With the Arca and other helical mounts one of the points of the system is to be able to set the focus indirectly (e.g. using a distometer or pre-established hyper focal distance) - the accuracy of that method of establishing focus is entirely dependent on the calibration of the system.

Required precision also varies based on aperture used. Since a higher res back will show diffraction at an earlier aperture there is a strong tendency of our IQ180+Arca users to use f/7-f/9 far more frequently than our customers with for instance an P25+Arca. At f/8 there is very little room for inprecision as compared to f/11.5.

Whilst I understand that this is a lucrative part of the business model of these companies at the end of the day, from the perspective of the end-user, this is all about choice (or, more correctly, the lack of it). If you want to send your lens away to be mounted then great, go for it - but if not, wouldn't it be nice to have the choice to do this yourself?

I can assure you that a few hundred bucks for a few hours of service does not qualify as the lucrative part of Arca's business model. This is a very small company and their staff-time-at-the-workbench is their single sparsest resource (ask anyone who is on the waiting list for a D4 head). Selling a quick release plate at the prices they charge - THAT qualifies as a lucrative part of their business :-).

Anyway, based on my experience the purchases of Arca value very high precision over the flexibility of being able to change out lenses themselves. If you want a more DIY solution the Fotoman or Linhof (or a traditional view camera) is probably a better choice.

The precision Arca offers is very very high. To attain that requires some compromise. If you think the precision is more than is needed (for your applications and needs) then you are probably right, in which case those compromises might seem silly (or greedy). Please respect that there are others who in fact do need/want that precision for whom the cost and reduction in flexibility/DIYness is perfectly acceptable.

Plus I still don't know (haven't asked since this isn't my customer) whether (for sure) Arca would sell the parts by themselves at a reduced price. Rod might be able to comment?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 11:03:53 AM by Doug Peterson » Logged

DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
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Phase One IQ250 FAQ
Kumar
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« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2012, 11:36:34 AM »
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Cambo, Arca and Alpa export a significant part of their production, so it would be surprising if they didn't have those kinds of facilities enabling temporary import and re-export. But your experience shows that at least one of them doesn't - or didn't have at that time...

BTW, I was able to deal with Hasselblad directly only after a great deal of insistence, because Shriro (Hasselblad's owner and Japan distributor at that time) wanted me to go through the Japanese dealer, who wanted between 60,000 to 110,000 JPY for doing the customs paperwork.

Kumar
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buckshot
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« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2012, 10:04:50 AM »
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As ever Doug, that's a very comprehensive, thoughtful and knowledgable reply you've provided.

In response I'd make the following points.

1. Whilst I don't own an Arca RM3D/i, I have used one. No two ways about it, it's a great piece of precision engineering, and in terms of repeatably being able to set a very precise distance there is nothing that can presently compete. However, in practice, I found this level of precision - for my requirements - simply overkill. Infinity is where I live 99% of the time, and even an old belt-and-braces bellows camera can get me there. The precision of the Arca is nice to have (and talk about!), but not a practical necessity for me. IMO 'precision' has become a very useful tool in this digital world for each person to brow-beat the other one with: e.g. Each 'tick' on the Arca ring represent a change in the plane of focus of only 1cm? leads to 'Holy cow, how do you get by with such a sloppy focussing ring, I need at least 0.1cm precison'. And so forth, ad nauseum. Following the argument to its logical conclusion, landfill sites the world over will be full of Arcas, Cambos, Alpas, Horsemans etc. as none of them are clearly up to snuff when it comes to repeatably setting the lens to a distance of 145.343265m with a 0.000001 micron sensor. In practice however, this isn't the case, and great work continues to be produced with all these systems, and that will continue to be the case even when each 'tick' on the RM2001d/i represents 0.000001mm. As a sales and marketing tool, 'precision' has been a gift; no one is generally going to argue that a system should be less precise are they? And, as precision increases, the cost to the end user rarely goes in the opposite direction...

