The Baby Deardorff
1935-36, '36-42, '42-49
V4, 4x5 Folding View
the V4 known as the "Baby Deardorff " came to be involved everything
from Chicago politics to a chance meeting with an metal salesman. Deardorff
already made the V5, a 5x7 camera that had an accessory 4x5 back. So why
a smaller camera? Chicago was host to the Chicago Worlds Fair from
1932-34. The on site souvenir photographers used 4x5 cameras and there
was an expressed rule about bringing a camera that same size or bigger
onto the Fairgrounds. A Lawyer wanted to take quality photos of the fair.
He contacted Merle Deardorff and asked him to make a 3 1/4 X 4 1/4 camera.
Merle started on it but was unable to finish it on time. The fair and the
lawyer went away but the seed had been planted in Merles head! In late
1935 he re-designed that camera into a 4x5 model and built 15 prototypes
in 1935-36. Some of these cameras were given to noted photographers in
Chicago and others were sold. After a year they were recalled to evaluate
how they held up. For the most part they did fine. But the bed had
a serious defect. The front extension would fall out when fully extended
! A couple of fixes were done but none were satisfactory. A salesman from
an metal extrusion company made a cold call on Deardorff and suggested
an extrusion to guide the front and rear extensions. Problem solved. The
Early Babys are identified by the wood separator strips on the bed ('35-36).
The next versions shared the same bed with the extrusion but different
ways of guiding the sliding panel that holds the lens board. Either a C
channel '36-42 or an L '42-49. The demand for these still out weighs
the supply. There were around 500 total made. A brief self serving word
here. I have refinished 113 of these as of 2001. Thats over 20 percent
of the production! That is alot of survivors and there are more out there.
These are from a 1940 catalog. It
shows a Prototype V4
A Baby (V4) shown with extreme movements
down and up.
A lens with at least an18 in image
circle is needed.