Question or Opinion?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Charles Webb, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Greetings, as I have said so many times before, "it doesn't take much to confuse me". I have several 4x5 view/camera/boxes that simply do not have the movements to really give me the control I feel I need. I am familiar with Deardorff, Ansco, Kodak, B&J, Korona etc. 8x10 movements,
    swings, tilts, shifts etc. Nothing I own in wooden cameras smaller than 5x7 satisfy my feeling of need for more movement. I have Arca Swiss, Wista,
    and Graphic View cameras that do everything I ask for in the movement department. However my personality and the monorail wonders don't seem to get on so well. I am much happier playing with wooden antiques and ancient optics than their modern counterparts.

    Now here is the point of my post: I see daily 4x5 boxes, Wisner, Zone VI,
    Ebony and Japanese units, going for $500.00 to well over a grand. A 4x5/5x7
    Deardorff in pretty used condition commands $500.00 up. My question is a well used Deardorff worth what they are asking/getting, or would it be a better decision to go with a newer Zone VI or perhaps a ShenHo or what ever? Are their movements limited, or can they be considered full on these cameras?

    I frankly love Deardorff, but do not own one at the present and would really
    like to fill that void. But the nagging thoughts of restoring yet another old box that has been ridden hard and put away wet, kind of turns me off.

    Truly, the last thing in the World I need is another sheet film box, I am on a limited budget/income so I really don't have gobs of disposable income to spend a grand on an item that I will have to "mother".

    Any one want to share some thoughts or opinions, they most likely will confuse me more, but do others feel the way I do on the going rates
    and value of some of these fine old (at times, beat up) names. Will a used
    5x Deardorff have equal movements with the monorails? Questions, Questions.................................
     
  2. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Charles, I don't know if it will help to eliminate one camer: the Century One 8x10. I find it has limited movements but the worst characteristics are its fragility, the small front lens board and it is too light for field work. For me, anyway.

    This is the Century 1: http://babyurl.com/yuAFy1
    (That one is not in tiptop shape)
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I would certainly consider the Shen Hao - I have a Shen Hao 4x5, and you can out-move the image circle of just about any lens available. You can twist the thing into a pretzel - front/rear rise,fall,tilt, and swing, and rear shift. They're amazingly versatile, and inexpensive. When I go to China (someday), I'll swing by the Shen Hao factory and look into one of their 8x10s, or perhaps one of the odd-size cameras, like a 5x12 or an 8x20. If you want something that will give you that "old-time" feel, but be sturdy, reliable and full-featured, they're worth looking into.

    Of course, I strongly recommend getting your hands on whatever you THINK you want and try it out in advance. You might hate the Shen Hao after using it, but love a Deardorff, or find that you prefer a Canham.
     
  4. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    The Deardorff 5x7 isn't really much larger than the 4x5s you mention. I can't imagine needing all the movements it has and presume it is close to the monorails I've used, but then again, I'm not you. What sort of extreme movements are you looking for? What are you shooting that would require them?

    Personally, I'd go with the 'dorff. Oh wait. I already did.

    Are you aware that Deardorffs are back in production? Check mpex.com

    Joe
     
  5. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I don't know what your requirments are, but I have a 5X7 Shen-Hao and I have never found a need for greater movments that it offers. It has:

    1. Very extensive shift, swing, tilt, and rise and fall on the front, and

    2. Very extensive tilt and rise on the back, and more than adequate shift.

    And about 600mm of bellows draw.

    Heavy but very sturdy.

    If you need more movements better try a monorail.

    Sandy
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's hard to go wrong with a Deardorff. I have a friend who has two Deardorff Specials, which are really 5x7" cameras set up for 4x5".

    The Shen-Hao is probably the most camera you can find for the money in a wooden field camera. There are a few folks here who have them. It would be hard to find another camera with as much flexibility in terms of movements, interchangeable bellows, and Graflok back for twice the cost of a Shen-Hao.
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Hi Charles

    The things to watch for on an old Deardorff are:

    1. Worn hardware. Are the tracks worn out? If so, they need to be replaced.

    2. Has somebody tried to fix it ? The camera is made with 1920 technology, and so assembly is critical. Like a Leica. But too many folks see wood, think they can fix it, and they kill it. If the screws are not set, it needs to be fixed. The worst thing in the world is to buy a camera whose previous owner had a slow day and took it apart.

