View Full Version : Finally... a 5x7 Deardorff!!! :) :)

15-Oct-2005, 14:19
Greetings All,

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all you great folks who provided advice and recommendations when I was tossing the idea of going with either a 5x7 or 8x10 Deardorff.

Well, I chose the 5x7 format over the 8x10 after careful consideration of availability, weight, the lenses I currently have (used with my 4x5), and, of course, the formats themselves. IMHO, I believe the 5x7 is going to be more aligned to the way I "see."

I've also decided that, in the majority of the times I shoot B&W with this camera, I'll most likely be contact printing instead of enlarging. In most cases, when shooting with 4x5, I tend to use color transparencies rather than negatives. I'll be doing likewise with the 5x7. Since this camera came with a 4x5 reducing back it gives me some versatility. Lastly, this particular kit came in completely restored condition at a price I couldn't turn down. I only wish I knew how to post images of it on this forum. It's really beautiful! :)

My question here is, "I'm sure there's a formula (hopefully, a simple one) used to calculate the covering power of a lens. Does anyone know it off hand?"

At present, I have the following glass:

90 Fujinon f8 SW

150 Nikor f5.6 W

210 Sironar f5.6

240 Symmar f5.6

300 Fujinon f8 T

360 Symmar f6.8

Any thoughts or comments? What do you 5x5 shooters use for lenses... and why?

Thanks in advance.


Eric Woodbury
15-Oct-2005, 14:39
Here is the coverage for so many lenses:


I think all those lenses will cover, altho a bit tight on the 90mm, 150mm, and the 300mm T. You need a 210 mm image circle for infinity. If you don't need the 300mm T for the 4x5, then you might be able to trade for a 300 mm/9 Fuji CS or similar. A small lens. The 90mm I would try to live with for a while. I use the SA XL 72mm lens and if you like wide angle, this is the one to put on the wish list. The 150mm is a lens where some movement would be nice. Look for a Rodenstock Apo Sironar W or refer to Kerry Thalmann list of classics and future classics. Be careful with the 150mm: some that cover 5x7 are very large lenses.

Have fun. You made the right choice IMHO.

Ed K.
15-Oct-2005, 22:05
Hi Henry,

Congrats on your Deardorff! They are nice cameras indeed. If you
end up needing parts or repairs, Jack Deardorff is building cameras
now, doing repairs / adjustments and selling parts. He's going to
be offering new 8x10 and 8x20 cameras too. His new company is
called DPPI, for Deardorff Photographic Products Inc.

Not all of your lenses will work out so well. It's nice to have enough
coverage. Coverage specs often state the part of the image circle
that is reasonably sharp and bright - so sometimes you can put
a lens with less "real" coverage on, but then not have sharpness
in the corners. Good place to start is the specifications, and as
you have a nice camera with movements, having some to spare
is worthwhile. In other words, just the degrees you can see might
not be enough. You do have some very nice lenses though, and plenty
of them!

To see the chart posted here and at other boards, which states on it
that it is okay to reformat it and distribute it, go here to
see it color coded for conservative coverage - I sorted it to allow
easy spotting of lenses that cover ( in my case ) 8x10.

Color Coded Lens Chart (http://www.egksystems.com/lenses/)

Sure makes a person appreciate the number of lenses for 4x5!

There are a number of older lenses that are not listed, however some of
them will cover fine.

I love the Fuji 240A for 5x7 work personally, as an all around lens that
is small, light and quite sharp. So does Thalman. With all your lenses,
you could probably list all kinds of reasons one might like particular

Be careful not to get old wooden film holders to save money. You'll be
sorry more often than not. The new platic ones are really not that
expensive. Your 8x10 holders are worth a lot - sell them to get money
for twice as many 5x7 holders. Old leaky used holders or holders with
internal damage are just not worth the expense of film, developer,
and disappointment. ( but you knew that already!)

Enjoy your 'Dorff. I went the 8x10 route and I'm not sorry. I'm sure
that you made the right choice. Besides, if you change your mind,
they bring good money used.

17-Oct-2005, 01:51
Hi Eric, E,

Thank you both for your comments and recommendations...


I've heard that 72XL is a gorgeous piece of glass but I'm not much of a wide-angle man. I think the widest I'd go is probably a 90 or thereabouts.

From E's lens chart... I see that the 150 Nikkor-W won't cover 5x7 but the 210 Sironar-N will cover this format... great! :) I'll keep an eye out for either the Apo-Sironar or a Nikkor SW. :)

I'll most likely keep the lenses I have and leave them with my 4x5 kit. As I begin to acquire equivalent versions that cover 5x7... then I'll look at selling them off.

Kerry Thalmann's list of future classics... Yes, I'll have to dig the article up. I'm sure I have it somewhere in my pile of V/C magazines.


Yes, I'm familiar with Jack Deardorff and DPPI. I just received their catalog a short while ago. I thought about ordering through them but I found it difficult to visualize the different models and accessories. I wish Jack had either photographs of his cameras in the catalog or a website where his models could be displayed. Likewise, I hope he gets his email address up and running.... soon! :)

Thank you for that great lens coverage chart link... it sure makes it much easier to determine which lenses cover which formats! :) Yes, you're right... there seems to be so many more lenses available for 4x5!