2. Adding a shim to a lens in order that infinty focus on a lens matches the little number on the accompanying Arca card isn't something that I (or anyone else in fact) should lose sleep over. Even the best CNC machining will only get you so close, and shims are the principal way to minutely adjust the position of the whole lens (though there is always a tad of latitude on the helical (if the lens uses one), and you can alter the infinity position on that if needs be). As I've said before - sell me the CNC'd and anodized mount, a pack of shims, and send me on my merry way. Sell me the helical as well if you want, but I can pick those up from Schneider/Rodenstock direct. If this isn't everyone's cup of tea, then let them send their lenses off and bill them accordingly. I want to see users offered the choice to do one or the other. Indeed, even if Arca did the work for me, I should still check how this works with my digital back. As Arca users have detailed elsewhere, this involves having to apply an offset to Arca's numbers if there is a discrepancy so, that being the case, what exactly have they paid for (other than the hardware) that they couldn't themselves have provided? i.e. if Arca's location of infinity for this lens, isn't in fact infinity for this lens with my digital back, then all the measuring, calibrating and shimming they've undertaken in their factory has pretty much been for nil. So, if their infinity isn't my infinity, do I get a part refund?

3. As detailed previously, I think a really good reason to do this work 'in [my] house' (besides the speed and simplicity of doing it yourself) is to avoid the hassle of import/export. It would be nice to think the dealer I dealt with in order to get my lenses retrofiited was some cowboy operating out the back of a truck - they weren't. I am still interested to know what temporary import facilities are available for Arca, Alpa and Cambo - since you deal with the former and the latter, perhaps you could tell us? Unless things have changed, I know from experience that at least one of the big three does not have the facility to temporarily import, and are happy to instruct their customers to, basically, break the law. Now, no one is saying that this is tantamount to robbing Fort Knox, but it's a situation that could so easily be avoided if the hardware was available separately; there's really no need for these companies to treat their clients as ham-fisted, drooling neanderthals who don't know the difference between one end of the viewfinder and the other.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2012, 11:00:12 AM »
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1. Whilst I don't own an Arca RM3D/i, I have used one. No two ways about it, it's a great piece of precision engineering, and in terms of repeatably being able to set a very precise distance there is nothing that can presently compete. However, in practice, I found this level of precision - for my requirements - simply overkill. Infinity is where I live 99% of the time,

If you could 100% reliably set your lens to a hyperfocal so that half (or more) of your focus wasn't wasted behind infinity, would you not choose that? Do you use infinity because that's where you truly want to be, or because systems you've used in the past are not easy to reliably set to a perfect hyperfocal such that infinity is still absolutely sharp?  Wink

Even if you never once target anything besides hyperfocal the incredibly precise nature of the Arca system is a huge boon to making focusing easy and reliable.
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2012, 11:06:17 AM »
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3. As detailed previously, I think a really good reason to do this work 'in [my] house' (besides the speed and simplicity of doing it yourself) is to avoid the hassle of import/export. It would be nice to think the dealer I dealt with in order to get my lenses retrofiited was some cowboy operating out the back of a truck - they weren't.

Sounds like you've never worked with a full service dealer :-).
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
Dealer for Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Profoto
Office: 877.367.8537
Cell: 740.707.2183
Phase One IQ250 FAQ
buckshot
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« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2012, 04:01:46 PM »
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Quote
If you could 100% reliably set your lens to a hyperfocal so that half (or more) of your focus wasn't wasted behind infinity, would you not choose that? Do you use infinity because that's where you truly want to be, or because systems you've used in the past are not easy to reliably set to a perfect hyperfocal such that infinity is still absolutely sharp?  Wink

Even if you never once target anything besides hyperfocal the incredibly precise nature of the Arca system is a huge boon to making focusing easy and reliable.

I'm at infinity + lens tilt - so I get all the dof I need - don't bother with hfd.

Can't deny focussing is easy and reliable on the A/S - as long as you have the little card to hand!

Quote
Sounds like you've never worked with a full service dealer :-).

A full service dealer - are you kidding me - these guys proclaim to be the best in the US - and they may well be - but that area of temporary export/import is still one that they clearly have difficulty addressing (as I would imagine do most). While you're here Doug, why don't you tell us about Cambo and Arca's facilities for temporary import? If you're sending a $7k lens to Cambo for retrofitting, do you insure and declare it for $7k - if so, I'm guessing Rene Rook will be sending you a rather large bill for import duties ... plus the duties you would have to pay for entry back into the US (assuming the retrofitted lens - now worth $9k - is insured and declared as such). It's a can of worms - time to stop pedalling the myth that this all has to be done by ex-NASA scientists in hermetically sealed rooms - get the parts in and let the user buy them from you - just like the wooden handles that Cambo produced.
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