View Full Version : Front standard on a Deardorff 5x7

23-Dec-2011, 14:52
Hi All,

I got a Deardorff 5x7 and I'm looking forward to starting to use it (waiting for new bellows to arrive and I sent the back off to be calibrated).

Anyway, I'm confused about the front standard. There doesn't seem to be any sort of zero position as far as how high or low the standard should go. There also doesn't seem to be any definitive way of making sure the front standard is level (I assume you just line up the metal thing on the standard with the support structure, but it seems pretty loosy goosy). And then there is the vertical shift on the front standard itself...I'm not sure what that's for...fine tuning after you've done a gross adjustment on the front standard?

I was looking around for a Deardorff Manual online but couldn't find anything (the thing on cameraeccentric is more like a sales flyer).

Any advice?


Kevin Crisp
23-Dec-2011, 15:13
When you get your new bellows on it, run the back as close at you can to the front and the middle point of rise will be pretty obvious from the way the bellows aligns. It is very close to the 'line up point' I think you are referring to. If it makes you feel better put an index mark on there with a Sharpie.

The answer to your question is that there is no index mark or detent or anything like that.

Vertical shift on the front standard? If you mean the little thumb wheel on the front standard that releases the sliding panel, you have two ways of getting front rise or fall. You can loosen the two winged knobs on the side of the front panel and lift the lens on the lens board up or down on the front standard rails. Or (or in addition to that) you can loosen that little knob and slide the lens up or down by using the sliding panel.

Actually (though it is an ancient design) the sliding panel is really pretty slick. Especially when you have the bellows somewhat bunched up for a wide angle shot. You can use rise or fall and the bellows doesn't have to move at all since the panel slides and the front standard doesn't move. For wide angle lenses it is sometimes necessary to put the front standard in what was called 'wide angle position.' You lean the front standard back, so that front and rear standards can be brought closer, then center the lens on the back standard and adjust the lens board so that it vertical again. Here again that sliding front panel is great if you need rise.

25-Dec-2011, 11:03
Hello Paul
When I met Merle Deardorff in 82 I asked him why there were no detents or "zero" marks. He looked at me like I was nuts but was kind enough to say "why do you need them? You have a ground glass right? Then use the glass! " You can always use your judgement in centering the lens. In nearly 40 years of using my 4x5 I have yet to need to find a zero with any lens. Use the glass.

Jim Noel
25-Dec-2011, 11:39
I agree with the question, "Why do you need the?"
I have had mine since the 1950's and it is stillmy workhorse. When I use a camera with detents I am bothered by not being able to make minute adjustments close to the Zero or detent mark. I tokk the balls out of a couple of cameras because of this.

Tracy Storer
25-Dec-2011, 11:48
I don't feel they're really necessary either, however, I have observed that positioning the front sliding rise lock knob at the top of the metal upright gives me a very near centered position on my V8. I don't remember if that was the case with my 5x7.

25-Dec-2011, 12:09
This feature is the big flaw, IMO, with Deardorffs, and I've shot extensively with both 4x5 and 8x10 versions. Of course, you can find the zero position through the ground glass, but it is an extra step, and one that most other cameras don't require. With my Chamonix, you can have it either way, locked in vertically, or fully adjustable, and each method finds usage in different settings.

The main disadvantage is when you've put a compendium bellows on the front if the lens, who's weight will pull the lens forward and out of adjustment after you've composed the shot. This was particularly annoying with the 4x5, which had little knobs on the standard and was difficult to really tighten. Just screwing a filter on would make the lens move and lose the tilt position. The 8x10 still feels twisty, but the knobs are bigger and you can torque them down to where it holds firmly.

With portraiture, I've found that I prefer the 2D which has a firmly locked in front standard with a geared tilt feature that gives the needed tilt for those subjects (hands in focus, usually). The Kodak seems a little more suited and easy to work with for those challenges. In the field, though, I do like the full movement of the dorff over the 2D, for sure.

Kevin Crisp
25-Dec-2011, 13:23
So place one dot with a Sharpie and the "big flaw" is fixed. Personally it has not bothered me.

25-Dec-2011, 15:10
A dot with a sharpie won't help with a big brass lens that has a big urge to tip forward. I used little dagors for 20 years on a Deardorff and really became aware of this shortcoming when I started using other cameras and vintage lenses. Its not insurmountable by any means, and I still am a devoted user of an 8x10 Deardorff, but rigidity of the front standard is not a small issue...

25-Dec-2011, 19:30
In the 20s when the Deardorff View series (V) came out big brass lenses were being phased out in favor of shuttered lenses. FACT Folks. That front was NOT designed for a huge old BBL. That said the resurgence and re discovery of old BBL has come again. What to do? Make a support to hold it up. telescopic tubing and a clamp to hold it in place. NEVER modify the cameras metal. Slip it on and off.

Kevin Crisp
25-Dec-2011, 20:21
Mine 5x7 handles a tele optar with ease. Not sure why you're having trouble. If you can't live without an index mark the sharpie dot will be centered regardless of the weight of the lens, which was my point.

25-Dec-2011, 21:21
Are you using a lens shade with that lens?

Kevin Crisp
26-Dec-2011, 07:28
I don't think I have ever tried to put a shade on the tele-optar.

23-Feb-2012, 22:30
I have a question related to the same topic.

Here you are talking about centering the front in relationship with the back. I don't find it a problem. My problem is to set the front completely straight, avoiding tilting.
Do you have any tip for that?


23-Feb-2012, 23:59
Fra, I'll answer your question tomorrow after I think about how to write you through it. That said, The ground glass always holds the answer and I defer to it always. And never with a fresnel

25-Feb-2012, 16:58
Ok Fra I played around with my 4x5 Special. I used both a wood back and a Grafloc back w/ a Frensel. I had no issue with stetting up the front base to be parallel to the back using the ground glass on either back and with various lenses from 75mm Centigor to a 360mm Brand X APO. I have a system that must be part of the set up that I do not think about it anymore. I'm not sure I can explain it. But I do look at the side of the camera and compare the edges of the camera to something that is straight and verticle. Like the edge of a house or a Radio mast or a phone pole. Thats how I do it in the city. In the country I throw a level on the bed. The back is dead on square to the bed so that lines up fine. The front base needs adjustment since my Front standard leans forward a degree or two. Again I just look at the glass. You might also use a framimg square held upside down againse the bottom of the bed. The upright leg can then be pushed against the front base to insure squareness. Repeat on the rear frame. Please reply and let us know how you do.

10-Mar-2012, 20:30
Sorry for the late replay...
Thanks for the answers.
Generally, I move the front as close as possible to the back so I can see more or less if it's straight.