Calumet Studio Camera : CC-400

Large format cameras come in all shapes and sizes and diverge wildly in regards to what features the camera has and what kinds of and how many movements it can do. The style of photography you’re doing or learning directly influences the type of camera you want.

Picking a camera

There are really only three major types of large format cameras; field camera, studio camera and fixed body cameras.

Studio cameras

A studio or monorail camera is mounted to a rail that runs along the bottom of the standards. While a studio camera commonly has more movements, it is not the right choice for landscape photography where hiking is involved.

Field cameras

A field camera is a folding, compact camera that is lightweight and designed to be portable. Field cameras have fewer movements (in most cases) than a studio or monorail camera. This is the best option for shooting landscapes and portability. Canham cameras are great examples of large format field cameras.

Fixed body cameras

Fixed body large format cameras have no movements or bellows. The lens is attached to a focusing mechanism (usually a helical focus ring) and you can shoot via the ground glass or view finder. These are very light, but it’s limited to specific lenses. The Linhof Technar is an example of a fixed body 4×5 camera.

A bit of history

Calumet badge

Calumet Manufacturing Company was founded by Kenneth E. Becker in 1939 in Chicago. Calumet started by selling sporting goods then added cameras and darkroom supplies to it’s product list and eventually changing the name to Calumet Photography. After Kodak sold them the rights to the Master View 4×5 in 1955, Calumet began to make improvements and innovations. The Caltar large format lens was one of Calumets products that helped set it apart.

Calumet acquired Cambo in 1980 and continued to produce high quality cameras until it’s bankruptcy in 2014. Calumet would not be the last company that would succumb to the digital freight train. It was one of the last American companies to design and build cameras.

The Calumet CC-400

The Calumet CC-400 is the first in the CC line of aluminum bodied cameras based on the Kodak Master View. The use of aluminum does save some weight, but the camera weights in at 9 pounds with a lens mounted. The CC-400 is a double extension bellows camera that can extend out to about 16 inches.

When compared to other monorail cameras the Calumet is fairly compact. The Sinar P2 for instance, is quite a bit larger than the CC-400. Even though the weights are right about the same, having had the opportunity to lug a P2 around the Oregon countryside, it would have been easier with the Calumet. Sinar cameras, however, are some of the most versatile, feature rich view cameras ever made.

Movements

Scheimpflug Principle illustration

As a studio camera, the CC-400 has many of the movements you would expect from a monorail camera. The movements change how the lens projects the subject onto the film plane. There’s almost an infinite number of ways the camera manipulates the depth of field in relation to the film plane. The Scheimpflug Principle, for example, is used to create an image where everything in it is in sharp focus regardless of how near or far from the camera it is.

The camera is divided into two standards. Each standard serves various functions depending on it’s position on the camera.

The front standard

The front standard holds the lens and the front edge of the bellows. On most large format cameras the front standard is where all the action is. The front standard, more often than not, has more movements than the rear. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about when referencing movements, this diagram should clear that up.

rise/fall movememnt on a view camerashift movement on a view cameratilt movement on a view camerasway movement on a view camera
View camera movements of the front standard

The CC-400 studio camera has tilt (vertical swing), sway (horizontal swing), rise and fall and shift movements on the front standard.

The rear standard

The rear standard holds the film back and ground glass for focusing. The number of movements for the rear standard are usually very few, and sometimes only 1. For the most part these movements are enough to get the desired focus, and building in the full range gets complicated.

The Calumet has shift, sway and tilt on the rear standard.

Features and operation

Calumet View camera rail base and standard focus knob and lever
Adjustment/focus knobs

The CC-400 studio camera is the base model in the CC line. It comes with a small, or standard, 16 inch bellows. This makes transportation and storage easier while also allowing for plenty of movement. The 16 inch bellows also offers the least amount of adjustment needed to the exposure time. With the bellows fully extended the exposure time needs to be adjusted due to light fall-off. Using the CC-400 fully extended you have to add 1 full stop to your exposure. This setup, likely for close-up or macro work, means the exposure is longer rather than stopping down the aperture.

There are several knobs on the standards, but the ones you will likely use the most are the focusing knobs on the front and rear standards. These are for setting fine focus using a loop to examine the image on the ground glass.

*Note :  Focusing a view camera is very different than focusing with a SLR or TLR camera. The image you see on the ground glass will be upside down and backwards.

The only gear driven adjustments are for focusing the standards, and rise/fall of the front standard. The other knobs loosen and tighten a movement.

Focusing a studio camera, or any view camera really means the extending the bellows to a beginning position and then fine tuning the view. With the CC-400 it is easy to perform large movements by loosening the locking knob and lifting the release lever and sliding them into position. Adjusting the rise and fall of the front standard requires to the knob on the right to be turned to make the change. On the Calumet CC line the knob pushes in to unlock and rotate.

The rear standard has clips to hold the dark cloth in place while focusing using the ground glass. The CC-400 also a rotatable back which makes it easier to shift between vertical and horizontal images. This is a great feature, one that is not included on very many view cameras. Linhof builds rotating backs on several of their field and studio cameras. Most however require the user to remove the back and reattach it in the desired position.

