What is Arca Swiss?

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BidinTime Junior Member • Posts: 41
What is Arca Swiss?

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Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,213
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

It is a standard for a plate system that allows you to quickly mount/release your camera from a tripod so you don't have to tighten/loosen a screw every time. Some brands use their own proprietary standard (Manfrotto).

https://photographylife.com/arca-swiss-quick-release-system

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OP BidinTime Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable. So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless. Is that the proprietary standard that you're talking about?

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads, so they have a common manufacturer (and plate)?

First world problems, I know.

petrochemist Senior Member • Posts: 2,785
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

Krusty79 wrote:

It is a standard for a plate system that allows you to quickly mount/release your camera from a tripod so you don't have to tighten/loosen a screw every time. Some brands use their own proprietary standard (Manfrotto).

https://photographylife.com/arca-swiss-quick-release-system

Indeed a 'quick release' system that unlike most others can allow some re positioning.

With long lenses the plates are normally fitted, in a fore ward /backward configuration allowing balancing (the arca plate come in a huge range of lengths - I've got a 200mm one and some others only 15mm long).

In macro setups they often have a side to side alignment.

I believe the originator was actually the firm Acra Swiss (who also make large format cameras) but equivalents that are mostly compatible are made by a whole range of other manufacturers including 'really right stuff' at the quality end & numerous Chinese makers at the budget end.

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petrochemist Senior Member • Posts: 2,785
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable. So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless. Is that the proprietary standard that you're talking about?

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads?

I think it's a reverse engineered 'standard' all will fit arca swiss heads but some at the wide end (A) & some at the narrow end (B).

If you pick up a plate from A & try to fit it to a clamp from B the clamp may not open far enough. Likewise a plate from B will not be held firmly in a clamp from A, yet either A or B will work with accessories that are the same size as the original arca model.

Fortunately all the random assortment of bit's I've collected have fit in every combination I've tried other than a plate I made myself which turns out too small for most of my clamps! I think the screw type clamps generally have a greater tolerance for widths than the lever type. Mind you there are also some plates with little safety pegs underneath (supposedly to stop the plate sliding right out if the clamp is just loosened) that can stop them fitting in some clamps. Most of these pegs are removable with a simple Allen key

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pforsell
pforsell Veteran Member • Posts: 3,830
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable. So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless. Is that the proprietary standard that you're talking about?

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads, so they have a common manufacturer (and plate)?

First world problems, I know.

If you only buy clamps, heads, plates and foots made by reputable companies like Arca-Swiss, RRS, Kirk, Acratech, Wimberley they always fit.

If you buy $2 plates from China all bets are off. They can call them compatible with whatever, but most likely they haven't even seen the Arca-Swiss specs ever, only a cell phone photo of some other manufacturer's ball head.

I wouldn't buy "compatible" spare parts from East Asian eBay to my car, either.

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DJMusic Senior Member • Posts: 1,189
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

The previous posters are correct that Arca Swiss is a brand, but it's also widely adopted as a format.  Many manufacturers have adopted this standard.  Manfrotto is an exception.  They make a plate that is slanted in the front (where it catches) and relatively flat on the back.  It's their proprietary quick release plate.  It works well, but it's kind of a pain if you have both Arca Swiss and Manfrotto.

Peak Design make their "Dual Plate".  It's Arca Swiss on the sides and Manfrotto on front/back.  It's a neat solution.  I have them on both my cameras.

Hope this helps.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 14,146
Re: What is Arca Swiss?
1

Arca-Swiss is a designer of large format monorail cameras and tripod heads. They have been in business since at least the early 1960s.

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Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 14,146
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable.

Which two manufacturers. This is important because some companies make marketing claims  which are not backed up by their engineering - or reverse engineering.

So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless

Not really, you just have to choose carefully.

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads, so they have a common manufacturer (and plate)?

I have no problems using "Arca-Swiss" compatible plates made by Arca-Swiss, Jobu, ProMediaGear, Foba, Sunwayfoto, Neweer, Hejnar, Really Right Stuff, Benro, and SmallRig in clamps made by Arca-Swiss, Promedia Gear, and Really Right Stuff.

First world problems, I know.

Yep.

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Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 27,510
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable. So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless. Is that the proprietary standard that you're talking about?

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads, so they have a common manufacturer (and plate)?

First world problems, I know.

What ballheads, and are the plates original or did you buy them separately?

Bob
Bob Senior Member • Posts: 2,479
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

I hit Post prematurely and you replied (quickly) so I couldn't edit. Thank you.

Here's my complaint:

I have two tripod-ballheads by different manufacturers. Both say they are Arca compatible. But the QR plates are not interchangeable. So, being Arca compatible is kind of meaningless. Is that the proprietary standard that you're talking about?

Is the only way to have compatible QR plates to swap out the ballheads, so they have a common manufacturer (and plate)?

First world problems, I know.

Can you be more specific? What brand and model tripods are you using?

OP BidinTime Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

One is Vanguard BH-50 ballhead.

The other ballhead is Sirui C10S.

I like the features on both tripods. For a travel tripod, nothing comes close to the Sirui.

pforsell
pforsell Veteran Member • Posts: 3,830
Re: What is Arca Swiss?
3

BidinTime wrote:

One is Vanguard BH-50 ballhead.