    3. The camera is going cheap. Why isn't it going for $1500 or more ? If it is in good working order, it should. The exception is the earlier versions without front swings. This would be a great value.

    As for movements, unless you are using really long lenses, A Deardorff will do all you need to do. Instead of asking whether a Deardorff has all the movements of a monorail camera, ask if it has all the movements you need. Probably, yes. Surely for knocking around Colorado, a Deardorff is a great choice. You can use it with gloves on, for one thing. With an extension of 2 1/2 inches to 24", you can do a lot with it.

    The tricky part of buying a Deardorff today is that they are hard to find.

    IMHO, Canhams are great, Zone VI are very good, Wisners can be great.
    Wista is good, but much more limited. Will you be using a 90 Angulon and a 10" Ektar ? A Wista could work fine, but they are expensive for what you get. And compared to a Deardorff, fragile.

    A good Agfa/Ansco/Kodak 5x7 with 4x5 back could do very well for you.

    Good luck, and happy hunting.

    Don
    "This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last."
     
  8. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Deardoff

    Charles-I own a 5x7 Deardorf and paid dearly for it about 10 years ago (pre ebay) I also own the ZoneVI wista and a 4x5 rail camera. I can do almost everything I want with short bellows(12 inches) of the wista and it has never let me down. Deardorf 's are-well they are Deardorfs-mine is probably over 50 years old and with the new bellows I put on it does it all. They are the energizer bunny of view camera world. My wista was bought new in the late 70's from Fred Picker and it too has only required a bellows replacement. Now if I was starting out a Shen-hao IS a buy-but is it THE one to buy?. have you ever seen the Walker camera-I understand one can run it through the dishwasher! We will all have to come back here in another 20 years to compare notes and see which camera has held up. The dorf and the wista have already earned their stripes. I still own my original 5x7 camera-a Kodak 33 that I paid $100 for. Took many fine pictures but eventually became too limiting in movements.
    As long as you don't keep switching formats buy the best you can afford. Buy one or two quality lenses with good shutters or a quality convertible for convenience. You will always get your money back for the good stuff too.
    They are all a box in the end-now which one do you want INVEST in?
    Regards, Peter Schrager
     
  9. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Excess baggage

    Charles-you could do what I tried last year. Simply dumped all/any of the excess cameras and lenses that weren't being used. Started to clarify all the decisions on which camera and lens to use. Two cameras-three lenses each. Get back to making honest images. Less equals more. EW had one $5 lens.
    Peter
     
  10. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I'll put im a vote for eliminating everything and going with a shen Hao. My only complaint is even though there is plenty of movements the movements are kind of more work than nessasary. I don't know anything about any of the other cameras you specified but there is a horseman non wooden series that one knob per geared movement. Very nice but heavy. A little expensive also but with open eyes I'm sure there is a deal somewhere out there. Both cameras work really well.
     
  11. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Just get the 'dorff! You want it. You said you want it. It'll do anything you ask of it. You won't rest until you have one---right??? Ten years from now it'll probably be worth double what you paid for it.

    IMHO, get the 'dorff;-)
     
  12. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Many many thanks to all who responded, I do appreciate your input.

    I have been considering eliminating some of the dead weight for some time now but just haven't decided what to part with. I am no longer able to
    handle (meaning pack around and set up) my 8x10's, I have two B&J's in mint condition, and one Kodak.... they are simply two heavy for me! However I simply enjoy messing with them. I have two working 5x7s that do a fine job as long as extreme movements are not necessary. A Kodak #2 and a Korona that I recently purchased from Jeremy Moore. They make fine negatives, but cannot deliver the additional movement that I need at times. Perhaps I really don't need all that much more movement, but it would be nice.

