Seagull 4B-1

When I return to the UK for the summer, I take my new cameras back with me. This is mainly due to the humidity here. Everything goes moldy or grows fungus especially if you leave the air condition off. There isn’t much you can do about it in Japan when there is 90% humidity for days on end. This website gives some advice if you can’t afford a special cabinet. I am thinking of investing, but for now, I am saving all the little silica packs.

Anyway, it also means I can buy new-to-me cameras to play with when I return. However, the choices are getting smaller as my blog list gets bigger. It also meant I took all my medium format cameras back, but still had some film left in my fridge. Instead of throwing or giving it away I searched for a reasonably priced 120 film camera. The Fujipet doesn’t count.

Hello, Seagull 4B-1. A Chinese TLR that has mixed reviews. It seems you love it or hate it. I managed to get a mint version with box, manual and even a guarantee paper.

It can take 6×6 or 645 with the mask…which I thought I didn’t have and was going to make an insert. Then I got the box out for these photos and voila, the mask fell out along with a silica pack 🙂

There is some information on the net about this camera and the whole seagull company, but not a production date. According to this site, they were produced from 1970 onwards and still in production. Plus the guarantee I got has Holga mention on it too so it could be anytime really. Given that mine is mint, I suspect it isn’t that old.

Compared to the other TLRs I have used, it is much better than the lubitel. It is sturdier and easier to focus. It is not as good as the Mamiya c2 or c33, but it is much lighter. Though it isn’t perfect. On my first outing with it, I pushed the magnifier out and the plate got stuck over the focusing mask. I yanked it out eventually and will be more careful in the future.

Here are the shots from my first roll. I went on a cycle with a couple of friends to the Akeno Himawari Festival. I feel very lucky to live in such a lovely place…despite the earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, missiles, suzumebachi, snakes, bears, humidity….I am sure there is something I am missing?? I would put Tsunami, but I am too far from the coast.

I loved the camera, it is a keeper and will be my go-to 120 camera for this year at least. I have 2 other medium format cameras I haven’t written about yet, but will not be buying anymore…honest guv.

And for fun, I used the iPad app Snapseed to play with the scans. It may be dishonoring film, but it is fun.

15 thoughts on “Seagull 4B-1

  1. Jim Grey says:

    Oh I love this. I’ve been curious about this camera for a long time but had yet to see a review that wasn’t basically “this isn’t a Rolleiflex so it stinks.” You’ve convinced me to put a Seagull on my buy-eventually list.


    1. windswept007 says:

      I liked it, though I can see in the hands of an inexperienced person it could break. I forgot to mention cocking the shutter before changing the film speed. I may edit it. It comes so natural to me now that I left it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tobybrownson says:

    I have bought several very fine lenses extremely cheaply due to fungus. I found cleaning with a anti fungal cream containing clotrimazole or fluconazole or such like which are available over the counter in the UK as thrush or athletes foot treatments. One doesn’t need slot. It’s also worth remembering that fungus doesn’t like UV light. So caps of in sunlight helps

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dan james says:

    Lovely colours! At first glance the Seagull looks very much like it comes from the same origins as a Holga 120 – ie lots of cheap black plastic! Very impressive results though.

    Unrelated, but just to mention your blog formats funny when I’m viewing at work (on Internet Explorer – yuck!) – the black text on most lines runs beyond the central white column and out into the grey border. It formats perfectly ok on my MacBook at home and my iPhone though. Just thought you might need to know.


    1. windswept007 says:

      Thanks for the heads up, there isn’t much I can do about the formatting as it seems like a WordPress issue. As I am also a Mac, ipad and Android person…no windows in sight, I cannot check on that. All I can say your work at work and play at home 😉


      1. dan james says:

        Strangely once my comment posted, the formatting all visible shunted back into place as the page refreshed, so it’s obviously only an intermittent thing. Like you I use WordPress and a template so not much I cold do if the same happened.

        I need a little play at work sometimes!


  4. David says:

    I have shot with this camera for many years since 1990. I like the simplicity but dislike the inconvenience of film advance without an automatic counter and detent. It has resulted in many double exposures. I also would have preferred a four -element lens which would have been sharper so I wouldn’t have to shoot constantly at F-11 and smaller apertures. But it is rugged and good looking. I would get it with the Chinese script on top — gives it a certain exotic cachet.


    1. windswept007 says:

      It does have its limits, but I liked it too. Mine is currently with a friend in Japan as I brought my rolleicord back. That one definitely feels more robust.


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