Dorff Owners or wannabee's

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by blaze-on, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Ok, so today I went to the photo swap meet in So. Cal. (any of you there?)

    On my way out (only spent $12.00 so far) I saw a case with 8x10 holders...asked about them (I have an 8x10 that I haven't used or restored yet) and he pointed to an 8x10 Dorff folded up and laying in the back.

    So I had to look at it. Had to... you know.
    On the outside (folded up), it looked nearly "as new". Upon opening it, the first thing that hit me was "new car smell"...Either the bellows were brand new or the darn thing had rarely been opened. (were the original bellows leather?)

    Second thing I noticed was how easy it unfolded and sprang to life. The metal finishing was perfect, bellows (as seen briefly) were perfect, the wood was next to perfect, the leather handle as new and the tripod mount plate unmarred. The rear extension seemed too tight as my few minutes of fiddling (or fondling?) could not loosen. The glass was kinda yucky but no biggie.

    Two lensboards accompany this along with five holders, three new type, two older type.

    Now, for $1400 it is (is it?) "a deal" as a quick survey of dorff's on upay showed...most nice ones go for $1500-2K...the beaters for around $800.00.

    Oh, he also said it belonged (patience...) to a well known photographer who died last year...maybe, most likely hype (?).

    As I got his number and info (just in case :smile:) and since the meet was ending in half hour or so, I feel relatively sure that this is still in the seller's posession. But you never know...

    TELL ME ARE THEY WORTH IT? For this price in this condition, what else comes close? I could probably flip it for a small profit too. (right)

    And FWIW, as I first entered I saw a 16x20 Saunders easel and it was gone by the time I finished getting around. $130.00.
    LESSON:
    I learned that next time I will do a quick look through the meet and not wait two hours to go back...usually gone if it's a good deal.

    p.s. Don't ask for the Dorff owners number.

    This is more of a "I want it" thing than "I need it". I think.
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    If you decide not to buy, I would hope you would be willing to share the info, sounds good to me. (Just make sure that he didn't spray it with that new car smell spray that I have heard rumors about).

    Since I am not any kind of expert at all, please take my opinion with a massive boulder of salt.

    Paul.
     
  3. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    My goodness, what are you waiting for?? :D
     
  4. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    I'm not seeing that many $800 beaters any more. Lately it's $1100 and $1200 beaters on Ebay which makes a minty one very attractive. The only caveat would be to double check for front swing. Call the guy and get the serial no. Then contact Ken Hough to find out when it was made. I'm itching for a minty late '70's early '80's 8X10. I'm hard on stuff though so it's probably just as well that I keep my mid '50's well used 'dorff.
     
  5. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Jim, it had front swings and yeah, I didn't notice the serial number...

    It was kind of a quick view, then he said leave it open and stuck it back on the rear shelf...my luck someone then noticed it in the next few minutes and bought it..I would never have seen it if i hadn't asked about the FH's...

    But I will call him tomorrow and see if I can go over and play with it some more, get serial#, ask a few Q's...He's fairly close actually...too close...

    And YES, I would post his info should I decide to pass on it.

    Should I buy it, you will see a bevy of stuff for sale from me soon as well!
    My 8x10 Korona has the extensiion rail and good bellows and I was only going to restore it to match my restored 4x5 korona. But It's a user as is...
    (hint)
     
  6. Mateo

    Mateo Subscriber

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    I recently sold my 8x10 Korona cause I didn't need it or want it eating up precious space. When I got my Deardorff it sure was a jump start to getting out and making negatives. I'm sure there are more user friendly modern designed cameras out there, but you ain't going to find one for $1400. I guess my point is that for me at least that camera was certainly worth it. But I only paid $1200 for it; guess it's one of the few things I have that's appreciated in value.
     
  7. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Buy the Dorff...BUY THE DORFF! :D
     
  8. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Dorfisms

    I only have a 5x7 Dorff which I purchased pre-ebay. I paid something like $1700 at Adorama in NYC. Still needed new bellows at some point which I did put on. No one was really making 5x7's at the time anyway. It's a camera-sometimes it makes great images-sometimes I just toss the negatives. There is no myth behind this to me. Just bought an 8x10 Ansco in mint condition for $525. Needs nothing. Am I going to beat myself up for not getting a 'dorff? I'll let you know later....
    Best, Peter Schrager
     
  9. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    It sounds like a deal!
     
  10. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Blaze; your a pretty hard case. I have two "Dorff's that just followed me home. Mateo said "more user friendly modern designed..." Not so. Not at all. Except for the weight there is no more user friendly design ever made in a field camera. I have a Korona sitting on my fireplace. It looks nice. I had a Zone VI. It looked nice too but was worth to much to sit on the fireplace. Sold. The "Dorff's sit in their backpacks ready to use.
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    "Dorff ?"

    "DORFF ? "

    You make me weep. If you buy it, I promise you'll call it a "Deardorff".

    FIRST: check out the serial number.

    A 'user' Deardorff HAS to cost $1500 and up. In the '80s or so, a special synthetic was used instead of leather. More expensive, harder to manufacture. Better in every way. But unless you can identify it, you could hurt yourself with the wrong bellows. Few folks know how to make a Deardorff bellows. And they tend to not be at bellowsmakers... exception,Camera Bellows in England.

    Best thing: this is a low miles original Chicago.

    Not good: home restoration, a Tennessee, or almost anything you can think of.

