View Full Version : Seagull Studio Camera 6 1/2x8 1/2"

25-Aug-2006, 18:27
Camera is on the big mount, with 3 wheels. Also has place for three lensses, turret like. One would drill a hole for each lens. And the mirror mounted at the front of the body, around the lens.

Can you help me to find more info about this camera? Manual has only two pages, and one is in chinese. Camera was sold to previous owner in 1978. from a local dealer.

Best Regards,

Ernest Purdum
30-Aug-2006, 17:02
I'm sorry you haven't yet got a reply to your request. I'm sure many of our members would like to help but know little or nothing about the camera.

I don't know much either, but perhaps what I do know may help. The camera is a specialized type, made for taking formal portraits in a studio. The size of 6 1/2" X 8 1/2" is the "Whole-Plate" size which goes right back to Daguerre. It was very popular in England for many years. Later, this size and the smaller 1/2-Pl. size were common in Japan. The holders found with cameras of this sort are usually "book form double dark slides" originally made to hold plates.To hold cut film, sheet metal adapters must be used. Sometimes reducing adapiers are used. these could bring the size down to one which is more common today.

A significant benefit of a camera like this is that the large and massive front enables the use of the huge old lenses which many people today are interested in using.

If you have some specific questions, we may be able to help.

Oren Grad
30-Aug-2006, 17:15
Go to the Shen-Hao website (http://www.shen-hao.com/main.htm) and click on the "Wooden Stand" link on the right. No information beyond the picture, alas, but perhaps you can get more from them.

Sal Santamaura
30-Aug-2006, 19:15
When Ilford and Kodak offered to include this size in their special order lists, I enthusiastically ordered many boxes even though I don't yet have a camera to expose it in. Wholeplate's size and proportions are wonderful; they're an ideal balance between what I consider the too small/rectangular 5x7 and too bulky/square 8x10.

I had Lotus make custom holders. Since research indicated there wasn't an ANSI standard for wholeplate, we decided to start with Lotus' 8x10 holder design, then simply reduce length and width. One of those holders is now in Ebony's hands. Hiromi is building an "SV Wholeplate," as Ian Wilson refers to it. I'm anxiously awaiting delivery of the camera so I can make contact prints in what has always felt like the perfect format. By the way, for me this size "works" perfectly in an 11x14 frame.

Whatever camera you shoot it in, antique or modern, I encourage everyone to participate in what can hopefully be the rebirth of this format.

Oren Grad
30-Aug-2006, 19:36
Whatever camera you shoot it in, antique or modern, I encourage everyone to participate in what can hopefully be the rebirth of this format.

Hear, hear!

2-Sep-2006, 14:19
Many thanks for your reply,

it seems that Shenhao camera is the same one that i have:).

during the silence on this topic I was making another circular mount, just like original one, just for fun... to try to put different lenses on it, yet not to destroy anything.

And as Iv jumped in this LF story from Mars directly and suddenly, and I just cant let this camera stand unused (some oriental charm came with it too), i will have to ask you few more things.

Iv enclosed two pictures of bigger (6 1/2x 8 1/2) holder, it has spring inside, is it then
ment to be used with film sheets? Smaller holders are also with tension spring inside, but it seems that they are also of unusal size 6 1/2x4 3/4. Are you familiar with this format?

What big old lenses do you suggest? What vintage technique of making images to try to learn with this camera?

Best Regards,
and thanks again for reply,

Oren Grad
2-Sep-2006, 14:43
Ugo, the holders you have with the springs inside them were intended as glass plate holders rather than sheet film holders.

The smaller holder is in the old half-plate size.

Ernest Purdum
3-Sep-2006, 08:58
Your holders are the type I mentioned earlier, the "Book-Form Double Dark Slide". As Oren advised, they are for plates, but they will also take cut film in sheet metal adapters. These may be somewhat hard to find, but a sheet metal shop can easily make them up. They are thin metal, usually steel, but aluminum would do very well. The long edges and one of the short edges are folded over 180 degrees forming roughly 1/4" deep slots into which the film can be slid. The overall thickness should be such as to fit snugly into the plate holders. Paint them flat black.

Regarding a lens, your camera is probably not all that old, however the camera style is that of a portrait camera going back very many years. A much older portrait lens would not be out of place. These are commonly "Petzval" type lenses with large aperture. They are soft at full aperture particularly away from the center of the image., but produce much softer images at small stops. The most common brands are Wollensak and Cooke. They used to be available for very money, but recently many people have become interested in them and the price has risen significantly. You would need a long focal length, 14" or so, to be appropiate for portrait work on Whole-Plate.

Many other lenses would be appropriate. One interesting one can be seen on eBay right now. Search "Graf" to see it. Since your camera is probably actually not very old, a modern anastigmat would not be out of place. If barrel mounted, the cost could be moderate, even in a long focal length.

3-Sep-2006, 13:33

camera is from 1978. and it has tessar 210/4.5 lens. Im familiar with tessar, but im not shure about using it with LF, those soft images are something that I would like to see in my work. For start maybe I can use some soft filters....

Also im wandering about using wet plates, will it damage camera?

I will make modifications you mentioned in your post.

Thank you very much for detailed instructions!!!!

Ernest Purdum
4-Sep-2006, 16:15
Your 210mm Tessar is an appropriate sharp lens for 1/2-Plate on your camera, but too short for Whole-Plate.

There is further information on soft-focus among the articles listed at the bottom of the forum home page.

Your plateholders are for dry rather than wet plates. I'm afraid, though that the availability is near non-existent.

Wet plates were rather messy and special holders were used to contain them and their mess.

5-Sep-2006, 10:58
Thank you.