seagull 6x12 back : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

hello there

I'm a relative newcomer to large format. I've done a little shooting with 6x17 on (hired) cameras designed soley for that format, and briefly used a 4x5 technical camera with a horseman 6x9 rfh. Now i'm looking for a "price conscious" system of my own that will allow me to shoot at something approaching a panoramic format. I have access to an old Wista 45 (metal bodied) camera and am contemplating buying a 6x12 back for it - this being the cheapest way i can see into the format (i don't much fancy cropping 4x5 film).

Overwhelmingly the concensus seems to be that the Horseman rf back is probably the most reliable option at 6x12, but before I go out and spend a very sizable chunk of money on said item, i'd like to find out if anyone out there has any experience of using a 6x12 back manufactured by Seagull in China. I've heard this thing variously described as 'agricultural', and 'ugly', but where aesthetics are concerned i'm far more concerned about what's in front of the lens, than behind it. Thus far I haven't found anyone actually saying that - functionally - the seagull back doesn't do the job (eg. not being capable of maintaining a flat film plane, notorious for eating film or - worst of all - not actually light tight). One of the very few references i can find to the back is in a generally favourable article about ShenHao cameras, posted - i believe - elsewhere on this site

Painful experience suggests that you get what you pay for where photographic equipment is concerned and certainly i haven't come across a dedicated army of seagull 6x12 advocates out there (yet?), but at just US$230 + shipping, i'd like to find out whether this particular piece of kit is a worthless lemon or a hidden treasure, before i take the plunge.

Can anyone help?

many thanks, and apologies if this duplicates other questions, i've had a good look and it doesn't seem to.

andy lock

-- andy lock (, August 06, 2001


I can't answer you question, but maybe you can answer mine... There's not a lot of seagull stuff in the USA. Some cheap medium format tlr's and paper and stuff. What else do they make? Is there a web site that shows all their line? Any importers? Many catalogs cary the $150 tlr's, but I've never seen the back you mention. Am I just overlooking it or is it not readily available in the US? What about other large format items???

-- Jason J. (, August 06, 2001.

Dear Andy, if you read the different entries concerning Shen-Hao, you know I have been somehow involved importing a small number of cameras , my opinion on the cameras was and id very good but I have my reservations concerning some Shen-Hao products and this includes the 6x12cm rollfilm back, save a little more and get youself something better, horseman was my choice but if you want to buy something even more "excellent" (so to speak...) buy Sinar, other than that Calumet has risen many doubts and wouldn't bother. Good luck

-- andrea milano (, August 08, 2001.

612 comes in 2 sizes.

Linhof Technorama 612 PCII and the Linhof Techno Rolex 612 back are 56 x 120mm.

Sinar, Horseman, Calumet and most others are much smaller, about 56 x 111 to 112mm depending on the manufacturer.

This can be quite a dramatic difference when the same scene is shot with the same lens (see Joe Meehan's book Panoramic Photography which shows the difference.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 08, 2001.

That extra 8mm can also make quite a dramatic difference to your wallet. Bob is right. The image size of the Lihnof Techno Rollex is indeed 8mm (less than 1/3" for the metric impaired) wider than the Horseman 6x12 back. I just checked the prices at B&H and a new Linhof Techno Rollex will run you $2917.95 vs. $789.95 for the Horseman 6x12. That comes to ONLY an extra $266 PER ADDITIONAL MILLIMETER.

Or you could buy 12 of the Seagull 6x12 backs the original poster asked about and still have enough money left over for your first 50 rolls 120 film for what it would cost to buy one Techno Rollex - but at least you'd get that extra 8mm.

I suspect the reason Horseman (and others) call their 56mm x 112mm backs 6x12 is because the image size is EXACTLY 2x the 56mm x 56mm that Hassleblad (and everybody else) calls 6x6.

Seriously, I'm sure the Linhof back is a wonderfully engineered, meticulously crafted marvel of a roll film back, but the guy asked about a $230 6x12 back and you really think that extra 8mm is going to convince him to fork over an extra 2600 bucks?

