View Full Version : Widest Lens With Movements for a CC-400

Vlad Soare
29-Jun-2008, 03:44
Hi, guys,

I'd like to add a wide angle lens to my 210mm. But I'd also like to retain some movement capabilities, and the bellows of my CC-400 are very stiff when compressed. Calumet sell a recessed lensboard for wide angles, but, as far as I can figure out from the pictures, it doesn't seem to be too recessed, I mean it only seems to gain one or maybe at most two centimeters.
How wide can I go? Assuming I use this recessed lensboard with a 90mm, will I be able to shift or tilt the lens?
Plan B: even if the bellows of the CC-400 are not officially interchangeable, I guess I could remove all screws and take the bellows out. There are no bag bellows available specifically for the CC-400, but how about other models? Is there one that could be made to fit a CC-400 with minimal effort? Has anyone ever tried it?
Other ideas, anyone?

Thank you.

29-Jun-2008, 05:06
I wouldn't.

I don't remember what Calumet wanted for the recessed board but I bet a new recessed board and hacking a bag bellows to fit wouldn't be much less money then used budget 4x5 field camera. Or sell the Calumet and use the money on a new Shen etc.

My CC401 is great with in it's limits but it does have limits. So much good gear selling for not much. It really doesn't make sense to try and force a camera to do what it doesn't want to.

The Nikon 90mm both cover 5x7. So do the fast 90mm from everybody else. So the lenses will provide you all the movements the camera will give you.

Scott Davis
29-Jun-2008, 06:43
The Calumet CC4xx variants (with the exception of the dedicated wide-angle version) will not support much of anything beyond a 90mm, and even that's a stretch, because the bellows are intended for longer lenses. I remember when I was first learning large format photography, we had Calumet CC400's in our classroom. They make great student cameras because they're virtually indestructible, and they work great in a studio where you can easily demonstrate all the movements to an extreme degree. The standards just don't get all that close together, and the bellows bunch. I had the same problem with my Agfa tailboard 4x5/5x7, which would not take anything much wider than a 135 without a recessed board, and even then, you had virtually no movement because the bellows were non-interchangeable.

Kirk Gittings
29-Jun-2008, 06:58
To get good movements with a 90mm, you could replace the bellows with the "widefield bellows" (caalumet still has them) but then the 210 would not focus at infinity and you would have to build an extension board for the 210.

Vlad Soare
29-Jun-2008, 13:21
OK. Plan C. How about a 120mm? Would that allow a reasonable amount of movements (with a recessed lensboard, of course)?

John Kasaian
29-Jun-2008, 14:27
Have you considered a 100mm WF Ektar? I'd love to put one of those on my Graphic View II!

Vlad Soare
29-Jun-2008, 21:07
I have, but I'm not sure whether I'd be able to shift or tilt it. :confused:

29-Jun-2008, 21:22
Hi, Vlad. Here's plan C:

Keep your eyes open on ebay for the wide angle version and have both cameras. I got one a couple of years ago for around $125.00, added a few boards and can use several of my lenses on it. With a recessed board, I even use my 58XL with considerable movements and a 47mm Super Angulon with modest movements. The 90mm goes on a standard board with ample shifts, rise and fall.

The one you've got is a fine and rugged as nails workhorse, and will have reasonable movements with the lenses that are long enough to stretch the bellows. As Kirk indicated, the WA bellows is still available and as Jose (Calumet Repairs) told, me, many other parts are still in stock.

If you're looking for the ultimate in movements, you'll have to go with a camera that takes a bag bellows and where the standards really come together, but the WA version of the 400 does a darn good job.


Vlad Soare
29-Jun-2008, 22:32
Is there any LF retrofocus wide angle lens? That would solve all problems.
I wouldn't mind the bigger front element, nor the tiny loss in image quality...

Kirk Gittings
29-Jun-2008, 22:33
Good points Tim, as many people know here, my primary architecture camera for many years was a Calumet Widefield (with some modifications). I could use it with a 47 on a flat lens board with full movements (I primarily shot roll film) to a 210 on a homemade extension lensboard.

29-Jun-2008, 23:27
Is there any LF retrofocus wide angle lens? That would solve all problems.
I wouldn't mind the bigger front element, nor the tiny loss in image quality...

The Nikon 90mm needs IIRC 98mm to focus at infinity.

Are you really attached to this camera? :confused:

Why not the Fuji SW 105mm?

What are you using this for? Landscape or?

29-Jun-2008, 23:29
Hi, Kirk.

I've been shooting a Cambo SCX with bag bellows for about 25 years, then my Zone VI with the bag (still my primary camera for architecture) since the early 90's. Since I've added the WA Calumet I've started to use it more and more, especially for interiors. I know that the 58mm doesn't need the recessed board but that gets the bellows out there a bit more and makes it easier to use all the movements......more flexible! I use the 47mm with almost no rise or shift because it's actually not able to cover the full 4x5. The corners vignette a bit. It sure makes terrific panoramas on a 6x12 roll back though.