    Are the screws in the track holders buggered ? Are they loose ? The fitting of the tracks was a precision job, and hard to do properly. In 'restoring' cameras, folks usually start throwing Brasso and other liquids around, and the wood rots. Brilliant, but true.

    I'm worried about the rear standard. Do you know anybody that is a Deardorff shooter ? Take them to look the camera over. The standard is either over tightened, or misinstalled, or mis manufactured (not a Chicago); serial number, serial number.

    The thing that wears out with heavy use ( like, really, really heavy use ) is the steel hardware: tracks, trucks, plates, the lot. It's common in a bad 'restoration' to have original hardware and prettify the wood. The perp didn't know how to reassemble the camera, and how to set it up. I'm babbling. Contact Ken Hough. E-mail him. He works long hours, so don't freak out if he doesn't pick the phone up on the second ring.

    If the dealer will stand behind it, good. If it's an "AS-IS", find an expert to go with you.

    Good luck.
     
  12. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    You all make a compelling case. Df, thanks for the info and advice.

    It doesn't appear to be refurbished, and as said, seemed flawless other than the overtightened rear extension. I'll give it a good go over and check the serial.

    DF Cardwell said: Not good: home restoration, a Tennessee, or almost anything you can think of.


    I am uninformed as to the Tennessee reference..What's this about please?

    Thanks to all so far. As one friend who emailed me said, it won't do anything your korona won't do. But damn...it sure be pretty!

    I should have stayed home yesterday....
     
  13. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    By all means check out Ken's Hough's Deardorf website for info on maintenance and pre-porchase inspection tips. Of courseafter viewing all that juicy 'dorff stuff on Ken's site, you'll be a Deardorff "gone-er." You won't be satisfied until you have your own!

    http://deardorffcameras.Ocatch.com/index.html

    Happy 'dorffing!
     
  14. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A few years ago, there was an attempt to manufacture the camera with 1990 technology at a site in Tennessee. These cameras were not widely accepted as successful, probably due to the difficulty of adapting a 1930 design to 1990 CNC.

    As for the Korona: it was not a very good camera in it's day and has not improved with age.

    Check Ken's site.
     
  15. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    The link above is bad but I found the page through google at http://www.deardorffcameras.0catch.com/. The difference is the zero as opposed to the letter O in the above link.

    Cool page.
     
  16. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Don't be dissin' my Korona now...I love my 4x5. Refinished it is beautiful to look at and has front swings,tilts shift, rise as well as rear swing and tilt, and has (to date) handled what I needed.

    Would I prefer a DEARdorff? Hell yeah...
     
  17. Pearl

    Pearl Member

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    You just answered the question!
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    For those who have mentioned Ken Hough as a source of Deardorff knowledge etc., You may want to check with those who have had experience dealing with Ken...expecially those who have cameras rebuilt by Ken. Clay Harmon, I believe, had a really enlightening experience with Ken.

    Aside from that, there are several sources for bellows. Camera Bellows is one source. Western Bellows is another source. I have rebuilt a couple of Deardorffs and have had no problem with Western Bellows...they build a quality product. There were two bellows designs for Deardorffs. The earlier were a straight taper the latter were a shortened taper.

    If there is misalingment in the rear standard, it may very well be due to the standard not having been properly aligned when it was inserted into the tracks or the tension adjustment is just adjusted too tight. There is an adjustment to compensate for wear. This is not necessarily a big problem...although it would be a bargaining point.

    I have paid as much as $1,300 for a NFS V8 and as little as $695 for a FS V8 complete with a 450 Nikkor M lens.
     
  19. herb

    herb Subscriber

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    Deardorff or not to Deardorff

    I have two, a 5x7 nfs and a really mint 8x10 fs- they are really easy to use except when you HAVE to use a very short focal length wide angle lens.

    I think Canhams are more versatile, but the Deardorffs are just comfortable.

    I paid more than you are quoting, and don't mind that I did.
     
  20. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Matt -

    Was this the Carson swap meet? I must have missed you (I got there at 10). I actually pulled that 'dorff out of its case...a beauty, for sure, but a bit pricey for me right now.

    Had my eye on a mint Rolleicord TLR f2.8 Planar with working meter...$900, but I got out for $45 (100 sheet box of Plus X 4x5 film).

    If you live in the So. Cal area, the camera swapmeet is a terrific place to get gear...

    S
     
  21. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Sharon,

    Don't rub it in, I only wish I could attend a camera swap meet within driving distance!!!!!!!

    boo hoo, now I am going to cry, just to attend one, would make me a happy camper!

    Dave
     
  22. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Wow Sharon, I got there at 10:00 and left at 1:20.... I guess our eyes were focused on "stuff". So it was as nice as I thought, eh?

    I called the guy today but didn't get a good vibe...he said next Monday would be better for him for me to go out and look at. I told him I was seriously interested, had the cash but wanted to check it out again more thoroughly.

    I gots a feelin' he has another meet this weekend and perhaps the interest we two generated has him re-thinking....I'm going to be a pest and call him again tomorrow to reiterate my interest.

    You think when someone says they are interested and have the cash he'd say, "sure, come on over"...but to put me off for a week? Sumthin' ain't right...

    I was going to pass, but today received a nice check from one client and got booked for a half day "rush" shoot this Thursday...ka-ching! Ka-bye! Hello-Deardorff!

    We'll see. He may be flakey on selling it, so I ain't holdin' my breath.