To be fair to Bob and Linhof - I should point out that the Sinar Zoom II back is priced at $2893 at B&H. So, although it looks hideously expensive compared to the Chinese made 6x12 back (and even the Japanese made Horseman 6x12 back), compared to other high quality European made panoramic roll film backs, the Linhof is priced competitively. And with the Sinar, you don't even get the extra 8mm. But you do get the ability to mix 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 6x12 in any combination on a single roll.

Of course, comparing a $2900 roll film back to one costing $230, is not exactly apples:apples (at least I HOPE it's not). Which is why I nearly fell off my chair laughing when Bob suggested the original poster might want to consider the $2900 Linhof back, with it's extra 8mm of image area, as an alternative to the $230 back he asked about.

Andy, I also noticed the Seagull 6x12 back on their web site, but haven't been able to get any additional info. From the pictures on the web site, it looks like it uses a "Red Window" type of film advance (like the old roll film folders). So, no film counter (you read the numbers off the paper film backing). This is a bit crude, but functional - and certainly cuts down on the mechanical complexity of the back. This very simplistic design, combined with inexpensive Chinese labor accounts for the very low price of this back compared to the others. For more info, you might want to try to contact Jack Holt at: for more info. Jack is the US importer for the Shen Hao cameras, so he might be able to get you more info on the 6x12 roll film back as well.

Personally, I'd like to get my hands on one for review to see if it's any good. If it holds the film flat and in the right place, I think a lot of people would be willing to put up with the totally manual film advance (hey, we're talking large format users here who are used to doing things the "old fashioned" way) in exchange for the ultra low price. I just bought a used, but near new condition, Horseman 6x12 back yesterday for $400. So, I'd have something to compare it too. I also have one of the Canham 6x17 backs on the way (as soon as it's actually made) for review. Looks like I'm going to be shooting a lot of roll film panoramas over the next few months. If I haven't offended Bob too much, maybe he'd be willing to send me one of those fabulous Techno Rollex backs so I could do a complete article on panoramic roll film backs.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 09, 2001.


"Bob suggested the original poster might want to consider the $2900 Linhof back"

I did no such thing!

I listed facts!

If you are writing an article for a US magazine we would be happy to loan a unit for testing. All that needs to be done is that you have the editor ask ask.

The editors normally do this all the time. Usually the editor requests information and a picture first and then has us send the item to either the magazine or the writer. Two editors requested product from us just yesterday.

Please don't try to change what I write.

When I simply state a fact and list differences I am informing. I am not recommending.

had I then I would have pointed out also that the Linhof back, while a larger opening, holds film much flatter then any other 612 back from any other manufacturer.

And, oh yes, 6x6 is not a perfect square. carefully measure one.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 09, 2001.

I'd be interested in more info about the seagull back. If it does keep film flat it could be a good deal. The good thing about "red window" counters is that you always get good frame spacing!

-- erik gould (, August 09, 2001.

Bob wrote: "I listed facts!"

The one fact you forgot to mention is that the Linhof back costs 12.68x ($2917.95 vs. $230) as much as the back the poster asked about. Your "answer" contained absolutely no information what-so-ever about the back the original poster asked about.

"had I then I would have pointed out also that the Linhof back, while a larger opening, holds film much flatter then any other 612 back from any other manufacturer."

Oh good, so you've actually tested the Chinese made back against the Linhof (you must have some data to back up your claim - unless you're just "assuming" the Linhof holds the film flatter)? Please provide us with the test results showing how film flatness of the Chinese made back compares to the Linhof. Might as well post the results for the Horseman and Sinar 6x12 backs as well. These results would be very helpful to potential buyers who are in the market for a 6x12 roll film back. Much more meaningful than blanket statements with nothing to back them up. I eagerly await the posting of this data.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 09, 2001.

Eric wrote:

"The good thing about "red window" counters is that you always get good frame spacing!"

