View Full Version : Info on Ilex Calumet 8 1/2" 215mm f6.3

Jim Cole
26-Aug-2009, 10:45
Just bought this lens for the Ilex shutter, but am now curious about the lens itself. I haven't received it yet so I can't do much but let curiosity get the best of me.

I can find references to the f4.5 and f5.6 (Caltar-S) versions of this lens, but not the 215mm Ilex Calumet Caltar f6.3 version itself.

Anyone familiar with this piece of glass? I'm interested in knowing the image circle and any interesting tidbits of info like the design type and characteristics.


26-Aug-2009, 11:25
Per Calumet it covers 64 deg. stopped down and is a 4 element design. Presumably it is a copy of the Kodak Commercial Ektar of the same dimensions, i.e., generically a Tessar.


It should work very well for most 4x5 applications.

Good Luck

26-Aug-2009, 11:40
Oops, the link did not work the way I thought it would. Look at page 23 of that catalog for information on your lens.

Mark Sampson
26-Aug-2009, 12:03
A fine (and very under-rated) lens. Don't throw it away!

Jim Cole
26-Aug-2009, 15:46
Thanks folks.

a. Duncanson - I was thinking it was a tessar. I was hoping the coverage would be more for use on my whole plate, but I'll keep it for my 4x5. Thanks for the link. That's a great reference.

Mark -I'll have to play with this a bit and see where it shines. according to the link aduncanson provided, it looks like it may be good for color work, especially still life.

thanks again

AJ Edmondson
26-Aug-2009, 16:10
Mine covers 8x10 straight-on at infinity but any tilts or swings are out! The lens has always been a solid performer for me and I frequently use it for landscapes.

Jim Cole
26-Aug-2009, 17:01

That's great to know. I thought maybe the Caltar-S series would cover 8x10 but I'm surprised that the plain 4 element Caltar does.

I'll check it out on my WP camera. Glad to hear that it performs well as a landscape lens. Must be fairly sharp corner to corner especially pushing the image circle to its limit.

Thanks for your input,


Chauncey Walden
26-Aug-2009, 20:14
I could see the Ilex 215mm f/4.8 (a plasmat) being coaxed into covering 8x10 but I can't imagine anything less than a 240mm Tessar type would make it.

Dan Fromm
27-Aug-2009, 01:53
Chauncey, depending on which authority one believes, f/6.3 tessar types can cover as much as 70 degrees. Faster tessar types have smaller coverage. A tessar is not a tessar is not a tessar ...

At 70 degrees, a 215 will just cover 8x10 with no movements.



Chauncey Walden
27-Aug-2009, 15:48
Dan, interesting and that's one I can put to the test. I have a 10" B&L f/6.3 Tessar. I know it covers 8x10 and I'll mount it up sometime and see just how much movement it is capable of.

Chris Jones
12-Sep-2009, 04:11
Haven't double checked but also understand this to be a computer designed Tessar dated around 1964?

My current favourite lens but fear I may lose the shutter some time.

Craig Roberts
12-Sep-2009, 17:18
I just purchased on of these (bargen prices right now) and will give it a try on my 8x10. I had one in the past for 4x5 and was very pleased with the results. Craig

Lynn Jones
15-Sep-2009, 13:53
Actually it was a tessar type based on ray traces of the commercial Ektar. We (Calumet) asked Manny Kiner (Pres. owner/designer of Ilex) to make lenses as good as the Commercial Ektar. He stated unequivocally that they were better based on new computer designs with some new optical glasses that were unavailable when Kodak was makeing lenses (Kodak shut down professional lens manufacture in 1964).

Of the f6.3 Caltars, each of them were the best ever at that time (mid 1960's) except for the 14 3/4", (375mm). It was scaled up from the 12" (305mm) and while very good was not quite as good as all the rest.

The 20" (508mm) was a triplet designed for 8x10. It covered visually, about 45 degrees but the critical sharpness was a bit over 35 degrees. This lens was highly sought after for many years. very sharp and great color.

The original "S" Caltar (plasmat) was only made for the f 4.8, 8 1/2" (215+mm), it covered 72 degrees and was single coanvertible. All other "S" Caltars were made by Rodenstock and later by contract to eaither them or Schneider.

The 90mm WF Caltar was a 6 element 103 degree f 8 lens, similar in looks to the Super Angulon but significantly optically different. Calumet made only the 90mm, Ilex, B&J, BBOI sold 47, 65, 75, 90 with great success.

Ilex, B&J, and BBOI sold all of these lenses and more with their own names for many years.

(former asst to VP, Eastern Div. Mgr, Western Div. Mgr, original Calumet, VP of B&J, VP of BBOI)

Mark Sampson
15-Sep-2009, 15:53
Not to go too far off-topic, and not to contradict Mr. Jones; but I once made a 120"x120" color print (in sections) from an 8x10" color neg made with a 14-3/4" Caltar.
That's 12x magnification, and the print was plenty sharp, even when viewed close up.

Jim Cole
15-Sep-2009, 16:12
This is all great info. I'm glad the thread is still alive. I just received my 8x10 Deardorff yesterday and as soon as I can get the Calumet 8 1/2" on a board I still want to see if it will cover. It may be a week or two before I can accomplish that.