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  1. #1
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    Caltar Lenses (90 specifically)

    hey all,

    I have finally been allowed to check out a 4x5 from school, albeit with a my teacher's signature ).

    well, I decided to get the one with the 90mm. They have 2 90mm lens kits, and I got the nicer one .

    The lens is a Caltar IIn 6.8 in a Copal 0 shutter. Green Ring(on barrel)

    This thing is sharp!!!!(at least from a type54 polaroid I shot in my front yard this afternoon).

    I've heard(well, read) that these are actually Rodenstock glass, but didn't quite muster up to their QC specs, and let them go as Calumet-series glass. is this true?

    Basically, my end question is this: I'm in the market soon to get my own 4x5 kit, starting out with a 90mm(trying to get the absolute best I can afford, and I'm saving every penny right now), and my target lens is the Schneider XL 90MM 5.6. Do you think I should spend the extra for the schneider SA XL vs this caltar, is it 'that' much better to warrant double(or triple if I can get a low deal) price? What makes the schneider better? I've used it when I worked for Samys, rented it, didn't get to shoot that much with it, terrific quality though!
    My work I'm doing mostly at the moment and in the near future is 'man's landscape'(similar to Burtynsky and Alec Soth, but a mix). So color fidelity is pretty key. I'm using the hybrid method in addition to optical printing at school(saving cash to do drum scans in the end)
    Have any of you tested this lens(S.A. XL 90) versus say the Caltar's and grandagons? I'll be certainly buying the lens used, and probably from KEH or flea-bay.
    Soon after this I'll be adding a 150,180 or 210. most likely the 150 (looking at APO-SIRONAR's). Right now I'm totally enjoying color neg work(b/w too), but because I do color as well as b/w, I want to get the best glass I can, due to the hi-res scanning I'll be having done in the end for the best ones.

    thoughts or links to lens tests would be appreciated.

    thanks

    Dan


  2. #2

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    Dan, You are right to put your money in the glass, but the SA XL in my opinion is just way way to much lens for a 4x5. Really you could get a camera body 90, 150, 210, 270 or 300 for the cost of that lens and its coverage is totally wasted. I would stay modern and multi coated in as new a copal shutter as you can get. The older lenses are fun, when you have time to play but I think if you are like me you want it to work from the time you get it. Good luck on your search and welcome to large format.
    PBrooks

  3. #3
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    I am not an expert, but I have never heard that the Caltars were inferior to the regular Rodenstock product. I have always been under the impression that they were relabeled lenses of exactly the same quality. Does anyone have any info on this?

  4. #4

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    Caltars are just a different label on the lens. No QA failures.

    Outdoors? I'd look at the 90mm F/8 Nikon.

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The Caltar f6.8 90mm should be more than adequate, I've used the Grandagon version since 1986, the lens is extremely sharp, superb coatings, I can shoot with the sun in or near the edge of the frame with no flare/ghosting etc.

    Ian

  6. #6

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    I've used the Caltar 90mm since the late 70's, bought from Calumet. The guy I spoke to told me at the time that the Caltar series were actually Schneiders, and although they couldn't "say" it, they were the same.
    Later, late 80's, I bought the 210 Caltar, which by then was made by Rodenstock. Both of these lenses are excellent in my experience. I've never wished that I had bought the "parent" brand lens.

  7. #7

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    As Nick alludes to, if you are planning on doing a lot of walk-around outdoor work then stay away from the big modern fast lenses. Fast isn't much necessary in 4x5, it's just nicer for focusing on the GG. Look for modern leneses with slower apertures, or older lenses like the Kodak Ektars that are small and light.

  8. #8
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    I'm just looking for the BEST optical quality( transmission of actual color, no shift if possible w/ good coatings).

    I've heard from people I know that the Nikkor SW's and Fuji SW's are tremendous. Great coverage too for lots of movement if needed.

    I'm looking at getting a used Canham 4x5 or 5x7(when they come up).


  9. #9
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I've shot the Rodenstock labelled and the Calumet labelled 90 f6.8 and 75 6.8, and there is no difference. The only way you'll suffer from using the Calumet label lens is by having a fatter wallet because people are wary of the 'house-label' lenses. This probably comes from the days when businesses like Ritz Camera and Sears sold third-party and/or house label optics at bargain prices for 35mm film gear, and in those cases it was definitely a case of you got what you paid for. With large format optics, the economies of scale aren't there to run a second line of lesser quality optics to put house-label markings on.

    As far as Nikon vs Fuji vs Schneider vs Rodenstock, the quality is there in all of them. You'll see very little if any difference in overall sharpness from lenses of comparable specifications. Where you're more likely to see a difference is in the color rendition - IIRC, the Schneiders are a little bit more neutral in their color rendition, whereas the Rodenstocks are a little bit warmer. This is probably only a concern if you are shooting color transparencies for commercial reproduction and you need to have the color of a specific piece of fabric or paint reproduce EXACTLY the same in every single one of 200+ chromes. If you're not shooting that kind of commercial reproduction work, feel free to mix and match lenses with whatever fits your budget.

  10. #10
    sun of sand's Avatar
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    I figure the XL is about as big as the 4.5 lenses

    I wish I had the f8 version but instead have this 4.5 beast
    That may be important to you
    The weight doesn't bother me as much as its size and front element


    I think this is the second time upon visiting Soths site that I come up with a "trojan horse" warning
    IE Frames or something or other
    maybe a false positive or not entirely malicious
    OR
    wtf?

    ..as soon as clicked into "commisions"


    I have experienced ghosting with my 4.5 with near edge sunlight
    my fault that I didn't shade the lens but it was under trees during winter and never noticed it on GG
    must have peeped out just in time but sure did completely ruin the photo

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