Lenses

Calumet Caltar 150mm

Unlike other camera systems, view cameras are not beholden to a specific lens by a specific manufacturer or type of mounting system. Large format lenses consist of front and rear elements with a shutter in the middle. The shutter has a specific size opening that it attaches to the lens board with. This is the Copal size of that lens. The Copal size is not specific to a manufacturer and is universal when dealing with large format cameras of all sizes and make.

Calumet offered a wide array of Caltar lenses ranging from wide angle lenses like a 65mm up to a 375mm telephoto lens. 65mm might not seem terribly wide, and in the 35mm world it isn’t. Once you consider that a normal lens for a 4×5 camera is 150mm; at nearly three times wider, 65mm is pretty wide.

There are a ton of other lenses ranging in size, format, Copal size, clarity and cost. I have owned Fuji, Nikon, Schneider and Caltar lenses and they all have their pros and cons, but it’s nice to have those options. Fuji even made convertible lenses that were variable in length.

In some cases, depending on the lens focal length, a recessed or extended lens board may be needed. Some of the wide angle lenses require a recessed board to have full coverage of the film plane. Other times the rear element of the lens might protrude too far into the bellows so you need a lens board that is extended, but this is pretty uncommon. On Cambo’s website there’s a good example of common lens boards.

The big take-away here is the fact that you can get lenses for your studio camera that will work with your field camera and you can do it without spending thousands of dollars.

Conclusion

Is a studio camera like the Calumet CC-400 the right choice for you? Only you can answer that, but if you’re in the market for a large format camera that is pretty bare bones and on the less expensive side; the CC-400 fits that bill. They’re sturdy, without being crazy heavy. There are a lot of options for them still since these cameras were mass produced. Plus, you can get lenses for as little as $100. These cameras aren’t very popular since they are not all slicked up and polished, but they are solid, with a ton of movements.



Specifications

General

Calumet CC-400 view camera
Type: 4×5 monorail studio camera
Production: 1950s – 1960s
Film: 4″ x 5″
Weight: 9 lbs
Standards: 2, 1 front & 1 rear

Calumet models

CC-400 Standard Model
16″ bellows extension
4″ x 4″ lens board
Rotating back

CC-401 Long Focus Model
22″ bellows extension
4″ x 4″ lens board

Download the CC-400 manual

Details

Horizontal swing (front & rear): 12 degrees
Vertical swing (front & rear): 30 degrees
Rise & Fall (front): raised 3″ / 1″ lowered
Horizontal slide (front & rear): 7/8″
Revolving back: 360 degrees
Minimum extension: 3 5/8″ (lens board to film)
Lensboard: standard 4″
Bellows draw: 16″
Length: 20″

Accessories

CC-419 Super Recessed Lens Board
CC-420 Standard 4″ x4″ metal lens board
CC-425 Polaroid 4×5 Land Film Holder
CC-422 De Luxe Cut 4×5″ Film Holders (cast aluminum frame)
CC-410 Standard Model Carrying Case
CC-420 Long Focus Model Carrying Case


Calumet Caltar Lenses

** Note : Some of the information below is based off of several sources, some of which are more complete than others. It is as accurate as I could find information for.

Calumet Caltar W-II 65mm
Image circle : 155
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar HR 90mm
Image circle: 235
Elements : 7 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 90mm
Image circle: 221
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/6.8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar HR 90mm
Image circle: 170
Elements : 4 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar W-II 90mm
Image circle : 215
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar Type II 135mm
Image circle : 200
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar Type S 135mm
Image circle : 189
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar Type S-II 135mm
image circle : 189
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar HR 150mm
Image circle : 210
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size : #0
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 150mm
Image circle : 214
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size : #0
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S 150mm
Image circle : 210
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size : #0
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S-II 150mm
Image circle : 210
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/500s
Copal size : #0
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar 165mm
Image circle : 206
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/6.3 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar HR 180mm
Image circle : 230
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar Pro 210mm (Schneider Xenar)
Image circle :
Elements :
Aperture range : f/6.1 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/400s
Copal size : #1
Filter size : 46mm

Calumet Caltar HR 210mm
Image circle : 295
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/400s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 210mm
Image circle : 301
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/400s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S-II 210mm
Image circle : 294
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds : T, B, 1s – 1/400s
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar HR 210mm
Image circle : 230
Elements : 3 front / 3 rear
Aperture range : f/6.8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S 215mm
Image circle : 301
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 240mm
Image circle : 350
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S 240mm
Image circle : 336
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S-II 240mm
Image circle : 336
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 300mm
Image circle : 425
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S 300mm
Image circle : 420
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S-II 300mm
Image circle : 420
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/5.6 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar II 360mm
Image circle : 435
Elements : 6 front / 4 rear
Aperture range : f/6.8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar S-II 360mm
Image circle : 500
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/6.8 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

Calumet Caltar 375mm
Image circle : 468
Elements : X
Aperture range : f/6.3 – f/45
Shutter speeds :
Copal size :
Filter size :

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