Ultimate tripod heads, part one: the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube

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Arca-Swiss C1 Cube with D800E mounted via universal L bracket.

Arca-Swiss are known for two things: producing excellent precision photographic gear, and having spotty availability – probably due to very small production runs. This two part review is going to cover what I think are two of the best tripod heads currently available – the P0 and C1 Cube. I picked up the P0 from B&H as a lightweight travel head during my trip to New York earlier in the year; I’ve been using it since – more often than I’d imagined I would. After being very impressed with the little one, I requested a C1 Cube as soon as it finally became available; both out of curiosity, and also to see if the hype was true.

Let’s start with the C1 Cube.

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…turns into this.

The purpose of a geared tripod head is all about precision: the ability to move the camera in small, defined and repeatable increments makes life easy for anybody who has to frame very precisely. (Of course this is significantly less useful if you are using a rangefinder, non-TTL viewfinder or non-100% finder.) There are only a few options if you need such a device; unsurprising because it’s quite a specialized piece of equipment – there’s the Manfrotto 410 and 405 heads; the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube (reviewed here), the Arca-Swiss D4 geared ball, and Korean almost direct copy of the Cube – the Photo Clam Multiflex.

I’ve been using the 410 for the last year; it’s served me well but has a few annoying niggles: firstly, the odd shape and size makes it tough to pack on assignment; secondly, it doesn’t move the camera about the same central point, so you frequently have to tweak the other axes after repositioning one of them. Lastly, there’s an ever-so-slight bit of play in the axes because they do not really lock down other than by sprung knobs: not noticeable with the D800E, but occasionally noticeable with the Hasseblad, digital back and long exposures. It does offer some advantages over the Cube, however: a much greater range of travel in the axes (120 degrees on both lateral axes, full circle around the base), quick-unlock and quick-positioning functionality, and a geared pan base. If you want to work fast, but need final precise tweaking of position, this is the one to have.

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One more gratuitous shot of the Cube; it’s rare that equipment turns into something to be photographed, but this is one of those exceptions. It’s a mechanical work of art.

The Cube really needs to be used with an L bracket, however – it moves through just +/- 30 degrees on each of the lateral axes. In any case, this is the correct way of doing things anyway to maintain proper centre of gravity; it’s just that the Manfrotto L bracket for the 410 proved evasively impossible to find. Combined with an L bracket, the Cube actually offers greater positioning flexibility; not to mention two pan bases – so you can use the bottom one to position the head, and the top one to stitch with. Neat. If you really must dump the whole thing sideways, you can – the base contains a hidden hinge that tilts through 60 degrees, with the remaining 30 degrees taken up by the geared track in that axis.

Overall build quality of the Cube is superb – fit and finish is every bit what we’d expect from an Arca-Swiss product, and one costing the best part of $1700 – excluding quick release plates. (No, that’s not a typo.) It’s a solid lump of aluminum, weighing nearly 1kg; this head is best deployed on a very sturdy set of studio legs, like the Gitzo GT5562 I use. There is no play or flex anywhere, and that includes in the geared knobs; which move smoothly yet have absolutely zero backlash thanks to a syncromesh-like gearing system. There’s also a tension adjustment for both axes, too. The pan bases are ungeared, but very smooth and operate with just the right amount of resistance for precise positioning. They feel much like a video fluid head, actually. Though the edges are ostensibly sharp – it is a ‘cube’ after all – they are bevelled and won’t cut you. The top deck also has a pair of bubble levels – one for each axis – built in. Interestingly, the Cube has no load rating published – looking at the way the thing is constructed, I can’t imagine any piece of photographic equipment that will tax the head before other parts of your support system – probably the QR clamp, if anything. It remains to be seen how well the exposed gear tracks hold up to dust and grit over time, however. I’ve not heard about any problems online even from early owners, so I’m inclined to believe it’s probably a non-issue.

There is one catch, however. And that’s in the QR clamp mechanism. It operates in two stages, requiring movement of a little catch each time to release – so your camera doesn’t fall off by itself. Good, right? Not really. Unlocking the first stage enables release by sliding; unlocking the second stage basically means the camera will fall right out – the grooves move far apart enough that the dovetail releases completely. There is no safety on either end to stop the camera sliding out with shorter plates, either. And on top of that, the lever doesn’t really lock down in the tight, secure way of the Manfrotto clamps – there’s a bit of give to it, and you have to test it to be sure. Not good, especially on a head of this price; what’s wrong with a threaded locking knob that can only open far enough to permit sliding, but not complete vertical removal?

