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Reflex Bi-Lens
Imported in France during the early 70's by the CCI company, the Seagull 4A is a nice TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) produced in Shanghai, China by the Shanghai Seagull Camera Ltd. The series Seagull 4 appears during 1967 while the cultural revolution is still the sad reality of China. The model 4A will be the first evolution available starting 1968. Then, a more professional version will be proposed : the Seagull 4A-1. Later on, two simplified versions of the 4A will be available: the Seagull 4B and 4B1. Last but not least, a version using a film 135 will be marketed as the model 4C which is quite rare today.

Seagull 4A (1968)

When marketed, the sale price of a Seagull 4A was equivalent to the annual salary of a Chinese worker. In such a context, no need to say that its main clients were the dignitaries of the communist party and some accredited journalists.

Even more expensive, the 4A-1 (the professional version of the 4A) was an export product. As a result, this variant lost its two chinese characters visible on the front of the 4A model. These ones were replaced by the label "SEAGULL" written in Roman characters. 

This camera seems to be robust. However, it must be not compared to a Rolleiflex or a Rolleicord (Franke & Heidecke would turn in their graves if you do it!). Of course, it has almost the same dimensions, the same weight and ergonomics. But if you look at it carefully, you will notice that the quality of its components and its finish are not exactly the same as their Germain cousins.


The optical lens is a Hiaou f/3.5 - 75 mm with 3 lens; the view lens is a f/2,8 - 75 mm.


The shutter offers a speeds range of 1s up to 1/300eme with pause B and Synchro X.


The speed selector can be done with a cursor located on the left of the lens.


Another cursor located on the right of the lens is used to select the aperture.


The viewfinder is the same as on a Rolleiflex or a Rolleicord.


As on the Rolleiflex Automat, the shutter reload and the film advance are coupled. Both actions are done simultaneously when rotating the handle located on the right of the camera.


However, the big button located on the left hand side of the camera body in not a photoelectric cell as with a Rolleiflex T but table giving the depth of field according to the selected aperture.

The Seagull 4A uses a film 120 producing negatives of 6 x 6 cm format.


This camera, which is quite rare in Europe, arrived straight from China is the bags on my friends Jean-Marc et Anna. Considering the weight and the size of this camera as well as the frenetic habit of Anna to fill any empty space of her luggage, I'm twice grateful to them for having offered me this camera. This one was found in a little flea market.

As a matter of fact, the Chinese cultural revolution had at least one positive consequence. Thousands of cameras and musical instruments (see the extraordinary movie 'The red violin') were hidden between 1960 and 1969. As a consequence, they have been preserved of time and this is why it is still possible to discover today in China so many old cameras in pretty good shape.

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