21 Jul Arca Swiss Rm3d
Ok. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Arca Swiss cameras. Over the years I have used a 4×5 F Line, 6×9 F Metric, 6×9 F Line Compact, 6×9 M Line 2 and now… now they have this lovely little technical camera. How, how I ask you, could I possibly resist it? The R Line is completely different than anything else in the Arca lineup. There’s no rail, no standards, there’s not even a bellows for cryin out loud! Can this thing possibly make pictures of architecture? Yes. Definitely… and with great finesse.
Truth be told, technical cameras have been around for quite a while, with great products on the market from Alpa, Cambo and more recently Sinar. Could Arca Swiss possibly bring something new to the table that the other manufacturers have missed? Umm, yeah. The Rm3d is quick, nimble, precise and retains the modularity of all Arca Swiss products. I find that I’m using it more often than my view camera just because it sets up quicker, is lighter, more compact and has a much better focusing system. The focusing mechanism built into the R is why I actually consider it THE camera for obtaining the sharpest possible images. Here is, finally, a mechanical instrument that can match and exploit the high resolutions inherent in today’s high end digital backs and the new lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider.
Below is a closeup of the focusing ring. Here is the big difference between the R and all the other tech cameras. With other manufacturers the helical focus mount is integral to the lens and very similar to a dslr manual focus ring with very little fine adjustment available. The focus ring on the R makes nearly 5 full rotations, that’s about 1720° of focus adjustment from infinity to closeup… much, much more adjustment than the other style or my view camera have. The ring is indexed and all the lenses come with a cheat sheet that tells you what index number to set the focus at for a given distance. I have tried this method using a tape measure and it is extremely accurate. I do work tethered to the laptop most of the time, so I don’t really need to bother with this method. Honestly, though, even with the wide lenses I get pretty good focus on the groundglass but then my eyes are still holding up nicely given their 40 years *knocks on wood*.
Also below are the control for the tilt adjustment and the scale for movements… 10mm rise, 30mm fall and 15mm to each side.
One of the great things about the system is that I can swap lenses back and forth between the R and my view cameras. When you receive a lens in R Mount the lens itself is mounted to a board (flat or recessed depending on focal length). The board bayonet mounts into a spacer that Arca Swiss uses to calibrate the lens to the focus mechanism on the camera and lastly there is an additional spacer to be removed for focusing on a sliding back.
Above is a shot of a Schneider mounted into the R Bayonet adapter. The slight recess in its board allows me to use the 35mm lens on my M2 and still be able to focus onto a sliding back, very cool.
Below is a shot of the camera setup on location. Normally their is a small mouting block that sits in the bottom of the camera that fits any Arca quick release. Keeping up with the modularity of all their systems, this block can be replaced with the rail from my view camera which allows me to back the camera up that little bit extra, here allowing me to use a 55mm instead of a 43mm. Yeah, I get all geeked out about this stuff.