Seagull 203 6x6 a great daily user

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by AaTen, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    Hallo,
    I have a Seagull 203 from 1975.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6710054251_d01ab3e810_z.jpg

    Bought it new old stock still in box back in 1995 (Hong Kong)
    The 203 is awesome. It is actually easier to carry in my pocket than an Agfa Isolette....
    The Seagull with wind lever is easier to use and from the optical quality (see my Yemen / Sanaa travel shots) also pretty much the same as a Agfa Super Isolette, Mamiya 6, Zeiss Super Ikonta, Ansco Super Speedex, Iskra, Mockba 5, Certo 6 etc. etc.
    Still quite cheap to come buy, the Seagull 203 is a true sleeper.
    Few people realize the quality of a well adjusted not worn out
    203, its a great everyday shooter with allmost Zeiss quality.
    (Just watch out for a good one and NEVER change the
    aperture when the trigger of shutter is tightened....this will jam the Compur licence shutter...
    The seagull anastigmat 3,5 / 75 lens elements were imported from eastern Germany and only assembled in Shanghai, so the lens is a true performer...

    Please watch my results:

    I used one in Yemen to great effect. It was a lot of fun to use, and most importantly, it was easy to carry around. If I've done this properly, you can see some of the shots I did with it here:

    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=seagull&w=18102095@N00



    Here are some further high quality shots of the Seagull 203, a friend of mine
    made in China:

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/seagull_203/pool/

    This camera makes great sharp details and a nice bokeh....love it.
    My Iskra, Rheinmetall Welta (1Q super quality east German Zeiss Tessar lens !) and Mockba 5 isnt quite up to this wonderfull balance...
    You wont find a nicer everyday folder 6X6 if you find a good 203 with well adjusted
    rangefinder. Beware of worn out or damaged (Shutter/ trigger problems due to misoperation ) examples.

    http://hsuotto.blogspot.de/2007/01/203-1.html

    best regards

    i.t.
     
  2. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    Very nice photo's in Yemen. Post card stuff! I did not know Seagull made a folder, all I've ever seen were TLRs by them. Now I need to keep an eye out for a folder. How do the bellows hold up? What film did you use in Yemen?
     
  3. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Is the rangefinder coupled? Also how is the frame spacing. I have a super ikonta iv which I really like but you need to add on a bit of paper for padding onto each roll or the spacing is really tight.
     
  4. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Seagull also made a 35mm SLR, the DF-1. Its based on an early Minolta, has no meter, and is crudely built...but takes great pictures. The lens that came with mine is a 50mm f2 that is styled like a Pentax-M series lens.
     
  5. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    Hi,

    yeah the seagull 203 is a great performer,

    http://www.blende-und-zeit.sirutor-und-compur.de/thema.php?board=2&thema=9

    it is very similar to an Agfa Super Isolette, has coupled rangefinder.
    Anything about this camera you can read here, there are many streetphotographers in Cuba and
    China and asia still using this camera for professional shots...its a kind of chinese Iskra.

    http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Seagull_203

    Sometimes you can find these rare birds in ebay, still quite unexpensively, if you can get a working one,
    get it, a similar Agfa or Super Ikonta will cost you much more.

    I use Ilford B/W and Fujicolor 160 Pro

    Here you can compare the Seagull 203 to the Agfa Super Isolette,
    both cameras perform great, the Seagull is much cheaper to come by because very few people know about their existence ;-)

    http://www.joernluetjens.de/fotografie/kameras/agfa-super-isolette.htm

    I would say its agood idea to ask any seller of a vintage camera for
    working rangefinder and shutter...there are many Seagulls around that became "tortured" by people without an easy hand for fine mechanics and vintage compur licenced shutters...

    My camera was new old stock when I bought it so its perfectly adjusted and has never seen any kind of rough treatment...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2013
  6. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    By the way, best thing the bellows of the seagull are rubberized and superior to the very old cardbord stuff used on the German, Russian and Japanese machines....I never heard f a Seagull 203 with a lightleak. ;_)
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Very nice. Hope your luck holds and that the shutter is different than the ones they used in the TLRs. I lived in China from 1996 to 2001 and bought 4-5 Seagull TLRs while there, all older ones from 70's and thereabouts. Quite a bit of sample variance on lens performance but a couple had wonderfully sharp lenses, others too soft likely due to misalignment. Unfortunately, of the two good ones, one the shutter simple seized up and never worked again. The other the shutter exploded with parts flying everywhere. Good thing was I never paid more than $25 per camera.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Great pictures!

