View Full Version : Is the 360 mm Caltar IIs a bargin, a dog, or something else?

Chris Hawkins
26-Jan-2000, 19:41
After researching various 360mm LF lenses, a used Caltar IIs seems to be quite a bargin at $800. The only reference I've seen to Caltar IIs lenses is http://ww w.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=000j2X and this thread doesn 't speak to the quality. What will I be giving up relative to a more expensive lens?

Richard Rankin
26-Jan-2000, 20:15
I can't speak to that exact lens, but have 2 other Caltars. Various models of Caltar lenses are made by Rodenstock and/or Schneider for Calumet. The odds are that you will be giving up little with these relabelled lenses. Any individual example of a lens model, of course, can be a dog, just as any individual specimen of a car or appliance can be. You still have to fully check THAT lens you would be holding in your hand.

There has never been any suggestion that the Calumet brand lenses are inferior, seconds, or even different from the 'real' named lenses. I certainly couldn't look at a photo and tell a Caltar from a Rodenstock or Schneider, and doubt anyone else could either - and I saved a heap of money by getting the Caltars. I've had mine for a couple of months and have been very satisfied (although I will try never to get another Copal 3 shuttered lens... ).

If you are looking on Ebay for this lens, be aware of the current Calumet prices. I've seen a few of these lenses go for more than a new one from Calumet which comes, I believe, with a lifetime guarantee and pretty good customer service.

Calumet will also answer questions about the older lenses if they know the answer, so don't be afraid to phone/email them and ask what you need to know. They seem (and I think, justifiably so) proud of these lenses at the prices they supply them for. They have the image circle, angle of coverage info, etc, available on their website for the current crop of lenses.

I've already decided that my next modern lens will be a third Caltar.

After all that, I might also point out that you can pick up a 360mm lens in barrel for way less than $800 if that would suffice. I picked up a 14 inch Wollensak on Ebay that I've had great fun with, for around $50...

Cheers, Richard

neil poulsen
26-Jan-2000, 23:12
Based on a conversation with Calumet and references I've seen on other sites, Caltar II-S lenses are the same as Schneider Symmar-S lenses. I own a Caltar II-S 360mm lens. Checking older product literature, the Schneider Symmar-S 360mm lens has the largest filter size of any of the Schneider and Rodenstock plasmats. (It's huge -- 120mm.) The diameter of my lens matches this dimension.

Given the excellent quality of Symmar-S lenses, and depending on condition, I'd say that $800 is a decent price. The same lens with the Schneider name would sell in the neighborhood of $1100 to $1400.

neil poulsen
27-Jan-2000, 00:00
continued . . .

To better answer your question, I think these are excellent lenses. Published image diameter is 491-500mm at F22, which will cover 11x14 and generously cover 8x10. This is a single coated lense, but you don't give up much. Primary advantage of Schneider multi-coating is infra-red and ultra-violet filtering. Schneider has told me that one would need to examine photos with a loop to tell the difference between the single and multi-coated lenses, if one could tell a difference at all. My images taken with this lens are very sharp. Primary disadvantage is weight and size. (1700 grams.) For example, this lens won't fit on a front designed for a Technica 4" lens board. Possibly, one could tell a difference from a print between this lens and an Apo-Symmar. Hard for me to tell the difference, since I don't own an Apo-Symmar 360mm. (Talk about going into debt.) Effective focal length is 350.5mm; rear mount diameter is 92mm; flange focal length is 335.8 w/Copal 3; length is 112mm; etc. Check Schneider's WWW.SCHNEIDEROPTICS.COM for additional information.

Craig Maxwell
27-Jan-2000, 10:09
Hi Chris,

I have used a Caltar ll-S 360mm f6.8 lens for several years, I beleive that the one I have was made by Rodenstock. As I understand the situation, Caltar lenses were made for Calumet by EITHER Schnieder or Rodenstock depending upon which company was awarded the contract to supply lenses to Calumet. Either way, they are fabulous lenses and I'm certain that you will be getting a fine lens. As you know, I'm using 8x10 less now, but just yesterday I shot a job using my 360 on 4x5. The resulting color transparencies were spectacular as would be expected. The $800.00 price sounds very good indeed, just make sure that you test the shutter speeds on the shutter and get a no questions asked return option with full refund if you decide not to keep the lens after you run some tests with it. My 2 cents anyway.

John Hicks
27-Jan-2000, 20:49
The Caltar-S is a Symmar-S, while later ones are Rodenstocks. These are _the sam e_ as the Schneider or Rodenstock lenses.

neil poulsen
30-Jan-2000, 06:16
Looking at my lens again, I have a Caltar-S II, which I know is the Symmar-S. I'm wondering if there's both a Caltar-S II and a Caltar II S.