At this point, the obvious comparison is to the Korean copy: the Multiflex. You’d expect it to be quite a lot cheaper since most of the engineering was already done for them; no dice; In fact, it’s about $1400 – that’s over 80% of the price. I’ve handled this head on two occasions – once at a photo show, and once at a studio in KL. The finishing is noticeably rougher, and it seems that they weren’t able to make the knobs clear the housing – so the upshot is that the knobs stick on magnetically and must be removed for certain movements. If you lose a knob…good luck trying to find a replacement. Though it does have a significantly better QR clamp, I don’t think the relatively small saving is worthwhile simply because the action is nowhere near as precise.  MT

To be continued and concluded in part two with the P0 Monoball.

The Arca-Swiss C1 Cube is available here from B&H.
The Arca-Swiss universal L bracket to fit both Cube and Monoball (and any other compatible rail) is available here from B&H.


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  1. Why didn’t you choose the D4? It’s a a little farther from the nodal point, but could possibly replace your P0 in the field if you don’t concern its weight much. I think I should finally bite the bullet and get RRS legs (still debating which ones) and a D4.

    • Two reasons: wasn’t available at the time, and the nodal point movement matters a LOT for macro product work (which is what I use this for). A few mm off and you’ve got to translate the camera again to maintain the composition.

  2. http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/9162206420/photos/1822315/dsc_3732 Just a bizarre setup that I assembled.

    Just to say that I have had my C1 for a couple of years now. It’s a great bit of kit that works everytime. I use it for architectural work and the speed of use is second to none. The bubble levels are good but not perfect, but they will get you close. The locking arm is a good feature as it stops you camera from falling off if it gets operated by a numpty. You are correct that it needs to be adjusted for different camera plates, usually plates from the USA which all seem to have a ‘fatter’ lip. Bought because it was smaller, lighter and with greater precision that my previous geared head. As an extra it produces effortless panoramas. Arca customer support, I emailed them for the location of the C1 serial number, they replied within a day and they told me exactly where it was, nowhere! Not a problem but makes insurance tricky. It does get through European airport security in your hand baggage, which is a huge plus. It’s small, light and accurate, what more do you want?

    • I prefer a simple screw clamp to the lever, to be honest. I also don’t travel with it: too expensive to check-in, too heavy/ bulky to carry on, and a high risk of my life being made difficult by security people in undeveloped parts of the world…but yes, it’s an awesome head.

  3. plevyadophy says:

    Hey, Ming (and other readers),

    Have you seen this extremely detailed and well written review of the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube (which, by the way, raises some of the issues others have raised, and seems also to dismiss others e.g. Arca clamp): The ARCA-SWISS C1 Cube , Take 2 by Paul L. Richman, Ph. D.http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/magic-box.shtml


    • Yes, the clamp is a pain. I replaced mine in the end with a simple screw-in.

      • plevyadophy says:

        But it seems that the reviewer is saying that the clamp is NOT a pain.

        I saw one in the flesh for the first time yesterday at a trade show along with the Leinhoff [spelling?] version (which I thought was rubbish) and had a touchie feelie with both; and that’s what led me to revisit all the reviews on this product.

        The reviewer points out that there are/were two versions of the same clamp in circulation. To be honest I could find nothing wrong with the clamp (the photographer who had/owned it, had a technical camera attached to the head). I will be back at the show today and will have another touchie feelie and bring along my own plates (an eBay no-name thing, and an Induro plate).

        Obviously, I will report back here on my findings.


        • The clamp in the video isn’t a pain – the original (current) one that comes with the Cube *is* most certainly a bad design. I just replaced mine with a simple screw clamp that isn’t sensitive to individual plates; the fliplock requires adjustment for each plate and is very sensitive and easy to lose all of the parts onto the floor if you accidentally undo it too far. Having one mechanism on each side doesn’t make much sense as you’d have the worst of both worlds, it seems.

          • plevyadophy says:

            Hi Ming,

            I have just got back from the trade show and …………

            To be honest, I couldn’t really understand your gripe with the Arca Swiss Cube because you didn’t really explain it very well (with illustrative images showing the problem).

            But having gone back today to have another, and closer, look I fully understand. And yep, “ground control, we have a problem!”

