above photo by SanRen Studio
According to Wikipedia Seagull ( 海鸥 ) is the oldest camera manufacturer in China - founded in 1958 Seagull has since reported selling over 21 million cameras. Under licensing, Seagull adopted Minolta’s manual focus SLR lens mount + camera design and continued to produce it long after Minolta merged with Konica (Konica Minolta) which eventually sold their camera division to Sony.
We suspect Seagull could still be one of the last remaining manufacturers still producing film SLR cameras, as we recently acquired a lot of brand new Seagull DF-300A and Seagull SC-198 cameras (see below).
These cameras look and feel quality - the Seagull DF-300A is practically an upgraded version of the Minolta x-300 and the Seagull SC-198 is similar to the Konica Big Mini AF (As mentioned Minolta merged with Konica).
One of the blessing of a developing country is that technology is always a few steps behind, hence massive factory or backlog of parts and expertise for developing film cameras still exist.
In an official Chinese document published in 2004 titled ‘History of Chinese culture and office machinery’ (google translated). It mentioned:
“China's does not have many variety of camera machinery or products and their performance is incomplete. Most of the products are at the level of the 1940s and 1950s. The vast majority of camera products are mechanical and manual, and even the enlarger does not have autofocus (while printing black and white photo). Through the introduction of technology, the total number of camera machinery products in China has increased from more than 30 in 1980 to nearly 100 in 1990, and many products have been upgraded. Most of these new varieties are achieved through technology introduction, such as the Seagull DF300 automatic exposure 135 single-lens reflex camera, the Pearl River S207 automatic metering 135 single-lens reflex camera (namely Mingjia S207, Jindu S207), Qingdao Type 6 and other 135 head-up framing automatic exposure cameras, "Xinghui" colour processing and expansion printing equipment, etc. The technical level of these new products (in 2004) is equivalent to the level of foreign countries in the late 1970s.”
As you can see in 2004 (16 years ago) China declared they had found a ‘new’ technology allowing them to produce auto-exposure cameras such as the Seagull DF-300A, despite the 'new' technology only being equivalent to 1970s camera technology.
Thoughts? Tell us what you think by comment below.
For sample photos and a review from a customer with the SC-198 point and shoot see here :
For more sample photos how the DF-300A shoots see here: