This article has been rewritten and updated.
Click HERE to read the new ultimate guide to buying photography and video equipment in Shanghai.
Let’s kick this blog off with some practical info on where and how to buy photo gear in Shanghai.
Being a working photographer in Shanghai equals frequent runs to the shops in quest for camera gear and other photography equipment. So here it is, my little guide that some of you may find useful. It’s directed more towards amateur and professional photographers than casual point-and-shoot camera buyers as the latter may as well go to any electronic shopping mall and save themselves the headache of bargaining and double-checking if the stuff is not fake.
1. Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (Luban Lu) 星光摄影器材城
It’s a 6-storey mecca for photographers in Shanghai. Madness. Nowhere else before did I see that many camera shops at one place filled with gear up to the ceiling, the same gear that folks in other countries won’t buy cause it’s out of stock. I usually avoid the 1st floor as the sellers there are somehow pushy. Second floor is where I would look for a new dslr or lens. Upper floors sell everything from lighting gear, bags, tripods and light stands to second-hand cameras, film developing chemicals, or medium / large format cameras. You can also find some studio supplies, repair shops, vintage stuff, bookstores and printing companies. And more.
UPDATE: Good news everyone. Xing Guang mall on Luban lu has expanded and right now it consists of 3 bulidings. Bldg “A” is the main one we already know. Bldg “B” is now the ultimate printing solution in Shanghai. There are two floors of printing companies that offer variety of services. And there is Bldg “C” whose upper floors specialty is second-hand and vintage stuff. Way to go Xing Guang!
Address: 300 Luban Rd, by Xietu Rd (鲁班路300号 近斜土路)
How to get there: Take subway line 4 and get off at Luban Lu station. It’s about 5-10 minute walk up north along Luban Lu until you reach Xietu Lu. The mall is on the corner.
2. Huanlong Photographic Equipment City 环龙照相器材
Pretty much the same deal as the mall on Luban Lu. The place is less crowded and I like the attitude of sellers here more. They have tons of stuff related to weddings including dresses, suits, make-up and hair styling services. I got my Nikon D700 there for good price when it was practically unavailable in almost any other shop in Shanghai.
Address: 360 Meiyuan Rd, by Moling Rd (梅园路360号近秣陵路).
How to get there: Take subway line 1 to Shanghai Railway Station. Take Exit 4, then it’s a short walk to the mall around the corner. You got to pass the supermarket downstairs and take the escalator up to the 3rd floor.
Xing Guang Photographic Equipment City (Tianshan Lu) 星光摄影器材城 – CLOSED
This is the baby brother of the mall on Luban Rd. It’s usually the first place I hit as it’s just a block away from where I currently live. It’s not too popular and the business is kind of slow here therefore you can often get better prices on everything except the camera and lenses (haven’t figured out why yet). On the downside, the shops are not that well stocked. Head there if you live nearby, at the very least you can check out the prints exhibited along a very LONG corridor.
UPDATE: As of the end of September 2012 the shop has been closed. The sellers apparently moved to the Luban rd location.
Address: 919-1111 Tianshan Rd, by Loushanguan Rd (天山路919-1111号近娄山关路)
How to get there: This one is easy. Take subway line 2 and get off at Loushanguan Lu station. The mall is directly above the station inside Tendo Plaza. Walk through the door to the left of Starbuck’s and go up to the 3rd floor.
– Before actually going to any of these malls do your homework and check the prices. Taobao.com is a good start. I often quote the lowest prices from Taobao (to which they always say “mai bu liao” that translates to “can’t sell”) and we take it from there. Add 5-10% and you’re good.
– Talking about the prices, don’t expect miracles. The original gear may be slightly cheaper here than in Europe but more expensive than Hong Kong or US. The made-in-china accessories, bags, lighting gear, tripods, etc. is where you can save big bucks.
– Always confirm the warranty terms. You have two options here: you can ask for full international warranty (hanghuo) for which you need official receipt (fapiao), or cut another 5% and get dodgy in-house warranty (shuihuo).
– The second-hand equipment usually goes with 1-3 months warranty for an in-house repair.
– Look out for fakes. Never happened to me (or not that I’m aware of) but know what you’re buying. Memory cards, batteries, and accessories are things you should inspect more carefully.
– Very few sellers speak English, you might want to bring your Chinese (-speaking) friend.
– Most shops start closing around 6pm.