View Full Version : What's a Caltar-W II 90mm f8?

Steve McKinney
22-Jul-2004, 12:15
Hi all,

Is it a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm f8? What's its vintage?


22-Jul-2004, 12:24
Hi Steve!

Caltar is a CALUMET branded Rodenstock Grandagon 8.0/90mm. Calumet distributed (or still does?) a range of Rodenstock lenses as "Caltar" brand.


Ted Harris
22-Jul-2004, 13:28
Hmmmmmm, not sure Ranier is right on this one as Grandagon's come in two flavors: f4.5 and f6.8 and only the 6.8 8is sold branded as Caltar and it is sold as a Caltar II N 90.

Yours could either be an earlier Schneider lens. e.g. f8 Super Angulon or a Nikkor or an Ilex, maybe even a Topcon. If it says Made in Germany on the lens then it is a Schneider. Made in Japan likely Nikkor but maybe Topcon, otherwise Ilex. someone else can answer more exactly I am sure.

Ralph Barker
22-Jul-2004, 15:38
I have that lens, and if memory serves, I believe I bought it in the late '70s or early '80s. My understanding was that Calumet OEMed from Schneider at that time, prior to establishing their relationship with Rodenstock.

Bob Salomon might have more exact information about when Calumet started dealing with Rodenstock.

Kerry L. Thalmann
22-Jul-2004, 16:28
It's definitely made by Schneider and is an OEM version of the 90mm f8 Super Angulon. It was made between 1976 and 1983. Unfortunately, Schneider did not engrave the lenses they made for Calumet with serial numbers. So, it's impossible to get a more definitive date. Very early (1976 through mid-1978) samples are single coated. Later samples are multicoated, and clearly labled "Multicoating" around the front element. Specs are identical to the 90mm f8 Super Angulon (216mm image circle at f22, 67mm filters, etc.)

Rodenstock has made lenses for Calumet on two separate occasions: 1970 - 1976 and 1984 - present. About a year ago (I think it was in the Jul/Aug 2003 issue) I did an article on Caltar lenses for View Camera magazine. It includes specs on all Caltar lenses from 1965 - present as well as information on who made what and when. This can be rather confusing to sort out as there were five different Caltar OEMs on three continents during the first 19 years Calumet sold lenses under their Caltar house brand name. Things have stabilized considerably since (one and only one OEM over the last 20 years). So, newer lenses are much easier to indentify (they are all Rodenstocks). Other past Caltar OEMs include Ilex, Topcon and Komura. Neither Nikon or Fuji have ever manufacturered Caltar branded lenses for Calumet.


Ted Harris
22-Jul-2004, 16:31
Whoops on the NIkon statement .. .that is what I get from not thinking ... thanks Kerry

Kerry L. Thalmann
22-Jul-2004, 16:47

No problem. When discussing Caltar lenses, the period from 1965 - 1984 can be VERY confusing. As I said, they went through 5 OEMs during that period. Some of these relationships were very short term (as little as two years) - and they often had two (or possibly as many as three, I'd have to check my notes) different OEMs producing Caltar lenses concurrently!

Calumet has always been, and continues to be very open about sharing information on their products - past and present. Problem is, many of the employees who have fiirst hand knowledge of products from the1960s, 1970s and early 1980s have long since left the company. Fortunately, during my research, I was able to acquire a very large collection of Calumet literature with no major gaps between 1965 and present. Calumet catalogs have always been a great resource - with specs on most of the products they carry. So, people tend to hold onto them over the years, rather than tossing them out.


Steve McKinney
22-Jul-2004, 19:54
Thanks Kerry.


23-Jul-2004, 15:45
I gather that the 90mm f/8 Ilex-Calumet Wide Field Caltar is a different lens than the one being discussed here? The one I has a serial number and is said to be made in the USA.

Any comments on its design and performance?

Kerry L. Thalmann
23-Jul-2004, 17:28

As the name implies, your lens was made in the US by Ilex (the original Caltar lens OEM). While it was not an exact copy of the 90mm f8 Super Angulon, it was designed to compete with that lens. So, the specs are similar (6/4 construction, 100 degree coverage, 220mm image circle). It was made between 1967 and 1977. Most commonly, it is found in a Seikosha 0 shutter. This shutter would date it from the late 1960s or early 1970s. They switched to Copal No. 0 shutters during the mid-1970s (around 1974, give or take). Every one I've seen has been single coated, but a price list I have from Nov. 1, 1977 (the latest reference I've seen on Ilex-Calumet Caltar lenses) lists this lens (and a few more of the Ilex-Calumet lenses) as multicoated. If any multicoated samples were produced, they are MUCH less common than the single coated samples made from 1967 - 1976. It sold new for $149 in the late 1960s.

I have not personally used this lens, but comments I've read from those who have are generally favorable. Based on my experience with other similar vintage Ilex-Calumet Caltars, contrast may be a tad lower and resistance to flare a wee bit less than the Super Angulon. Unlike the Schneider, it is not threaded to accept standard screw-in filters.

The most appealing thing about this lens is the very low price it commands on the used market - much lower than a 90mm f8 Super Angulon of similar age and condition. In fact, they generally seem to go in the same price range as the 90mm f6.8 Angulon. For the same price, the Ilex Caltar has gobs more coverage, and will no doubt have better performance in the corners than the Angulon.


23-Jul-2004, 21:30

Thanks for the very detailed specificaitons on the Wide Fiel Caltar. Very useful information.

Jim Rice
24-Jul-2004, 22:53
This stuff just moves me.

Jim Ewins
26-Jul-2004, 00:13
Kerry, thanks for the run down on my 90mm. I'd been wondering. Jim

13-Aug-2006, 23:02
hey kerry,

thanks for all the great info! if the ilex has not threads for filters is there a way to put filters on the lens? thanks!