Do you happen to know how the Fujinon 240A compares to the Symmar-S 240 MC f5.6? I see that both of these lenses are usable with 8x10 and smaller. The Symmar-S isn't a small piece of glass by any stretch of the imagination... :)

Thanks for the advice on the wooden film holders. I did some research and found that Fidelity 5x7 holders are available through MidWest Photo and B&H for a very reasonable amount (~US$70 for a package of 2 holders.) I did have some wooden 4x5 holders that didn't give me any problems at all... but then, they were pretty much in like-new condition when I got them. But, you're tight... it sure would be very disappointing to go out and produce some great images only to discover a light leak in the holders. :)

As for the 8x10 holders... a fellow forum member has agreed to purchase them from me. I had bought them just a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of locating/buying an 8x10 Dorff.... sort of like the cart before the horse move! :)

Even though I now have this gorgeous 5x7 camera... I still can't help but wonder what an 8x10 transparency would look like on the light table. I'm sure it would be a spectacular sight! :) But, I don't think my wife would be too, too happy with me! So, I'll be looking forward to shooting with this beast and seeing a 5x7 transparency in the very near future. :) Just have to locate some 5x7 Provia or the like! :)

Do either of you guys shoot with transparency films? Or, do you generally shoot B&W or color negs?

Thanks again for the comments and advice. :)


Brian Ellis
17-Oct-2005, 06:01
"Thanks for the advice on the wooden film holders."

Just so you know that E's opinion of wooden holders isn't unanimously shared, I buy old wood holders for my 8x10 on ebay, partly because of cost and partly because of aesthetics . I've owned about fifteen at one time or another. They've all been fine and cost about half to two thirds what plastic ones cost. Sometimes the hinge tape is bad and people shy away because they think the tape performs a light-stopping function. It doesn't, the tape serves only as a hinge and it can be replaced in about ten seconds with any tape you happen to have handy. View Camea magazine (I think it was) ran an article by someone who tested ten or fifteen different brand film holders for film flatness. The winner as I recall was an old Graflex wood holder.

Ed K.
17-Oct-2005, 12:07

Brian is right - just because I got a bunch of bad wooden 5x7 holders from auction, that had different thicknesses, and did leak light, doesn't mean that you'll have the same trouble. I have very bad luck with some of my auction purchases, that doesn't mean you will. The cost of new ones is not that much more than second day air shipping and a couple test shots. Our mileage does vary. Thanks for pointing this out, Brian.

I shoot chromes and B&W negs, and I also have a 5x7 reducing back. Don't worry - a 5x7 chrome looks fantastic on a lightbox, a joy to see. One can wander around in there a long time with a loupe or just take in all the glory.

If you can pay with Paypal, you can get all the Fuj films from the Megaperls workshop

at http://www.unicircuits.com, including not only Provia, but Acros too!

I don't know first hand how the Symmar 240 compares in image quality, however at moderate distances, my 240A works well, sharp enough. Good, but not superb for distant objects for some reason, maybe it is just me or my sample. It is small, light and easy to focus. You may like it a lot.

On the chart, I don't want to take credit or blame for the facts gathered - I took the chart from another poster and just sorted and color coded it for my quick reference, to discourage myself from wishful thinking about coverage. Also, some lenses need center filters to get full coverage without darkening, yet others of same focal length do not. The Scheider wide angles often need very expensive center flters ( but still work great!). I found that the 150mm Nikkor SW does not need a center filter for 8x10 for example, wheras the Schneider does. Go figure. Center filters are at time a necessary evil. At least for me, I prefer a lens that does not need one, and then use any spare light to put a color filter instead.

Henry - hope you get lots and lots of GREAT pictures! You've got a great camera and some great lenses.

Jim Galli
17-Oct-2005, 12:07
Congrats and welcome aboard. I paid way too much for my 5X7 / 4X5 'dorff and have never been sorry in the least. A couple of favorite lenses that cover spiffily are 108mm f8 WA Dagor, 150mm G-Claron, & 180mm Fujinon f9 A. Once you get beyond 180 you'll find almost anything will cover fine. 5X7 also has an easy comparison to 35mm lenses if your brain is familliar with those angles. Knock off the zero and multiply by 2 to get the 35mm equivalent of what you'll see on the 5X7. For example; 180 = 18X2 = 36mm on a Nikon. 108 would look like a 22mm on a Nikon etc. Or go the other way. If you loved your 100mm on the Nikon, look for a 480mm for the 5X7!

18-Oct-2005, 22:31
Thanks Brian, E, Jim...

I now have some wooden holders coming my way... :)


Thanks for the link... I'll get ahold of them for some of that Provia! :) Jim @ MidWest doesn't have any in stock.

As for the lens chart, regardless of where it came from... it's still a very useful and a quick way to identify lens coverage.


Great way to think about lens equivalency. I've never been all that great at math!

I'll keep an eye out for those lenses.

Thanks again... you're all terrific and the advice given is very much appreciated.