Join the race for amazing prizes and everlasting glory and submit your finest photos to our ongoing competitions such as Road to Photokina 2016 - In Someone's Shoes. Good luck!

Rare and Funky: The Great Wall DF Camera, a True Lomo-Jewel

2012-12-24 13

Last week I bumped into this Chinese camera. I vaguely knew about it and despite being a bit expensive I bought it anyway. I am so glad this camera is in my collection now. It is the most allround Lomo camera I have. Trust me, I have a lot of of cameras and this one is just a true Lomo-Jewel

Introduction, just for the sake of having an intro

A few years ago I started to collect cameras to satisfy my Lomographic needs. I found out that cheap cameras all have their own quirks and typical character which distinguishes them from other cameras. When you have one professional SLR, you don’t need five others because they all produce quite the same, almost perfect images. But when you dive into the world of cheap cameras, everything changes. So for me, every camera has to add something new to my collection in terms of Lomo-lens effects. For instance, I have three medium format Holgas, one vignettes like hell, ,one vignettes normally and one nearly shows any vignettes. So I need all three of them. The same goes for my collection of sixties Diana clones. Some have real slow shutter speeds, some have a wider aperture and others have the worst plastic lenses ever, giving a never seen before lo-fi effect.

Credits: gauthierdumonde

Last week I bumped into a camera which I already heard of, but actually I did not know much about it. It was called The Great Wall DF-3 Camera and I bought it without knowing what it was capable of. I only shot three rolls with it and it is already one of my all time favorite cameras.

Credits: gauthierdumonde


I will be brief on the history of the Great Wall camera, because not much is known about it and many sources contradict. Some say it is a decent camera built for important Chinese communist party members, other sources say it is a piece of crap built to provide photographers a less expensive camera than the Seagull TLR. The camera has been produced in the late seventies and early eighties, not by millions but by thousands. It is based on the German Pilot 6 camera from the nineteen thirties because that was an easy camera to construct.

A brief technical description

It is a Chinee medium format SLR with a waist level viewfinder. The viewfinder is dim and to get a clear view you have to open the 90mm lens to its widest aperture of f/3.5. After you composed your shot you have to close the aperture manually to the desired F-stop, there is no mechanism to stop the lens automatically down when you trigger the shutter. The shutter speed goes from bulb up to 1/200s. The camera has a multiple exposure button. After you have taken a shot, you can’t cock the shutter again unless you wind the film or push a button that enables yu to shoot another image on the same frame. The camera originally came with a removable 4.5×6 frame, most of them got lost. Whatever, you want to shoot 6×6 images with this baby.

What makes this camera so good for Lomography?

It has a very special shutter, a guillotine shutter. When the mirror flips up, the shutter follows like a guillotine. I have never seen that kind of shutter before. This guillotine shutter creates a special kind of vignette where the top and bottom of the picture are darkened.

Credits: gauthierdumonde

Now the great stuff: you can do macro photography when you have a 50mm lens with a 39mm screw thread (called the LTM: Leica Thread Mount). The Great Wall camera has a removable 90mm lens with a 39mm screw mount. The strange thing is, there are never made any other lenses for this camera. Some sources say that there were never carried out plans to make more lenses (which makes sense to me), other sources say the lens was removable to be used on an enlarger, making photography less expensive again because you can use the same lens on your camera and enlarger. Anyway, all you need is a 50mm lens with a 39mm screw mount. This does not have to be an expensive Leica lens, a Russian Industar Jupiter-8 is fine. You have to focus the lens on its closest distance, otherwise it won’t screw on the Great Wall camera. When you have done that you can shoot objects at about 12 cm from the lens, while you are able to focus and compose the image on the viewfinder. This I find great for doing doubles, first I shoot some macro pictures and afterwards I shoot city views or portraits on top of it. Real Nice!

Credits: gauthierdumonde


Freelensing is a technique were you unscrew your lens and tilt it up, down, left or right. This results in cool partial focus and light leaks. This camera is ideal for it. You can remove the lens and you are able to see what your effect will be on the focus screen. That’s great !

Credits: gauthierdumonde

Is there anything bad about this camera?

