ALPA of Switzerland Announces ALPA XO Exoskeleton aka Cage for Fujifilm GFX 100 100-Megapixel Hybrid Medium Format Camera

Medium format digital camera and lens maker ALPA of Switzerland has been showing off prototypes of its ALPA XO Exoskeleton for the Fujifilm GFX 100 DSLR-style medium format digital hybrid camera and the exoskeleton aka camera cage has an uncanny resemblance to the range of cages and accessories designed and made by expatriate Italian-Australian cinematographer/director Dante Cecchin for his LockCircle brand in northern Italy.

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ALPA of Switzerland XO Exoskeleton for Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format digital camera with ALPA Switar 80mm cinema prime lens.

ALPA has long had a reputation for producing high-priced, well-designed and beautifully-manufactured cameras and lenses and has been expanding into the cinema space with its PLATON range and now the coming new XO range for the GFX 100.

Given the reputed high quality and precision of Mr Cecchin’s cinema camera accessories and his location just below the Swiss/Italian border, a collaboration between the two companies seems like a wise decision.

ALPA XO Exoskeleton aka Cage for Fujifilm GFX 100

LockCircle Cages for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 and GH5S

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  • Fujifilm GF lensesB&H
  • FUJIFILM GFX 100 Medium Format Mirrorless Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • LockCircle camera cages B&H

The Guardian: The drifter: Joel Sternfeld on his sly glimpses of wild America – seen from the endless highway

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jan/11/joel-sternfeld-photographer-america-interview-colour-photographs-1977-88

“… A native New Yorker, he has roamed through America constantly since earning a BA in Art from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, in 1965, already obsessed with “the great underlying theme of my work: the utopian vision of America contrasted with the dystopian one”.”

Linhof Master Technika Classic 4″x5″ sheet film view camera, one of my favourite cameras for architectural and portrait photography.

Commentary

I recommend learning photography with a view camera, analog or digital, if that is an option as it is a very different, more contemplative experience than can be had with most smaller format cameras.

With the ongoing depletion of available 4″x5″ and 8″x10″ sheet film stock, professional processing labs and top-quality analog printing services, it may be wise to consider digital options if contemplating photographing on location with field and portable view cameras.

The gallery and list below contain a number of digital alternatives that accept mirrorless cameras and digital backs of various brands via adapters.

The medium and large format film colour photography of Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz and other North American photographers crucially influenced my own ways of seeing and working as much as that of small, hand camera photographers.

Notable colour photographers of the former persuasion worth checking out include these:

Contemporary digital technical and view cameras

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Fujifilm GFX-50S

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  • Arca-Swiss F-Metric C 4×5 Field CameraB&H
  • Cambo ACTUS View CameraB&H – versions for Canon EF, Fujifilm GFX, Fujifilm X, Nikon F and Sony E camera bodies.
  • Cambo ACTUS-DB2 View Camera BodyB&H – view camera for digital backs.
  • Cambo Technical CamerasB&H
  • Cambo ACTUS-XL-35 View CameraB&H – view camera for 35mm sensor format cameras, more for studio than location use.
  • Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift LensB&H
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium Format Mirrorless Camera (Body Only)B&H – remarkable effort from Fujifilm with the next version of this camera to be the GFX-100S, and with a rangefinder or rangefinder-style alternative apparently also coming sometime soon in the form of the GFX-50R.
  • Horseman VCC PRO View Camera Converter for CanonB&H
  • Linhof 4×5 Master Technika 3000 Metal Field CameraB&H
  • Linhof 4×5 Master Technika “Classic” Rangefinder Metal Field CameraB&H – this really is the classic folding portable view camera for use in the hand or on a stand aka tripod, with rangefinder and optical viewfinder.
  • Linhof Techno Digital Field Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Silvestri Bicam Professional Modular Camera BodyB&H
  • Toyo-View 45AX 4 x 5″ Field CameraB&H
  • Toyo-View 8×10 810MII Folding Metal Field CameraB&H
  • Wista Field-45DX Field Camera (Ebony)B&H – one of my favourite cameras during the analog era.
  • Wista Field-45DX Field Camera (Rosewood)B&H

Coming Soon: Arca-Swiss Universalis II View Camera System for Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium Format Cameras

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

  • Alpa
  • 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.
  • Horseman
  • Linhof
  • Rodenstock
  • Schneider-Kreuznach – appears to have gone out of the large format lens business in favour of DSLR and medium format lenses.
  • Sinar
  • 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.

Other Links: