BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
 

Cheap, slightly artsy medium format camera


Ok, I've read all of the opinions and facts on the Seagull cameras, but I'm looking for something to help me a little bit with my photo class. I'm trying to sell one of my old flutes that I won't be using any more and buying a Mamiya SLR but my flute isn't selling yet and it's getting to the point where I really need medium format. I have read that people suggest Yashica's and Rolleicords but I can't find any at the price I'm looking for (or lower) at a decent place. The thing is that while I'm at college without a job, my dad has to be getting this stuff for me as college supplies. He won't buy anything from ebay so that's out and I wouldn't like to go to a pawn shop. I found the seagull 104 at B&H for $139. As soon as I sell my flute I will have enough to buy a better one but this will have to do for now. I even thought about getting a Holga since this is for a fine art black and white darkroom photo class. Please let me know what you think about this. Thanks!!

-Andrew


To love this question, log in above
2/17/2006 11:44:14 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Andrew,
I would definitely go with the Seagull over the Holga. The Seagull may not be considered a great camera, but at least it will be technically sound.

The Holga is notorious for its flaws, light leaks, etc.

Of course, Holga-philes worship it for this, but I don't buy into that. I'm not much for "accidental art".

Being an Engineer, even my artistic side would rather have good technical tools to start with.

Chris


To love this comment, log in above
2/18/2006 12:23:59 AM

 
George Anderson   If it's for a class, better check with the teacher to see if any of the cameras you are considering aren't acceptable.

The basic Seagull has a rather soft 3-element lens that isn't known for being polished or coated too well. There are any number of relatively inexpensive secondhand TLR cameras that would easily outperform it in terms of resolution if that's what you require - and are much better in terms of mechanical quality (even used). There's the various Yashicamats (with Yashinon lens), the Minolta Autocord, the Ricoh, Rolleicord, etc.

Seagulls are about like Lubitels, the Seagull 107 and other models with 4-element Tessars are a bit better optically. Build quality, well, better than a Holga, but that means nothing - since the Seagull is much more complex mechanically, it's actually more likely to break something!

The Holga is really not suitable for use as a general-purpose MF beginner's camera, but since it's often used in art photography classes, it is sometimes placed in that category. It's dirt-simple and because of that, more reliable than most (non-users) would think (most of its shutter and lens box can be fabricated out of common household items, if necessary). But the heavy vignetting and effects of its simple meniscus plastic or glass lens aren't adaptable to all situations.

Now, if you know what you want it for, and plan to supplement it with other cameras, a $20 Holga is a very useful camera for certain situations, when used intelligently. Of course, it can't make fine 'art' images simply by pressing the shutter - but it can do so if the photographer knows what he/she is doing. Most newer Holgas don't leak light, by the way - most of us that own them have modified them heavily anyway. Most of its armchair critics have never used one and wouldn't want to anyway. But Holgas have won more photo competitions and sold out more gallery prints than many other film cameras, certainly any in the under-$500 class. I've won two photo contests with mine.


To love this comment, log in above
2/18/2006 4:49:08 PM

 
Sean Ronters   Have you tried KEH.com. Mamiya C220's a good camera, you should be able to find one w/finder & lens for $175-$275.


To love this comment, log in above
2/18/2006 5:25:26 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Yeah, I thought about some of the Mamiya TLRs but for this purpose and until I get the MF SLR that I hope to get in a few months, I wanted to have something that will at least work even if it is a bit soft. At this point, $200 is a bit too much since in this case, I won't be paying for it. So pretty much $150 and below is my budget and right now, KEH doesn't ahve that much in that line.

Thanks!


To love this comment, log in above
2/18/2006 7:07:28 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  When I was taking photography classes back in the day (way back), I found my YashicaMat TLR at a pawn shop for about 60 bucks. Mint condition.


To love this comment, log in above
2/18/2006 8:35:28 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  I have used a Seagull TLR several times. It seemed like a very good unit. The only drawback that I've found is the lense paralax when close focusing. Being an SLR man, this is a big problem for me. If you are used to the paralax caused by the lenses being on a different axis, I would highly suggest the Seagull. Though Chinese made, it seemed to be a quality unit.


To love this comment, log in above
2/20/2006 2:11:30 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Hi everybody. Not sure if you're all subscribing to this thread or not after commenting, but I wanted to say that I managed to get a Seagull 4B-1 so I think that's the 104, the cheap one. I used it mostly for my mural print assignment like I think I said. Mine wasn't too much of a mural because I was left with a different sized fiber based paper (which was quite old and starting to yellow even without exposure) as compared to the easier to handle, new RC paper. My print ended up being around 25 inches and nearly square. The camera tends to make the vertical a little longer, maybe 1/8 of an inch larger than the horizontal. The negatives and contact sheets looked pretty good in terms of exposure throughout the negative. I did each exposure at or very closer to f/11 because I heard that was the sharpest for this camera (as is nearly the same for other lenses...). I made som 8x8 test prints and they looked very sharp, probably mostly due to the large negative size. Reminds me of when I used 100TMAX with my Canon 200mm f/2.8L lens at f/8 (35mm). The shot I took had a forground element in a lake and then the opposite shore with trees. The trees didn't have any leaves since I live in south/central Indiana and it was winter. They trees looked pretty sharp in the test print and alright in the large print. I think it seems like the trees are more out of focus than not sharp because of focusing on something somewhat close with the 75mm lens even at f/11. I used 100 ISO Tmax with rodinal at 1:100. It may have been 1:50 but I'm thinking it wasn't.

