Seagull 203 is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 and 4.5x6
format, built by the so-called Shanghai Camera Factory, which in fact
are several factories in the Shanghai region. It was first issued in
1963 under the name Shanghai 203 and rebaptized Seagull 203 a year
later. There is a later version, the 203-I, with a hot-shoe instead of
the film speed reminder/exposure calculator. It was produced until 1977.
Seagull 203 was inspired by the Agfa Super Isolette, it looks like a
cheaper version of the professional Iskra, a Russian version of the
Super Isolette. By the 1960s the 120 film cameras diappeared from the
western consumer market, so this was a very late 120 film camera
launch. It's nevertheless a serious rangefinder. The camera shown is
next to new.
Size (mm): 140 x 105 x 43 Weight: 710 g Lens: S-111-2 3.5/75, closest focus 1 m Shutter: B 1 - 1/300, F 3.5 - 22, light value system Finder: coupled rangefinder Film advance: lever, non automatic, via red window
Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.
front closed. Top: film advance, rangefinder window, viewfinder window, reminder/calculator dial.
from the back. On top: reminder/calculator dial, viewer, film advance lever. Two red windows for either format.
from above. Reminder/calculator dial, opening button, shutter release
button, indicator for double exposure
prevention and film advance lever. With the dial you can calculate the
exposure if you lack a meter. Set the film speed. Look at the sun,
there are 5 settings from sunny to rainy. Put your setting in front of
the indicator of one of 5 scenes, from sea/snow to bright indoor. The
red arrow will give the appropriate light value. On b&w film you
should get an exploitable result.
Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.
front open. Around the lens: depth-of-the-field scale, light value settings. Little lever: shutter cocking.
from above, camera open. Distance scale, shutter cocking lever, speed
and aperture scales. Tiny lever fot self timer. Dented focusing ring
next to the bellows. The
camera was built for the light value system, so aperture and speed
connected (LV scale on the previous photo). Once set to the appropriate
light value, there is a choice different shutter speed/aperture
combinations, you change the speed and the appropriate aperture is set
at the same time.
Left side, camera open.
Right side, camera open.
Camera back open.
chamber with 4.5x6 format masks in place. They are hinged and fold into
the spool chamber when not in use. There are corresponding lines
in the viewer.
Original leather case.
Leather case open.
a Seagull 203 is easy, it's like
other folding rangefinders. Loading film is as usual. Open
camera back, retract the peg via the knob on the bottom and put the
take-up spool into
place. Same procedure for the film spool. Insert the film paper
into the take-up spool and advance it using the lever until it's
well engaged. Close the camera back. Open the red window and
the film via the advance lever
until the red window shows "1".
the camera. Cock
the shutter, set light value (or speed and aperture). Set focus by the dented focusing ring next to the bellows,
focusing moves the lens out. Press the
shutter release button. That's it. The double exposure warning
will be visible and the release is blocked until you action the film
advance lever. To
close the camera, press the hinges of the struts
usual, it will fold easily whatever distance is set. Open the red
window and action the film advance lever until the next number is
The Seagull 203 is a very nice and quite sturdy camera, easy to use, with good lenses and shutters. It
lacks automatic film advance, but it's a nice camera nevertheless. It's
a good choice if you want to start with a 120 film folder and not spend