            I actually like the Flip Lock lever. However, like you pointed out in your review, the actual clamp body design can result in your entire camera kit crashing to the ground. Some clamps have a safety pin that pops up from the top of the clamp and into the underside of your camera plate; this prevents the camera sliding out from the clamp entirely and the Arca Swiss Cube’s clamp doesn’t have this mechanism. An alternative safety mechanism, which i have on my Induro clamp and plate kit (and is a mechanism employed by many other manufacturers), is that the camera plate will have two bolts that hang/protrude downwards from the bottom of the camera plate (one at each end of the plate) and will act as stops if the camera slides too far in the clamp if you slightly loosen the clamp; this system isn’t available in the Arca Swiss Cube either.

            So basically, there’s very little (at best) to zero (at worst) safety for your camera on the Arca Swiss Cube. Like you say Ming, one had better not loosen the clamp to adjust camera position whilst the head is tilted at an acute angle otherwise ………….. CRASH!!! goodbye camera!!

            I would still buy the Cube with the Arca’s clamp in place because some of the better clamps I have seen are actually converters that piggy back on top of the existing clamp one has.

            I also took the time to take a closer look at the Linhof equivalent; as luckily for me the heads (the Cube and the Linhof version) were on display side-by-side.

            The Linhof product is better looking, better built, has a much better finish, has a graduated panning base (unlike Arca’s which is unmarked) and is smaller and costs half as much. That’s the good news.

            The bad news. Well, it justifiably costs half as much because it offers half the functionality. It can’t tilt to 90 degrees as can the Arca Cube, and whilst the Arca’s, for want of a better expression, “main quick access functionality” allows for movements up to 30 degrees, the Linhof product gives you maximum movement of up to just 12 degrees; I actually found myself wondering what on earth I would use the Linhof product for given it’s small range of movement (in fact, why did they bother to make the thing?!).

            That’s the end of my little report.



            • Sorry, not easy to explain the problem with the head clamp. In any case, I replaced mine with a screw and all is well.

              The Linhof is twice as expensive here and doesn’t tilt over 90 deg – are you sure about the price? 12 degrees seems like it’s more for levelling than aiming…large format cameras, I suppose – which makes sense since as the majority of users seem to keep them horizontal.

              • plevyadophy says:

                Yeah, it is kinda hard to explain the problem in words only; a few more detailed pics with arrows and labels on the pics would have done it (but that ain’t your image style for your site I guess; and I suspect even my slightly more wordy explanation of the problem won’t help a lot of people understand).

                As for price, I am 100% certain of price.The U.K. price is circa £1,400 (incl. tax) from the likes or Robert White and the Linhof from Linhofstudio.com, according to their rep at the show, is £700 plus 20% tax. So not far off being around half the price.

                And, your assessment as to why the very limited movements is quite good, very good in fact, and something I hadn’t thought of. Linhof are mostly associated with LF and technical cams, so yeah such users would more than likely just be using the thing for levelling. Good call there Ming. In fact the rep was telling me that they have a solution for those who want to move their cam to an angle greater than 12 degrees; it’s an L-bracket with a fancy pants panning base built into it; so it seems, given the nature of their solution, the designers didn’t envisage users regularly tilting to much more than 12 degrees.

                So it looks like the only show in town for the rest of us is the Arca Swiss Cube (or the Photo Clam Multiflex variant if one is penny pinching).


                • ‘Penny pinching’ with the multiflex seems like a bit of a cruel joke seeing as the prices are nearly the same!

                  • plevyadophy says:

                    Yeah, that’s why it’s “penny pinching”; an attempt to save a few pennies here and there. I certainly wouldn’t call it saving money, in any real sense, when purchasing that Multiflex thing. However, on the other hand, a saving of around £400 can be considered a lot of money for some folks especially as some folks say that customer service from Photo Clam is excellent whilst that of Arca Swiss is non-existent.

                    But like you, given that the price between the two is so close (close enough that at trade show discounts and such like, the Arca would be the same price as the Multiflex), I would much rather buy the real deal.