One thing I noticed with the contact prints had to do with the method for exposure counting and advancing to the next frame. You have to open a small metal sliding door to see the numbers on the paper backing. Even though you're looking through a very dim red filter, there is a little bit of streaking on the film from when I advanced the film in bright light.

Other students noticed that there is a lot more detail in the photo once you get closer to it than when you're looking at it from further away so is seems as though I have accomplished what I set out to do.

I'm definitly still planning to get a medium format SLR in the next few months though. I'm thinking about something like the Mamiya M645 Super. I think all of the outfits that are on KEH for this camera include a prism finder and grip/power winder. I definitly need a prism finder because no matter how much I mess around with the waistlevel finder, it's just too much to mess with for me and my style.


To love this comment, log in above
3/18/2006 12:07:00 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  If you are looking for a high quality inexpensive prizm finder SLR medium format camera, look on ebay. I've seen the Pentax 6X7cm model 67 listed for just a few hundred dollars. This unit takes a little getting used to since it's like handling a 35mm SLR on steroids.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark


To love this comment, log in above
3/18/2006 1:12:56 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Yeah, I thought about it but the problem is that I don't have any kind of credit or debit card to use. So I can't really get anything on ebay. I want to make sure that my camera that I get is appraised by professionals too. The camera that I'm looking for is at EX condition for under $500 anyway. Thanks!


To love this comment, log in above
3/18/2006 4:54:02 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
 
 
 
Ok, so here are three photos that I scanned from the Seagull TLR camera that I got recently.

These were shot at or very near f/11 on Fuji Superia iso100. I used my Canon Rebel GII to meter in AV mode.

I didn't try to color correct the shots from inside Fazoli's because I don't think it would look as good, plus I wanted to get them up quickly. I got the roll developed and had 5x5 prints made. I'd rather scan the negatives but I don't have anything to do that with and scans weren't worth the money for what I had on the roll.

The negatives have been farily sharp so far when I stop down. The prints I got back looked pretty sharp since these here aren't a very accurate rendition. Skies are a little blown out but I'm not sure what I can do with that when I can't burn in like with my own black and white printing. I don't have a good way to use my polarizer yet unless I can find a cheap filter adapter.

You can see a bit of flair in at least one of these photos and I think there's a little bit of cloudy flair in one of the indoor shots. I'm hoping to print the outdoor shot tomorrow in the black and white darkroom and see what I can turn out.


To love this comment, log in above
3/20/2006 8:43:52 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
 
 
  Railroad Landscape
Railroad Landscape
© Andrew Laverghetta
Shanghai Seagull T...
 
  Fazoli's2
Fazoli's2
© Andrew Laverghetta
Shanghai Seagull T...
 
  Fazoli's1
Fazoli's1
© Andrew Laverghetta
Shanghai Seagull T...
 
 
Ok, so here are three photos that I scanned from the Seagull TLR camera that I got recently.

These were shot at or very near f/11 on Fuji Superia iso100. I used my Canon Rebel GII to meter in AV mode.

I didn't try to color correct the shots from inside Fazoli's because I don't think it would look as good, plus I wanted to get them up quickly. I got the roll developed and had 5x5 prints made. I'd rather scan the negatives but I don't have anything to do that with and scans weren't worth the money for what I had on the roll.

The negatives have been farily sharp so far when I stop down. The prints I got back looked pretty sharp since these here aren't a very accurate rendition. Skies are a little blown out but I'm not sure what I can do with that when I can't burn in like with my own black and white printing. I don't have a good way to use my polarizer yet unless I can find a cheap filter adapter.

You can see a bit of flair in at least one of these photos and I think there's a little bit of cloudy flair in one of the indoor shots. I'm hoping to print the outdoor shot tomorrow in the black and white darkroom and see what I can turn out.


To love this comment, log in above
3/20/2006 8:44:35 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  here's a link to another photo. It's got some marks on it but it's just another example.

http://photobucket.com/albums/v417/laverghetta/?action=view¤t=MuralPrint.jpg

this is what I made 25x25


To love this comment, log in above
3/20/2006 8:54:32 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Here's the link to even more photos that I took with the camera. These were printed 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches from Kodak Tri-X 400, developed in rodinal 1:100 for 20 mins if I remember correctly.

Check them out at...

http://photobucket.com/albums/v417/laverghetta/Photo%20Class/

I'm turning them in Wednesday morning.


To love this comment, log in above
3/27/2006 11:44:18 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.