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re-animated Seagull 203

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I picked up this odd duck at a flea market a month ago. The shutter was stuck, the bellows were awkwardly folded and the leatherette was all gone.


I had to strip the shutter down twice to get it working consistently again. Once wasn't enough as the mechanism seized up again after a few days. And at that point I was wondering if I had reassembled the lens elements correctly and if focus wasn't too effected.

I managed to fold the bellows back into what should resemble their usually shape.

I also found some left-over Aki-Asahi "Lizard Skin" material to make a new skin for the camera body.

Still need to fine-tune the rangefinder.





The Seagull 203 from China was first introduced in 1963 and featured a coated 7.5cm f/3.5 Triplet lens. It does not have the hot-shoe of its successor (the 203-I), but does feature an Exposure Value calculator on top of the housing.

As the markings on this one are in English, I suspect this specimen was meant for export to the West.

A nice touch is that the shutter speed ring is linked to the aperture ring through a small metal clip. Once you've set the clip to point at the EV on the shutter speed ring (matching it with the one on the calculator) you can turn the shutter speed ring and it will maintain the correct EV.

It's not particularly handy compared to using Sunny f/16, but it works.


When you load the film you can chose to shoot 6x6 or 4.5x6cm negatives by folding over the two frame masks.

The camera features an advance lever and a double exposure prevention mechanism (which can be circumvented should you wish)



Anyway, on with the film test:


Film: Fomapan 100 (Rodinal, 1+19, 6 minutes at 22C)


1. Godess



2. Flower pots (The sharpness is there, I guess I installed the lens elements correctly)



3. Harbour gate (Viewfinder is offset to the left. another thing to fix)



4. Cropped



5. Bridge



6. Fen



Despite common belief that Seagull cameras aren't particularly good quality, I was rather surprised at its sturdiness and image quality from the triplet lens.

Not bad for a piece of Communist hardware.

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Fine work, Rick! As you say, the quality of the image is rather better than one would have expected, given the reputation of Seagull cameras. I had a Seagull 4 TLR for some years before one of my sons commandeered it for a high-school project and elected to keep it, and I suspect the 75mm lens was the same as the one in your 203 folder. It performed similarly well. Great tones from the Fomapan/Rodinal combination; I really like the bridge image. Thanks for an interesting post; we don't see much of Chinese cameras on this forum.
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Thanks for the responses,


The viewfinder horizontal offset is annoying. Both the habour gate and the bridge were centered in the viewfinders when I shot those images.

The rangefinder needs a small tweak too. I made sure that the indicated focus distance was the DOF and made manual adjustments if required.


The camera is somewhat younger than those I'd like to collect, but having brought it back to life and seeing that it performs well does feel pretty darn satisfying. :D

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