Yes, its availability. They aren’t maybe by millions but by thousands and most of them remained in China. On top of that it became a collectors item. But you can still find it cheap in thrift stores and flea markets. So when you ever bump into to one, do not hesitate and make it yours !

written by gauthierdumonde on 2012-12-24 #gear #review #chinese-camera #medium-format #freelensing #lomo-jewel #slr


  1. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Nice, detailed review - congrats!

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Nice review... interesting camera.

  3. jimfranks
    jimfranks ·

    Some more Great Wall info here:

    And some pictures of a homemade lens here:

  4. gauthierdumonde
    gauthierdumonde ·

    @jimfranks mine is a DF-3 by the way. The self made lenses give me ideas... thanks !

  5. tanip
    tanip ·

    Never seen this cam anywhere! I'll add it to my never-ending list of cameras to be on the lookout for (although seems like this one won't pop up anytime soon).

  6. gauthierdumonde
    gauthierdumonde ·

    @tanip this one was on my list for a long time. You read stories about people finding them in thrift stores for 40USD, and they don't buy it because a Rolleiflex is way better. I don't believe those stories, but I wish you'll find one for that price. I paid about five times more. The owner knew it was rare.

  7. adash
    adash ·

    Cool. I like the camera and I even more like the fact that it's an SLR. TLRs are great for street/portraits, but tilt-shift and macro is simply impossible with them.

  8. gauthierdumonde
    gauthierdumonde ·

    @adash also great is: the 90mm lens has a 52mm filterthread. Most of my filters and my filterglass holder are 52mm.

  9. adash
    adash ·

    Oh, that's very nice too. My TLR has an odd Bayonet attachment, and Bayonet attachment filters are usually very expensive....

  10. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    Cool. Does it have a metal plate that needs removing each time you shoot a frame, like with the Kiev88?

  11. gauthierdumonde
    gauthierdumonde ·

    @ihave2pillows NO. The film loads like a TLR. In fact,it feels and looks like 'one eyed TLR' but it's an SLR.

  12. lanline
    lanline ·

    Nice review! Have you ever considered filing down your Holga film frame? You can change the vignetting by filing the frame to a shape that suits you.

  13. gauthierdumonde
    gauthierdumonde ·

    @lanline this camera comes with a 4x6 frame (and a secondary counterwindow) to deal with the vignetting, but I never use it.

More Interesting Articles

  • Cinematographer Michal Dabal on the Petzval Lens

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-01-05 #videos #people
    Cinematographer Michal Dabal on the Petzval Lens

    Here’s what happens before we interview a photographer. We gush about the work though we have yet to find out the cameras and processes behind the brilliant composition or the light architecture. And even when they haven’t used a Lomo camera, we feature them anyway. But every once in a while comes a pro who uses one of our premium lenses at work and our fun cameras off-duty. This makes us mighty glad, more so when their images are good and worth sharing. We count cinematographer Michal Dabal's work among them.

    2016-01-05 1
  • LomoMission: How to be a Superhero Winners

    written by lomography on 2015-10-08 #news
    LomoMission: How to be a Superhero Winners

    Forget about radioactive spiders and expensive fighting machines. To be lauded as a superhero in this community, having a film camera is more than enough.

    2015-10-08 10
  • Vintage Camera Reviews: Kodak Autographic

    written by Mark Hannah on 2016-07-01 #gear
    Vintage Camera Reviews: Kodak Autographic

    The Kodak Autographic is the first really old camera I bought. I didn’t really know how it worked and had no idea that this nearly century-old camera would kick off a passion for collecting, fixing, and shooting with vintage cameras.

    2016-07-01 1
  • Shop News

    Share your smartphone memories instantly with the Fujifilm Instax SHARE SP-2 Printer

    Share your smartphone memories instantly with the Fujifilm Instax SHARE SP-2 Printer

    Give your smartphone photos that analogue touch with the Fuji Instax Share Smartphone Printer! Shoot with your smartphone, send photos via the free app, and print on Fuji Instax Mini film! Both Silver and Gold version now available in the shop! *available in selected markets

  • 11 Beloved Toy Cameras

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-12-09 #gear
    11 Beloved Toy Cameras

    For some, it marked their first foray into the wonderful world of analog photography. Others consider it a trusty, go-to camera despite having a massive camera collection which sometimes include some of the best gear there is. Whatever the case may be, toy cameras will always hold a special place in the hearts (and shelves) of analog photographers everywhere, quirks and all.

    2015-12-09 1
  • Gongtairoop Tests the Versatility of the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens

    written by Lomography on 2016-05-05 #news #gear #people
    Gongtairoop Tests the Versatility of the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens

    His name is Thai for camera. Call it fate or coincidence—this young talent has stayed true to his name, and with enthusiasm for various genres. Only right to pair a versatile lens with an all-around photographer!

  • Adi Putra on Daydreaming in Lucid Colors & Film

    written by Ciel Hernandez on 2016-08-07 #people
    Adi Putra on Daydreaming in Lucid Colors & Film

    Film photography is often likened to the more artistic aspect of photography -- its spontaneity and unpredictability creates wonders when matched with the beholder's conscientious aesthetics. Here, lo-fi lover and Lomo LC-A+ user Adi Putra shares what it's like to have a true, analogue soul.

    2016-08-07 1
  • Shop News

    Up to 50% off on Lomography Bags!

    Up to 50% off on Lomography Bags!

    Need something to keep your gear safe in and share your pride with the world? An amazing selection of Lomography bags are currently on sale! Don't lose the moment and get your favorite one!

  • Lomo LC-A Cameras Through the Years

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-06-17 #gear
    Lomo LC-A Cameras Through the Years

    Our beloved Lomo LC-A camera turns 32 this year! Through the years, we've seen this classic compact camera switch its color palettes and designs. But beyond the change in its looks is a story or milestone to raise our glasses to.

    2016-06-17 2
  • How to Develop Photos on Stone in a Darkroom

    written by tomas_bates on 2016-02-17 #gear #tutorials
    How to Develop Photos on Stone in a Darkroom

    I have always loved the idea of seeing my photos on stone and other natural materials. So, a few months ago, I began googling how it could be done. This is how I discovered (and fell in love with) liquid emulsion. Liquid emulsion is photographic emulsion which you can melt down and paint on any surface. You can then expose an image and develop it using traditional darkroom chemicals. In this article, I would like to explain the process a little, so that if you are also interested in giving this fun process a go, you can!

    2016-02-17 12
  • Lomography X FOTO HITS Medium Format Rumble

    written by Lomography on 2015-11-26 #news
    Lomography X FOTO HITS Medium Format Rumble

    With an expanded field of view and its ability to produce high quality images and capture minute detail, medium format photography has become the top choice of many photographers. Lomography is working hard to make sure that it keeps going with the continued production of medium format film and cameras. The current issue of German magazine FOTO HITS focuses on medium format photography. And with this rumble, we want to prove why medium format photography is king. Take your Diana F+, Holga 120, Lubitel 166+ or the new Lomo LC-A 120 and show us your best square shots!

    2015-11-26 2
  • Shop News

    Additional Member of Diana F+ Family is Here!

    Additional Member of Diana F+ Family is Here!

    Snap your happy memories with the medium format Diana F+ Cortina! This special edition camera is a nod to fun winter holidays: snow-capped mountains, skiing and good times with friends and family!

  • Collages by Jose Romussi

    written by ellakoppensteiner on 2016-08-23 #people
    Collages by Jose Romussi

    We had the chance to meet the artist Jose Romussi, known for his collages with woven photography. Discover his point of view and techniques and share your interpretation of his work with us!

  • A Photographic Study on the Avant-Garde Lifework of Charlotte Moorman

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-23 #news #people
    A Photographic Study on the Avant-Garde Lifework of Charlotte Moorman

    The avant-garde artist, cellist and performer Charlotte Moorman becomes the subject of the camera.

    2016-08-23 1
  • Humanity as Seen by British Photographers from the Mid-20th Century

    written by lomographymagazine on 2016-08-23 #culture #news
    Humanity as Seen by British Photographers from the Mid-20th Century

    Whether at home or from abroad, many mid-20th century British photographers have developed an interest for humanity and its condition.