The World Changes and Time Shuffles on But I am Still Sad to Hear that Calumet Photo has Closed.

It's just a wave of nostalgia. I remember when none of the local camera shops carried inexpensive 4x5 view camera equipment and most carried few specialty view camera lenses. In the hoary old days of photography if we needed something like a work a day view camera for under $500 we got out the dog eared catalog from Calumet Photo in Chicago, compared our copious notes and then picked up the phone and ordered. No Fed Ex back then. Everything came from the Brown Trucks.

I bought my first view camera from Calumet and used it for ten years before I could scrape together enough money to buy the always popular Sinar F. I bought my first Polaroid back from them and my first dark cloth and my first three view camera lenses. I bought my first professional flash system from them. And I am not being nostalgic for the store or some sales person who taught me an arcane photo secret because I never set foot in one of their physical stores. I ordered everything from the catalog.

The prices were fare, the selection (in the 1970's) was large and varied and the delivery was dependable.

My nostalgia is of the end of an era. The end of big cameras and big film. But I've been to this particular wake too many times to be maudlin about it now. I'm observing a passage that will resonate  mostly with older pros and Chicago's well heeled, but aging amateur photographers.

Good buy view camera store.


Dave Jenkins said...

Sorry to hear about Calumet. I owned one of their 4x5s for years, and my first large-format lens was a Caltar. I shot 4x5 film in those days because that was what commercial photographers did, but I really don't miss it.

Aaron Geller said...

They were very good to me in helping fix a problem with a lens I bought from them. They gave me a $900 credit for it just two months ago and I was going to go to the NYC store to buy some used film equipment - then I found this out. Seems as though my luck was bad on this one.

Gato said...

I owned a number of Calumet view cameras in my earliest photography days. They came in short, standard and long bellows models and at one point I had all three. As I recall the standard model sold new for $99 at one time. When I was teaching I bought all the used Calumets I could find to pass along to my students.

I'm now using Calumet Genesis monolights for my studio portraits. Ironically, I bought them because they were the most affordable lights I could find that were backed by a US company I trusted.

Hate to see Calumet go.

rlh1138 said...

Yeah, I had one of their 4x5s also, back in the mid 60s going to school. Had a polaroid back for it, but couldn't really afford the fim. What I really loved was a 120 roll film back I had for it. I'm trying to remember the neg. size, I'm thinking 6 or 7 negs on a roll?? You could contact print them and get these very nice, small, prints.

Pseeker said...

They also sold a complete line of dark room equipment for processing sheet films; SS sinks, tanks and washing equipment.

I purchased my Olympus E-30 from them. Guess they could not compete with the likes of B&H and others selling equipment other than their own.

Jeff said...

Helix, another Chicago photo store catering to pros closed a year ago. Central Camera is hanging on. You'd think a metro area 5 times larger than Austin would have more.