I have worked and friends with some really outstanding photographer for the past years, although I am one of the worse photographer myself have known of… I still love cameras..
I remembered my father showed me his first camera was Pearl River brand (Zhu Jiang pai), produced by Guangzhou camera factory, sadly it closed down in 1998. His second camera was seagull brand made in Shanghai.
The Shanghai Camera Factory was founded in 1958. It was only in 1964 when it was decided that they would enter the export business that the company was renamed as Seagull.
They started off life creating duel lens cameras inspired by Germany’s Rolleiflexes. They even created a camera for Madame Jiang (Mao’s wife) which was called the Red Flag 20 (Inspired by her favorite camera, the Leica M4) which is now very rare and valuable as only 200 were made.
Seagull have made over 20 million cameras since they were founded but like many state run ‘heritage brands’ they have fallen on hard times. Their vintage cameras are beautiful and well made but their new digital cameras are fairly poor quality. Their reluctance to recreate their old classics has led to them to struggle to keep up in today’s market, neither competing with quality digital cameras or vintage cameras such as Lomo or Holga.
Ok…ok this is another heritage brand I’m working on:) So please stay tune!