Seagull 4A-109 review
The seagull 4A-109 is the flagship of seagulls 120 rollfilm TLR's. I should know, I paid extra to make sure I bought the best.
I bought this camera because I thought I was more open minded and well... smarter.... than your average, "This came from china so it must be garbage" old fogey. I consider myself an optimist and I thought that whatever china was putting out now with modern technology must be better than some old Yashica .with visible scratches on the lens.
The camera safely arrived at my door and looked lovely, what with brand new lens coating on the lens and all.
I ran three rolls of brand new film through it. One in low light and two more in overcast daylight using different apertures and speeds distances and bracketing.
It functioned like it was a camera I made myself using only a burlap sack, cellophane and a rock.
I now think that either whoever is making those cameras is using worn out tooling in primitive conditions, or that the seagull company is called the seagull company because it likes to sh*t on people from far away.
Seriously, I think whoever is making cameras for the seagull company may actually bear a grudge against camera users.
I should have bought a beat up old yashica with a scratched lens. I still would have been disappointed, but, at least then I would have known why my camera sucked. (50 years of hard use)
The only way I see of getting acceptable pictures out of the seagull 4A-109 I bought; would be to use it as a weapon in the assault and robbery of someone taking pictures with a decent camera.
Thanks for your time,
"Take her to sea, Mister Murdoch. Let's stretch her legs."
The First Officer then reaches out and confidently rings the engine room telegraph over to ALL AHEAD FULL...
— Captain Edward John Smith to First Officer William Murdoch, on the bridge of the RMS Titanic, 11 April 1912
Ah yes, you should have googled for Seagull They have earned quite a reputation, entirely separate from them being Chinese.
I am not sure how production is today, but my 4a-109 with the tessar lens is a very good camera that makes fine images. Its a bit plasticy, but all the knobs, rollers, and locks work as they should and have stayed working so far, smoothly. knock on wood. Even the hot shoe works. It has an annoying split focusing screen though. almost a horizontal type, that wants be a 45 degree type but not quite haha. Id much prefer a plain ground glass.
I have an old yashica too, a YashicaFlex C, still a great camera to use, I bring it in to teach my classes with when we cover TLRs. The the 3 element lens on that probably is comparable to the 4 element in the seagull. Not as fast to use as the Seagull, to wind and shoot, and you have to point the face to you to look at what aperture and shutter you are choosing. The seagull has a more modern film wind and shutter cocking, and there are top viewing windows for aperture and shutter speed selection.
Here are a few images from a roll I shot with the Seagull this summer. I dont shoot with TLRs much now, If I want 6x6 I grab my Zeiss Super Ikonta IV.
This review made me want one
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Why an old scratched Yashica? I paid about $150 for my Mat 124 that gets compliments everywhere for how good it looks, the lens is pristine and it works fine.
A got an old Seagull rangefinder-folder and aside of lacking its rangefinder patch (mirror gone blind?, not yet opened it), it is a fine camera.
I had one about 10 years ago. It had an INCREDIBLY sharp lens and took magnificent pictures. The problem is, the shutter broke after 9 rolls of film
One of the first TLR's I ever owned, lovely and very sharp lens, but that was the only part of the camera that was worth having, the rest was rubbish and it lasted a week or two before needing repairs
Not all Seagulls are created equal, I bought my wife this one as an anniversary present, not sure where I load the film but wow does it sound amazing:
"I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~