For two years we have been searching for the best 4x5 inch view camera camera to use with the heavy weight of the 4x5 BetterLight scan back digital inserts.

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Arca-Swiss, a recommended Best Buy for 4x5 inch large format professional studio cameras

We went to Photokina 98 to test everything that we could find. After five days we found that one camera has all the necessary features and is a definite winner.

Michael Collette (of Better Light) uses a Toyo and recommends it highly. Thus we visited the Toyo booth and could see why it was a good recommendation. They even have a newer model.

But at the Arca Swiss booth we finally found the 4 x 5 inch view camera that we were really looking for. A rock-solid 4x5 camera that would not wobble. We have all kinds of problems with wobble and bending from our older Linhof Technikardan. In fairness to Linhof I would add that they too have recognized this several years ago and no longer sell the model I have. I would also add in fairness to Linhof that it is the basic L-shaped geometry which is at fault. Linhof itself builds solid professional equipment, indeed their tripod receives our highest recommendation.

L-shaped 4x5 cameras by any company are destined to bend with the weight of a digital insert. Michael Collette recommends selecting other structural solutions which are more stable, such as the Toyo, and obviously the Sinar . Worse, the SCSI cable puts a heavy drag and pull on the insert. No L-shaped camera can withstand the strain.


Arca-Swiss was hard to find in the USA for several years, but now their office in Chicago is available. Of course most important is that the home office in Switzerland is alive and well. Except for the fact that Arca-Swiss recently moved out of Switzerland into France. This brings their Arca-Swiss large format view cameras into the Common Market (rather than having them exported from Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union). Since Arca-Swiss itself either has no web site or the web site is impossible to find, this makes it rather difficult to contact anyone at their home office.

After visiting all the 4x5 booths at Photokina over the entire week period, both Andrea and I recognized that the Arca-Swiss camera won in all respects as the ideal 4x5 camera for digital photography.

Arca-Swiss is rather obviously Swiss-made, as solid as the Alpine mountains of that country. Swiss precision is legendary so here is a camera you can count on. Let us hope this tradition continues in their new home in southeastern France.

The camera is potentially portable. Keep in mind that the fully portable cameras (field cameras) do not have zero detents strong enough to hold up under constant studio use. We prefer a portable field camera for on-assignment, but we lost too many shots which were out of focus due to lack of a stable front locking system. It is essential to have graduations where you know your tilts and swings position at all times. Flexibility is great when packing and unpacking and carrying, but if your resultant photographs lack depth of field, then it is safer to have a full studio camera.

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Arca Swiss

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