    I am not looking for any new or different optics, what I have is what I have collected over the past 50 years and have proven to do exactly what I want or expect from them. They range from 65mm to 400mm, Red Dots, Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji and several Wollensak Veritars and soft Velostigmats.

    Over the years, I have scratch built many muzzle loading rifles and pistols, in making an effort to photograph my guns, I choose to photograph them with as much perspective and focus control as possible, the monorails do this very well, but my wooden 4x5s simply fall short. Simply stopping down
    does not give me what I am looking for. I can get the exact "look" using 8x10, but can only get close with the smaller formats.

    I think I will look for a "Dorff" Special and give it a try, it still may not allow me to do what I have been able to do in the past with the 8x10s.

    Again I thank all of you for your kind thoughts and input.

    Charlie
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Just to confuse the issue, I'll suggest a Gandolfi Variant. I have never seen one except for gandolfi's website, but I am very happy with my Gandolfi Traditional 5x7". Since you want more movements, the Variant is it for you. If it is anything near as well-built as the Traditional, it will be the best possible for your use without going for a monorail.
     
  14. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Is it the camera that is lacking movments? Or the bellows? My Ansco 8x10 has very stiff bellows. The camera would tilt much easier with different bellows. The current bellows handle all swing and shift the camera has [except at extreme extensions] but the things are stiff. OTOH they look pretty close to new condition.
     
  15. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Just to add to your confusion, I have a new 4x5/5x7 'Dorff. I sold a Fred Picker Zone VI to get it. Why? For the last two years I have also been using a 8x10 'Dorff. The Deardorff is just the most instinctive camera I have ever used. The design is damn near perfect, with all you need and no extraneous doo-dads to get in the way.

    It is only 9 oz. more than a Zoner and I have the option of 5x7 as well. I will admit that the Zone VI is a tighter camera. That's about the only advantage that I can think of. Oh, unless you like real wide lenses. My 'Dorff will handle 90mm. Maybe an 80mm. I would never go that wide so it's a mute point. The Zone with a bag is happy with 65mm. or less. I also found that the 'Dorff was faster to set up and break down than any other woody I have used.
     
  16. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Charles, I of course share your adoration for the venerable Deardorffs. I paid WAY too much for mine. It was on feebay one evening with a buy it now and I simply couldn't resist. A one owner (2 now) original that was bought by a serious hobbyist and properly cared for, it didn't need any restoration, just continued care. I told myself I'd amortize it at $50 a year for the next 28 years I'd enjoy it, and bought it.

    On Pinhole day last April I had a shot in mind that required an extreme wide angle. I set up the Wisner 4X5 and there was no way to take the picture without the rack rails in the way. Had to go get the Deardorff to get the job done. It will quite literally do things the modern prettier cameras won't.

    Yes they command a fair price but that is because they remain one of the most elegant solutions ever devised. I'd spend the extra $$ for a pampered original.
     
  17. Emile de Leon

    Emile de Leon Member

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    Someone just came into the shop the other day with a 1940's 8x10 Deardorff. The camera was only used in the studio and had front swing put on as well as a new bellows. Everything else all original but in perfect shape except for a few scratches and tarnish on the nickle plated brass. On a lark I bought it for a 500- and for the first time I'm experiencing the true quality of the Dorff. I always wanted one. I have to say if you get a good one except for the weight it's real, real good. The controls are all where they should be and has a nice 6 inch lensboard. I just finished testing some WA protars and a 130mm Perigon and now it has a 340mm f3 Dallmeyer on it. The lens is huge but just fits on the board. I'm going to do some wide open shots tonight outside at f3 to see what this lens looks like. Never done that before.
    BTW...the 5x7 at MWP is great if you want a new Dorff. But if you can get something good for 500- why not pocket the rest! Good luck, Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com/
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have a couple of 8X10 Deardorffs one with a 4X5 reducing back. I also have a 4X5 Zone VI. The Zone VI is a good camera, solid and by far lighter then the Deardorff. I don't know what the Shen Hao will cost. Perhaps a Zone VI will suit your needs if you can find one used. There have been a number on Ebay recently and the prices seem pretty reasonable.