Hong Kong Analogue Camera Trail – Lee Wai Commercial Building.

Lee Wai Commercial Building.

Overcoming your fear of being kidnapped – and being used for transplant organs or sold to slave traders to make iPhones in China – is a key fundamental for successful navigation of the Hong Kong Analogue Camera Trail. The Lee Wai Commercial Building is a classic example. There are three wonderful camera stores in this building, but you would never think so if your experience of retail is based on Elizabeth Street.

Hong Kong is tight on space, so the premium traffic areas on the street are rented by high turnover food and small item retailers. Towering above these, on virtually every street are shopping plazas, apartments, and “commercial buildings”. The commercial buildings are basically apartment sized rooms where people run all kinds of businesses, from nail and beauty salons, to my favourite camera stores like Filme.

Finding the entrance can be difficult – there is usually only limited numbering and signage. Just look out for doorway openings in the general vicinity of where you think it should be, and check the tenancy board inside the door. If there is a doorman, ask. If he doesn’t speak english, just make sure you have a camera around your neck and he or she will point you in the right direction!

Most of them are pretty dingy and poorly lit, giving the impression they are a set from CSI – but Hong Kong is not renowned for spending money frivolously on trappings that don’t matter. Most of the stores are nicely appointed inside. The same goes for people’s apartments – from the outside the buildings look mostly like Soviet worker blocks straight out of “1984”, but once you set foot inside someone’s home, the transformation can be amazing.

The dealer shops in the Lee Wai Commercial Building are all nicely fitted out and remind me almost of a whisky lounge – dark wood colours, mood lighting, and leather chairs. Once you get past the front door, of course!

Like a lot of places, there is likely to be an “attendant” who will pull out any stock you wish to have a look at, but they usually have fairly limited knowledge, and ability to negotiate. If you are a serious buyer, signal to the attendant. They will often call in the “big kahuna” who will arrive after five or ten minutes to help you make a selection.

The Lee Wai building contains a number of analogue camera gems ;

Breguet Camera

C9.99 Antique Cameras

M&K Kamera HQ

 

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  1. Hong Kong Analogue Camera Trail Introduction | Inconspicuosity - April 6, 2015

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