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How to buy a camera in China

01-18-2011 16:55 BJT


China can be a wild and wacky place, but there's no way to prove your crazy stories to anyone after you get home unless you get them on film. So what do you do if you didn't bring a camera (or, like me, you did bring a camera but it broke as soon as the plane landed)? You buy a new one.

But, and this is a big but, do not just buy one at the nearest electronics mall. You can find these giant malls all over China, and there will be dozens of shops there peddling everything from laptops to cameras of all kinds. Avoid them like the plague. These shops can be notoriously difficult to deal with if something goes wrong with your camera (read this!). They also tend to be staffed with high-pressure salesmen, and if you're not aware of the market prices, many will be more than happy to rob you blind. If you're buying something small and cheap, you may be willing to take the risk, but if you're buying an expensive DSLR (all the rage these days), buy it somewhere you can trust!

So do your research. Find out if there's a respectable camera shop in the city you're in. If you're in Beijing or have internet access anywhere else in China, we recommend Ray! Cameras, which has two brick-and-mortar shops and and an extensive website that services the rest of the country. The staff at Ray! are friendly, knowledgeable, and will help you with whatever you need, although they don't speak English, so bring a Chinese friend along if you need to. They carry most popular models and have a lot of lenses in stock. They also offer free photography classes to customers, so if you speak Chinese and you're looking to learn how to use that new camera, you can't go wrong!

If you can't go with Ray! or you're not in Beijing and don't want to buy online, ask around or search the web and find out where the best shops are in your area.

Once you get there, how can you tell the salespeople what you want? The Chinese-challenged are advised to come with pictures and model numbers -- in fact, even if your Chinese is great, that's a good idea -- but here are some words that are going to come in handy when talking about cameras:

Camera - 照相机 zhàoxiàngjī

Lens - 镜头 jìngtóu

DSLR (with kit lens) - 单反机身 dānfǎn jīshēn

DSLR (body only) - 单反套机 dānfǎn tàojī

Nikon - 尼康 Níkāng

Canon - 佳能 Jiānéng

Lens filter - 滤镜 lǜjìng

Camera bag - 摄影包 shèyǐng bāo

Tripod - 脚架 jiǎojià

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