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  1. #1
    BWGirl's Avatar
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    Information about Seagull cameras

    Hi All!

    I am planning in advance, and considering entering into the medium format world. I've been looking at the Seagull 4a-109.

    Any opinions on this camera? I do not want to go the Holga route, and most of the other ones are pretty steep for my budget. This one seems pretty reasonable, but I am not familiar with MF or what to look for.

    Thanks!!
    Jeanette
    Jeanette
    .................................................. ................
    Isaiah 25:1

  2. #2

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    I have an earlier seagul and it was my first move to medium format. I think it was a good move because it taught me to meter with a manual meter and it made me want to move to a more versitile system or a better TLR. They are not built well at all. the optics are okay but not great. FOr the same price as one of these new you can get an older yashicamat or Mamiya 330. They will be much more relaible and have better optics. For not much more money and some patience you can land a used rollie which will be even better. In this day of dumping older cameras for digital crap I have seen some things go cheap on ebay. I've used all four but only bought the the seagull because I wanted to save a little money in the beginning. I used the other three brands when I realized I wanted something better.

    If you do not want a fixed lens camera and can afford it the older mamiya 645's are going pretty cheap these days. The glass is not over whelming either. the next step up would be the Bronicas and so on. I went the kiev route because I am insane stupid or both but the glass is great and dirt cheap.

    Decide what you want. If you want to play and throw away money the seagull would be the way to go. If you want reliability and are set on a TLR spend the few dollars extra for the used Mamiya or Yashicamat or even a rollie. It will be worth it in the long run.

    Once you see a bigger negative or chrome you will be hooked. Then you are on the slippery slope of addiction. Pretty soon you'll be on the street panhandling with a sign that says "I need a 12x20 please help". Trust me you are taking a dangerous step. I am up to 5x7 and am jonesing for more square inches on the negative.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  3. #3
    roteague's Avatar
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    I think they are pretty much just Chinese copies of the old Yashicamat (124-G ?) cameras. Not sure how reliable they are.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  4. #4

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    I bought my Seagull in China and it's probably about 35 years old now. This is my first MF camera too and I was hooked after I saw what a friend's Yashica could do - I get good results with mine but the first quote was right on that you could get more if you look around on ebay, etc. I haven't had any problems such as light leaks, etc. but I'm also the guy looking for a close up lens. The next time I get through Hong Kong I'm planning on looking for a old Yashica or something a step up - but it's a lot of fun! I also just started with a FED 3 rangefinder - I have to learn to focus very carefully but the older Kiev's give very nice results too. Enjoy!

  5. #5

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    Century Graphic

    If you want flexibility as per lens in medium format & maybe even some movement as with large format cameras, you can pick up on eBay a Century Graphic with lens & roll film back for about same price as the Seagull. It would then handle 120 roll film and 2X3 sheet film. For more info Graflex site
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  6. #6
    geraldatwork's Avatar
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    You might want to look into the Minolta Autocord TLR produced in the 1950's. They have a small cult following. I purchased one two years ago and used it for the first time this past weekend. I haven't printed the negatives but under a loupe they look amazing. Incredible sharpness.

  7. #7
    papagene's Avatar
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    Jeanette,
    The above advice on skipping the Seagull for a Yashica Mat 124G or Mamiya C330 is right on the money. I started with a Yashica Mat 124G, used a borrowed C330 and can reccommend them both.
    The first time I looked into the waistlevel finder of an old Rollieflex I was hooked. And the first time you print a larger neg... watch out, it's all over. A 4x5 for your birthday and an 8x10 for your anniversary!!
    gene
    gene LaFord


    Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
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  8. #8

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    I have no experience with the Seagull but if you want a TLR and you want some flexibility, I can wholeheartedly recommend a Mamiya C330. They are pretty close to the proverbial hockey puck in durability and the interchangeable lenses are overall excellent. The only fault I can find with it is that it is big and somewhat unwieldy for handheld use.

    I bought my first 330 over 30 years ago. I sold it and regretted it and bought another from a wedding photographer who had used it heavily for many years. It's pretty beat-up with a lot of scratches and spots of missing glaze on the mirror but it still takes great pictures. The built-in bellows makes close-ups as easy as is it gets with a TLR. To get full benefit of close-ups, you will need either a Paramender or a tripod with a center post.

    KEH usually has a pretty good selection of Mamiya TLR's and lenses. I've bought a couple of lenses for mine from them and I recommend them. Prices are cheap right now for all medium format equipment. I recently bought a Pentax 645 outfit that is in great condition and I notice the prices have gone down for the camera body in the last month. It's a true "buyer's market" right now so you should be able to locate some nice used gear at bargain prices.

  9. #9
    Peter Osuchowski's Avatar
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    please don't get a seagull! i bought one and it's a piece of crap. all of the one's i've borrowed or used through the school were also crap. mine jammed just after the warranty ran out and i don't think it's worth fixing.

    i also own a kiev. i'm no expert, but the optics seem great for the price. it's easy to tell the difference between that and the seagull, believe me. unfortunately it has a cloth focal-plane shutter and not the copal type (only syncs at 1/30), but that's not a huge issue.

  10. #10

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    I would never recomend a Kiev to a newbie. There are too many factors and it is easy to get frustrated. There are good ones out there but you have to have to have patience. There are people who go through five maybe six cameras before they quit or get a good one. Plus the price can get high as you get upgraded cameras.

    Peter,
    Arax can replace your shutter if you have the inclination but there is really nothing wrong with cloth. Just remember to cock the shutter after the shot. It is possible to burn a hole in it if the sun shines right through the lens.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

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