                    I was pretty much in awe of the Arca Cube after reading numerous reviews, and now after having had a touchie feelie over two days (yesterday and the day before) I am madly in love and in need of therapy! 🙂

                    It’s an awesome piece of kit, and I would go so far as saying that if anyone is doing a lot of macro, product or architectural work, they would be mad not to buy the Cube after having seen it. The price does seem steep, very steep, but I think if one is a commercial photographer then on the very first job that this device is used it will justify itself and after a year of use the money spent would feel like pocket change (and I also learnt, from the photographer who had the Cube at the show, that the Cube comes with a lifetime guarantee). There are very few things in photography that are “must haves”, generally what we buy are “I wants”, but I regard this Cube as one of those rare “must haves” with only, in my view, the Manfrotto geared head offering any real competition (and that’s only because the Manfrotto head offers the flexibility of faster movements for fast paced shoots).

                    • I have the Manfrotto too, thinking that I could settle – the problem is that it moves the nodal point of the camera considerably, so you find yourself having to do a lot of adjustment in other axes to correct the initial move. It also has a bit of play. This is a royal pain for high magnification, precision work – something which the Cube doesn’t at all suffer from. Since that’s pretty much the vast majority of what I shoot commercially, I was sold…

                    • plevyadophy says:

                      Hi Ming,

                      But you have the smaller version of the Manfrotto geared head, am I correct?

                      It’s much more travel friendly than the larger Manfrotto (in fact the larger one is HUGE, and not travel friendly at all) but from what I have heard and seen (via YouTube review), the larger one doesn’t have any play.

                      I also noted the positioning of the camera platform on the bigger one, which seemed to me an attempt by Manfrotto to address the nodal point issue. Do you have any experience in using the larger Manfrotto geared, and does it in fact work better at keeping the lens centred or close to centre?

                    • Yes, the smaller one. The larger one is…ridiculous even for studio work! I haven’t had a chance to play with one, but the design doesn’t seem to be different enough to keep things centred – it just seems to be larger.

              • John M Owens says:

                Ming, Linhof LF cameras like the Technika and Master Technika have film backs that can be easily rotated so you can shoot landscape or portrait mode, and have no need to rotate the whole camera. So as other comments to this thread have noted, such LF cameras only really need leveling, in which case the 12 degree movements allowed by the Linhof 3D Micro make sense. But for DSLR photographers the greater movements of the Arca Swiss not doubt have merit (if one does not simply want to use an L plate). …

                • I am aware of that, I have an Arca 4×5.

                  What I was referring to is the Linhof head appearing to be the same as the geared positioning control for tilt and swing of the standards, obviously not rotation.

  4. On the Multiflex subject, I wouldn’t buy their gear on ethical grounds. Why would anyone support a stolen idea?

  5. It’s an amazing testament to Arca. Their products are unequalled so we gripe nod moan but still buy their stuff. Rod Klukas is very helpful. He represents AS in the US. He helped me out hen I had an issue with my D4.

  6. I use the multiflex for years now on a daily basis and couldn’t be happier. I used the cube a couple of times. You state that the engineering is nowhere near as precise, that is not true. the surfaces of the cube catch finger grease much more easily and the cube’s edges are sharper.

    the multiflex’s add on knobs are a great feature, without them the knobs are exactly the same size as the cube’s, you don’t have to use them, but they are much nicer to the hand and easier to turn. they are not magnetic btw., but have a small spring loaded ball to keep them in place.

    Although Arca invented the that quick lock system, they fail miserably at getting it right. it realy sucks. RRS is the one to look at, Sunway foto isn’t bad either. The multiflex clamp isn’t bad, I use a RRS screw clamp on mine though.

    I have one gripe with the Multiflex, that is that the friction control doesn’t seem to do anything, but it is not needed anyway, the friction is just perfect.

    Today the prices aren’t that much apart, but when I bought my Multiflex about 6 or 7 years ago, I paid around 1000€, at that time the Cube was 2200€.

    Photoclam’s customer service is great. One gear broke a few years ago, I had to send it to Korea, but I had it back in less than 4 days, for free, long after the warranty expired.

    I do own too many tripod heads, nearly every geard one ever made (but the cube), my favorite one it the multiflex. The d4 is worth looking at, but using them side by side is confusing, as they switch axis. Once using a cube or its knock off, you never go back to the 400 series Manfrotto.

    Another thing: Getting in contact with Arca is nearly impossible. I don’t know how many times I send them emails or tried to call them with no success. The don’t even have a website.

    • I suspect there may be QC issues involved too. Both Multiflexes I handled recently had some backlash and didn’t feel as good as the Cube; the knobs had to be added/ removed in order to move the head in certain axes. At under half the price, maybe it made sense – but since the cube has just ‘gone up’ to about $1700, I can’t imagine it ever being EUR2200/$3000 then dropping by half – are you sure about the prices?

