View Full Version : Calumet Cadet?

Simon Parsons
18-Apr-2001, 23:11
I am looking for a lightweight and inexpensive monorail camera and am considerin g the Calumet Cadet, having read fairly positive reviews. Does anyone have any hands on experience with this camera?

dave bulmer
19-Apr-2001, 05:23
Hi Simon. I had been meaning move up into LF for some time, and by chance saw an advert in the UK for the cadet or explorer as it's called over here. For the equivalent of $600.00 I got the 150mm lens, camera, 2 d/d slides, pack of film and focusing cloth. For a beginner it was just what I wanted with loads of movement and I bought a couple of old lenses and an even older enlarger with the money left over. I have read many comments about the plastic feel of some of the knobs etc and how over tightening might cause cracking. Well yes if you use a torque wrench. The only problem I had was the long monorail which made it difficult to pack. So I bought the shorter monorail and these can be removed anyway for further ease of packing. If you want a cheap monorail go ahead, it's a good product and can handle lenses from 75 to 300 easily. The lensboards are cheap, as are other accessories. I have also just bought an old MPP microtechnical camera which I love because it's old and has more soul. But I still use the cadet. Would I buy the cadet again? Yes, if I was in the same financial situation. No, if I had more money to spend. Remember the first car you ever bought after you learned to drive? Probably an old banger but would you really have waited another year to get a shinier model. No way

neil poulsen
19-Apr-2001, 08:05
I saw a Gowland Pocket 4x5 that I almost bought, even though I've got my own 4x5 that I like a lot. It weighs 2 to 3lbs. It's on about a 11" rail, but comes with about a 5" extension that screws onto the end of the larger rail. So, you can use a 14" lens with this camera. Plus, if you manouver the camera entirely onto the 5" rail and then remove the 11" rail, it can fit very conveniently into a backpack. The back is reversible (both H&V), and it has good movements. (ie. at least shift, tilt, swing, rise on the front and at least shift on the back. Can't recall exactly.) It also appeared that you can obtain decent rise with a 120mm without the bellows limiting the movement. (I didn't check rise for the 90mm.) It does not have an Graphlex international standard back that would accept 2x3, although there's a special Gowland pocket intended for 2x3. (It has a bag bellows to permit use of very small focal length lenses.) The one I saw was reasonably priced at $300.

In my old age, which is rapidly approaching, I'll probably regret not purchasing this camera.

john g
19-Apr-2001, 10:38
Why not? Calumet will give you the full original value of the camera if you ever want to move up in the cambo line. They are not a Sinar or Linhof,however great cameras for a fraction of the price.

James Conrad
19-Apr-2001, 11:37
Hi Simon, Here is another positive yes for the Cadet. You get a great package and I think its even on sale right now. If the budget is a consideration, its a wonderful monorail for all the pluses listed above, besides you want to dump your money into the lens you put in front it that is what really matters. Let us know what you end up doing! Good Luck! JC

neil poulsen
20-Apr-2001, 12:31
I have a couple comments about the "Cadet". If there's anything I dislike, it's being manipulated. And, the Cadet is "un" designed to do just that.

Think about what the camera could have been. It's light-weight, and it could have easily folded into a backpack, if they had included a monorail that breaks down. It has a relatively large lens-stage that accomodates only 4.81" square inch lensboards that could have been the Linhof style lensboard. The WA bag bellows comes only with permanently attached front and rear standards, rail, and base, when it could have been interchangeable! I will say that Calumet condescended to offer a Graflok international back, at additional cost. Faint praise.

All these features could have been added to the "Cadet" for a modest price increase. The entire camera is a ploy "designed" to entice you towards purchasing one of their more expensive cameras.

Well, I say, no thanks. Forget it! I will not be sucked into such an obvious deception.

7-Jun-2001, 11:50
I will have to disagree with Mr. Poulsen. I have owned a Cambo since 1973. Back then, it was made in Holland and Cambo WAS NOT owned by Calumet. It was not called the "Cadet," but merely a "Cambo 45."

It is NOT meant as a backpacking camera or to be in competition with a camera like the Technikarden. The Cadet is a continuation of the camera that I bought in 1973, and in fact, all monorails, standards, lens boards,etc., are completely interchangeable with my camera. The difference between the cameras is that everything on my camera is made of metal (aluminum), knobs, levers etc. are all metal.

As a field camera, it actually works quite well as it doesn't have geared adjusments, and doesn't care about how much dirt or grit it encounters. I use it regularly for architectural work and it's paid for itself thousands of times over. It is not a studio camera, (although it can be used for one in a pinch). It is not a back packing camera and was never designed as one.

Mr. Poulsen's cynical view is ill considered, since Calumet has had nothing to do with the design of this camera. It was designed well over 40 years ago in Holland by the original Cambo camera company, and Calumet is just continuing the product.