If you’re ever in Shanghai and want to buy some vintage camera lenses, there’s really only one place you need to know about.
That place is the wonderfully named Xing Guang Photographic Equipment.
A 6-storey mall full of individual camera and accessory shops, it’s not just the place to buy vintage lenses in Shanghai, but the place to get pretty much any camera gear you have in mind (and plenty that you most likely don’t).
It’s not the only option in town, but it’s probably the best.
I will caveat this with the advice to go to Weima for film buying and developing. But for anything else, Xing Guang Photographic Equipment is the place to be.
As I’m not a professional photographer or really that interested in shiny new gear, most of the time I spend there is browsing the vintage lens shops.
If you want to do the same, let me tell you how to get there and what to expect when you arrive.
Xing Guang Photographic Equipment location
Xing Guang Photographic Equipment is about a ten-minute walk from the Luban Lu (Road) subway station on line 4.
You could also walk there from the Dapuqiao station on line 9, but Luban Lu is slightly closer and an easier, more direct walk, with less chance for a first time visitor to get lost.
The actual address of Xing Guang is 300 Luban Lu.
I’ll show you how to get there from the subway station, direct you to the vintage lens shops, provide you with a map, and also give you a card you can show a taxi driver should you prefer to skip all the subway-ing and walking.
1. take exit 1 out of the Luban Lu subway station and head left (north) up Luban Road
2. walk north, so with the shops on your left and the road on your right, until you come to the junction with Xietu Lu
3. cross the road but instead of going in the front door, keep going and head into the first alleyway, where you’ll see Building C
4. go in, head past this man on the wall, and take the escalator up to the 3rd and 4th floors where the vintage cameras and lens shops are
There’s a map for you too. Because you might be in China and Google might not work for you, it’s a screenshot.
If you can get on Google Maps, you can find those directions by clicking here.
And if you want to forego most of the above and take a taxi, just show them the address in Chinese here:
Buying vintage lenses at Xing Guang Photographic Equipment
Once you’ve found your way up to the 3rd and 4th floors, the vintage lens shops are hard to miss.
It’ll probably be pretty quiet up there too. It always seems to be when I go.
Some shops may be closed despite being full of gear while others may be open despite looking half empty.
My favourites are the ones where men sit around smoking, drinking tea, and sometimes playing cards as they wait for customers.
You’ll find some shopkeepers can speak some English and some cannot. However, they will all have a calculator that you both use to barter for the vintage lens you want to buy.
And this being China you will have to barter. If you accept the first price you’ll be paying too much.
My advice would be to have an idea of what you want before you go and also an idea of how much you’re happy to pay for it.
You can get a guide to prices by looking at what the lenses are listed for on Taobao, but do this beforehand. The guy in the shop might not like to see you doing it.
If you do end up buying a vintage lens at Xing Guang Photographic Equipment, you’ll be able to get with an adapter too if you need one.
If the person selling the lens doesn’t stock them they’ll probably take you to their friend’s shop that does.
Selling vintage lenses at Xing Guang Photographic Equipment
As the vintage lens shops at Xing Guang are full of second-hand gear, you should, in theory, be able to sell them yours if you have some you want to get rid of.
In practice, I found it to be not really worth doing – unless you really want the convenience of just offloading some stuff there and then.
When I took some of my lenses to try to sell, none of the shop owners really wanted them. Their reason was that it would take a long time for them to sell them on, which makes sense.
They already have cabinets and cabinets full of vintage lenses, and I’d guess they have plenty of days where they don’t even sell one of them.
So why would they want to pay good money to just put more in there?
Part-exchanging was no better, with very little value being given to my lenses when included in a deal. One shop suggested I give them 2 of mine for 1 of theirs…
It’s fair enough. The shops have the position of power in that situation and so can play hardball.
Just accept that to be the case and sell your lenses elsewhere.
There are plenty of online marketplaces you can do so.
Other camera gear available at Xing Guang Photographic Equipment
As mentioned at the top of this piece, Xing Guang Photographic Equipment is the place to go for all your photography gear in Shanghai, apart from – in my opinion – when wanting to develop film.
There are film shops at Xing Guang. I’m sure there are probably labs too. I’ve just never used them.
That aside, Xing Guang is your place for everything else.
While I tend to head straight for the vintage gear shops in Building C, Building A has 6 floors of shops selling mainly new cameras, accessories, peripherals, and studio equipment.
You can get any and all of the following (and more that I can’t think of right now) – new cameras, new lenses, batteries, memory cards, bags, straps, flashes, tripods, filters, adapters, studio lights, lightboxes, background paper… you get the idea.
There are also repair shops on the 6th floor of Building A.
As well as vintage lenses, the shops in Building C have plenty of old film cameras and even a decent selection of TLRs if you want to go full hipster.
I’m not quite there yet, so this is probably a good place to end this. I think everything has been covered anyway.
In summary, I’ll leave you with this:
Whatever camera gear you’re looking to buy in Shanghai, from hobbyist vintage lenses and bodies to the latest professional level digital cameras and studio gear, and everything in between, Xing Guang Photographic Equipment is where you should be going.
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