View Full Version : Who makes Orbit lenses?

8-Feb-2004, 09:06
Well, here's hoping I didn't burn myself...

Last week I picked up a B&J 8x10 field camera. Well, flatbed camera at least. It came with a Wollensak 10 1/2" anastigmat process lens (barrel mount), but at $2.75/sheet for film, I wanted something a little more reliable than me waving a lens cap in front of it, so today I picked up an Orbit -S II 300/5.6 in Copal 3 (claims to be recently serviced) for under $275.

However, I haven't been able to figure out who makes this lens for real.

I see Orbit cameras were the same as Calumet cameras, and there is a Calumet Caltar S II 300/5.6, so the first question is: Same lens, different manufacturer?

This leads to the second question, who made it for Calumet? It says "Made in Germany," so I assume it has to be Schnieder or Rodenstock, and Schieder does make a series of Symmar lenses (the Apo, regular, and S MC from the same table), so am I to assume that the Orbit lenses are actually rebadged Schneider Symmars?

The chart I'm using for comparision lives at: http://www.graflex.org/lenses/lens-spec.html

Finally, you're encouraged to tell me I did good. I still have to go home and face the SO on this one. Heh. :)

8-Feb-2004, 09:35
ps: Is this also a convertable lens? I've seen a few comments on usenet about convertable symmar-S lenses, from 300/5.6 to 500/12. Which element goes where for this sort of thing?

Ernest Purdum
8-Feb-2004, 09:52
"Orbit" was a B&J trademark, seen most often on cameras similar to the Calumet of the time, but also on other products. There were also "Orbitar" lenses. Your lens is probably a Schneider, but could be from another source.

Regarding convertability, Your best bet is to take off the front cell and see if the rear cell forms an image by itself. Usually a convertible lens will have two series of diaphragm markings

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
8-Feb-2004, 10:21
I had a 240mm and a 360mm Orbit. Each of them were clearly remarked Schneider lenses, and were excellent performers. Oddly, if I looked carefully at the markings of my lenses, I noticed that the outline of "Caltar S-II" was clearly there, although unpainted. So, these lenses are remarked twice...

And yes, you did well, getting anything in a Copal 3 for under $300 is good.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
8-Feb-2004, 10:39
I should also say that the lens you bought is single coated, and is almost certainly a 300mm Schneider Symmar-S. See the specs here:


8-Feb-2004, 10:42
Great, thanks, you two have confirmed my suspicions that its likely going to be a Schnieder Caltar S-II.

Regarding Orbiter, it clearly says Orbit on it, as in this picture from the ebay dealer: http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~yau/300mm.jpg and here you can see the Made in Germany stamp, http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~yau/300mm.jpg

24-Feb-2004, 08:07
Well, it came in yesterday.

I understand why someone said that the Copal 3 alone is almost worth price of admission, I didn't realize how H U G E this thing was going to be.

All my 4x5 lenses are simple Tessar designs, I was completely unprepared for a 5# behemoth of a lens. I also never realized just how big a 100mm front element was.

Unfortuantly, now I need to get a new plan for a lens board. I don't trust anything I cut to support this much weight, guess I'm off to rustle up an old 6x6 board.

Wow. Huge. Nice lens, though. Nice having a shutter that actually FIRES on all speeds and at the right times. Heh.

Jon Wilson
3-May-2005, 14:28
Gfen, hope you don't mine my piggybacking on your initial Orbit inquiry, but I am waiting on a Orbit 215mm in a copal 1 shutter; a review of the threads did not reveal anything other than Schneider being the most likely manufacturer of the lens. With that said, has anyone used the Orbit 215mm lens and how did it stack up against other similar size lens? Your insights and experiences you share are appreciated. Thanks. Jon

Jim Galli
3-May-2005, 14:50
Hi Jon. Think you'll find your 215 is the last of the Ilex / Caltar / Orbit bunch. They were around since the mid '60's in the Acme #3 as 215 mm f4.8 with the last few put in Copals but downsized to f5.6 because the Copal throat is physically smaller than the older Acme.

Mark Sampson
4-May-2005, 13:25
The 300mm Symmar-S that I occaisionally (not much requirement for 8x10 anymore) use at work is awesomely sharp. If that's what your lens is, you found the bargain of the year.

4-May-2005, 14:20
Bargin of last year, Mark. ;)

Someone kicked the dust off this thread to bring up their Orbit 215/5.6.

For his information, I've been surprisingly happy with my Orbin 300/5.6, outside of its weight and size, its a remarkable lens in a perfect shutter. Couldn't be happier.