Opinions Needed: Schnider Symar S or Gold Dot Dagor ?

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First of all a question that can be answered objectively. I am told that all Caltar lenses are made by Rodenstock, therefore are Rodenstock quality. I have an old 375mm Caltar that I have not tested. This lens was probably made in the 60s (guessing by wear & tear, plus were I obtained the lens) Any chance it is Rodenstock quality ? > Now for the subjective part. I am looking for a sharp lens with some character for 8x10. I will use it for general use, portraits, landscape, still life etc- all black & white. I am going to test two different lenses: Schnieder Symar S 360mm 6.8 (I know how big it is) and a Gold Dot 14" Dagor ( in a copal shutter made after schnieder bought Dagor- I am guessing the lens was made in the early 70s). > They are both sharp lenses. I am expecting the comparrison to be simular to comparing a 35mm format Nikkor lens to a 35mm format Zeiss lens. Both are sharp but the Nikkor has more contrast than the Zeiss. In this scenerio I am guessing the Schnieder to be like the Nikkor (higher contrast) and the Dagor to be like the Zeiss (sharp but less contrast than Schnieder) > Any opinions ? Suggestions ?? > thanks in advance

-- Richard Warren (richardwarren@rcn.com), August 25, 2000


With respect to the 375mm Caltar: " . . . This became the first Caltar and was produced in 165mm, 215mm, 254mm, 305mm, and 375mm, all w/maximum apertures of f6.3. These lenses were of spectacular quality, with the exception of the 14 3/4" (375mm) which was ordinary in quality." (Jones, Lynn. (1996) View Camera, Jan/Feb. page 56)

I wouldn't rule out the possibility that the Dagor may have better contrast. But, it must be stopped down. Is it the multi-coated version? Some time ago, I read about a side-by-side comparison between a Schneider 150mm and a Dagor. The Dagor had better contrast.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), August 26, 2000.

Thanks Neil. I will test the Caltar anyway- very interesting that one in the series should fall by the wayside. > The Dagor that I have available to me is not multi coated. It was not a concern because I plan to do mostly black & white, but yes the multi coating would certainly effect contrast in any case.

-- richard warren (Richardwarren@rcn.com), August 26, 2000.

I'm not sure it's true that all Caltar lenses were/are made by Rodenstock. If I remember correctly (always a question at this stage of life), the Lynn Jones article referred to above said that Calumet periodically puts the manufacture of Caltar lenses up for bid among different lens manufacturers and the low bidder wins.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis@tampabay.rr.com), August 26, 2000.

Your old Caltar isn't Rodenstock. Someone will certainly correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's a tessar-type of decent quality manufactured by Ilex, pretty much comparable to the Kodak Commercial Ektar.

Moving forward, Caltar-S lenses of the '70s were Schneiders and were the same as Schneider Symmar-S, Super-Angulon etc of that vintage.

Somewhere along the way, I'm not sure if it was before or after the Caltar-S lenses, at least some Caltars were made by Topcon. I don't know if they were simply rebadged Topcors or were specifically made for Calumet. We found that performance of a 210 f5.6 Caltar (Topcor) was pretty much in the same class of the 210 f5.6 Symmar-S.

Current Caltar lenses are Rodenstocks and are the same as Rodenstock -N series lenses.

The guys at Calumet can give you most any info you want on current or old Caltar lenses.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), August 26, 2000.

The article that I quoted in the above post comments that the Caltar 375mm lenses were of Tessar design.

Owning two of them, the 360mm and the 300mm, I know that the Caltar-S II series were Schneider Symmar-S lenses. Given the size of the 360mm, there's no mistake about this!

I believe after that lens, Calumet provided the Rodenstock Sironar N lenses as Caltar II-N series, followed by the Rodenstock Sironar S lenses as the Cartar II-S series. Note that Calumet provided both an S-II and a II-S, each made by a different manufacturer.

While I'm not sure, the Caltar-S lenses may have been the Schneider convertable lenses.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), September 02, 2000.

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