Seagull TLR

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by brofkand, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    I am in the market for a medium format camera, and am looking at a TLR. I know these cameras have Tessar lenses, so they're at least decent performers.

    How do they work beyond just lens sharpness and contrast? How about loading ease, winding ease, known common problems?

    Thanks!
     
  2. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Too many TLRs out there to answer that. Not all have tessars, low end types often have triplets, and better models have better lenses. If I were you I'd look for a clean rollei if the budget allows, they are the model all the others started with, baring that look for a good Japanese make, by and large they will be better than a Russian or Chinese camera.
     
  3. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Right now budget does not allow for anything but a Chinese or Russian camera. If the consensus is it's worth it to wait to get a better camera, I will. Probably won't get a Rollei; I'd rather have a nice 645 SLR kit than a Rollei TLR.

    The newer Seagulls use Tessar copies. The older ones (and I guess newer, less expensive ones) use triplets. No Seagulls that I'm aware of use anything better than a Tessar.

    I am just unsure of build quality, reliability, etc on the Seagulls.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    You should be able to get a Yashica TLR (nice triplet or tessar) for $75-200. A rolleiflex Automat MX starting at $200 (tessar), rolleicords starting in similar prices. Minolta Autocord for similar $.
     
  5. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    I owned once a brand new Seagull. It hat thre different failures during the firts year so I gave up with that camera.

    I recommend Rollei too. Rolliecords are not such expansive and the model V has all the features a Seagull has. Especially the bright screen. ok. you have no crank, but that should not play any rôle using MF.
     
  6. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    new seagull is more expensive these days than used japanese high quality yashicamat
     
  7. jochen

    jochen Member

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    many years ago, when Seagulls and Yashicas were still produced, here in Munich a shopping center had a whole pallet of horribly cheap Seagulls. After one week they all had disappeared because they were all defect and nearly all customers had brougth them back and got their money back!
     
  8. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I would also opt for a Yashica or Rolleicord. Meopta Flexaret (Czech TLR) is also said to be nice and I´ve seen some listed on Ebay US for small money and recently CLA´d ;-)
    How much can you spend?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2012
  9. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    What kind of budget are we talking about here, in dollar terms? I paid $158 for my Yashicamat 124. I love it. I actually prefer the 124 over the later, more common 124G. The G has gold plated flash contacts but that doesn't matter to me. The 124 is said to have more robust internal gears; it certainly makes a more metallic "zing" sound on winding. I just happen to like the classic chrome trim on it.

    Old Yashicas are cheaper. Minolta Autocords too.
     
  10. Discoman

    Discoman Member

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    Well, I'll try to answer OP as best as I can.
    I know Seagull is working on improving their cameras, so the new ones will be better than what I have.
    Film loading is about as easy as any other TLR. Open up the back by turning the dial, and load the film in the bottom. Mine has pull knobs which work just as well as the push bars on my rollei or the pull knobs on my yashica. The knobs on mine don't lock in place if the camera is closed, so I guess if you tugged one, it would drop half your film reel and be interesting to recover from, although I believe the yashica does the same. The seagull has a locking bar on the know that needs to be pushed to allow it to open. Never seen a TLR accidentally open, but it is a nice positive retention method that does show you that you have incaft closed the camera completely.
    The self timer on mine eventually broke, but I prefer using a cable or air release. Even for a picture I am in, Either a cable release or a friend at the camera works fine for me, ad is how I use any camera really. I don't use self timers.
    mine uses a knob to advance the film, with the red windows on the back. Simply turn until the number appears in the correct window and take a picture. The shutter on mine is cocked by an actual cocking lever on the front. I think newer ones use a winding lever instead of the window and cocking lever.
    So I can double expose and other stuff as much as I want, which does allow me some extra freedom.
    The lenses aren't the sharpest or the most contrasty. They are adequate for most needs, and are capable of far more than holgas. Not as good as a high quality lens, but they are functional mid-range lenses.
    I actually like the viewfinder on mine. It has the split-line focuser with the matte ring around it, like you tend to see in 35mm cameras, so when I unlatch the magnifier (it has its own little latch, which is neat) I can get a really good focus with the magnifier and the split circle.
    Unlike any other TLR I have used, using the sport finder does not pop up the magnifier, as that part hinges at the back instead of from the front, and has a cutout for the sport viewfinder.

    My suggestion is if you can get one cheap enough, it can be a fine camera for basic use. Don't expect German or Japanese build quality. Seagull is working on improving, and some more professional reviewers have stated that the cameras are in fact, getting better.
    Still, yashicas, rolleis, and that c220/c330 from (I want to say mamiya or minolta, but I'm sure neither of those is right) are all good cameras.
    Actually, those c220/c330 have interchangeable lenses and other luxuries not seen on most TLRs, and have been highly recommended to me, I would suggest one if you can swing it.

