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Thread: deardorff cult

  1. #1

    deardorff cult

    I have had several 4x5 and a couple of 5x7 cameras, and cannot understand the hubbub surrounding Deardorffs.
    the few I have seen, fairly late models, were nice enough, but not very rigid compared to a good Wisner, and not at all in the class of monorails. And one I saw yesterday in a shop, priced at $2,000, was indeed wobbly.

    Is this a case of romance overcoming practicality, or am I missing something?

  2. #2
    Scott Rosenberg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    The Incredible Pacific Northwest

    deardorff cult

    why do people spend into the six figures for an old car without air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, and the like?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    deardorff cult

    As Ted Orland said, "Lin Hoff and his dear Dorff made beautiful pictures."

  4. #4

    deardorff cult


    You obviously didn't watch the Barrett-Jackson a 54 olds went for 3 million. They were getting 6 figures for Chevrolets.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    deardorff cult

    I have Sinar's and Toyo's at work. I've had a host of Toyo and Cambo monorails come and go. I have had 2 Zone VI's. Why do I keep the Deardorff's? They pleasure me.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  6. #6
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    deardorff cult

    We're all part of the large-format cult, which is really just part of the overall film cult. The 'Dorffers are just a further refinement of the sub-grouping. This is, however, contrary to my ex-wife's opinion. She thought I was part of the Diffi Cult. ;-)

    While 'Dorff prices tend to fluctuate a bit, I, too, found them on the far side of practicality and bought a new Tachihara instead (for less than a well-used "Dorff needing repair). But, I can't criticize those who love 'em.

  7. #7

    deardorff cult

    I don’t think it is completely fair to compare a Deardorff to a Wisner. In an article in View Camera magazine that I am too lazy to dig out right now, Ron Wisner says something to the effect that the Deardorff was his starting point in designing his camera.

    My V8 was recently rebuilt by Jack Deardorff and to my mind is quite rigid. He did things like replaceing all the loose screws with screws one size larger and adjusted everything.

    If I have the time it is my preferred camera. When using it, there is a connection with both the craftsman that built it, and those that used it to make a living for 40 years before it became my weekend diversion.

    I am in the manufacturing business, so I suppose if anybody can wax eloquent about a CNC machine it would be me, but somehow the idea that a camera was made by a bunch of solenoids and servos responding to a bunch of ones and zeros, just doesn’t feed the bulldog for me emotionally.

    This is a picture from my web page on camera collecting. It is a close up of the fit of the parts on my “Dorff”. I think anyone like me who day in and day out tries to hold tollerences in metal with modern materials and equipment, can't help but be awed by what the Deardorff factory did in wood.

    Then after 40 years it will, combined with a 100 year old Zeiss lens, produce (in the right hands) photographs that will blow most modern equipment away.

  8. #8

    deardorff cult

    I ran an 8x10 that was truly mint mint through its paces at a camera store a while back and arrived at the same conclusion Herb. The store owners were estatic and were aspousing its features and while it had classic lines and looks, to say that I was unimpressed is being gracious. But that was just me and it was my opinion to leave it and its reasonable price for someone else.

    All I can say is that the market is and will always continue to be whatever the buyer is willing to pay and if there are those that are willing to come up with these lofty prices for these cameras, then I have to say - Go For It!

    The good news is that LF is vibrant, the selections are many and the buyers are buying and not sitting on the sidelines. Ten years ago I could only dream about these times as LF camera sales were dropping and a funeral was being planned not the festival we are in the middle of. We are lucky to have it so good.


  9. #9
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    deardorff cult

    they are great if you have a fondness for heavy, dark old Victorian funriture - like your Great Aunt's sideboard.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

  10. #10

    deardorff cult

    I think the prices may also have been effected by the recent publication of the book: In the American West which cronicals Avedon's multi year project of the same name.

    It should also be noted however that by that time in his career he could afford to use any camera he wanted and he used a Deardorff, so there must be something to it.

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