The ultimate guide to where to stock up on photography equipment, get photos printed and find vintage cameras in Shanghai
With the closure of the Tianshan Lu-based Xing Guang Photographic City and the increasing conversion of Huan Long Photographic Equipment City at Shanghai Railway Station into a mobile phone mall, Luban Lu’s Xing Guang Photographic City
has become the main place to head in town for picking up cameras, equipment and photography supplies.
The first two floors of the main building (Building A, on the corner with Xietu Lu) is given over to a host of branded camera shops selling Nikon and Cannon DSLRs for around the same prices you’ll find around town and at the main electronics malls in Xujiahui. It’s upstairs where Xing Guang really comes into its own, with the remaining four floors featuring shops that sell everything from tripods and equipment belts to complex studio lighting set-ups. The top floor even features a couple of art schools offering a number of Mandarin-only photography courses.
As with most markets in Shanghai, finding a good deal at Xing Guang is mostly a question of shopping around and building a relationship with a vendor to ensure you can get good after sales service – there is generally little to choose between the shops on the upper floors in terms of equipment.
Of the more unique shops, we like Shangwen (Unit 26, Third Floor) for its huge range of film in almost any format you’d care to mention, from fun FujiFilm Instax (for Fuji’s Polaroid-style camera) to rare Kodak reels, and Shenhao (Unit 419, Fourth Floor) for its beautiful wooden large format cameras (from 4,500RMB for a basic unit), though the latter is really more for window shopping (if you really want to buy a large format camera, we recommend Dongfang Hong, see below).
Building B is the place to head to if you want to get large-scale prints made of your digital photos. There are around a dozen printing stores divided over three floors here using huge, high quality Epson printers. Each offers computers for you to calibrate the colour and contrast curves of your images before printing on a choice of over 20 types of paper and canvas. Four by six inch prints on matte or glossy paper cost around 3-5RMB each. The stores also offer mounting services. A couple of places we like are Carbon (Unit 102, First Floor) and Leo Images (Unit 219, Second Floor), where a 60x72cm matte print wrap-mounted on an aluminium frame costs just 320RMB.
If you want to shoot with film and don’t have your own dark room, Weima Professional Photo
(501 Wulumuqi Bei Lu, near Yanan Xi Lu
), located close to the Shanghai Hotel
, comes recommended by professional photographers for dealing with black and white and slide in both 35mm and 120mm formats.
Our favourite part of the Xing Guang Photographic City lies in Building C, however. Here, on the third and fourth floors, is a mock ‘ancient street’ with a range of shops selling second hand, mostly vintage cameras (pictured above). The majority of stores here feature knowledgeable, friendly and usually elderly male staff who are happy to talk you through their range of vintage Seagulls, Hasselblads and Leicas (with prices starting from as little as 400RMB depending on their operational condition).
A number of the shops found in Building C at Xing Guang have relocated from Huan Long Photographic Equipment City
beside the south square at Shanghai Railway Station. One shop that still remains in Zhabei district however, is James Ku’s Dongfang Hong
(literally ‘The East is Red’; Unit 023, Second Floor), though it usually only opens after lunch.
Here, you’ll not only find a great selection of vintage cameras and equipment (pictured above), including cheaper and sturdier large format cameras than at Shenhao (from around 3,600RMB for a metal Frica), but you’ll also have the benefit of Ku’s excellent English and vast knowledge and advice. Ku says that his shop may also be relocated in the coming months, but regardless of his physical store’s location you’ll still be able to find Dongfang Hong online. His Taobao site is jamesku.taobao.com