The other ballhead is Sirui C10S.

I like the features on both tripods. For a travel tripod, nothing comes close to the Sirui.

I have never heard of either company. If they make stuff that is incompatible, I never will. Thanks for heads up.

I have a couple of Arca-Swiss Monoball ballheads: an older B1 and a newer Z1, RRS L-brackets for my cameras, RRS replacement feet for my lenses, Wimberley gimbal, Kirk clamps and Acratech plates for miscellaneous stuff. My tripods are Gitzo and my monopods are Manfrotto. Everything works beautifully and they all fit together.

Can you replace the clamps in your ballheads with a Kirk one? Or replace the plates you have with genuine Arca-Swiss or Acratech plates? That should fix at least some of the incompatibilities. Or replace the ballheads on your tripods with RRS or Arca-Swiss one.

Life is too short to spend it beta testing cynically made and falsely advertized junk.

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Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 20,943
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

One is Vanguard BH-50 ballhead.

The other ballhead is Sirui C10S.

I like the features on both tripods. For a travel tripod, nothing comes close to the Sirui.

The quick release plates should be interchangeable.  The Sirui Clamp has a safety pin feature which stops the plate from sliding.  Is that what is causing the problem?  Can you fit the Vanguard plate into the Sirui head if you hold the pin down?

How are they incompatible?  Are you unable to use either plate on the other head, or is the incompatibility one way only, e.g. can you use the Sirui plate on the Vanguard head or vice versa?

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Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 27,510
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

pforsell wrote:

BidinTime wrote:

One is Vanguard BH-50 ballhead.

The other ballhead is Sirui C10S.

I like the features on both tripods. For a travel tripod, nothing comes close to the Sirui.

I have never heard of either company.

Really?  Vanguard has been around since the 1990s in the US (founded in China 1986).  Sirui is more recent, founded in 2001.

I have a Sirui tilt head fitted to a Feisol monopod.  The plate fits fine on my MeFoto tripod head.  It's a little big for the head, but it will not slip once tightened.

Mark

OP BidinTime Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

The plates do not fit each other's clamp. I'll check more and report back.

I may look into swapping one of the ballheads for compatibility.

The tripods themselves have been great and I would have no trouble recommending them, aside from this incompatibility with the ballheads.

All of the input has been great and I appreciate it very much.

Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 14,146
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

BidinTime wrote:

The plates do not fit each other's clamp. I'll check more and report back.

I may look into swapping one of the ballheads for compatibility.

The tripods themselves have been great and I would have no trouble recommending them, aside from this incompatibility with the ballheads.

All of the input has been great and I appreciate it very much.

To help guide you in your decision to replace one or the other head, If you can take measures (width and bevel angle) on the plates for the two heads, someone here can tell you which system is close to the standard.

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DJMusic Senior Member • Posts: 1,189
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

I'm surprised you're having trouble with a Sirui (https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/battle-of-the-titans-top-ball-heads-tested) . I have two Sirui ball heads and have no issues with any of my plates. I have both the K-30 and the C-10, very different in terms of use case, but both excellent heads.  I was thinking of investing in another head, but after reading the DPReview article linked above, decided to save my money and buy another lens. 

There's always the possibility of a bad unit, but you might also check the plate.  I've found that the Sirui heads offer a good degree of movement in the clamp.  I have had issues with my off-brand gimbal (won't tighten on all plates, but that is not a Sirui unit.

Best of luck in your search.

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 13,669
Re: What is Arca Swiss?

Mark B. wrote:

pforsell wrote:

BidinTime wrote:

One is Vanguard BH-50 ballhead.

The other ballhead is Sirui C10S.

I like the features on both tripods. For a travel tripod, nothing comes close to the Sirui.

I have never heard of either company.

Really? Vanguard has been around since the 1990s in the US (founded in China 1986). Sirui is more recent, founded in 2001.

I have a Sirui tilt head fitted to a Feisol monopod. The plate fits fine on my MeFoto tripod head. It's a little big for the head, but it will not slip once tightened.

Mark

The company headquarters was originally in Taiwan, the lady that owns Vanguard Guardforce is from there.

I visited the Chinese factory (rather large) in Guangzhou about 15 years ago but I see they are now in Myanmar.

I wonder if they still use the factory in China.

BTW they also make binoculars and gadget bags . One production line, when I visited , was making a bag for Sony.

OP BidinTime Junior Member • Posts: 41
Update: What is Arca Swiss?

Vanguard QR (left) and Sirui QR plates

Ok, this has all been great info.

The QR plates are not identical but they have the same width and are, somewhat, interchangeable. They fit within the clamp and the safety pin but don't inspire a lot of confidence (one QR plate overhangs the clamp, the other clamp appears too small. But the safety pins engage so maybe I'm overthinking this.

I did see that the ballheads will fit each other's legs (Sirui ballhead on Vanguard legs and vice-versa) with the use of a reducer bushing.

So I need to check the weight capacities of the ballheads to see if they are similar, and decide if I want to buying a duplicate ballhead is a good decision, or swap the ballhead, or if I can live with my current situation.

Any other thoughts are welcome but I think this discussion has provided the insight I sought.

Thanks one and all!

PS. I put white paint around the edges of the Vanguard QR plate for some reason. Maybe as a key that it fits in the clamp either way? That's a nice feature.

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