      Agree on Arca support though – it’s pretty much nonexistent.

      • When Arca introduced the cube, they supplied it with a fancy but useles leather case at a much higher price. The price went down a lot after a while and they dropped the case.


        The knob layout is exactly the same, the multiflex only adds an optional ‘knob enlarger’, see this video:

        One thing to mention is, that the multiflex is a rip off of the cube. As professional photographers we rely on copyright to make a living, photoclam breached that. So you have to make good with your conscience whether you can buy such a product. I never understood why arca is not taking legal action against photoclam, this is probably because European companies do not have much chance against Korean ones in a Korean court case.

        Another reason might be that the cube’s design is not completely new, similar devices are used in opto-mechanical setups and laser technologies.

        I can’t comment of quality issues, as i didn’t have any. The one problem I had was my own fault and this thing is working perfectly in my daily professional work for many years now.

        • Ah yes. That case is pointless – why would you store your tripod and head separately?

          My mistake about the knobs; I could have sworn the ergonomics weren’t quite as good as the Cube, but then again it’s been some time since I used one. I did remember some backlash/ play in the train though.

          As for Arca: it’s a mystery how they stay in business at all, given they don’t seem to exist anywhere online. Yet people like me still buy their stuff I suppose. Similar principles aren’t protected by patents/ copyrights – but direct copies (like the Multiflex) should be – even the levels and markings look identical!

  7. Now I see when the Cube makes sense. I had only seen it used in large format. In LF, it is nice, but positioning is just not that hard in LF – the tolerances are much greater and you are generally tuning up with movements anyway. All you really care about is getting level and staying stable. I use a video tripod with a leveling head. But product shots with a FF digital need high precision placement and suddenly the Cube looks like a cost effective tripod head.

  8. Ming, you’re slipping! A couple of shots of the cube and camera need one more side light or reflector to give us a little bit more information as to shape. Granted, you’re a very busy man but you’re also a perfectionist!
    Take care,

  9. Helen Bach says:

    The Cube is available from Arca with a plain screw clamp instead of the lever – it’s the version called the Classic. I use one with RRS brackets and Arca rails with no problems – both widths can be accommodated. B&H doesn’t sell that version, however. (I believe that the Arca-style brackets from Kirk, RRS etc are different widths from the genuine Arca items because of patent issues.)

    • Ah – that would explain why I got this version! I’m probably keeping this one, but definitely replacing the clamp. It’s a disaster.

  10. john-owens@wi.rr.com says:

    Your article mentions that the Arca Swiss C1 Cube is the best geared tripod head, but how about Linhof’s 3D Micro geared head at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/762761-REG/Linhof_003660_3D_Micro_Leveling_Pan.html? ….JMO (Racine, Wisconsin USA)

    • It costs even more, has a limited adjustment range, and won’t tilt 90deg for the times you don’t have an L bracket…

      • Apart from the 90deg, anything not to like about the Linhof? I think in Singapore the Linhof costs considerably less. 1500sgd vs around 2700sgd for the C1…

        • Not that I can think of, but you may find the lack of movement restrictive. The Linhof is more expensive in most other parts of the world, I believe. Best thing to do is try it in person if you can find it locally…especially for something that expensive and special purpose.

          I actually believe the Linhof is the lower mount from one of the standards of their large format cameras…

        • plevyadophy says:


          Ming is correct.

          I have seen the Linhof and it is far better looking and has a better finish than the Arca Cube, and it’s smaller too.

          So at first glance it appears to be the better device but ……………………. it doesn’t do the 90deg thing and the range of other angles at which it can be set is very limited unless ……………………… you are using large format or say a technical cam with a digital back.

          Really, as Ming alludes to, it is more of a leveling base than a full-on tripod head like the Arca Swiss Cube.

  11. I look forward to your review of the P0. I’m considering buying one as my first ballhead (to replace an ancient Bogen 3025 pan/tilt head).

  12. Toby Smith says:

    Ming, it is a bit of “apples and oranges”, but do these heads affect your previous rating of the Manfrotto 468? Would you still recommend it at 10/10?

    • Actually, no. As you say, they’re for very different purposes: you wouldn’t use a geared head interchangeably with a ball head. I still have a ball head for times when the geared head isn’t appropriate. The 468 Hydrostat is still the most secure locking head I’ve used; but since it’s no longer my primary head and I needed something a bit lighter for travel, I’m using an Arca-Swiss P0 instead.

