Calumet Series C camears : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Someone made the comment (partially reported here): ..."buying a Calumet C-series is a minefield for the unitiated." I'm trying to get back into LF photography (I did some industrial stuff years ago) and I'm a bit fascinated with idea of going up to 8x10 in spite of the obvious high costs, etc. However, I'm not at all sure I want to get an ancient 8x10 outfit but neither can I afford a top-of-the-line modern job. Seems to me I've seen some Calumets that were cheaper to buy but the above comment worries me. Can anyone elaborate and offer any advice? (I've never used an 8x10; should I lock myself in a closet until the desire goes away?)

-- Alan C. Hodgkins (, November 27, 2000


I don't see the "C" series Calumet as being any more of a "mine field" than any other used 8x10 camera, or new for that matter. All cameras have a learning curve that can be handled even by people of my limited intellegence. Just make sure that all the parts are there, it is in good condition and aligned, and the bellows is in good condition. Those were excellent 8x10 cameras and were and are still used commercially. Get a lens, a sturdy tripod, some holders and go for it. Having said that, I will add that switching to 8x10 does require a commitment on your part. They are heavy, cumbersome, take a while to set up and slow to use. But for studied, fine work nothing beats them. You will get your mind blown with your first 8x10 negatives.


-- Doug Paramore (, November 27, 2000.

Hello Doug!

That was a fast response! I figured I might get one in a week or two...I'm VERY interested in what you had to say and I'm sure it will influence my actions in the (hopefully near) future. My personal problem these days is finding the time and the venue (place) to make some fine images with ANY camera. Thanks again for the advice and counsel.

-- Alan C. Hodgkins (, November 27, 2000.

I think maybe what was intended was that many of the old Calumet 8x10s have seen heavy commercial usage, and are well-worn and real beaters. There are also plenty of really clean ones available, so there's no reason to buy one in less-than-good condition.

Pieces and parts are still readily available from Calumet (not in their catalogs) so if you get a screaming deal on one that has, say, a broken groundglass don't sweat it.

If you get one and need parts, or you're considering one that needs parts, the guy to ask is Jose in Calumet's repair department.

-- John Hicks (, November 27, 2000.

I think I'm the one who made the "minefield" comment. I made it because I've looked at such cameras advertised with anywhere from 26" to 34" of bellows draw, and yet heard repeatedly that they're "all the same" regardless of when they were produced. If any C guru would like to chime in and set the record straight, I'd be grateful -- and I'd have a camera about a year quicker than I would by saving for a new Wisner.

-- John O'Connell (, November 28, 2000.

The problem with bellows draw citations is that not everyone measures it the same way. Sometimes the person who does the measuring isn't aware of the C's second built in extension rail, f'rnstance. Also, there is always the chance that for whatever reason a bellows may have been replaced with a shorter rahter than standard length. Finally, by way of example, the Deardorff camera has a nominal draw of 30" - but with time the bellows can shrink up to 6"!.

All that said, the black model I had had exactly 34" of draw when the bellows was racked out tight and a yardstick was placed at the center of the ground glass and measurement taken from the inside surface of a lensboard.

-- Sean yates (, November 28, 2000.


This is an OOoooold model. Not the Green Monster or the Black Beast. The bellows looks original and may well be 30" rather than 34"

-- Sean yates (, November 28, 2000.

For comparison's sake, a Green Monster (quite like the one I am awaiting delivery of): ViewItem&item=512784035

The picture on the bottom has the bellows racked out all the way... looks like 34" to me.

-- Josh Wand (, November 29, 2000.

"buying a Calumet C-series is a minefield for the unitiated." I bet the first tought was that a Calumet C "would survive a mine field"! A friend of mine just bought one on Ebay and said to me he felt he could just"throw it from the bridge and pick it up in the river bed again"!!!

-- Paul Schilliger (, November 29, 2000.

Hi!Depending on what you want to do,it could be important to pick the model made of magnesium instead of aluminum.The magnesium model weight in at 12 Lbs.,the aluminum model is 6 pounds heavier.I'm not,sure but I think that the GREEN MACHINE or C1,was the magnesiumm model.

-- Gil. Langlois (, November 29, 2000.

Unfortunatley it's not that easy. There are aluminum Green Monsters, and Magnesium Green Monsters - only one way to tell for sure - drop it in water and see if it reacts. Or, wait, that's potassium, isn't it?

-- Seam yates (, November 30, 2000.

I got a C series in green recently and it weighs 17-18 lbs, less lens board. Must be aluminum!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, November 30, 2000.

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