If I tell you I have a nice camera made in China you will say ‘so what’. Yes, now everything is made in the Unpopular Republic of China by workers paid peanuts while factories keep closing in the West. For the powers that be it’s win-win. For 99.9999% people in this wretched world, it’s a disaster of biblical proportion. Before 2000 the made in China label carried an aura of exoticism, as it was almost unknown here in the West. Back in the day, made in China was so freakin cool.
That above is one of those cameras from back in the day: the Great Wall single lens reflex medium format camera. It was made in Shanghai, some 1k miles from the actual Great Wall, but hey, who cares. Frankly, it’s specs are not too impressive: it has a flap shutter, which has the worst of both focal plane and central shutters; speeds from 1/15 to 1/200 (wow); a dim, dim, DIM ground glass viewfinder; no auto iris; just one lens made for the system; a nasty habit of not fully exposing the whole frame (sometimes nothing of it at all) while shooting at 1/200… it’s handled like a TLR (which for me is quite bad) and there’s no prism finder for it. But there are two things that gave me a big crush with this gizmo: the fact that the lens’ image rendering is really nice, and that is has M freakin as native mount. A Leica thread mount medium format camera. 1980’s China: u is trollin I. Just because of that, it offers the owner of a (way too) big lens collection endless hours of meddling with helicals, lensheads, bellows, enlarger lenses exotic mount glass… It’s a dream made reality. What totally blew my mind is that with a 10mm Soviet macro-ring for M39 reflex cameras, it nails infinity on a Visoflex. ON A VISO. I will refrain my enthusiasm on that because an all-caps post is so annoying. This piece of gear hits on the bull’s eye of the so-bad-it’s-awzum realm.
And yes, I always buy Great Wall DFs the instant that I see them, so check the shop because you may find one there.