  13. Michael Matthews says:

    I guess this means just gradually shortening one leg of my tripod is no longer acceptable?

  14. Interesting stuff here. I don’t think there’s really an absolutely perfect tripod head. The best one I’ve owned is the Wimberley Mark 2 gimble for long-lens birding; it’s heavy and bulky but perfectly designed to deal very efficiently with a 500 or 600mm lens. I’ve had the Manfrotto 410 for macro for 2 years, but as you say, it goes sloppy after a bit. Talking to a knowledgeable retailer recently, apparently they need the worm screws replacing every 2 years. But even then, it’s not *absolutely* solid. Fine for macros, but I would be hesitant for longer-exposure landscape shots esp. in windy conditions.

    While shopping for new gear recently I had a play with the Arca D4 geared head, which looks and feels fabulous, but costs at least £700 here in the UK (if you can get one). For landscapes I’ve recently acquired a reasonably-priced Induro BHL3, a massive but low-profile ball head with a panning base. It’s basically a cheaper interpretation of the RRS BH55 which isn’t available here. So far it seems pretty good, but I imagine it will need replacing at some point! I don’t expect to have to replace my Gitzo 3540LS tripod any time soon, but even the heaviest-duty heads have moving parts which can fail or deteriorate.

    • I didn’t really pay much attention to the freeplay when shooting macro because you’re at the max sync speed with flash all the time; it becomes an issue for longer exposures, though. Tried the D4 in the past, but didn’t like the way the camera doesn’t rotate about the same central nodal point; the Cube is much better in that respect. I might as well use the lighter and cheaper P0 Monoball (and I do).

  15. An RRS one is easy to put on. The other trouble with the Arca clamp is that it is adjusted to one plate. You’d be amazed how much variation there is in plates. I have standardised on RRS so it’s not an issue.

  16. The Cube is a wonderful device, no doubt about that. I’ve been using one for a couple of years now. What does amaze me about Arca though is that they can produce such a clever device and yet incorporate obvious design flaws. In this case, the clamp adjustment, is the culprit. If you are not careful, you can easily unscrew the tensioning wheel so that it all comes apart in your hands. When this happens unexpectedly in a lava field covered in moss, you have to be exceptionally lucky to not lose any of the bits. My old Arca ballhead would let you unscrew the tensioning screw so that it came apart in your hand. Apparently, making sure that the device can’t be rendered useless in the field is not a high priority.

  17. Most of the review hasn’t really registered beyond the price….HOW MUCH!?!?! And let me get this straight, the Korean knock off is also HOW MUCH!?!?!

    Getting over the price, how much do you actually require a tripod for the work you do and also the precision. I would have thought a lot of the watch work was done hand held?

    • It isn’t anymore. Frequently I do work that requires either repeatability or high precision in positioning, and in all cases, moving to the D800E and medium format backs has meant that handheld is no longer an option – even with 100% flash exposures, you see the difference because sync tops out at 1/250 or 1/500s and the pixel density is simply insane…

      • Very interesting Ming. It must have been an adjustment to work fully with a tripod. I wonder if we will come to curse high pixel density cameras because of the precision required?

        • It’s slower, that’s for sure. We’re climbing a steep diminishing returns curve, only most photographers don’t know it yet – or don’t realize how much they’re leaving on the table because of the support…

  18. Impressive piece of gear. I recently bought a ball head from Really Right Stuff because I was told that it is the best stuff around. Clearly, it has an edge over Manfrotto but it doesn’t allow for the precision adjustments as you described in your post. I need to check it out. Cheers, Rudy.

  19. You wrote: “I’ve not heard about any problems online even from early owners … “. Lloyd Chambers reported on his excellent blog that he experienced a problem with the cube’s gears after five years of use, “rendering it unusable.”