    Ultimately, it's your money and your choice. See if a rental place has some TLRs, or if a camera store has them. Try out some various ones and get the one that seems to fit you best. If the Seagull does it for you, get one. If a yashica floats your boat, get that instead. How's that for useful advice?

    EDIT: Seagull actually seems to have a fairly large product range, including lenses, lights, and large format cameras. http://www.camerachina.com/product.asp
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2012
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    My vote too. My Rolleicord V is my favourite camera..... I think!


    Steve.
     
  12. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    My son's mother, who was a very talented photographer too, had the high-end Seagull TLR with the Tessar lens and the wind crank. It broke after just 6 rolls of film. Damned shame, the lens was SHARP. The focusing screen in it sucked too, it was really hard to focus.

    For the cost, you can get, as others have mentioned, a much better Japanese TLR, or an old Rollei. I have a 1938 Rolleiflex Automat with uncoated Tessar that still works to this day.
     
  13. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    For almost nothing try a Czech Meopta Flexarete V - Very nice Beliar, Tessar type, lens and quadrant focussing - Film and shutter need to be wound separately, but this soon becomes natural

    However, whatever cheapy you get will be a temporary measure 'till you get a Rollei

    John
     
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  15. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    Try looking for a weltaflex, you have to use the red window to wind the film, but the lens is very sharp I have made 20/16 prints from mine, with the Meritar lens, not a planar, but the camera, in spite of not being the best build quality in the world,(East German) it is a thousand times better than a seagul, I have had a seagull and I spent almost as much time repairing it as using it, I have had a weltaflex for a few years now and it is still going strong.
    Richard
     
  16. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I have a couple of Mamiyas (C220 & C330); and they are sturdy built like a tank ( and feels the same). Big advantage are the interchangeable lenses. Try KEH for body and lens. I also have the Pirot viewfinder with meter for when I don't want to carry an incident meter.
     
  17. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have the seagull 4a-109 which is the one with the tessar taking lens. Got it almost mint in box for $50-60.

    Works reasonably well. Wind crank. Split focusing screen, counter and lock, safety door lock. You also can double expose with it if you wanted but the process is a bit more complicated than the simpler knob wind models with the separate shutter that's not tied into the wind.

    Lens is good, f8 and it's quite nice.

    Mine has not broke yet but the leatherette is peeling at edge. Simple fix.
     
  18. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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  19. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    You guys have given me a ton to think about! I will definitely look at other options; right now I don't really want to spend more than $200 on a TLR, so a Seagull sounded like an immediate good choice. But it appears they're unreliable at least in some cases.

    Minolta TLRs sound good...I've never heard of them, but I'm looking on eBay and the prices seem comparable to a Seagull oddly enough. Thanks!
     
  20. jumbosilverette

    jumbosilverette Member

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    I'm defineteley in the minority here, but I've owned a C330, currently own a Rollei 2.8f and a Great Wall, the precursor to the Seagull. The Great Walls used to cost 99 bucks new and were a great value -- then. I still like shooting the Great Wall (it's light, cheap, reasonably sharp. And more importamt, fun.) The Yashicas mentioned are also nice cameras, the Autocords, and bottom-end Rolleis. But I still like my Chinese TLR.

    p.s. only issue with the GW was peeling leatherette; fixed with some super glue.
     
  21. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    For $200 you should be able to get a decent Mamiya tlr with one lens. The optics take a back seat to none. The build quality puts that cheap Chinese piece of junk to shame.
     
  22. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I lived in China for a few years back in the late 90's. Older Seagull TLR could be found for $15-20 and some took amazingly sharp photos. Unfortunately sooner rather than later their shutters would literally fall apart in my hands or springs would shoot across the room. I tried a newer one that a friend had and it was rough and he later reported the shutter failing. Just not worth it. With patience you can find Rolleicords or even some beater but working Rolleiflexes cheap. For example I have found a couple Rolleicords for $50-75 and even a Rolleiflex 3.5 E3 Xenotar for $150. Latter needed a full CLA and is ugly as heck but +$120 later from Paul Ebel and it works GREAT.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    As others have said, the Rolleicord V would be a good choice and probably comparable to a Rolliflex in quality if you don't mind a slower lens. Also, excellent value for money.
     
  24. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    ........
     
  25. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    You could get a nice Rolleicord V like the one I had for the money you are willing to spend. I got lucky when I bought mine. The seller here on APUG told me what didn't work and other than that, it was pristine ready for use. But they are all 50+ year old. You could get lucky and have no issues at all - or you could have problems: at which time, other than simple stuff like replacing light seals would be quite costly. If your budget is tight, you might end up in a tight spot.

    If you buy from places like KEH, you get warranties so that may be a way to go.
     
  26. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I own a Pearl River TLR. The camera lens is reasonably sharp. It has a very manual film advance knob and I have to use a red window to advance the film. Overall quality is quite crude, but it's a great camera if you want something barebones. One more thing, there's no parallax error correction.