Swiss Cubes

There is something universally pleasing about a cube. The symmetry is easier to grasp and to describe than a sphere’s. Cubic forms are primary building blocks both in physical construction and in the realm of thought.

The cube can be an elucidatory shape, such as in The Emperor’s New Mind, where physicist Roger Penrose falls back on the familiar cube to explain higher dimensions, as does Carl Sagan in Cosmos.

[Viz: if we recognize that a two-dimensional line drawing of a cube really shows us a “shadow” of the actual 3D cube, we can think of the 3D cube as a “shadow” to imagine the 4D version, and so on up the dimensional ladder.]

The cube can also be a form that connotes mystery and intrigue, such as the Bene Gesserit‘s pain box in Dune, or the puzzle box in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.

Manufacturer Arca-Swiss has a cube that’s a bit of both. A few years ago, the company, which is well-known for ball-head tripod attachments, released the C1 cube [PDF], which “simultaneously achieves mastery of control with an appearance approaching the status of jewelry.”

The elegant C1 is a precision geared tripod head that can hold and position heavy, professional camera rigs, and weighs less than 25% of anything comparable.

Outfitted with bubble levels, the head adjusts on two sets of x-y axes, and allows for tilt and pan, all while keeping the image plane — or lens nodal point — in pretty much the same spot. (Jack Flesher has a great review with more details from a photographer’s perspective.)

The only drawback to this cube is that Arca-Swiss appears a bit snobbish. The company eschews an online presence, having no website and contact emails with addresses like and And, the price tag: yours for only $1,699.

But compared to $5000 for an ugly, large, mechanized auto-adjusting tripod head, the cube seems a better choice. And as Swiss-designed tabletop sculpture goes, it’s probably quite cheap.

[h/t Shao for reminding us this particular cube is on our wishlist]