View Full Version : Should I feel guilty about buying a Shen-hao

John C Murphy
8-Jun-2005, 11:09
I'm planning on purchasing a Shen-hao field camera to replace my monorail. Now, I've always heard, "Buy American" to support the economy or something. While I don't really concern myself too much with the American economy, I know some folks do. Thus, I usually try to buy American products when they are comparable to whatever the foreign choices may be. Up to this point, I haven't really had to even consider this for my photography hobby since most everything I've bought up to this point either was used or, if imported, unique (i.e., there is no American equivalent). But I understand there are some reasonably priced, American-made field cameras available (Wisner?). Anybody want to 'weigh in' on this?

Edward (Halifax,NS)
8-Jun-2005, 11:29
I think that triple the price is not comparable. If you could get a Honda for $20000 and a Pontiac cost $60000, you know what you would be buying. If Tachihara were made in the US I could see buying that over a Shen Hao. As is, if there is a perfectly good $600 camera that does everything you want I see no reason to spend $1500+. That said, my wife buys rediculously priced "fairtrade" coffee.

Mark Sawyer
8-Jun-2005, 11:41
Much of China still runs under the sweatshop economic system. I don't know about the Shen-Hao factory, but I doubt any fantasies of the camera being made by old-world craftsmen making a reasonable wage would be true. The little shops that turn out lf cameras in Europe and America are generally owner-operated. I like the idea of supporting that.

Depends, I guess, if you believe in the camera carrying the kharma of its origins, and if you think or care about that sort of thing while photographing...

Alan Babbitt
8-Jun-2005, 12:26
If it'll make you feel better, you can buy my Shen-Hao 4x5. I've switched to Speed Graphics because they suit my shooting style much better and after much soul (and wallet) searching, I have decided to put my teak beauty up for auction rather than let it sit in the bag forever idle.

I bought it from Badger Graphic, an American company, so that makes it two generations removed from its Chinese heritage by the time it gets to you. It's now as American as apple pie. ;)

FWIW, when I bought the Shen-Hao, there were no American-made field cameras in the same league price-wise. I believe the cheapest was as least double the price, if not more. For me, that was a no-brainer. I spent that "leftover" money on film and paper, much of it in yellow boxes, from retailers in NYC, so I didn't have any reason to feel guilty at all.

John C Murphy
8-Jun-2005, 12:54
Email me a price at symaz2@yahoo.com. I also live in the NY area.

Dan Harbour
8-Jun-2005, 13:03
I bought a Chinese wife. Slightly used but a hard worker, still tight and supple.

Calamity Jane
8-Jun-2005, 13:10

I feel guilty every time I buy something I don't REALLY REALLY need (and misery loves company). Why should you be any different?


Michael Kadillak
8-Jun-2005, 13:16
I purchased two cameras from Keith Canham in Arizona for several very important reasons that are critical in a free market economy. They are great ingenious products with low designed weight factored into the equation, I have met and talked with Keith about his cameras and know that he will stand behind his products el pronto (I have already tested this theorum and proved it to be 100% correct) and I know that I can always get parts and service in a jiffy should I ever need it. No hassles along the chain anywhere.

For those that find that they must purchase a less "expensive" alternative and are therefore considering the Shen Hao, then go for it. We are now in a global economy such that if a product can be made and brought into the market at a price point that many find attractive , then other makers must differentiate themselves to the customers or they will be out of business rather quickly. However, there is a twist to the economic equation. The reason that Ebony, Canham, Lotus, Linhof and Wisner (even with the hassle factor built in) and others get multiples more for their products is that they have a "quality" component built in that the Shen Hao is not designed to compete with and simply does not even try to.

I personally would rather pay more for a precision instrument that I know I can use for many years down the road without a need for concern that it will do its job day after day when needed. There can be no mistake that true quality comes at a price. I similarly recognize that many others are looking short term and the lowest possible price threshold not carring about any time frame longer than maybe a year or two. I get more than a little concerned about some of the quality issues I am hearing on forums about the Shen Hao, but I assume that these are being resolved by either the importer or the maker to everyone's satisfaction.

Made in America is a vestige of the old school. All I need to do is look at the various models of Ford automobiles I am seeing here in Germany or see the many McDonalds and other American cultural extensions to understand that business is integrated across the globe in more ways than we can imagine. What we as American's need to do is understand better is how we compete for those Euros that are being spent daily on consumables. Because that is what our competition across the globe is doing. Make no mistake about that.

Good Luck!

Scott Rosenberg
8-Jun-2005, 13:38
john, if you're looking for a class-leading wood folder that's made in the usa, look no further than the canham traditional. they are EXCELLENT cameras and made to the highest standard. i find them superior to even ebony cameras in not only finish but in design as well... the are many points where canham came up with a more elegant design, like having but one focusing knob to run the entire length of the rail.

QT Luong
8-Jun-2005, 13:59
Unless there is positive evidence that the Shen-Hao is sweatshop-produced, I would personally feel no guilt. The Chinese are very numerous, and they need jobs too. "Sweatshop" is also a relative term. Maybe some Chinese could scoff at Americans for not working hard enough, having two-week vacations, and generally being assisted by welfare state with strict labor regulations, like I sometimes read some Americans refering to Europeans.

Alex Ragen
8-Jun-2005, 14:15
John--Before you allow yourself to be overcome with guilt about buying something that is not made-in-the-USA, why don't you look around your house (and especially in your closet) and check how many non-American products you already own. The global economy is here, like it or not, so learn to live with it.

Dan Harbour
8-Jun-2005, 14:35
And together, working globally, maybe we can put Ken Hough and Ron Wisner out on the street!

