What is it about a Deardorff...

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

What is it about a Deardorff that gives rise to so many devoted users? As I`ve just finished refurbishing the 5x7 last week, it is once again a FOLDING camera. By the way, for those of you in need, Camera Bellows UK does a nice job on replacement bellows.

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), May 02, 2002


For me it's several things. First, I love wooden things and old things, so my pre 1950 'Dorff qualifies as both. The craftsmanship and ease of operation makes it a joy to use. At this point I don't even have to think about what I'm doing, which I can't say for the Nikon I've been using for over twice as long. There's also the fact that it's a great part of American photo history. But overall it's more of a visceral thing than anything else. When I'm using it, it feels right. The feel of the wood worn velvety smooth with use, the knobs, and even the smell enhance the experience. No, it's not perfect. I'd like about 6" more extension and shift, but even if I could afford another 8x10, I'd never get rid of my Deardorff. I've had it 2 years and it's by far the most wonderful camera I've ever had.

I also second the recommendation of Camera Bellows. I originally refurbished my Deardorff when I first got it, but only just replaced the bellows in the last month or so. The difference is incredible. I can actually make it out to *full extension* now. The service was quick, easy, and the bellows are not only top quality but an incredible bargain. A great company to do business with.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), May 02, 2002.

There is a story that much of the mahogany Deardorff used was recycled from saloons: bars and back bars that were made unnessary by the volstead act(prohibition.) Maybe thats is why I feel so "at home" behind my 'dorff?

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), May 02, 2002.

Steve, I use an Ebony and I get the same sort of experience when using it!! I can only echo what's been said about the Deardorff, and maybe in years to come people will feel the same about their "old" Ebony?

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), May 03, 2002.

Apart from the intangibles that others have mentioned and with which I agree (I thought mine might be the only one that smelled so nice - is that the wood or the bellows?), I like the following: (1) it's very simple to operate. I think even someone who had never used a large format camera before could easily figure it out. (2) Opening and closing takes a matter of seconds, nothing complicated or tricky. (3) It has a neat little gadget for about an inch and a half or so of front rise that I've never seen on any other view camera. (4) It's rock solid. Mine is about fifty years old but everything still locks down tightly, there's no play in any of the movement, etc. (5) I wouldn't mind an extra few inches of bellows but realistically what's there is plenty for most people. I use lenses ranging from 159 mm to 550 mm without any problems. My only dislike is the weight and the fact that the same wing nut controls both front rise and fall and front tilt, making it necessary to exercise care that one doesn't move while you're changing the other.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), May 03, 2002.

I wish mine had zero detents.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), May 03, 2002.

It's like a '40 Ford coupe. Looks like a million bucks just sitting still.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), May 03, 2002.

When Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen, he and Edward decided to head down to the studio to record some tracks. Eddie grabbed a guitar and literally tossed it in the back of his pickup. Concerned, Sammy asked how he could treat his guitar that way. Eddie's reply was, "It gives 'em character."

My Deardorff has character.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), May 03, 2002.

Does anyone know if Camera Bellows UK has a web site? I've been trying to find a replacement for my old Super Speed Graphic and the only source I know of, Steven Shugart is not able to find one. At this point I would be happy having one made as long as it is the same length and thickness as the original. ( I will also need one for my Kodak 2D, but that will be a while yet. )

-- Harry Pluta (hspluta@msn.com), May 03, 2002.

Camera Bellows UK are at www.camerabellows.com

-- Ole Tjugen (oftjugen@online.no), May 04, 2002.

Intersting observations that pretty well sum it up for me too... A little more about this one. It`s a 1938 vintage that was salvaged from a garage sale a few years back and just now refurbished, although I did use it with the original bellows for awhile. The camera had been stored in an unheated garage for 15 years or so and the wood was in surprisingly good condition although the metal had corroded badly. As for the restoration, two other men had worked very hard to put those scars and blemishes on that camera, and I did not feel right about removing them. So, what I did was "soften" them a bit and clean the metal as needed. The original finish was left intact,even the original Deardorff decal remains. After all the refitting,adjusting and relubing, it is amazing how solid and smooth those cameras can be. Now to the important part, it is very pleasant to use and does not get in the way when I am working...

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), May 04, 2002.

The Deardorff was well designed, well constructed. It is indeed a craftsman's tool. The Deardorff had a good product and over the long years, chose not to change it.

-- eugene luie (scenegems@earthlink.net), May 08, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