And they never wear out.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 09, 2001.

"12.68x ($2917.95 vs. $230)"

That one dealer's price. It is not necessarily the price another dealer would and could charge.

Your reference source is not the most accurate.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 09, 2001.

BTW Mike at Ken Mar Camera is selling new Linhof 612 backs for $2395.00.

With, of course, the 5 year warranty and ground glass mask.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 09, 2001.

Kerry, it sure is nice to have someone else put Bobs responses in perspective, I got tired of doing it! As I suggest to this list several times, one should mention their affiliation with a given product they are quoting facts and specs on. This way the poster understands that the person writing the response has potential financial gain if they follow their advise, recommendations or even facts. I am not disputing your facts Bob, and I know you love to confuse the issue to prove to the world that BOB is NEVER wrong, but isn't it time in your life you start chillin out a bit? Learn to be fair, state the good, the bad, and the ugly, PLEASE TAKE OFF YOUR SALESMANS HAT AND BE ONE OF US IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE FAIRLY ON THIS FORUM.

The poster was on a budget and was looking at 6x12 backs in the $200 price range, even the discount price you offered is still 10x higher than his budget... its fair to mention your stats, but be fair and mention the price differential which you ARE very knowledgeable of. Why is this so obvious to everyone else, but not you? Will you ever change? Since I began witnessing your wrotten attitude towards your potential customers, I have made it a policy to never buy anything from your product line in the USA. I rather save 30 - 60% and buy overseas where they actually appreciate their customers! However, if and when your attitude changes, I and many others would consider re visiting your USA vendors. You make your own bed Bob.

-- Bill Glickman (, August 09, 2001.

Bob wrote:

"That one dealer's price. It is not necessarily the price another dealer would and could charge."

I never said it was the only price. I simply quoted the price listed on the B&H website - the only reference I had available at the time of my post (last night at 11:17pm PST). It's not like B&H is some obscure little shop nobody has ever heard of - they are the highest volume photo retailer in North America (possibly the entire world).

"Your reference source is not the most accurate."

Sure it is. I stated that the B&H price for the Techno Rollex is $2917.95. That statement is 100% accurate and easily verified by anyone who visits the B&H web site (my source). I didn't claim their's was the lowest price, or the only price. I accurately quoted the price from a well established, reputable dealer as listed on their web site.

Since you've managed to dig up another lower price. I checked the Ken-Mar web site and could find no listing for the Techno Rollex. I'm not disputing the price you posted, just pointing out that I had no way of determining that price at 11:17pm at night.

If I was in fact looking for the LOWEST price on the Linhof Techno Rollex, I'd probably check Badger Graphic Sales (not on their web site either, but last time I checked $1495) or Robert White (currently $1422.45 + duty). They both also have lower prices on the Horseman 6x12 back, but I also quoted the higher B&H price on the Horseman back for an accurate apples:apples comparison. Of course, those prices do not include the HP Marketing 5 year warranty. I'll let prospective buyers decide for themselves if that warranty is worth the extra $900+.



-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 10, 2001.


My response to Bob's posts are in no way personal. I do, however agree that when posting in this public forum Bob should clearly state his affiliations. Ironically, Bob is getting blasted (unfairly, IMHO) over in for doing exactly that. In that group he has been accused of posting advertising by including a .sig file at the end of his posts that lists the products he represents. IMHO his .sig file is 100% appropriate and consistant with all usenet rules and guidelines I have ever read. I think Bob is doing the right thing by including such a .sig file when posting there. Perhaps he should do the same thing when posting here as well.

WRT this specific thread, Bob's original response (the one I responded to) had absolutely zero information about the product in question (the Chinese made 6x12 back). In a subsequent post, Bob wrote:

"I listed facts!"

followed by:

"I would have pointed out also that the Linhof back, while a larger opening, holds film much flatter then any other 612 back from any other manufacturer."

