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Where to buy photography equipment in Beijing?

Nan Tu , Jun 04, 2008; 01:18 a.m.

When I was in the US, I used to buy all photography equipment online via a few trusted vendors such as www.amazon.com, www.ritzcamera.com etc. When I started to live in China in 2004, I had to find a local vendor who can sell the real camera equipment at a reasonable price.

I soon discovered that the Photography Equipment City in Wudesong intersection on the west 4th ring road of Beijing is the place to go for all my photography needs. They sell all the popular camera and lenses at almost the same price as amazon or ritz), mostly with manufacture warranty. This is a large 2 story building and houses more than 100 photography equipment shops. The shops offer anything related to photography, cameras, lenses, lighting, photo printing, framing, photography books, even there are a few photo schools in the building.

The camera shops are operated by individual sellers. The building management rents out space at a fixed monthly rent and the sellers are responsible for merchandise and the price. (much like the eBay and the individual eBay sellers relationship). Since each shop is individually operated, you are expected to bargain a little bit. However, do not try to cut the price in half as you would do in places like Hongqiao pearl market.

For the past 4 years, I have brought 2 camera bodies and 3 lenses and I sold 1 camera body and 2 lenses in the Photography Equipment City. My experiences are positive. (used camera bodies and the lenses are usually sold at 40-60% of the new price to the dealers)

Price: The price is about the same as the US price. Rayi has physical shop in the Photography Equipment City in Beijing and an ecommerce site: www.rayi.com.cn. Nikon D300 body price: Rayi online: 11,000RMB which is 1571USD (1USD = 7 RMB) http://www.rayi.com.cn/static/product_6937.htm Ritz camera online 1,799USD http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541531331.htm Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Lens price comparison: Rayi online: 14980RMB which is 2010USD http://www.rayi.com.cn/static/product_2129.htm Ritz camera online: 1799.95USD

Quality: These are all made by Nikon (factory in Thailand) or Canon or others, why do you think that they are any difference if they are sold in Hong Kong, USA or in China?

Is it possible that you pay a real Nikon price but get a �knock off� Nikon? The answer is �very unlikely�. I have never heard such as a story from the local photography community in Beijing. I personally highly doubt that a small factory out in remote towns have the skills and technology to produce the �fake� or even a �look a like� Nikon D3. What�s more, the management of the Photography Equipment City has every bit of interests to make sure that the sellers do not sell �fake� camera as the rent they charge the sellers every month is patially dependent upon the buyers experience. A �fake� camera story travels very fast on the internet these days and that story will surely put a dent on the reputation of the Photography Equipment City and surely will hurt their business.

Is it possible that you will get a grey market camera? Yes, that is possible! But you will most like to know it is a grey market before you buy it.

A grey market equipment is a camera that is sold in the US or China but it is not meant to be sold in the US or China A grey market cameras do not include a manufacturer 's warranty but it is a REAL camera that is made by the original manufacturer such as Nikon or Canon. The grey market equipment is usually sold cheaper than the full manufacturer�s warranty cameras.

My experience shows: the seller in the Photography Equipment City will usually tell you that the equipment is a grey market or not. The gray market camera and the camera with full manufacturer�s warranty are priced differently (usually less than couple of hundred RMB). I recommend buying a camera with the manufacturing warranty and pay the extra few hundred just for the peace of mind. I do not know if the manufacturer warranty is international though.

For those of you who stay long term in China or have to pick up some photography gears in Beijing for your adventure in the silk road, I recommend that you go to the Photography Equipment City in Beijing and buy the equipments with the full manufacture warranty.


Inside a shop in the Photography Equipment City in Beijing

Responses

Mohir Ali , Jun 04, 2008; 03:07 a.m.

Thanks for the tips. How about used gear? How's their English?

Nan Tu , Jun 04, 2008; 03:35 a.m.

There are about 10-15 used equipment dealers in the Photography Equipment City. You can trade in your used lenses and camera (as I did with my old NikonD70s brought in 2005 and after 40,000shots sold for 300USD in Feb 2008). The dealers there usually take a few shoots with your equipment and offer a price.

You can also buy uesed equipment from the dealers.

Hardly anybody there speaks English. But most of them will know simple words like OK, Yes, No.

A big screen calculator can be used to communicate the price :)

Jeff Sinclair , Jun 11, 2008; 11:43 a.m.

There were also quite a few shops on the ground floor of in the "computer centre" about 2 blocks past the workers stadium when coming from San Litun.

I bought some stuff there and did ok - yes English is scarce and I do prefer Hong Kong.

Cheers

David Mantilla , Jun 12, 2008; 09:00 a.m.

Nan, do you happen to know where to buy photo equipment in Shanghai? I'm in Shanghai for 2 months and haven't found a B&H-like photo store. Seen lots of electronics malls but not true photography store. I have Pentax equipment and it seems like finding any new (or old) Pentax stuff out here will be impossible. Can't find any useful info on the web either. Thanks.

Nan Tu , Jun 15, 2008; 08:26 p.m.

David: I am sorry that I do not know where to buy photography equipment in Shanghai. I have only been to shanghai as visitors and have not brought equipment in Shanghai.

Robert K , Sep 07, 2010; 07:34 a.m.

How times have changed!

Over a decade ago, Chinese in every city I visited would approach me offering to buy my beat up 8008s and manual lenses. Too bad I only had one body with me, and had to turn them down. The thought of bringing an extra body or two for my next trip crossed my mind. Now I can scratch that idea.

The Chinese are perhaps the most passionate photographers in the world. Everywhere I went, they were out there shooting. Many would strike up a conversation with me about my gear, and shooting techniques.

Is it possible that you pay a real Nikon price but get a �knock off� Nikon? The answer is �very unlikely�. I have never heard such as a story from the local photography community in Beijing. I personally highly doubt that a small factory out in remote towns have the skills and technology to produce the �fake� or even a �look a like� Nikon D3.

Thanks for dispelling this urban legend.

Tom Horton , Oct 30, 2010; 01:38 p.m.

There are two "photo malls" in Shanghai. The largest, very similar to photo equipment city in Beijing, is in Luwan district at the corner of Luban Road and Xietu Road. The easiest way to get there is from the Luban Road stop of subway Line 4. Take exit 1 from the station and walk one long block north. The six-story building is obvious, it is plastered with camera brand posters. An annex building in the back houses many of digital printing vendors.
The second mall is smaller. It is at the south plaza of the main Shanghai railway station (also called the north station). The station is served by subway lines 3, 4, and 8. The location is not obvious; the easiest way to find it is to find the big sign of the KFC restaurant, go in, go to the 2nd floor and out the back door, and there it is.
Shanghai seems to be a more expensive city than Beijing and that goes for cameras and lenses, also. You will find only small discounts from list prices and not much willingness to bargain.

Mark Azavedo , Jun 18, 2011; 04:34 p.m.

Anybody know of a similar emporium or just a shop with a good range of equipment, including secondhand, in Dalian?
I've only ever found the Nikon shop on Zhongshan; and what an uninteresting, sterile, place that is.

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