Masters of chop and ‘shop: Seagull manages to plagiarize Getty, Leica [updated]
posted Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:20 PM EST
When we first found out about Chinese manufacturer Seagull Digital, it didn't take us long to realize that there was something very familiar about the company's CK20 and CF100. Have you figured out what you're looking at? That's right, it's the Panasonic FZ200 and LX7 respectively, but with a new set of labels slapped on the front.
The more we delved into the website, the more incredulous we became. It doesn't take much to realize that this is Panasonic's design, but we wondered if they were just crudely photoshopping their own logo over the top of someone else's images—after all, look at the "Seagull" logo on the CK20, it doesn't even match the curve of the lens! That's when we realized they were ripping off more than just Panasonic...
The top image comes from Seagull's website, and the bottom is a press shot of the Leica V-Lux 4, the official Leica rebrand of the FZ200. Look at the lighting patterns on the grip of both. They're identical. Rather than stealing the images from Panasonic, they took them from the fancier, Leica versions. Not only that, but the image they use to demonstrate image stabilization was, at least at one point, from Getty Images. The photo of a woman standing by a wood fence? It was by photographer Shin Yamagishi.
Which would then make the Seagull CF100 a copy of the Leica D-Lux 6, if you're keeping track.
But as bizarre as this all is—it seems Seagull is actually making cameras. You can pick them up from Taobao, though the 3299 yuan price for the CF100 is around $544USD, which is actually substantially more than a Panasonic LX7 would normally go for. Likewise, the CK20 seems to fetch 4299 yuan, more than $700.
Seagull is actually a storied camera brand, with roots stretching back into the 1960s, and got their start with Leica IIIa copies. While mostly a home of copied cameras, the company has had some legitimate creations, such as the Seagull-4 TLR, and even made cameras under a Minolta license.
We're not sure if Seagull actually manufactures for Panasonic or Leica, and is just creating these off-brand bodies when no-one is looking, but it's an incredibly interesting look at the world of knockoff designs.
UPDATE: Seagull contacted us to let us know they've changed some of the images on the site of the CK20. The new photo of the camera itself now features new barrel markings (though it's otherwise unchanged), and the image of the soldier doing pushups and the woman on the fence have been removed and replaced.