As to the longer lenses, I'm thinking about adding another recessed board (reversed) for my 210 Caltar or my 215mm Ilex. Too bad it won't quite get out there for the convertible half of the Ilex, but the Zone VI takes care of that.

Anyway, I think buying the WA version and keeping the standard 400 gives Vlad the absolute best of both worlds .

30-Jun-2008, 00:09

In case it's of any use to you. You can go to www/cameraeccentric.com, access the info section, then scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page and you will find the basic catalog/instruction manual for the CC-400 camera. If you click on the front page, it opens to the full book, page by page.


Vlad Soare
30-Jun-2008, 01:05
Are you really attached to this camera?
Yup. I really am. It feels so sturdy, it's so easy to use, it has a great movement potential, all movements can be quickly locked and unlocked with a single hand, the bail back is extremely handy... I just love it.
I've been looking for a starter camera for a long time, and after investigating a lot of options I finally made a choice. I'm going to stand by it for the time being. I'll definitely want to upgrade sometime, but for now I just want to learn about large format, see how comfortable I can get with it, and try to master my current setup within its limitations. :)

What are you using this for? Landscape or?
Mainly landscapes and portraits, and later I might also try my hand at some tabletop photography. The 210mm will serve me well in these areas.
But I'd also like to shoot some architecture, including interiors, when I travel through Europe. I don't know how wide I'd have to go. It may be that I won't even need a 90mm. A 90 would be nice, but I believe I could get along very well with a 105, or maybe even 120 if I had to.

Thanks, Tim. I've downloaded the manual and saw something interesting. They say that the so-called "model CC-419 super-recessed lens board" gives "maximum swings and tilts with 90mm wideangle lenses". So who knows, maybe I was worrying for nothing... Maybe that recessed lens board is all I need... :confused:

The 400 is very big and heavy as it is. Carrying two of them throughout Europe would be out of the question. I'm not even sure how I'll manage to carry one, let alone two. :D

Ernest Purdum
30-Jun-2008, 08:45
CC-402 is the model designation of the wide-angle version.

If there was a retrofocus wide-angle lens it would drive you mad trying to use your swings and tilts. Rise, fall and shifts would be O.K., but I don't think it would sell at all well.

30-Jun-2008, 12:06
The recessed lensboard brings a 90mm well into usable focusing/movement range, but be aware that the usual shutter just barely fits into the well. If you go this route, look for one of the short, super-flexible cable release adapters (you almost have to put it on the shutter before installing), keep a pencil with a good eraser handy for setting the aperture, and tie a key tag onto the cocking lever!

There is a reason that Calumet made the CC-402 wide angle version, although traveling through Europe with two view cameras might not be your cup of tea.

30-Jun-2008, 15:09

You are right. If the widest you are shooting is a 90mm, you should be fine with just the recessed board.

If I can add a bit to what Harold recommends for using the recessed board, it is almost impossible to get fingers into the board around the front cells for making the settings, the pencil eraser will work fine, but I have used dental picks as well to really get into the crevices and hook onto the iris lever. Without some sort of tool, you may actually have to remove the front set of lens cells in order to reach the controls, then return them before shooting....depends on the lens.

Also, it's darned hard to see way back into that dark hole, so part of my large format kit includes a small LED type of flashlight with a goose neck between the battery chamber and light head. It's smaller than a pen and you can shape it to shine where you need it. It also has a magnetic rear end so you can anchor it to some cameras (with any ferrous metals) or tripods to free your hands. It's quite light weight, so a button of Velcro and a matching loop Velcro on the camera would easily hold it. Found it at both the local hardware and also at Walmart.


Ernest Purdum
30-Jun-2008, 18:09
I hate recessed lensboards. I think it's great that you intend to your present camera give you experience, but the experience with a recessed lensboard could be pretty frustrating. I don't know about other people but I think of architectural interiors as being one of the more difficult types of photography and don't need any equipment fights while I'm trying to do it. The CC-400 is a fine choice for the portraits and tabletop work you mention. For a long time I used a CC-401 (long bellows) for product photography with a 300mm lens and was very happy with it.

I appreciate what you said about your CC-400 being heavy enough and not wanting to lug two cameras all through Europe. This gave me a thought. The WA Calumets maximum lensboard to groundglass distance is about 180mm. Without knowing your habits when travelling, this might be adequate. You could add a reversed recessed lensboard if you thought a little more needed.

Gregg Cook
30-Jun-2008, 20:56
i have a recessed lensboard that came with the camera and a 135 and I appreciate the suggestions ala dental picks etc...

you can't get to it without that kinda stuff and a cable release is a struggle...

and mines sTill kodak master....

same camera...