China: Where High-End Camera Is King

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Calligraphy

Calligraphy Writing – Tom Laybourne

On a journey round China, Art Director Tom Laybourne discovered a camera facility that highlighted a country that sets different expectations around technology and service – business in the new China.

According to Market Research group Gfk, due to market competition smartphones in China are markedly cheaper than compact cameras. It’s why so few buy them and yet sales of higher end SLRs are buoyant, “in China,” a recent report noted, “single lens reflex cameras have a share of 18 percent, while by comparison in Japan, their share is 10 percent and worldwide (excluding North America) 12 percent.”

So I shouldn’t have been surprised by a discovery I made in downtown Guangzhou. All was going well with with my Canon 5D (mk1) until CLUNK! I couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder…. I guessed It was the ‘known fault’ where the mirror on the 5D mk1 detaches (more info here ). It was kind of obvious after removing the lens and seeing the mirror falling all over the place. Being in Guangzhou, it was very apparent that I’d most likely not going to be shooting anything else (unless it was on my iPhone!).

The Li River

The Li River – Tom Laybourne

Considering I’d only had the camera back from a UK Canon service centre a couple of weeks before, I was particularly disgruntled! Anyway rather than venting my anger and depositing the camera into the third longest river in China, the Pearl River, I opted to gently pop it back in my camera bag and continue trotting round the city. By complete fluke, I managed to stumble across a Canon quick repair centre, I’d never even heard of one, considering that in London you have to send your camera off to Herefordshire for weeks at a time!

The City of Guilin

The City of Guilin – Tom Laybourne

Located on the 4th floor of a rather non-descript office block (kindly pointed out by a nearby Canon retailer), I hesitantly walked in to be greeted by a bank of helpful staff who politely sat me down to find out the problem. Expecting the news that it would have to be sent away etc., it was a massive surprise, the kind lady serving me apologised for the fault, offered to fix it for free and told me to come back in half an hour… What can I say? I was blown away, along with the two friends with me who are now converted Canon-buyers for life – the value and commercial payoff of investing in good service. I picked up the camera 30 minutes later and was told to keep it flat and still for 20 hours for the adhesive to set properly, which was absolutely fine, considering I thought it was out of action for the trip. Everything worked perfectly and I was able to carry on shooting the following day…

The Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge

The Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge – Tom Laybourne

An anecdote that makes a good case for always carrying a spare and highlights the need for a similar Quick Repair Centre in London. And a reminder of how as China evolves, we will be taking a lead from their new practices.

In addition, if you’re shooting in China (using Canon), make a note of the Quick Repair Centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou

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