Wisner or Deardorf

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I'm trying to make a decision as to what camera to purchase. My reading has lead me to believe that a used Wisner Technical or Deardorf would be the best camera in my price range, around 1500.00 dollars. I have a 210mm and 90mm lens, and plan on purchasing a 360mm. I spend most of my time out doors shooting landscapes, but want to be able to do some still life and portriates. My first camera was a Tachihara and I now want something built better with in my price range. Any thoughts on which camera will be best for me, and will last many years?

-- tim kimbler (starman2@gte.net), December 12, 1998


FWIW, $.02, IMHO.....gallopping caveats

Check out the various threads on this page and see Wisner's home page.

Kind of subjective. The stainless steel and nickle of the 'dorff is nice and the sturdiness & longevity of workmanship & design have been proven since 1923. Some folks will use nothing else.

Wisner has front shift, front forward base tilt & interchangeable bellows, plus rear axis tilt which is nice to have, but you can get by without. Rear rise is dicussed in another thread. Folks have complained about the difficulty of using wide lenses with the Wisner. The 'dorff rear focuses all the way forward. The new Pocket Expedition addresses this issue by adapting the 'dorff approach, although the execution is different. Also, with the 'dorff sliding lens panel you can still use a little r&f with the bellows squashed flat.

Both have good resale potential. 'dorff is kinda like a Ford as far as getting parts & getting it worked on, even though they went outta bidness in '88. For the Wisner, if you go used you can save a little, if you bang around you may find a 2nd hand bag belllows & lens boards, but you may as well go new unless the budget is real tight. I haven't used a 4X5/5X7 'dorff, but the 8X10 is easier/faster to open and set up than my 4X5 & 5X7 Wisners were.

When all is said and done, try to get your hands on both, maybe rent one of each and see how YOU relate to it. That's really going to be the telling factor, your personal response to either. I was amazed at the ease and speed with which I can use my most recent acquisition, a Kodak Master View. It's almost as if I think the same way as the designers did. Although some may be surprised I think at all.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), December 12, 1998.

Thanks, I don't think I can get the newer camera, Special, in my price range. Do the older models have the movements needed for what I want to do? Most likely I will buy a camera from Shutterbug and won't be able to see it in advance.

-- tim kimbler (starman2@gte.net), December 13, 1998.

With your experience on the Tachihara, you should have a good idea what and how much movements you need. Also what you do and do not like about the Tachihara will influence your choice on a second/new 4X5. I would suggest that you cannot make a good choice without trying the various models first. See if you can get to a camera show to try them.

P.S. Do you have the newer or older Tachihara? I bought the new one in August this year and find it simply wonderful to work with. I have no need for a 360mm lens though....

Happy hunting.

-- Gary Frost (gfrost@nospam.home.com), December 14, 1998.

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