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Thread: Where did all the Caltars go?

  1. #1

    Where did all the Caltars go?

    Doing some light fleabay'ing lately and I notice that it's surprisingly hard to find a nice late model Caltar lens. With the exception of 210s which everyone and their mother are apparently unloading, there is only one 150/5.6 currently available and it's an older model. Another which is doubles the Rodenstock N model rebrand is in a dang DB shutter. Search for a 360mm and there is one with a dent in the filter ring for over a grand. Meanwhile Robert's Camera is selling a Nikkor 360 for around $700 OBO.

    As a former Southern Illinois University student I have a silly affinity for the Caltar brand. Calumet was a fun shop to visit on trips to Chicago. The first 300mm 5.6 I used was on a Deardorff that my school would loan out. The shutter tended to stick unless 'worked out' but the images were sublime.

    Now that I've come back to LF after the dust has settled in the film v. digital wars I was hoping to find loads of cheap Caltars. Not so!

  2. #2

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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    Caltars are not cheap,because they are excellent glass which many have learned since the demise of Calumet.

  3. #3

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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    Since the 1980s, I have used a 508mm f/7 Caltar on my 11x14. It's a pleasure to focus since it throws an image a lot more like a f/5.6 or faster optic. Closed down impeccably sharp over the whole negative. Over the years have never used a Caltar lens that failed me.

  4. #4
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    I've had three Caltars over the years: 300mm, 210mm, 150mm. I still have the 210mm that you say everybody is unloading. It is a wonderful lens. A favorite. The 300mm was big and heavy. Later, it didn't fit on my short bellows 4x5, so it was gone. The 150 I sold when I started with 5x7, as it didn't cover. It was a sweet little lens that was made famous by the article by Kerry Thalmann. Use one of the other Big Four lenses in the same focal length. They are all wonderful for 4x5. My 150mm now is the APO Sironar W that I purchased when it first arrived on the scene. They aren't giving these away either, but it covers 5x7 nicely. For 4x5, I use the 135mm Fujinon. Great, small, light weight, cheap. You can buy half-dozen of them for less than a Rodenstock. I prefer the 135mm because it fits the sequence with my other lenses better than the 150mm.

    --ejw--

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    Sorry -- I kept tell people what a sweet bargin-priced top-flight lens the 150/5.6 CaltarII-N was.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    I was wondering the same thing last week when looking up lenses. Maybe when the current owners bought them they thought, "Heck, for that much money I'll just keep it."


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  7. #7

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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    You probably know that there were four manufacturers who sold lenses to Calumet, branded as "Caltars".
    First was Ilex Optical from Rochester, made in the 1970s. Greg's 508/7 is one of these; there were several varieties and focal lengths. On the job I used a 14-3/4" Ilex-Caltar on 8x0, and a fine lens it was, too.
    Second was Topcon... not for very long.
    Third was Schneider... a few varieties.
    Fourth, last, and most common, Rodenstock, from the mid-1980s. These are mostly labeled Caltar II-N.
    I read the full story in 'View Camera' magazine some years back and probably have some details wrong. But Calumet was selling to a demanding professional market and their lenses (whoever made them) were top quality. But I have no idea why they are are hard to find on the used market now.

  8. #8

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    Re: Where did all the Caltars go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    You probably know that there were four manufacturers who sold lenses to Calumet, branded as "Caltars".
    First was Ilex Optical from Rochester, made in the 1970s. Greg's 508/7 is one of these; there were several varieties and focal lengths. On the job I used a 14-3/4" Ilex-Caltar on 8x0, and a fine lens it was, too.
    Second was Topcon... not for very long.
    Third was Schneider... a few varieties.
    Fourth, last, and most common, Rodenstock, from the mid-1980s. These are mostly labeled Caltar II-N.
    I read the full story in 'View Camera' magazine some years back and probably have some details wrong. But Calumet was selling to a demanding professional market and their lenses (whoever made them) were top quality. But I have no idea why they are are hard to find on the used market now.
    I believe you can also add Komura to that list, they made at least one lens under the "Caltar Pro Series" label, a rather huge 90/5.6 with equally large (259mm) coverage.
    Trevor

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