The Shanghai Twin-Lens Reflex is the “grandfather” of the Seagull clan. This medium-format camera is China’s version of the highly-acclaimed Rolleiflex series of TLR cameras.
image from tlr-cameras.com
Before the camera that we now know as the ‘Seagull’ came to light, the first Twin-Lens Reflex cameras churned out of the Shanghai General Camera Factory was called the Shanghai (or 58-III, during its development stage in 1959), and it was based on the iconic Rolleiflex TLR cameras by Franke & Heidecke. Come 1964, when the Chinese factory decided to engage in the export market, they renamed all the cameras in production to Seagull.
The Shanghai became known as Seagull-4; there were no changes except for the name and the serial number (Shanghai models begin with 63XXXXX; Seagulls with 4-63XXXXX). It retained the automatic film advance feature, the f/2.8, 75mm viewing lens, and the f/3.5, 75mm taking lens which had a different serial number marking from the viewing lens. The camera’s serial number can be found above the name plate.
“I love taking portraits and silhouettes with this camera!” says eazy360. “Advancing the film is smooth-easy with the film counter knob. A quirky chart with pictures of different lighting conditions and the appropriate exposures is mounted at the back. Of course, it can take double exposures too by not advancing the film and exposing it more than once. With a cable release, shooting on B setting is a breeze to create those lovely long exposures with motion blur and light trails.”