    Jeff
     
  9. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    Yeah the 203 is such a compact folder,
    you wont find a compacter one with rangefinder.

    Sleeping seagull :smile:

    [​IMG]

    The 203 has a LEICA / FED-ZORKI type of coupled rangefinder...
    Its even coated on my early one!
    If you dont change the aperture when shutter is cocked it will last 4ever,
    I have no problems since the 90s.

    ON ANY COMPUR TYPE OF LEAFSHUTTER CAMERA:
    NEVER CHANGE THE APERTURE SETTINGS WHEN SHUTTER IS COCKED!!
    I CANT MENTION THIS OFTEN ENOUGH ;-)


    To my mind the little 203 folder is definetly the
    best thing ever that came from China ;-),
    This folder is so damnd flat when folded, you cant believe it without seing it... An ISKRA is much larger!
    203 is flatter than a Kodak pocket camera....superior in ergonomic to most other folding 6x6. and that thing operates silent and smooth...
    Same advise here, buy one older version with METAL FILM TRANSPORT LEVER they are the professional stuff, the later consumer ones with plastic transport lever still are good but the older one has the better finish.

    Here you can see de difference:

    Very first SHANGHAI 203 version from 1962 (these are the very best!!!) but they are only available in China from communist party members (Superior Quality Control made with several Carl Zeiss Jena parts)

    http://www.novacon.com.br/odditycame...s/image010.jpg

    The later street photographer Version from 1968-1980:

    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5149/...19e32aa44d.jpg

    Seagull 203 full metal version (thats my version) still very smooth operation but made with more chinese parts....LENS STILL MADE WITH GLASS from Carl Zeiss (!) They are good, try to get a new old stock one or one with CLA!!

    The last edition for consumers 1980-1995, lens still good but not at the same level as the older ones (Sometimes equiped with Japanese licenced lenses but made in China, so there you can find excellent sharp ones and others that make softer prictures...so its a gamble ;-) These are inexpensive so you can try several ones....)

    Seagull 203 - I (Watch the black plastik lever!)

    http://www.corff.de/Klappkameras/Bil...al/Seagull.jpg

    There is a nice US Export version too,
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/heritag...es/7660674672/
    called Texer SR its a quite good one from the MK3 Series, these had a better quality control compared to the plastic lever version for the domestic asian market so the chance is good you find a sharp one (Japanese Lens elements) Avoid ones with defects caused by unexperienced people.
    NEVER change the aperture control when shutter is cocked
    NEVER EVER ;-) A single one of doing this may damage the Compur.

    So you can often read the Seagull cameras have defective shutters or aperture controls.... okay people should read the manual book before using the camera ;-)
    Than such a Camera lasts for 30 Years...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have a seagul tlr the 4a-109 I think is the model number. It has the better teaser type lens and is basically a very close copy of a number of other tlrs like the Rollie's or yashicas. I like it, simple things like auto cocking with advance, and auto film counter reset and a hotshoe make it easy to use. But there are quality control issues, the split prism that it has is misaligned it's not quite horizontal and not quite at 45* just crooked lol. The images are good from it but not as sharp as my older yashicaflex.
     
  11. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    Yeah there was a tessar type of Seagull 4a, I never tested one,
    they are quite rare...
    but I like the standard HAIOU 85 lens (Anastigmat 3 elements but very high quality with Zeiss Glass imported from former GDR, its sharper than a Agfa Apotar of my Agfa folder), Haiou SA85 has a very nice bokeh and its sharp.

    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3295/2647420922_159c799962_z.jpg?zz=1

    These are the older 4b from the 70s with handknob advance, they are reliable and the SA85 is a good simple lens....astonishingly good, I have seen less sharp Tessars in other cameras compared to this nice Anastigmat.

    http://www.foto-sandor.de/images/produkte/i18/18576-IMG-0515.JPG

    Do you know wether the later Tessar 4B also had imported Zeiss lenses?
    When was your camera built?
    I never saw one.
    Could you please tell us code of the lens HAIOU and than the number of the tessar type?

    Is it even called "Tessar" if yes its defintly a Zeiss split off....maybe older
    Rollei lenses that Zeiss still had on stock during the 80s and later sold to the chinese factory?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  12. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I guess I can't see how changing the aperture when the shutter is cocked will cause any problems. Do you mean do not change the shutter speed once the shutter is cocked?


     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    How could the aperture mechanism affect the shutter mechanism?
     
  14. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    Doesn't the camera have a coupled EV scale? In which case the aperture will move the shutter. But just a guess.

    Steve
     
  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Blame on me!!!

