Still of David Chan and cameras (Pic: South China Morning Post/YouTube)
David Chan outside his shop, an Aladidn’s cave for film camera fans (Pic: South China Morning Post/YouTube)

To classic film camera fans, Hong Kong is almost as much of a Mecca as Japan.

There are still dozens of classic camera dealers in the crowded former British colony, their shelves groaning with Leicas, Nikons and Hasselblads.

One such camera shop is owned by David Chan, a 79-year-old camera salesman who has spent some 60 years selling and collecting film cameras.

Hong Kong newspaper The South China Morning Post has produced a 10-minute short film filmed at Chan’s store, where the veteran film camera fan voices his love for classic film cameras. You can see it below:

The film is a really lovely snapshot into Chan’s love of film cameras. The video begins with him introducing a prospective buyer to a two-stroke Leica M3; just the kind of camera he has fallen in love with over six decades of selling film cameras. He admit that he loves some of his cameras so much he can’t bear to sell them.

For Chan, who admits to being an average photographer, the cameras and lenses themselves are as beautiful as the pictures they produce. “Cameras are complicated to make. Cameras are luxury items.” He points out older lenses were often made with radioactive elements which gave them unique character and “flavour”, a look lost when modern lens production dispensed with the radioactive ingredients. “Modern lenses can’t produce the unique texture that vintage lenses could,” he says.

In the video you definitely get a sense of Chan’s unhurried approach to camera sales – he seems more interested in talking to customers about the cameras they are currently using than trying to part them from their money.

The film’s producer, Chris Chang, commented on YouTube: “Making this film with David Chan is the most phenomenal filmmaking experience I ever had. David’s personality is one of a kind, his love and passion in vintage cameras started when he worked as a camera salesman back in the 1960s. He learnt to collect vintage cameras when he made his first trip to Ginza Tokyo.

“Back to Hong Kong, he became a middleman, trading Leica cameras with the Japanese camera dealers, and sold Japanese cameras to the Americans and locals in Hong Kong. Today, he is very happy to run a place that can bring film photographers together.

“No matter you are a beginner, or a professional, David is always happy to share his experience in film cameras with you.”

Stephen Dowling
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Craig Cunningham
Craig Cunningham
22 days ago

Stephen,

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful video of the Hong Kong camera guardian. It was beautifully done, and captured my feelings exactly of the beauty and jewel-like qualities of the classic mechanical cameras.

This video allowed me to enjoy a shop and its owner that I will unlikely be able to otherwise visit.

Regards.