View Full Version : Caltar II-N 210mm F/5.6 lens...info needed

Washington Bob
2-Jul-2011, 19:01
While digging through boxes from a closed down Photography Studio today I came across this lens wrapped up in bubble wrap. It is a Caltar II-N 210mm f/5.6 lens in a Copal 1 shutter. It is all black and in near mint condition. There were about 10 4x5 film holders and a couple of film back that are marked Polaroid and look like they will take pack style film. This film holder is black and plastic. I ended up taking the whole box because I am building a 4x5 rail camera and need absolutely everything.

I come to large format from a 35mm and digital slr background with a bit of medium format work thrown in. My question is concerning this particular lens and how useful it will be in 4x5 work.

I am googling like crazy to learn but also know that many on this forum have "hands on" experience with these items. Any help or advice is really appreciated. I recently retired and I am building my photography hobby on a SS check budget. I want to learn 4x5 photography and do B&W portraits in the style of the 40's and 50's. Your knowledge will make a difference to me. Thankyou.

Gem Singer
2-Jul-2011, 19:18
The lens is actually a Rodenstock f5.6 210 (Apo) Sironar N that was re-named Caltar and sold by Calumet Photo as their house brand.

Good starter lens. Considered to be "long normal" for the 4x5 format.

Click on LF Home Page on the blue tool bar above.

Scroll down to Comparison Charts. Click on 4x5, and you will be able to compare it with other modern 210s'.

The Polaroid pack film holders are useless. Polaroid is no longer making pack,or any other types of film.

2-Jul-2011, 19:58
Hang on, Gem. If he indeed has a Polaroid pack film holder, it works perfectly with Fuji's pack sized instant film. Of course you are right regarding the regular Polaroid 4x5 holders, which are paper weights.


I have this exact same lens and it is my primary commercial lens for everything 4x5 except architecture (and it still gets a lot of work there). The equivalent 35mm focal length for this lens would be 67mm, so it is a decent lens for portraiture until you get into head shots where you try to fill the frame. Then you get the strong likelyhood of the usual facial distortions of big nose/small ears, etc. that occur when you are too close with a too short lens.

As long as you are doing more distant head shots and mid to full length portraits, this lens is a gem. If you are angling for constant extreme close up portrait images, you might add something in the 300mm range (about the 100mm equivalent) to avoid the distortions (facial, not optical distortions). I want to be very clear, it is only this application where any lens of this length will give you potential problems. The lens itself is a terrific performer.


Washington Bob
2-Jul-2011, 20:20
Thankyou Gem and Tim.....lots of good info for me. It appears that the Polaroid film holder is the plastic model 405 and I am hoping that will work well with the Fuji FP3000 B&W film pack. If it does it should be interesting to work with a bit.

Thankyou for the lens info...most helpful. It sounds like this lens will work out well for many styles of photos and I appreciate that because I am on a serious budget for this hobby.

I am looking forward to hearing others experience with this lens. Thankyou.


2-Jul-2011, 20:56

That's the same Polaroid back I use to do lighting tests for my architectural work. I use the Fuji'roid' color material which uses the same housing as the FP3000, so you should be fine.

David Karp
2-Jul-2011, 21:21
The 210mm Caltar II-N is a wonderful lens. A great lens to start with. And finish with at that focal length.

Ivan J. Eberle
2-Jul-2011, 22:35
Terrific lens with a tremendous image circle of 301mm. The APO glass may be not be needed for B+W but it's really nice for color work. Common filter size of 67mm... just a great all around lens and length. Only possible downside is that it's larger and heavier than some lenses of this focal length (yet smaller than some. Oh, and the 210mm Caltar IINs are also bargains, but that cuts both ways (they're not presently very valuable -- so you're better off utilizing it than giving it away for the couple hundred bucks or less that it's likely to fetch).

Washington Bob
3-Jul-2011, 07:50
Thankyou everyone for the good advice. This lens will certainly be a keeper and well used. Because I am on a pretty short budget I am building my LF camera a piece at a time. I will be asking advice from this forum as well as reading as much as I can find on the subject and going google searchs. I have much to learn....but since I am retired...I now have the time to do it right. Thanks to all.

3-Jul-2011, 07:54
You probably won't ever need another 210mm lens, can't fault my copy :)

3-Jul-2011, 11:02
Does the Impossible Project make film for non-pack film backs?


I'm not sure, just asking. I have 2 polaroid backs, one that came with my Tachihara and one for a Cambo. One is a 545i which I believe is a sheet film Polaroid holder, but the one that came with my Cambo is a pack film holder I believe as it has a large internal "void" where I assume a pack goes. How do I find out what size / mode it is? I don't see any designations on it besides "Polaroid".


Btw, I have your exact Caltar and I love it. I've only had it a short time, but had great results already. I'm now searching for some caps. Keh has front caps to fit (Roddies) but not rear (60mm) caps.

Washington Bob
3-Jul-2011, 19:16
Thanks for the posts...that is why I come to this forum...great help. I am looking forward to using this lens and now I am sure it will be outstanding as a starter lens and probably my standard lens from now on.

My Polaroid back is black plactic and has no info on it but it appears to be a model 405 and those will take the Fuji FP3000 films and I am excited to be able to use this film also.

Lots more questions to come concerning my budget 4x5 outfit...thanks in advance.

3-Jul-2011, 21:14
Does the Impossible Project make film for non-pack film backs?

No. Nobody makes film for the 545 sheet film holder and only Fuji makes pack film. It was possible to use Fuji Quickload packaging of conventional film in a 545i, but even that has been discontinued.

If the image size is 3-1/4x4-1/4, it takes the smaller pack film similar to what is used in the Fuji Instax. FP100C or FP3000B, as I recall. If the image frame is closer to 4x5, it takes the more expensive 4x5 pack film such as the FP100C45.

Rick "who also has a 545i doorstop" Denney

Rick Keller
7-Feb-2020, 16:58
After all these years, I hope the OP eventually discovered the answer to his question with real world experience with this lens.

For others who are starting off in LF and have similar questions, I can vouch for the Caltar II-N 210mm f/5.6. I use it predominantly for landscape photography in the 4x5 format, where it is a superlative performer. In this context, it offers an angle of view longer than the normal view (“long normal”), which works well for landscapes.

As it is seated in a Copal 1 shutter, it is reasonably light-weight enough to routinely and effortlessly carry on backpacking trips. Its coverage is more than ample for landscapes. I have yet to come anywhere close to its coverage limits in the 4x5 format. Although this lens has a 67mm front filter thread, I routinely use a 67-77mm step-up ring to pair with 77mm filters. Optically, this lens is fabulous. Very sharp, strong contrast, with a lovely color rendition.

For those getting started in LF—whether landscapes, table-top, or portraits—the Caltar II-N 210mm f/5.6 lens would be an excellent choice. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And it may be the only lens you’ll need in the 4x5 format.

I’ve attached a recent photo I made with this lens, shot on an Intrepid 8x10 w/4x5 reducing back, Kodak Ektar 100, and an 81A warming filter.