  20. Ming, What did you use when you’re on food photography assignment?


  1. […] and with very short working distances. In the days before zero-backlash focusing rails and the Arca Cube, precision positioning for high magnification with a somewhat droopy ballhead was simply not […]

  2. […] What I need is light that is firstly portable, given 95% of my work is on location or on the road or has to be done at client sites (watches are expensive, and insurance usually dictates they don’t leave the room). For this purpose, I’ve refined my kit over the last few years with the smallest/lightest possible gear I can get away with – light stands and modifiers are strictly ‘to size’ and capable of supporting what I need and no more; there’s no double overage for stability and stands because I don’t have to worry about the wind knocking things over, and at tabletop range, a single speed light is more than powerful enough. I usually need no more than three speed lights – frequently one or two – a couple of very small stands, and some flags/ boards/ diffusion panels. Including spare speed lights, tape, clamps etc. the whole kit fits into a standard check in suitcase, with the heaviest part actually being the tripod with geared head, geared rails and Cube. […]

  3. […] Don’t check in anything mission-critical or irreplaceable. For obvious reasons, check-in luggage does get lost and damaged, and pretty frequently. Though we seldom bring anything we don’t need, there are things you can do without (extra shoes) and things you can’t (chargers). For that reason I’ll only ever check in something if it’s a) cheap, b) redundant (second charger), c) easily replaceable at the destination, or d) I’m on the final leg home and I’m not worried if my baggage is delayed since I won’t need it immediately. Of course, all of those things are relative – if you have a billion dollars, by all means check in your Hassy if you don’t feel like carrying it. If you’re going to Tokyo, a charger is easily replaceable; less so if it’s Patagonia or Iceland. I generally check in my tripod but not the head – it’s much easier to get a ‘good enough’ set of legs than it is another Cube. […]

  4. […] third because…well, it’s just unpleasant. I would like to have the 5DSR and Otuses and the Cube and geared Gitzo 5-series for when I have time to work slowly with a static subject. I’d like […]

  5. […] on that basis, I’d like to put forward the Zeiss Otuses for their perfection, the Arca-Swiss Cube for its precision and solidity, the Hasselblad HC4 prism finder for it’s enormous size and […]

  6. […] and AF – it’s up to you. I was mostly on a tripod – of late, the RRS TVC-24L and Arca-Swiss Cube for the ultimate portable combination of height, weight, stability and precision of movement […]

  7. […] preferably one that moves all of the axes about the same nodal point. I’m a fan of the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube, which isn’t cheap, but honestly, impossible to live without once you’ve used it for […]

  8. […] Kuala Lumpur skyline after midnight, 30s, 8-image stitch at 165mm. RRS 24L and Arca-Swiss Cube […]

  9. […] final bit of the puzzle is one of support. On a full blown job I’d use the Gitzo 5562 LTS and Arca-Swiss Cube; however given weight restrictions I’m travelling with a Gitzo GT1452T Traveller and […]

  10. […] On the equipment front, life stayed pretty much the same as last time (and every other studio setup I’ve done): a pair of D800Es, one for backup, a bag full of speedlights, stands, modifiers and clamps, enough batteries to cause a small environmental disaster if they leaked (don’t worry, they’re rechargeable Eneloops – amazingly, I’m still using some of the original ones I bought four or five years ago) and lenses geared at maximum image quality: this meant all Zeiss primes (2/21 Distagon for interiors, 2/28 Distagon, 1.4/55 Otus APO Distagon, 2/135 APO Sonnar) and Nikon PCE lenses. My subjects don’t move and I have the luxury of being able to use live view and optimal apertures, so why not? Needless to say, a tripod is part of the equation – my usual Gitzo 5562 LTS and Arca-Swiss Cube. […]

  11. […] the ISO test series was shot at base ISO (100 for all cameras) on a heavy Gitzo 5-series tripod and Arca-Swiss Cube […]

  12. […] added another three SB900s, stands, diffusers, etc; two tripod heads – the Arca-Swiss P0 and Cube. I’m sure there were some lenses in there somewhere, too – a Leica 50/1.4 ASPH, the […]

  13. […] the diffusion material. Also, let’s just say that fitting the tripod (my usual Gitzo 5562 and Arca-Swiss Cube) in there was a bit of a […]

  14. […] of field and diffraction. The cameras will be locked down on on a heavy Gitzo 5-series tripod and Arca-Swiss Cube geared head. You can click on any of the relevant links following the images below for 100% […]

  15. […] used at all times, on a locked down solid tripod – a Gitzo 5-series carbon systematic and Arca-Swiss Cube head. Whole-shot sample images were shot using the Nikon; in the A-B comparisons, the Rokinon is […]

  16. […] conclusion of the two-part review (part one covering the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube is here) covers the much simpler (and cheaper, but no less well built) P0 Monoball. They aren’t […]

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