The bargain Calumet 4×5

I was browsing EBay listings and stumbled across some very blurred images of something that was clearly not the enlarger with darkroom goggles it was advertised as. It looked a lot like the Calumet 4×5 I got a couple of years ago, the one without a lens, but in the blurred shots I could identify three lenses on lensboards. The price was right, so I bought it hoping that the lenses and shutters would be OK.  If at least one of them was OK I could put it on the camera I already had, and if more stuff worked it would be a bonus.


Front standard and lens of the Calumet 4×5

The camera came, and when I opened the box I was met by a strong damp smell, this camera had not been properly stored at some time in the past.  I did inventory of the contents expecting the worst.  The camera itself seemed to be in OK shape, the lenses were mostly OK, and there was a dark-cloth, an angled viewinghood and various other bits and pieces. And some mysterious white spots in the carrying case.

I attacked the white spots with a sponge and vinegar. And then did inventory of the lenses. The Caltar-S II 150mm f5.6 has some fungus in the front segment, but the shutter is fine, and as can be seen in the image below the fungus isn’t so bad that the lens can’t be used to take pictures.


Agfa Curix X-Ray film in HC-110 1+50 for 12min at 20C.

The lens above is a German Steinheil Quinon-S 210mm f5.6 convertible lens, the front part can be unscrewed and then the rear portion functions as a 310mm f12.  The glass was mostly clean, but the shutter was very sticky and slow, and never closed fully.  I unscrewed the element groups and wiped down the oily shutter blades with a rag. While not the recommended cleaning procedure it worked this time and I used the lens to take some pictures. The shutter is close enough for all practical purposes.


Agfa Curix X-Ray film in HC-110 1+50 for 12min at 20C.

Then there was the lens above, the Graphic Kowa 360mm f9, in beautiful condition. Both shutter and lens look like they were never used.  And when I looked it up online I found that it is claimed that it covers up to 11×14 size negatives. Perhaps it will be a gateway to Ultra Large Format photography in the future.


Agfa Curix X-Ray film in HC-110 1+50 for 12min at 20C.

I spent yesterday shooting some still life with the new camera, it is in better condition than my old Calumet. And now that the damp smell has come out it is a lot nicer to work with. The picture above was shot with the Steinheil lens.


Agfa Curix X-Ray film in HC-110 1+50 for 12min at 20C.

The picture above was shot with the Caltar, which in spite of the fungus was the easiest lens of the bunch to work with. Mostly due to the shorter focal length, I think. And the picture below with the Graphic Kowa.


Agfa Curix X-Ray film in HC-110 1+50 for 12min at 20C.

All in all I think a struck gold. Another functional monorail camera, three working lenses and some other bits and pieces. I should host a photography workshop so both cameras can come into use at the same time. 🙂

This entry was posted by Wilhelm.

2 thoughts on “The bargain Calumet 4×5

  1. Pingback: The flower in the office | Photofying

  2. Pingback: Toys in fog | Photofying

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