Caltar compact lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Can anyone provide some feedback concerning the CaltarII compact lenses from Calumet? I found this question (in the lens questions archive) but was unable to retreive a previous thread,that was recommended by Howard Slavitt. I'm aware these are probably manufactured by Rodenstock,but how do they rate,compared to the other lens designs in the Caltar family. Do you think they are a better value? Subject matter is primarily B&W landscape. Thanks as always. Larry

-- Larry Shearer (, December 02, 1999


These are Rodenstock Geronars (discontinued by Rodenstock), Tessar-type lenses, and are limited in coverage compared to Sironars (ordinary Caltars), Symmars etc.

They may be just fine for landscape work; check coverage circles to be sure.

-- John Hicks (, December 02, 1999.

Like John said, make sure they will provide the coverage you need. One of my friends uses a Caltar II-E on a Crown Graphic 4x5. We printed a bunch of his black and white in my darkroom and I never even thought about his lens while we were working on his images. Didn't notice any sharpenss or contrast problems. His 4x5 chromes looked pretty awesome too, now that I think about it. I hope that my Caltar II-N is sharper and contrastier, but you'd have to compare them side-by-side to notice any difference. Might just be a good excuse for a photo trip in a few weeks.

If price is an issue don't be afraid of these lenses. They will outperform old lenses, and come with the added benefits of a new shutter and a warranty. Think of it this way, after all these months of admiring Doug's images, I had forgotten he bought a budget lens until you posted this question.

I know you can't tell much from a web photo, but this 392k image may help put your mind at ease.

-- Darron Spohn (, December 02, 1999.

Hi, Darron: What a beautiful picture from a modern computerized multicoated Cook Triplet. (3 elements in 3 groups). Designed in 1893. It has more coverage than a Tessar type (4 elements in 3 groups) on a comparable focal lenght. Best, Tito.

-- Tito Sobrinho (, December 06, 1999.

I agree it is a beautiful picture, I just wish I had taken it. Kudos to Doug Broussard on the photo. He used a Crown Graphic 4x5 and a Caltar II-E 150/5.6 lens. Just proves the photographer matters more than the equipment.

-- Darron Spohn (, December 08, 1999.

Aw, gee, that makes me feel great. Thanks for the compliment, Darron.

In my personal experience, this Caltar has probably been the best deal I've ever gotten from Calumet. It is still available for around $300.00

I've found the contrast of this lens to be more than satisfactory, although it is a tad soft around the edges. Also, I've been in a couple of situations where some chromatic aberration has been evident, although I'd be the first to admit that the situations were extreme. Having no other lens to compare to at this point other than an old Schneider Xenar 135, I can't really call this a strike against the II- E.

Please eamil me directly if you have any other questions.


-- Doug Broussard (, December 11, 1999.

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