Richard,

Perhaps it's a sign I'm finally over that bad case of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Seriously, one of the things that made this 7x17 project "affordable" is the fact that it borrows many of the parts from the ARCA-SWISS system I already own. That was one of the main reasons I went this route.

I suppose it's only fitting that I should also "borrow" the ARCA-SWISS head from my current system. The key to using the B1 with a large format camera is to get the tension pre-set adjusted properly. With it set just right, you can move the camera where you want, but there is enough tension that when you release the camera, it stays put until you tighten the locking knob. The proper amount of tension also makes it possible to move the camera in one axis without disturbing the others. I know, and understand why, many others prefer a three-axis head, and all else being equal I'm a sucker for a geared head. However, all else is not equal, I have yet to find another head that is anywhere as light and compact as the B1 that comes close to matching it's strength and smooth operation. The G1570 is a pretty good three-axis head, but it weighs twice as much as the B1, has huge handles sticking out all over the place, and is surprisingly less sturdy.

When I first started using the B1 (my first ball head in any format) for 4x5, I admit it felt awkward. It took me about a year of steady use to get to the point where I was as comfortable with it as I was the three-axis head (Bogen 3047) I'd been using for about nine or ten years. I just assumed, with the bigger, heavier camera I'd need a bigger, heavier head. That may not be the case after all.

It looks like it will be a while longer before I get the back for my camera. Everything else is ready to go. Once the rear box frame/back/bellows unit arrive, I just have to bolt the rear box frame to the metal u-shaped bracket. I pre-drilled the holes in the box frame before I sent it to Richard Ritter to make/attach the back.

In the mean time, I've been playing around with various configurations of front standards and rails. Depending on how much the back and bellows weigh, I now think the camera, in max. configuration (30" extension, geared front standard) will weigh around 11 lbs. In minimum configuration (~18" extension, non-geared front standard), for hiking long distances, I think I might be able to get it down to less than 10 lbs. (perhaps 9 lbs.) In the min. configuration, mode, I would be able to use it with three lightweight lenses (240mm Computar, 305mm G Claron and 450mm Fujinon C) and my Gitzo 1325 tripod with the B1 head.

Kerry