And as I said earlier, my Manfrotto 405 serves my needs, I expect it to last for a long time despite my not-so-gentle handling, and I'm not about to buy a Cube or a MultiFlex any time soon.
And long, long ago, I trained as an accountant, and worked with a management consultancy, where we developed distribution models for clients. I certainly understand the difference in selling something in the Leica showroom in Ginza, and in a box-pusher like B&H.
Saying "you don't get it" is not sharing.
Sorry, David, but even to my read, you first posited your thoughts, then you "explained" your views of how business works. When Kumar offered his perspectives, you snapped back with a somewhat didactic response suggesting Kumar's perspectives have little value. That did not feel good, and I was only reading it.
At this point, I think this lifeless horse has been flogged enough. Until there is some new information that changes the scenery, nobody is "right" or "wrong", but as consumers, we are free to support whomever offers us the deals that we prefer.
Putting a smiley on after calling someone ignorant doesn't make it okay, IMO.
Anyway, I find it a bit sad that a thread about saving a few bucks is much longer than most technical or photography threads here.
Last edited by ddk; 17th April 2009 at 11:45.
I'm not offended - here's a smiley!
David may have definitive knowledge of A/S distribution channels, costs, etc.
The following are all his figures. He says the Cube's ex-factory price is $900, and their gross margin is $300. So A/S makes a reasonable return, given that they have invested substantially in engineering the product. So, the distribution channel eats up $2400 - $900 i.e. $1500. Shipping a single Cube, assuming a shipping weight of 1.5kg by Fedex from France to New York is $185. That leaves $1315 for customs, the distributor and the dealer. AFAIK, customs duties in the US are very low, unlike in the EU. But, assuming EU rates at roughly 25% of landed cost, the duty on $1085 is $271, pushing up the distributor's cost to $1356. The distributor and dealer then divvy up the remaining $1044.
If someone could corroborate these figures?
PS: PhotoClam isn't charging $1200. I believe their price is $985 plus shipping. And like A/S, they're free to set their prices, whether they're fair or not.
EDIT: And if someone could post the price of the Cube in the EU or even in France itself, where shipping would be much lower, and I believe there would be no customs duties, but of course there's VAT.
In the UK, at RobertWhite, the price is 1455 GBPounds, ~$2153 plus 15% UK sales tax = surprise! $2476, pretty close to B&H's price of $2399.95!
Does anyone know who is A/S' US distributor? I did a google search but found no precise information.
Last edited by FromJapan; 17th April 2009 at 16:19.
All's fair in discussion exercises I suppose, but lots of assumptions being made here by most of us. My primary business is specifically import/export of products within a narrow field. I deal with shipping by various carriers, duties, customs brokerage costs, bonds, etc. It all adds up. A-S is not receiving $2400 for the cube. Their retailers need to make money (as acknowledged).
I don't think that anyone suggests that labor in the E.U. is cost-comparable to South Korean labor costs. It has also been suggested that the A-S design is not entirely unique to them, but in fact they have cleverly adapted a pre-existing goniometer to be used as a tripod head. I say "kudos" to A-S for doing so.
All that being said, even if Photoclam stopped making the "knock-off" (if that's what it is) Arca-Swiss will still need to consider that any company can also work with goniometer designs to develop a similar but different tripod head. My point is that A-S will need to maneuver by means of design, quality, price, service, loyalty, etc. if they want to remain relevant in what could become the "goniometer-style head sector". Being first doesn't assure one permanent positioning.
And to be clear, I am very much against any form of IP infringement. I'm just not sure at this stage who should be most credited with design rights for these products. I'm not in a position to know with the information which is currently available.
here is my review of the Multiflex from PhotoClam.
I know that I'm stepping on a few toes here,but so be it.
From what I can tell,it operates like it should.
No play and the built quality is excellent.
Extremely well finished.
The waterproof cover is handy as well.
The unit also has a spring loaded large knob,that can be switched around.
How it compares to the Cube,I can't tell as I don't have one.
Have to admit it looks nice. Cube owners your take. I'm being political correct not buying either one . Oh wait that maybe political broke and still not buying either one. LOL
Jack,you better sell your P25+ first.
Guy and yes I need to sell my P25 plus first before even thinking about this stuff. I am in buying shutdown mode for now. Thank god a couple jobs came in today it was looking very scary and still is.
Sorry Guy,I always get you guys mixed up!
Thanks, Willem. I appreciate you posting these photos. I'm not sure how all of this will shake out, but it was kind of you to share your experience with us. I hope you enjoy your head, and will post future observations regarding it as well.
No problems Dale!
I'll probably will be banned from this forum and the LL forum as well.
how's the stability of it when extending the head all the way like this, with a camera attached?
Looks good, but as jingq suggested, put your camera with a long lens on it in that position and see how it moves.
this thing was designed for 10x8 cameras.
I could not find any movement or play.
It's build quality is perfect.
I only have a measly D3x and my longest lens is a ZF100 Makro
Used to have a Hy6/75LV,however sold my MFDB gear.
Last edited by Rethmeier; 17th April 2009 at 22:36.
Certainly looks and sounds like it is an excellent alternative. Now we just need to get you near a Cube so you can compare smoothness and overal operations directly.
