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Author Topic: Arca R Mount: Can You Do It Yourself?  (Read 3920 times)
JoeKitchen
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« on: November 13, 2012, 11:37:45 AM »
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After looking at many images on the Internet, the R mount looks just like lens boards for film lenses.  Can you mount it yourself?  If not, why?  (I realize with Alpa, the focusing helicoid would present a major problem, but here there is none.  I just do not understand why someone would pay $900 to have the lens mounted)

Also, would it be possibly to mount a electronic copal shutter yourself?
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2012, 12:00:41 PM »
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The devil is in the details.

The required precision is very very high to make the system work the way it's supposed to (any lens on any body will have the same offset for infinity).

They mount, calibrate, and check the mounting to very high standards to insure this is the case.

If you want a system that does not require such mounting precision you could easily go with an Arca F-line, in which case the lens boards do not have to be mounted with any special degree of precision (since all of your focusing is ground-glass based in that case any variation in mounting precision would be automatically accounted for in your method of focusing).

If you want the benefit of the R-system (whereby a certain helical focus position corresponds to an exact focus distance), then you need to have them mount it for you.

BTW If you're interested in Schneider Electronic Lenses for Arca please shoot me an email; we have a set in pre-owned inventory at a good price (relative to buying the lens, shutter, and mounting separately).
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 12:05:38 PM by Doug Peterson » Logged

DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
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yaya
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2012, 12:19:15 PM »
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Mounting the two elements of the lens into a shutter can also be tricky if you do not know what you are doing, both optically and mechanically as you can quite easily damage the shutter blades or mechanism if you over tighten it.

BTW there is no such thing called Copal electronic shutter for these lenses.
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FredBGG
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2012, 05:21:25 PM »
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After looking at many images on the Internet, the R mount looks just like lens boards for film lenses.  Can you mount it yourself?  If not, why?  (I realize with Alpa, the focusing helicoid would present a major problem, but here there is none.  I just do not understand why someone would pay $900 to have the lens mounted)

Also, would it be possibly to mount a electronic copal shutter yourself?

Is that just the cost of mounting or does that include the shutter and the plate?
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2012, 08:26:12 AM »
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I believe $900 is the cost for the whole thing. 

Going back to the mounting question, it appears as if each lens has its own dedicated lens board and ring system.  If this is the case, I do not see the ability to do much adjusting on Arca's part when mounting.  (I doubt Arca throws the board or rings on a lathe, when calibrating, to shave a few microns off.)  So the only calibrating that could be done would be how tight the lens is screwed into the shutter, and whether or not Arca uses washers between the lens and board for calibration.  So this calibration could be done in the studio with a focus chart, ruler, and an afternoon (and possibly a tork wrench modified to grib the lens/shutter). 

Insofar as the focusing device, I have no plans on ever using it to focus.  I would either focus while shooting tethered with live view at F/11 or smaller, or just set the camera at infinity (or close to it) for exteriors while at F/11 or smaller.  Given this, would it really matter to have a "perfect factory" mounting. 
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Joe Kitchen
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 08:38:42 AM »
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I believe $900 is the cost for the whole thing. 

Going back to the mounting question, it appears as if each lens has its own dedicated lens board and ring system.  If this is the case, I do not see the ability to do much adjusting on Arca's part when mounting.  (I doubt Arca throws the board or rings on a lathe, when calibrating, to shave a few microns off.)  So the only calibrating that could be done would be how tight the lens is screwed into the shutter, and whether or not Arca uses washers between the lens and board for calibration.  So this calibration could be done in the studio with a focus chart, ruler, and an afternoon (and possibly a tork wrench modified to grib the lens/shutter). 

Insofar as the focusing device, I have no plans on ever using it to focus.  I would either focus while shooting tethered with live view at F/11 or smaller, or just set the camera at infinity (or close to it) for exteriors while at F/11 or smaller.  Given this, would it really matter to have a "perfect factory" mounting. 

I actually agree with your last statement. If - for sure - you never intend to use the distance-reference system of focusing and will only be focusing at a specific hyperfocal or by means of live view then I'd say you don't need perfect factory calibration. I'd be concerned however that your use of the equipment, once in hand, might evolve beyond your current vision of how it will be used.

Anyway, Arca is a small company. A dealer which is in close communication with them might be able to convince them to sell you a bare set of tubes at a price lower than the full retro-fit. Frankly I personally think this is a bad way to save money on a system which costs $10k, but I see where you're coming from.
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 08:51:48 AM »
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Although it may the best (and the only way to get lenses for the system) by purchesing them already mounted and calibrated, when making the leap to the Arca r system.  And I will probably start off with manuel shutters due to price and availablity.  

However I would like to get electronic shutters eventually (espeically if the DHW shutters actually makes it to market).  Given this, I would not want to send my lenses away and pay the fee again to change the shutters.  I would prefer just to do it myself to save on time and cost; I have changed boards and shutters on film lenses in the past.  This is why I ask.  



« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 09:04:44 AM by JoeKitchen » Logged

Joe Kitchen
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 10:32:46 AM »
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There is definitely some logic to your thought process here, as non-traditional as it is.

I'd explore the options further with your Arca dealer of choice.
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DOUG PETERSON (dep@digitaltransitions.com), Digital Transitions
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FredBGG
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 11:17:50 AM »
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Just contact Arca and tell them you don't want to send your lenses anywhere. I'm sure they will still want your business.

Calibrating the set up should be no problem thanks to it being digital giving you immediate feedback. It's not rocket science
or the complicated mirror and screen calibration of a reflex camera.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 11:32:28 AM »
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As I understand it, the 900.00 only covers the mount to the Acra R system.  The copal shutter is always included in the cost of a lens in all of the purchases I have made.  
Example is the 60mm Schneider Digitar.  Last year that lens was around $4650.00 in an Arca mount.  That is everything.  I am not sure who is placing the copal in the lens, Schneider or Arca.

Another example is you can purchase any of the lenses used ie. Rodenstock or Schneider have have Arca mount it to their R system.  Cost is $900 up to a 105mm and I believe it goes to $1250 past 105mm since you are adding in spacing  adapter.  Any lens past 105mm needs a spacer between the back and Acra plate that the back attaches to, i.e. 120mm, 150mm 180 etc.  For each of these the spacer get a bit larger and creates an extra step in the field, that of placing the spacer between the R Camera and the back.

Each Arca R mount comes ready to use in the R series of Cameras (without the sliding back adapter or rotating  back adapter).  If you want to use either of these you remove at least one of the
rings.  

Paul

« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 08:20:02 PM by Paul2660 » Logged

Paul Caldwell
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gazwas
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2012, 12:55:07 PM »
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It should be noted that Arca don't just mount the lens in the tube and send it back. They also make some other very welcome changes of some other parts. The magnetic angled cable release, angled sync terminal, new and better shutter opening leaver and the angled aperture lever. Also included is the magnetic cable release and mask for the VarioFinder.
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2012, 01:03:51 PM »
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It should be noted that Arca don't just mount the lens in the tube and send it back. They also make some other very welcome changes of some other parts. The magnetic angled cable release, angled sync terminal, new and better shutter opening leaver and the angled aperture lever. Also included is the magnetic cable release and mask for the VarioFinder.

Yes this would be very important for manual lens, and it is looking more and more that you can not just buy the board and rings for the lens without buying the lens already mounted.  However, for eletronic shutters, none of what you mentioned would really matter.  My concern is if I bought manual lenses already mounted and wanted to upgrade to electronic shutters later on, I would like to just switch them myself. 
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Joe Kitchen
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 02:06:48 PM »
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I'm curious what your motivation to have electronic shutters would be. There are good reasons, but in the end I can only think of one of our customers using such a setup (and he is selling his kit back to us).
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 03:04:13 PM »
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Right now I am working with a 5DII and shortly plan on making the leap to medium format.  Although I cant stand almost everything about working with a 35mm DSLR (being that I learned on 4x5), I know I will miss the fact that I can control my camera through my laptop.  I also will miss the ability to move in third stops with the shutter.  Not to mention I am a perfectionist and do not want to risk moving the camera when cocking the lens and compositing shots (which I do from time to time). 
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
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gazwas
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 03:25:44 PM »
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Joe, for your interiors it sounds like you would be better off with a view style camera like the M-Line Two MF rather than a tech camera. Mounting lenses is dirt cheap and swapping to electronic shutters in the future would be much less painful. You can use any lens you like from super wide to telephoto.

....... And I just happen to know someone who is selling one - cough, cough.  Wink

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=71714.0

« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 03:28:03 PM by gazwas » Logged

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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 07:45:35 PM »
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It's a great camera and thanks for sharing.  However, at this time, I really think a RM3Di would be the best solution given that I am usually out on location somewhere.  With that said, I am trying to get more studio work, so the M Line 2 may be in the equation a couple years down the road.
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
gazwas
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2012, 02:46:04 AM »
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Regardless of me having one for sale, the M is very compact and just as happy in the studio as out. Its nowhere near as big as a traditional view camera but with the flexibility and lower cost associated with one. To get similar movements as the M you'll have to step up to the RL3di that is designed for 5x4 which is a much bigger camera than the Rm3di. Attached is a (not very good) picture on mine on location shooting fireplaces to give you an impression of its compact size.

Might be well worth asking your dealer to test drive one before you jump in.

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archivue
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2012, 04:29:04 AM »
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It should be noted that Arca don't just mount the lens in the tube and send it back. They also make some other very welcome changes of some other parts. The magnetic angled cable release, angled sync terminal, new and better shutter opening leaver and the angled aperture lever. Also included is the magnetic cable release and mask for the VarioFinder.

the tube "rotatslide remove" is also a part of the bundle !

you you have your lens mounted on the lensboard and the first tube (some lenses don't need the first tube, there is also some curve lensboard... for the 35XL it's the case... ) and calibrated (around a micron or two for the precision...)
+ magnetic socket for the cable
+ special cable
+ "rotaslide remove" tube
+ new sync socket

but the shutter comes with the lens !

