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Deardorff, specifically, L.F. Deardorff & Sons, Inc., was a manufacturer of wooden-construction, large-format 4"⨉5" and larger bellows view camera from 1923 through 1988.[1][2] Various models were constructed and used mostly by professional photographic studios.

Company history[edit]

Laban F. Deardorff repaired cameras for nearly 30 years before building the first 8⨉10 Deardorff.[3] He had been employed by Rochester Camera Company in the 1890s.[4][5]

Model history[edit]

Almost all Deardorff cameras were made of mahogany.[6]

  • 1923 saw the first model, the V8 (or VO8) [7] built in Chicago. 15 models were built.
  • 1924 V8 – 50 units built
  • 1925 V8 – 175 units built
  • 1926 – the first batch production. Reference to a 5⨉7 Deardorff[8]
  • 1937 – started nickel plating and changed to mahogany wood.
  • 1938 – stainless steel first used
  • 1942 – rounded corners for the lens boards
  • 1944 – Spanish cedar used in some cameras
  • 1950 – front swing capability first introduced; 8"⨉10" camera serial numbers begin at "500" in May 1950
  • 1952 – round metal bed plate
  • 1967 – knobs changed to aluminum from nickel-plated brass
  • 1988 – last year of production[9]
  • Present – cameras are still in production today, in small quantities, but built to original Chicago specifications

General features[edit]

All of the Deardorff view cameras featured swing and tilt movements, and there were optional accessories such as stands and cases.[10]

The 8⨉20, 12⨉20, 11⨉14[11] All Deardorff model featured:

  • Vertical swing of the back
  • Lateral swing of the back
  • Vertical swing of the front 30 degrees each side of center[12]

Photographers' experiences in using the camera[edit]

Photographer David Munson has related his experiences in restoring and using a Deardorff 8⨉10.[13] Kevin Klazek also related his experience in restoring a Deardorff V8 in View Camera magazine.[14]

Publications showing Deardorffs[edit]

The February 1998 25th anniversary edition of Texas Monthly featured a Deardorff on the cover and said:

The cover shot with the lens in the shape of the state of Texas, mounted on an 8⨉10 Deardorff, was shot by Pete McArthur. The lens itself was designed by Rick Elden. The work of over 75 photographers was included in their "100 best", including Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Jim Myers, Kent Kirkley, Mary Ellen Mark, Larry Fink and many others.[15]

Deardorff copies[edit]

There is a mention of at least one Deardorff "copy" being sold. One eBay site listing mentioned a "Prinzdorff Deardorff", which was cited as a "repro 5⨉7 field view camera 4⨉5". The seller further made these comments:

5⨉7 camera (sold by Prinz) likely made in India in the 50s (until they were sued). The solidly builtcamera has an "old style" Deardorff color and appearance but has the front swing and the aluminum tripod mount upgrades of the later models.

This camera does not have the quality, fine finish, light weight and smoothness of movements of a real Deardorff.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ken Hough Photographic Repair Service. "Deardorff Historical Web Site". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  2. ^ "DEARDORFF CAMERAS". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  3. ^ Ken Hough. "The Deardorff View Camera An American Classic". Archived from the original on 2009-10-26.
  4. ^ Q.-Tuan Luong and Ken Hough. "Deardorff cameras". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  5. ^ "History of Deardorff". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  6. ^ "Deardorff 5⨉7 V5 camera". Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  7. ^ "Deardorff VO8 1923–1949". Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  8. ^ "Deardorff 5⨉7 V5 Camera". Harry's Pro Shop. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  9. ^ "Deardorff History". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  10. ^ "Lenses and Shutters for Deardorff Cameras". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  11. ^ "Deardorff Precision Cameras". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  12. ^ "Specifications". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  13. ^ David R. Munson. "The Deardorff 8⨉10 Field Camera". Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  14. ^ Kevin Klazek (September–October 2007). "The V8 Diaries". View Camera: 58–59.
  15. ^ "25th Anniversary Edition". Retrieved 2007-12-19.

External links[edit]