Thanks for posting this!
a few small things:
the cube uses tiny lever-locks for the pans, the clam small knobs
the cube has rubber o-rings on the knobs for added friction/grip, the clam uses knurls
looks like the clam has the one moveable large knob that appears to fit one of the knobs for each tilt axis, but not both.
my cube had clear bubble levels, clam's are green
looks like the clam is using stainless steel screws, i think the cube used steel?
lever-lock on the cube (for the camera), screw clamp on the clam
One problem that I have experienced with the rubber o-rings used on some tripod head knobs is that in cold weather they slip and that can be frustrating and disconcerting vis-a-vis security and precise placement. The o-ring "gripper" and the knob itself contract at different rates in the cold. IMO, this would be an area worthwhile to change.
one thing that occurred to me is that both AS and Clam could be sourcing the stacked goniometer sections (these are the trickiest parts to make) from the same supplier (like Spectra Physics/Newport for example) and adding their own forward tilt and pan stages and knobs
Let me clarify;
I have seen an Ebony 23S in a used shop in Shanghai. Its rails were misaligned. Yup the surface treatment of the wood was better than Shen-Hao, as in fine veneer ebony furniture like. When using a camera for actual photography, does that matter? To me, not. I do not know if some of detailed work or control mechanisms on an Ebony can be better. Lets face it, the cameras are for photography (well some buy for display also...). The Shen-Hao camera looks more beautiful to me because of the color of the wood. The Ebony looks dark and murky. After all a large format camera is a simple device. If mine breaks on travels I might simply replace it with a new one for fraction of the probable price that sending an Ebony to Japan and back for repair and their repair cost could be. Replacing is also simpler, but I also travel many times to Shanghai each year. Mine is the Shen-Hao TFC45-IIB non folding 4x5, a competitor to Ebony SW45. If you feel a yearn to visit China, perhaps buy a 617 in their shop in Shanghai? They have a 617 adapter also. I have it but will soon sell it because too much gear. I am working on a custom made digital adapter instead.
South Korea? I lived and worked there over three years until early last year. I was supervising a major engineering construction project. Koreans are in general good to quality up to a certain point. Some companies are capable of exceptional quality. Markins is one such. I would not trade my Markins for anything, and I have been through a number of ballheads last six years. When writing emails they can sound like young people, but it is in a friendly way .
Good luck on your cube! It indeed looks very good on the photos. Do check so there is not play at different adjustment positions or have them rectify. Should work fine hopefully. After all gear is just tools. A/S cube is 2400 USD on B&H??? Yikes... why? Transport is cheap these days, must be labor etc.
Last edited by Anders_HK; 18th April 2009 at 18:05.
I tried the Multiflex in every possible position and it's rock-solid.
I'm really glad that you received a great product after all of the commotion that occurred!
My only question is:
Are the bubble levels and rotating platform accurate out of the box?
Very cool looking images, I've never seen one - Cube or otherwise - close up before. I'm impressed. Seeing the photos, I have to admit I want one.
I've stayed away from geared heads in the past becasue they are too slow to operate. It does make sense to use a geared head on 8x10, but I have my doubts if it could really hold my Toyo - once you add rails, lens, film holder, shade it weighs in at 12-15 kgs distributed at both ends of an up to 1000 mm long rail. Those little brass or bronze gears might be fine for an SLR but with an 8x10 monorail the center of mass is 25 cm up from the mount. It would just break from the load if not properly balanced. And the camera itself is all geared once you level it, so there is no need for precision head movements, just a strong lockdown. As a contrast, my Burzynski ballhead has only five parts (plus four huge bolts) and they are all huge - it's virtually indestructible, handles field conditions like sand and mud with a stride.
For smaller formats like 4x5 a cube is too heavy at 900 grams - a good small ballhead at 450 grams is sufficient for a wood 4x5 unless you have really bad technique. And for an SLR a ballhead makes much more sense - for me - unless I would do specialized work like macro and product shots.
The advantage of the Cube is the speed and accuracy with which you can zero -- no fuddling around trying to align all axes at once -- combined with relatively light weight for its rigidity, which is more than adequate for 4x5 or MF systems with big glass attached...For smaller formats like 4x5 a cube is too heavy at 900 grams - a good small ballhead at 450 grams is sufficient for a wood 4x5 unless you have really bad technique. And for an SLR a ballhead makes much more sense - for me - unless I would do specialized work like macro and product shots.
...and there was Jack's (expected) reply. Like I said I have never used a Cube, your experience is of course more valid than my mere speculation.
Levels are perfect as well.
I'm so impressed I also ordered the PC-54NS ballhead.
I sold my RRS BH-55 in the meanwhile.
Great value at $235 USD for the PC-54NS
I've found the perfect accessory to complement your cube!
Take a look at this...
Just to corroborate Willem's first use of the cube, I just got mine from Korea (USD $985 shipped to CA, with leather pouch ) and did a quick test this last weekend -- it's rock-solid, gearing is smooth, levels accurate -- I'm happy!
Their ball heads are also excellent!
I prefer the Photo Clam PC-54NS to the RRS BH-55.
And it's half the price!
Who now pays for the development of the Rm3d? Or will you just take the superior Rm3d from Photoclam which arrives next year? And you wondering about the economy (ok, just ONE important aspect)?
I seriously hope you as photographers will never run into someone who operates like this with your work.
Last edited by georgl; 28th April 2009 at 06:13.
One question on the photoclam ballhead -- On the A/S B1, the ball is actually egg-shaped to prevent a total flop-over when the friction is released, so as the camera moves off Top-Dead-Center on the B1, the amount of friction automatically increases. Is the PhotoClam the same?
Not to worry Jack, if your camera is damaged using their head, you can buy the PhotoClam knock-off camera next year.
Markins Q-Ball M10 for sale in the US.
Doesn't that also look alike the AS Monoball#2?
Who is nocking off who?
if you have been in photography as long as I have,I know that "styles" are borrowed
from other photographers all the time.
Nobody is original,maybe you?