Calibration is a nightmare... once i had to change a copal for the same but new copal... the calibration was off...
you really can't do by yourself !

here is the link... in french ;-)

http://www.arca-swiss-magasin.com/contents/fr/d49_montage-etalonnage-objectif.html

and a picture from Capture integration...
you can see the lens on the round lensboard + 2 tubes (+ the optional flat lensboard to mount your R lens on a M or F line)
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gazwas
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2012, 06:06:59 AM »
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Sorry about the dust but here are some shots I did when I first got my camera of some of the extra bits involved in the lens mounting process.

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buckshot
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2012, 10:09:18 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. He could mount it for an Alpa or a Cambo as well come to that, even the T/S Cambo mount (and he's a real dummy, spends most of his time chasing his tail and getting his belly rubbed).

Of course, the problem is you can't actually buy the mounts - and no enterprising far-eastern engineering student on eBay has yet figured out that this is a potentially lucrative business opportunity staring them in the face.

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.

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?

Thinking about it, I would even pay 75% of what they are asking to do the work themselves if they would just send the hardware straight to me. That's right, I'd pay them to do nothing other than ship the parts. It'd be worth it for all the stress and hassle it would save of 'temporarily exporting' expensive lenses and the 'temporary importation' of them on the other end. I once sent some lenses to be retrofitted to one of the 'big three' and the 'advice' I got was to mark the shipment as 'lenses for repair' and value it for under $100 - so they didn't have to pay any import taxes, as they had no facility to 'temporarily import'. Er, ok, but you know what, you can't insure a shipment for less than it's declared value, so if it goes missing, who's going to pay? I would have got $100 for $4k worth of lenses - or maybe they, or the overseas dealer that was handling the money side of things, would have reimbursed me (er, right). Looking back, I realize that I was effectively railroaded into breaking the law by giving the false valuation and misleading description (a combination of naivety and necessity got the better of me that time, but I wouldn't do it again). And I paid over $3k for the pleasure, sheesh. I wonder if this is the deal with the other two of the 'big three' - do they have the facility to 'temporarily import' items (which is a fairly involved procedure, usually requiring the posting of a bond of some description to make sure the goods are exported again), or is everything shipped to them with 'a nod and a wink', trusting FedEx or UPS to deliver everything in good shape … interesting, because (as mentioned above) deliberate under-valuation or falsification of the customs declaration (e.g. stating 'for repair' - thus implying little or no value in the present condition) is illegal from here to Timbuktu. Any A/S, Alpa or Cambo dealer like to comment on how you handle this when you send lenses to be retrofitted? I guess if a company has no 'temporary importation' facility for me, they don't for you either? So, what do you do? Maybe you dodge the bullet and get your customer to ship their lenses direct (as in my case) and let them sweat it? If so, what do you advise them to do about insurance and custom's declarations?

Jim

-----

*For no one familiar with the episode of Seinfeld I refer to, Jerry goes to buy a new car and is almost forced into buying the expensive rust-proofing, which is both pointless and expensive … but the dealership insists is absolutely necessary. Eventually Puddy (the salesman) acknowledges that, 'Oh, we don’t even know what it is'.

** Quick thoughts on the Fotoman dmini, since no one ever mentions Fotoman cameras. From my brief time with it - Positives: Nicely machined, helical is good, feels solid, decently finished, great value for money (the body, grip and viewfinder cost less than Alpa's viewfinder alone), and they've since released an adapter plate that is adjustable to +/- 0.3mm. The helicals are particularly nice because they're 9cm in diameter, so the distances aren't as crowded as on the smaller Schneider ones - would work nicely with precision focussing rings (if Fotoman made them). The viewfinder is better than Cambo's (which, for the money, is abysmal), not as good as Alpa's or Arca's (Arca's is the best I've seen, but personally I find them all horrible to work with). I prefer the way the masks fit on the Fotoman to those of either Alpa or Cambo. The helicals also offer 1.5mm more travel than the Schneider's, so you can focus closer. Negatives: Don't like the way the lens attaches (four thumb screws - just like Horseman - too fiddly), the distance markings on the helical need checking, and the adapter plate is screwed on (you can change it, but need a screwdriver). All in all, if you want a really compact tech camera for under $1500 all-in (body + grip + viewfinder + mount + helical) then the dmini is one - perhaps the only - option ... and Fotoman will happily sell you the helicals and mounts as well for future lens purchases. I believe they will also custom make mounts for the same cost as the standard ones they sell (do ya hear me Arca, Alpa and Cambo? Custom mounts for the same cost - now that's customer service).
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 10:11:10 AM by buckshot » Logged
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