Commercial Ektar vs Ilex : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking at two used 14" lens at local shops in my area. I have narrowed my choices down to a 14" Commerical Ektar in VG condition for $500 and a 14-3/4" Ilex Calumet Caltar lens in E++ condition for $300. Does the Commerical Ektar in it's condition justify the $200 greater cost over the Ilex lens? Both are in Ilex Universal #5 shutters. I will be using the lens to make 8X10 B&W contacts and an occasional 8X10 color transparancy. Thanks!

-- Ron Lawrence (, March 09, 2000


Response to 8X10 lens

Ron: According to an article in View Camera magazine a few years ago on lens design, the 14" Caltar was a three element design. Three elements used to be considered the least number of elements which could be fully corrected. According to the article, the early 14 inch three element lenses were not all that great, but later ones were o.k. The Commercial Ektar was a four element lens and is one of the legendary large format lenses. I personally have used a 14 inch and presently own a 12" Ektar. They are good lenses. For contact work though, you probably won't be able to tell much difference, especially if the lens is one of the later Caltar three element lenses. Both lenses were quite popular for 8x10 work. Hope this helps, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, March 10, 2000.

Response to 8X10 lens

The same article states that the Ilex-Caltar 14-3/4" were only "ordinary" in quality, whereas the other Ilex-Caltar lenses were "spectacular." What does a "very good" rating mean for the vendor selling the Ektar? Usually, this rating can imply brassing, imperfections, etc. Based on most ratings I've seen, I wouldn't purchase anything below an excellent. Will they send the lens "on approval", allowing you to return it if it doesn't meet your expectations? $500 seems like a lot for a "very good" Ektar.

-- neil poulsen (, March 10, 2000.

Response to 8X10 lens

"$500 seems like a lot for a "very good" Ektar."

True. I wasn't going to say anything, but since someone said if first. In the last year, Ive bought two 14" CEs in EX+ condition (NO scratches, VERY few light cleaning marks) off of Ebay for less that $400 each. Some camera stores are asking very high prices however - $600 and up in some cases. Look around.

-- sheldon hambrick (, March 10, 2000.

Response to 8X10 lens

Neal: I couldn't find the article on the 14 3/4 Ilex Caltar when I wrote my reply to Ron, so thanks for filling in the info on the other Ilex Caltars. I was writing from memory. Thanks for filling in the info on the other Ilex Caltars, which were four element lenses. Agree that the price is too high for the Ektar in VG condition. The three element lens, or even a two element, could give decent results with 8x10 contacts due to the size of the neg. Doug

-- Doug Paramore (, March 11, 2000.

Response to 8X10 lens

Thanks to all for the comments! The Commerical Ektar has nice glass but has a ding (been dropped) around the filter ring area. The shutter will need to be CLA'd because slow speeds are way off. The Ilex Calumet Caltar lens is in very pretty condition, both glass and shutter. Shutter seems to be close to accurate but has not been tested on a shutter tester. How can I tell a 3 element from a 4 element Ilex Calumet Caltar. The serial number on the Ilex lens is 1531. I was told it was late 1960's. I have seen some 14-3/4" Ilex Caltar Acutar lens that do sell for a little less. Could this be the 3 element lens? By the way, I'm looking at local camera shops because of some bad experiences I have had with buying on EBAY. What you get is not always as described and shown on EBAY.

Thanks again!

-- Ron Lawrence (, March 11, 2000.

Response to 8X10 lens

There are good places to shop and mail-order on the internet. For example, I've always had good luck with Midwest Photo and Kenmar. Check out Phil Greenspun's site at WWW.PHOTO.NET/NEIGHBOR for information on good and bad mail-order sites. neil

-- neil poulsen (, March 11, 2000.

My first 8x10 lens was a 14 3/4 " Ilex Caltar in an Ilex #5 shutter. The lens really suprised me. It is extremely sharp and very snappy. I have no complaints.

-- Peter C. McDonough (, March 18, 2001.

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