New: Alpa 12 STC Silver Edition Medium Format Technical Camera

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Alpa, a high end technical medium format camera company releases a new version of their 12 STC in collaboration with Hasselblad.

Press Release with additional information and commentary in italics.

New: Alpa 12 STC Silver Edition Medium Format Technical Camera

The ALPA 12 STC Silver Edition is available at the professional price of CHF 28,800. Limited edition of 50 pieces.

The new Alpa 12 STC.

Alpa cameras are sold through a small dealership worldwide and directly to end users. The end user pricing is called the professional (photographer’s) price.

Additional information and commentary

Alpa history

Alpa is one of the few Swiss camera companies manufacturing 35mm film SLR cameras. The company was a subsidiary of Pignons SA, a company which made pinions for Swiss watches. They made high end 35mm cameras similar to those made by Germany’s Leica, Contax and Rollei. In the 1940s, they started producing cameras under the name Alpa-Reflex. These are high precision Swiss cameras, like the Swiss watches which is familiar to our readers. This was an age when the mechanical engineering of the Swiss in precision works were far ahead of the rest of the world. Another example of this is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Compass camera as a cross over also from the watchmaking industry. The production was low, and quality and prices were high. And even to today, Alpa (and the sole JLC) cameras are in high demand by collectors, and secondary market prices are very high.

Alpa 12 SWA with lens and viewfinder. This combination is equipped with two wood grips attached on either side. Note the rise capability of the body, with up to 25mm movement. Falls are achieved by mounting the body upside down.

However, as the 35mm Swiss watch industry came under fire by the Japanese with the quartz revolution in the 1970s, so did the European camera industry. The rise of Canon and Nikon during about the same period drove the Swiss and many of the Germans out of business. Today, only Leica survived this crisis. In the large format realm, Linhof, Arca Swiss and Sinar were remained in business as they catered to the high end studio market place. And Alpa went into insolvency, as their parent Pignons, as part of the Swiss watchmaking industry went bankrupt. However, there was continued interest in Alpa cameras, but as insolvent they were not able to continue operation. Finally, in 1996, the bankruptcy was resolved, and the husband and wife duo or Ursula Capaul & Thomas Weber revived the Alpa brand. I visited their facilities in Zurich during Baselworld 2000 and was very impressed with the quality of the new cameras they produced. The new Alpa focused on medium format cameras targeted at the highest level of the market. The first camera was the Alpa 12 WA (Wide Angle) and Alpa 12 SWA (Shift Wide Angle). Both were high precision mechanical cameras. These cameras consist of a high precision milled aluminium body with the ability to use a variety of lenses and backs, including 6×9 medium format film backs and high end digital backs.

The Alpa 12 WA with the Linhof film back and Carl Ziess Biogon 4.5/38mm lens. Photo courtesy of and copyright of André Oldani.

These were beautiful cameras. But they were minimalistic, and completely manual, with no interlocks. Much like the Sinar P which we featured last week. Workmanship of the machining, finishing and engineering were up to the levels we are used to in Swiss watchmaking.

The Alpa 12 TC (Travel Compact) with the Rodenstock HR Alpagon lens and Phase One IQ4 100 Trichromatic digital back. Iphone photograph circa 2018 at launch of the Phase One IQ4 in Singapore.

In February 1, 2022 Ursula Capaul and Thomas Weber transferred full title of ALPA Capaul & Weber AG to Hans Keist, Switzerland hence the latter has become owner and managing director. 

Regarding this novelty

This latest release is a special version of the Alpa 12 STC (Stitch Travel Compact) body, with a specially selected set of accessories. The edition comes with a rosewood grip and integrated release mechanism similar to the Alpa 12 TC shown above. The 12 STC is a very compact technical camera (see our article on Sinar for a discussion of Technical cameras) with movements, viz 18mm of rise or fall, and 18mm of left shift and 18mm of right shift. And thus, very suitable for stitching to take advantage of the large image circle of the large format lenses.

The Special Edition also comes with a silver ring aperture unit and helicoid made for Alpa by Rodenstock, and equipped with the Hasselblad CFV II 50C digital back. Currently, the CFV II 50C is only available from Hasselblad in combination with their 907 body, but for this special collaboration, it is available from Alpa with the 12 STC body in place of the 907. Interestingly, Alpa also released an integration with the Hasselblad H in 2016, and an A Series collaboration with Phase One in 2016.

Regarding the pricing, the total price of the Alpa components totals about CHF 23k, with the basic 12 STC is set at a professional price of CHF 4.3k, the rosewood handle is CHF 0.5k, the lens unit at CHF 7.8k, and the electronic shutter release kit at CHF 1k, totalling about CHF 13.6k. There is no standalone price for the CFV II 50C back, but with the 907 system, Hasselblad lists it at SGD 10.6k, about CHF7.5k. In addition, the Silver Edition comprise of a specially designed synch handgrip, the case, and chrome accessories.

Release details

ALPA of Switzerland combines its medium format camera with the sensor technology from Hasselblad to create a camera experience of the highest precision, exceptional craftsmanship and aesthetics. A unique camera system from the fusion of Swiss manufacturing, German precision optics and Swedish photographic tradition and technology – an expression of precision, inspiration and passion.

ALPA of Switzerland is celebrating the start of its collaboration with Hasselblad by launching the ALPA 12 STC Silver Edition. It is numbered and limited to 50 pieces worldwide.

The edition consists of an ALPA 12 STC camera body, hand grip made of fine rosewood with integrated release mechanism, a Rodenstock HR Alpagon 4.0 / 40 mm lens, a Special Edition with silver ring and integrated aperture unit, combined with the Hasselblad CFV II 50C digital back including accessories. The camera comes with chrome accessories and is collected in a specially created edition case.



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