As I still love shooting film and my main camera is a RB67 which is a little heavy to drag around town, I was looking for something light-weight to try some street photography. Also I very much prefer waist-level finders so I ended up looking for a TLR (so at least one out there has two eyes :-)) There are quite a few different models available on ebay. I went for a Seagull (4A-103 I got) as these give nice results and are usually going for a nice price – it’s planned as a “toy” after all…
As with all bargains from ebay there’s always the chance to get a crappy piece. But so far I’ve been quite lucky. Again so this time. It arrived in very nice condition. Clear lenses, no scratches, very little dust to blow out and a nice and bright focusing screen. The shutter also seemed just fine by listening. One interesting thing to note is that the aperture setting doesn’t have click stops and by the smooth feel of it, it never had. That too is truly analogue. Over all the Seagulls seem to be very well built and solid.
So it was time to take it out to the city to shoot a roll or two and test the shutter speeds. For now city meaning the main station on the way to work, where I have to wait for the connecting train. Good thing is inside I get a chance to hit the longer shutter speeds as well. I really like the feeling and handling of the Seagull. Everything nice and smooth. Faster focusing needs a little more practise though, as does blindly setting the shutter speed and aperture. But for the first shots I am pretty happy with the results. Image quality is just fine for the things I plan.
And the little bird is perfect for some fun too. Have you ever tried to do candids with a TLR? That seems like a scream for attention right? But try setting exposure and focus and then carrying the camera at arms length next to you hip. “Framing” with subtle movement of your hand to point the camera to where you look (without actually looking at the camera) and clicking away at the right moment when you think you are at the right distance and pointing in the right direction. This might give some interesting and nice shoots, like the cyclist. I know that sounds like silly unprofessional behaviour… But actually it’s a nice exercise to estimate the distance and operate your gear without looking away from the scene you are trying to capture.