The hard working waiters of this city might not get tips, we but we do, from our tips page. One that caught our attention was about a new photographic equipment center at the corner of Lu Ban Lu and Xie Tu Lu. Named Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (星光摄影器材城）this four story building is located right on the northwest corner of that intersection, next to a Citymart.
First off we should mention that the place is still under construction. We don’t know how to describe that smell (carcinogenic, perhaps?) but if you can’t take it, then we’d suggest coming in a few weeks, when the dust settles. Some of the stores are still empty.
What did we find? A labyrinth of almost identical, spanking new stores. In fact, most of the photo equipment centers are like this — they are not divided by brand or type of equipment as say computer stores might be, which makes it confusing and tiresome for the shopper because to compare prices you have to go into just about every store.
Some of them feature certain brands more prominently: Nikon, Samsung, Canon, the usual suspects. These stores are going to have some of the hard to find accessories that most run of the mill stores wouldn’t carry.
In addition, you’ve got places for professional prints, darkroom equipment, bags, tripods, etc. There’s even a store that just sells various kinds of filters. As usual, there’s only about one apiece of those. In particular there was one somewhat fancier place that had black and white chemicals: developers including Tmax and HC110 (Kodak), Tmax as well as Ilford films. We were also heartened to see some familiar faces — white iMacs — where we suppose you could do some work on your photos.
The strength of this new center is in digital equipment — point and shoots, SLRS, etc. We didn’t see much by way of analog photography or used equipment. This isn’t a place to shop for Leica rangefinders or medium/large format cameras.
One good thing is that they seem to have a Canon-authorized repair center there. The other repair centers are independent and will feature the same chain-smoking and screwdriver wielding folks as you’ve seen in other places.
We were on a mission to get some Lucky (乐凯) ISO 400 black and white film — tons cheaper than the Kodak, Fuji, Agfa or Ilford equivalents, and prone to strange, unpredictable effects when processed, it’s a great way to experiment in (or just burn) black and white film. At the Huan Long train station photo center (火车站南广场环龙百货) we had an easy and efficient method of picking one place among the many that sold this film: we picked the one place with a cute girl working there. At Xing Guang, you’re not going to find this film (has it been discontinued?) and are reminded that getting your bearings in a place with four stories of photo equipment is going to take some time.