To which I asked Bob to supply data to back up this statement (which I eagerly await). Bob, who is affliated with several manufactures and has a long history of involvement in the photo industry, speaks from a position of knowledge and authority. So, when he states publically that the Linhof back holds the film flatter than any other brand of 6x12 back, it is perfectly reasonable to ask Bob to present the data that supports such a claim. If it is indeed a fact, the data should be available, conclusive and repeatable. Of course, if no such data is presented, the claim is nothing more than misleading marketing hype. When I ask for such supporting data, I am not attacking Bob personally, or even doubting the truthfulness of his claim. I really do want to see the data. It could help me understand why there is such a huge price difference between the different 6x12 backs and allow me (and others) to determine if the higher priced backs are indeed worth the extra money. I've READ good things about the Horseman back, but have seen no actual data comparing the film flatness to the Linhof, Sinar or Chinese 6x12 backs. If Bob does post such data, it would be a tremendous service to anyone considering purchasing one of these backs (whether it's the inexpensive Chinese made back, the moderately priced Horseman, or the Linhof and equally high priced Sinar).


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 10, 2001.

A correction to something I wrote above... I just got off the phone with Badger Graphic. Due to the currently favorable exchange rates, their current price on the Linhof Techno Rollex is $1195 (not $1495 as I stated above). They just received a shipment and have these backs in stock at this price.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 10, 2001.

Kerry, in your opinion why is the discount USA price more than double Badger's price? I am assuming Jeff is importing these as he does many other products such as Rodenstock? I can see 30%, but 100%??

I know Bob always states the warranty issue. But on most products, extended warranties, which usually cost more than the base warranties, only cost about 10% of the purcahse price, not 150%. Any ideas?

-- Bill Glickman (, August 10, 2001.


Since I am in no way involved in the import or sale of these products, I have no idea how the different pricing structures work. I know what the prices are, but not why they are what they are. I'll let those with direct involvement explain the price differences.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 10, 2001.

I'm NOT affiliated with either Shen-Hao or Seagull, and NOT a salesman for them! Please don't start it.

As I understand it, the Seagull 6x12 back is based on their 120TLR, but with an enlarged pressure plate. So film flatness should be quite comparable unless you leave the film in your film holder for sometime. But this is a common problem for all roll film holders, including Linhof and Sinar.

This simple economic 6x12 holder is for 120 B+W film use only because the "red" windows on the back. It looks out-dated, but can get the job done right. Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), August 10, 2001.

For a start an importer agrees with the factory to promote the product.

That means advertising it, attending shows and showing it, hiring sales people to show and sell it to dealers nationally, supply the warranty for the product, train at the factory annually the repair people, inventory the product, train dealers on the product, supply test product to the press when necessary, stock repair parts, etc.

In addition supply and mail literature at N/C, employ office support staff to answer phone and mail qustions on the product.

Print support literature, price lists for dealers, and lots more.

Nothing is a free ride and factory's don't pay for the above.

-- Bob Salomon (, August 10, 2001.

Bob, we all understand the roll an importer has. In lieu of the services an importer provides, the manufacturer typically offers large discounts on the product to compensate for their services. This is how distributors around the world can compete on the same playing field. (other than the mild fluctuations in the currency exchange). This is evidenced in Canon and Nikon cameras, the prices around the world are very competitive and most everyone in the USA buys USA. Somehow this pricing / distribution system does NOT apply to your product lines.

Also, I am interested in reading the test results of film flatness, Linhof vs. Seagaul that Kerry requested above? Couldn't you at least comment on it? If this was just your opinion, then please advise us of sure beats ignoring Kerry's fair quesiton. I guess somethings will never change...

-- Bill Glickman (, August 11, 2001.

Actually, I'd like to also see Bob's data on the Sinar and Horseman backs (along with the Linhof and Chinese made backs). Again, I'm not trying to be confrontational, I REALLY would like to see the data Bob has to back up his statement that the Linhof Techno Rollex holds the film flatter than any other 6x12 back. I'm currently investigating these backs, and such data would be extremely helpful.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 11, 2001.

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