Still trying to figure out what to buy : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I still haven't figured out what camera/lens I am going to buy but my reading has brought up a few questions. What differences would I notice between the following two lenses:

1) Caltar II-E 150mm f/6.3 Lens Configuration: 3 elements and 3 groups $287.95. Image Circle @f/22: 180mm 2) Caltar II-N 150mm f/5.6 Lens Configuration: 6 elements and 4 groups $493.95. Image Circle @f/22: 214mm

Is the difference optical quality of just the amount of movement available?

I will be shooting almost entirely landscape and will probably be using a field camera.

-- Edward Kimball (, March 14, 2001


Since the physical size difference is minimal, I'd go for the Caltar II-N 150mm f/5.6. Even if you are normally using only minimal movements you'll appreciate the larger circle when you need it.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 14, 2001.

Edward: Three elements are considered the minimum number that can give full correction in a LF lens. It is o.k. as a beginner's lens, but I suspect you won't be a beginner for very long and will want sharper images with more ability to cover during camera movements. Even with landscapes, you will find the need for a lot of lens rise at times. Spend the extra money for the new six element or find a used six element. A four element tessar design can be plenty sharp, but you will still run out of image circle at times. Once you find out what can be done with LF, you aren't going to be happy with minimum performance from your lenses. You can get by fine with a rather ratty LF camera for landscapes if your lenses are good and the film and ground glass position agrees.


-- Doug Paramore (, March 14, 2001.

My first lens in 4x5 was the 150/5.6 Caltar-N (but under another name). It has about as small an image circle as I want on a 150. I routinely run out of coverage correcting verticals.

-- John O'Connell (, March 14, 2001.

Caltar II-E 150mm f/6.3 has image circle of 180 mm $288 Caltar II-N 150mm f/5.6 has image circle of 214 mm $494 Caltar II-E 210mm f/6.8 has image circle of 242 mm $320 (on sale now) Caltar II-E 135mm f/5.6 has image circle of 200 mm $467

Diagonal of 4x5 film is 161 mm.

The image circle of the 150/6.3 is a problem, being just 19mm over the minimum. Very little movement available. If you're stuck on the focal length, I'd go with the 5.6.

I've shown two alternatives worthy of consideration in the price range. The 210/6.8 has a generous image circle. In addition to allowing movement, you'll probably never get near the circle edge, so you'll be using the sharpest part of the image. I find I use my 210 most often in the field.

The 135/5.6 is slightly shorter than the 150, but has a decent image circle. This is a very compact lens for field work with 6 elements. It is the next lens I intend to buy.

A non-Calumet 210 offering worth looking into is the Congo/Osaka 210. It's a 4-element design and very compact.

-- Charlie Strack (, March 14, 2001.

About 6-7 years ago I purchased a 150mm Caltar II-E and a calumet wood field camera. The lens was part of a Calumet package deal and seemed like an inexpensive way to approach LF field work. The lens performs fairly well in terms of sharpness, contrast, etc. My only regret is that I bought a "normal" lens. I eventually ended up with a 210 Fujinon and a 90mm Super Angulon. Looking back at my medium format work I should have realized that I tend to shoot with wide-angle lenses more often than lenses of normal focal length. You may want to consider your current work (MF, 35mm etc.) in selecting a LF lens. If I could turn back the clock I would look for a used 90mm SA as my first lens!

Hope this helps


-- Dave Willison (, March 14, 2001.


In 35mm I used 35mm and 50mm lenses about evenly split (never my 28mm) until I bought a Yashica Mat (80mm lens in 6X6). Now the only thing I use my 35mm for is wildlife with a 300mm which is not an issue with a view camera. I believe that 135mm and 150mm are about the equivalent in 4X5, so the 150mm should do me very well as an only lens for quite a while.

-- Edward Kimball (, March 15, 2001.

I bought a Graflex View Camera at a good price and spent most of my money on a good lens..Rodenstock Sironar-N 150MM 5.6 - 64. I am not dissapointed at all. hope this helps. (-:

-- Gary Ross (, March 16, 2001.

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