Ilex-Calumet lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Is there a good source of information about the Ilex-Calumet lenses? They are available at much lower prices than equivalent focal length lenses and I'd like to know if there is a real reason or the result of brand bias. I have not been able to find any significant information about them either on this forum or in general searches. I'm particularily interested in image circle, coating, resolution etc. I have the 165 and 90 W.A. caltar, both in Seikosha shutters, in good condition and relatively cheap. Thanks--Russell

-- Russell Levin (, September 03, 2001


Russell: Scroll down to the bottom of the questions listings to the history section and look under classic lenses. There is some information there. The Ilex Caltar are good lenses, especially for black and white. They are usually single coated, which is fine. They don't have as much coverage as some of the plasmat designs, but contrast and sharpness are excellent. They were modern cumputer designs of the tessar formula, and give slightly more coverage than a sessar. They are professional quality lenses. The f8 90mm was a great lens with about 105 degrees of coverage. It is an excellent lens.


-- Doug Paramore (, September 03, 2001.


The price difference is partially due to the age of the lenses. Ilex produced lenses until they were aquired by Egleet in 1963. (For a brief history of Ilex and other Rochester lens companies, see: Ilex was probably better known for it's line of large format shutters (see

The Ilex-Calumet Caltar lenses were manufactured by Ilex and labeled/sold under the Calumet name. Calumet had similar arrangements with both Schneider and Rodenstock. I believe that Schneider produced Calumet Caltars during the early 1980's along with a series of double convertible lenses in varying focal lengths (180mm/300mm, 215mm/360mm, and 240mm/420mm). New and recent Calumet Caltars are often attributed to Rodenstock, although you would have to contact Calumet to confirm this.

I don't know of a specific, on-line source for data on Ilex-Calumet Caltar lenses. You might look at the following links, but I believe that they only list Ilex lenses--not Ilex-Calumet: m

The only other source that I can think of would be Wooden's "Large Format Optical Reference Manual." This manual is not available on-line so you would have to track down and purchase a copy. The manual lists some data, although the image circle information is more complete for Calumet lenses made by Schneider and Rodenstock. Complete data for Ilex-Calumet lenses is listed for the 305mm and the 375mm Ilex-Calumet Caltars.

As far as resolution, you might look at the following:

Unfortunately, I believe they only provide test data for one Ilex lens, the Paragon.

I hope this helps.


-- Dave Willison (, September 03, 2001.

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