    Yes, it has and I totally forgot about that feature.

    (Actually I own a Seagull 203 myself... In as-new state, except of the rangefinder patch which is not visible. Thus I stored it immediately waiting for me to have time to repair it. The distance scale has got such thin letters that is barely readible, in contrast to the shutter scale. This shows what effect little faults in typographic design can have..)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But what puzzled me from the very first moment was its exposure calculator:
    It got a dial with multiple markings of circle segments (seemingly indicating the degree of overcast, one of them though enigmatic to me, indicating rain as I found out by now).
    Corresponding are markings refering to the setting as Indoor/Outdoor. So far so good. But next to these obvious distinctions are also those of Near/Landscape.
    How could the latter be of influence on the exposure?


    EDIT
    I guess I got the idea behind it:

    As Near is set in the ranking of Bright Indoor/Shade/Near/Landscape/Sea&Snow I guess the idea is that in a situation with objects/people outdoors nearby there still would be some shade whereas in an open landscape...
    Well, not really conclusive, but the best I can think of.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  17. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    This link will bring you to a PDF copy of the 203 instruction manual booklet,
    print it out and put it to your camera its valuable.
    The RF Calculator is intersting and it works if your lightmeter is lost or still at home.
    Here you can read how it works:

    http://www.cameramanuals.org/pdf_files/seagull_203.pdf

    Yeah never adjust exposure and aperture after cocking a compur.
     
  18. AaTen

    AaTen Member

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    I ve got another thread in the Rangefinder Forum
    http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=128432
    there you can find some other usefull Seagull 203 infos, I just love this tiny folder camera.... (The grease / oil / lubricant of the compur can become sticky after all those years, I dropped very very Little amount of weapons ultra fine ashless thin oil (Dont use WD40, better get some ballistol rifle oil ) between the aperture, cocking levers (very very little amount of cleaning oil) so it can seep into the compur between the levers...I noticed that slow times now run quicker again....
    NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID or Mos2 / Graphite etc...for freeing a sticky compur. Beware of getting oil onto the shutter blades or between the lens glass elements.
    I am sure a lot of sticky Seagulls (type 4 TLR and 203 )need some new oil or even better a professional CLA....the shutter often isnt the problem, the lubricant is (on all old cameras)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I know that manual, but it does not make me wiser concerning that exposure calculator, that's why I asked.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I had (probably still do have in storage somewhere) a Seagull 203. When it was good, it was great, but it was never entirely predictable. Sometimes the focus would just be off a little and you'd get an unplanned, unpredictable soft-focus effect. Film advance is lever-wind via red window, and it could take either 6x6 or 6x4.5 images using a built-in set of masking doors in the film transport chamber, which would lock the entire roll into one format or the other. IIRC there were bright-line markers in the finder for 6x4.5 composition. Mine developed a mechanical problem with the film advance - the advance lever now just slews freely and doesn't turn the film. I suspect a screw or two have sheared off and it no longer engages, or else a gear self-stripped somehow.
     
  21. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I still don't get this. Are you talking about only the Seagull with interlocking speed and aperture controls. Or any Compur, even those with independent speed and aperture. On my various Compur shutters I've never had any problems changing aperture after cocking the shutter. None of them have coupled speed and aperture.

     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The issue is that at least at some shutter types by setting the faster speeds an additional spring is engaged when cocking the shutter.
    If the shutter is cocked at lower speeds and then one turns the dial to faster speeds a resistance is felt. Think of moving a device under a bent spring versus tensioning the spring against it. It seems relative. It depends on the construction of the shutter whether this could be harmful.

    There is a special thread here at Apug on this matter.


    With that Seagull 203 shutter you feel a resistance when trying to set the cocked shutter from 1/60 to 1/125.
     
  23. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    On a non-interlocking shutter changing aperture would not change shutter speed. I agree that it's not good to change speed on some older shutters once they are cocked. I would say that on a Compur shutter with independent speed and aperture controls you can change the aperture after the shutter is cocked with no problems. Is that not true?
     
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Setting the aperture as such is of no influence to the shutter of this camera.

    Both, aperture and shutter, can be adjusted seperately, though they are EV-linked by means of an adjustable, springloaded lever. It is the aperture that follows the shutter. When using the EV-linkage one thus has to grasp for the shutter dial anyway. And as the linkage is very weak one has to press on that lever in order not to lose the linkage. (Another shortcoming of this camera.)

    But AaTen is is right in that sense, that when you do as just described, and the shutter is already cocked, you could by means of trying to adjust the aperture get the shutter in that setting he described as harmful.