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Thread: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

  1. #1

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    mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Lately have seen quite a few 8x10 Deardorffs on the market FS for substantial prices and they seem to be selling. Was wondering what the "mystique" was or is for an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Back in the 1980s I was the second owner of an 8x10 Deardorff. It was offered to me in mint condition for a very reasonable price that I couldn't refuse, so I bought it. Used it for a couple of years and liked it but did not fall in love with it.

    Eventually sold it (being in mint minus condition, got a premium price for it) and bought an 8x10 Sinar Norma system which I much more enjoyed using. Did use an 8x10 Sinar P in work for many years but for my personal work preferred the classical Norma.

    For location work (hiking in the woods of New England) the 8x10 Norma was not exactly the optimum camera to carry around, so purchased an 8x10 Chamonix, an f/64 backpack and could't be happier.

    As for the Dearforff, I am perplex on the attributes of an 8x10 Deardorff. To me the Chamonix 8x10 is so far easier to use. Chamonix's weight may be less, but not a factor for me. I even prefer the locking knobs on the Chamonix.

    So why do so many photographers idolize and prize their 8x10 Deardorffs?

    thanks in advance

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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Have you compared the price of a new Chamonix 8x10 versus a nice used Deardorff? Used Chamonix 8x10 cameras are hard to find and are still much more than a lot of used Deardorff's. I don't own a Deardorff but I bought my Wehman used for $1500. I had to sell equipment to finance that.

    Nothing against Chamonix but sometimes you prize what you can afford.

  3. #3
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    In my modest experience the Deardorff V8 is suitable for studio work, and a major pain in the field.
    I have no idea why the US military contracted to buy it unless they were enamored with
    battle ship metrics with two operators to a camera.

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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    I have no idea why the US military contracted to buy it unless they were enamored with
    battle ship metrics.
    Considering some of the weird things the government (and/or military) buys and the prices paid, Deardorfs might be some of the better purchases !
    I know just enough to be dangerous !

  5. #5
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisD View Post
    Considering some of the weird things the government (and/or military) buys and the prices paid, Deardorfs might be some of the better purchases !
    Did it substitute for a toilet seat?

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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    My Uncle has one of the 300 made for the U.S. Air Force. It is an 8x10. Works well. After using his I bought one tho not the military camera. I like how they feel and operate. Do use it on location and in the field. No studio use.
    It works. It lasts. It is well built. It is also a nice piece of History and I'm glad I bought it.

    I did try two metal cameras before I got the Deardorff. A Kodak folding metal and a Calumet metal monster. The deardorff fits me while both of those gave me fits. They work fine and the new owners like them. I like the Deardorff.
    I tend to procrastinate on stuff. One of these days I'll do something about it.

  7. #7

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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Here we go again... Really, it's one of the most friendly 8x10 field cameras ever made. Everything falls right where it should be. Some think it's heavy, but 12.5 pounds isn't that bad. Some modern cameras have more features, most modern cameras are lighter, but a Deardorff is a fine example of American craftsmanship and engineering at it's best. There is a reason it was (and still is in some cases) the choice of professional photographers for decades. Of all the cameras I own, (and that's a lot) and in light of the fires in Napa and Sonoma, the one bag I would grab on the way out of the house in an evacuation situation is the one with my 8x10 'dorff, Cooke 311mm XVa, and Schneider 21cm Angulon.

  8. #8
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    My Uncle has one of the 300 made for the U.S. Air Force. It is an 8x10. Works well. After using his I bought one tho not the military camera. I like how they feel and operate. Do use it on location and in the field. No studio use. [...]
    Willie, I am guessing you, and maybe Karl French are built like a bull. A good thing. I'm just a small guy who somehow lived through six years military service; 1964 to 1970. Joy of joys. Be well, Brothers.
    --
    Jac, a wimp

  9. #9
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Like most objects with a cult following, either you like it in spite of its shortcomings, or you dislike it despite its advantages.
    I fall into the latter group; borrowed a friend's mint-condition 'Dorff for a while, I absolutely hated the thing.
    Every time I opened it and set it up, I was reminded of the oft-maligned car that handles like a shopping cart.
    Not that it was a bad camera (it's a very good camera), it just felt wrong in my hands.

  10. #10

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    Re: mystique of an 8x10 Deardorff?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    Did it substitute for a toilet seat?
    Hammer.

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