Rod Klukas, operating under the name Arca-Swiss USA, has released an image of the soon-to-be released Arca-Swiss Universalis II view camera system for Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format camera. Like Cambo’s Actus-GFX mini view camera, the Arca-Swiss Universalis II uses the GFX 50S as a digital magazine in combination with existing view camera system elements.
Magazine editorial portrait photography with large format view cameras using 4″x5″ sheet film, Polaroid Type 55 instant positive/negative film and Linhof fixed-size or Sinar variable-format 120 roll film backs with the choice of 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9 and 6×12 aspect ratios was a passion of mine during the analog era.
I discovered that my subjects responded very differently to view cameras than they ever did to all other camera types, and I easily achieved an intimacy and calmness in my subjects that took more work to obtain using smaller cameras in the hand or on the tripod.
The cameras’ movements – swing, shift and tilt – provided extra creative control of what was in or out of focus, especially when using longer focal lengths like 210mm and even standard focal lengths such as 150mm.
This hardware also came in handy photographing architecture and figures in landscapes when I was a corporate photographer working for mining companies in the deserts of Western Australia.
I miss those cameras and that very craft-oriented approach to photography. It is so rewarding, then, to see similar aspect ratio and camera type choices appearing in the digital era and I hope that more technical camera makers will adopt Fujifilm’s GFX camera series in the way that Arca-Swiss and Cambo have now.
I was lucky to have learned the art and craft of large format photography with a pair of Linhof cameras owned by a university art school, then bought a Cambo studio technical camera followed by a Graflex sheet film press camera then a Wista folding field camera made of brass and cherrywood.
Those who have not been exposed to technical cameras using 120 roll film or sheet film may wish to do a little reading via the lists of links below.
Technical camera & lens brands, current and defunct
- Arca-Swiss – no corporate website, see links below.
- Cambo – my first studio technical camera
- Deardorff – made wooden field cameras between 1923 and 1988.
- Ebony – made wooden and all-metal field view cameras for analog photography only but recently ceased production.
- Fujinon – made some of the most highly-regarded large format lenses, reportedly Richard Avedon’s favourites, but appears to no longer be producing them. Fujinon large format lenses are being sold on eBay at affordable prices. My two favourite focal lengths are 90mm and 210mm, with both available in f/5.6 maximum aperture versions.
- Gandolfi & Sons – makers of traditional mahogany folding field cameras from 4″x5″ through to 11″x14″ format for decades from 1885 until closing their doors in 2000.
- Schneider-Kreuznach – appears to have gone out of the large format lens business in favour of DSLR and medium format lenses.
- Toyo-View – US website, not updated since 2013. Toyo-View cameras are still sold at Adorama and B&H Photo Video.
- Wista – appears have stayed with analog sheet film cameras. I owned a Wista 4″x5″ cherrywood folding field camera.
- Arca-Swiss Magasin – Chambres F-Universalis
- FUJIFILMglobal – The History of FUJINON -the heritage of XF Lenses- / FUJIFILM 1/3
- FUJIFILMglobal – The History of FUJINON -the heritage of XF Lenses- / FUJIFILM 2/3
- FUJIFILMglobal – The History of FUJINON -the heritage of XF Lenses- / FUJIFILM 3/3
- Instagram – arcaswissusa
- photographylife – What is Arca-Swiss Quick Release System?
- Rod Klukas – Arca-Swiss Information
- Twitter – @ArcaSwissUSA
- Wikipedia – Arca-Swiss (in German only)