Christian Marquess
8-Jun-2005, 14:38
I'll second Scott and Michael's recommendation to buy a Canham traditional. These are marvelous instruments. They are easy to use and are built to exacting standards. In addition, Keith Canham is a wonderful person to talk with on the phone...he is very helpful and kind.

I tried a Tachihara and an Ebony before I settled on the 5x7 Canham. After testing both for light leaks with the old flashlight trick I found that BOTH cameras suffered from light leaks. The Tachihara leaked through the front lensboard while the Ebony leaked through the back. I found this to be absolutely unacceptable for cameras in this price range.

No problems at all with the Canham...it is about as light tight as you can get.

The Canham may cost more but in this case I feel the old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true.

John C Murphy
8-Jun-2005, 14:51
It's funny, I expected a bunch of "buy Wisner" responses. I really never even considered the Canhams. What's so special about them? After all, they are about 4 times the price of the Shen-hao (at Badger Graphics).

Jim Rhoades
8-Jun-2005, 14:57
Don't feel guilty. Check out the Midwest Camera website and click on down to the used ZoneVI. Jim has one for the high $600's rated 9+. I think it's mine that I had traded for a Dorff. If so it's in damn near mint condition. That includes 22 inchs of bellows with triple extension that's very tight. Once you have that much bellows you will never go back. Made in Vermont which in spite of Howard Dean is still in America.

tim atherton
8-Jun-2005, 14:59
"Should I feel guilty about buying a Shen-hao"

not in the least

QT Luong
8-Jun-2005, 15:52
It's funny, I expected a bunch of "buy Wisner" responses. I really never even considered the Canhams. What's so special about them?

The main practical reason to buy locally is to get good service. Keith Canham is universally praised for his courtesy and responsiveness (I'll join in, although my camera does have a light leak). While there are happy Wisner customers, there have been also bitter complaints about Wisner's business practices.

Ken Lee
8-Jun-2005, 16:47
You can feel guilty for not supporting your own country. At the same time, you can feel global and expansive for doing business overseas with fellow craftsmen. You can feel astute for getting a good value, and bad for cutting down trees. You can feel good about supporting an ancient and venerable culture that is working hard to succeed in the modern world, while regretting that they cut up the earth and pllute the air to make Titanium... and so on, ad infinitum.

We may not be able to boil these things down to a simple "right versus wrong" perspective: that's a job for politicians and prophets.

Eric Leppanen
8-Jun-2005, 17:09
In the long run I think we're all better off buying the best product, regardless of whether it is domestically produced or not. As long there is good local representation and decent quality and support, you should purchase the product that is best for you, and feel good about it.

We all know that developing countries (currently China is the big boogie man here, previously it was Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico and South Korea) earn entry into the world economic order by selling cheap labor and natural resources. They specialize in selling entry-level and commodity products until rising standards-of-living and inflationary pressures force them to move upscale in the economic food chain. Until that happens, the developed countries benefit from imported lower-cost goods that keep their inflation rates low and per-capita disposable incomes high. Yes, domestic workers in developed countries are sometimes displaced by these developments, and yes, foreign manufacturers should not be governmentally subsidized so that the economic playing field remains reasonably level. But in the long run, far more people are helped rather than hurt by economic competition.

Shen-hao is filling an entry-level market niche that is probably not cost-effective for the US domestic suppliers (Wisner, Canham, etc.) to enter. But Shen-hao does not achieve this solely via low-cost Chinese labor. The cameras are heavier and the quality control (at least based on the anecdotal evidence I am hearing) is not as good. But if money is a bit tight, then the Shen-hao gives would-be LF'ers capabilities they otherwise could not afford (more extension and stability than a Tachihara, better capabilities than a Toyo CF, more affordable than higher-end cameras on the used market).

And it is not clear to me how much domestic LF suppliers are really being damaged by availability of the Shen-hao. Photographers preoccupied with light weight will still likely stay with Keith Canham or Dick Phillips. Ebony fanatics (I am one) will still buy Ebonies. And despite reportedly his best efforts to discourage future business, there still seems to be demand for Wisner products.

But if you can get a decent Shen-hao with decent local support via a reseller like Badger Graphics or Midwest Photo, and it's the camera that best fulfills your requirements
, I say go for it!

John Kasaian
8-Jun-2005, 17:27

If you're seriously considering this, then you've answered your own question. A camera is only a tool. It is manufactured by skilled workers who have families to support, no matter where in the world the factory is located. Management may or may not be treating the workers fairly---and this can happen anywhere in the world. FWIW the CEO of a big west coast drugstore chain where a friend is employed sent out a letter thanking department heads for "trimming ship" thus allowing him to pay himself a 15 million dollar salary last year(!) when the department heads aren't even making $10/hour. And it is an employee held corporation(!!) Hopefully Numb Nuts' arrogance will earn him a swift boot out the door.

Is there a moral obligation to consider who made your tools and how? Only if morality means something to you---and if you're considering this issue, it most likely does.

Would I pay triple the price for peace of mind? If I could afford it, yes. Would I pay triple the price for an inferior domestic product? Heck no! If I couldn't(and I can't) afford new gear, I buy used stuff and concentrate on my photography---maybe thats a cop-out, but thats my story and I'm sticking to it.

As far as Canhams go, I personally like the idea of buying a camera from the man who built it.

Good luck!

Eric Rose
8-Jun-2005, 18:57
If you shop at WalMart then you already have committed the crime you are concerned about. One of these days people are going to realize that by shopping at WalMart and their kind, that all you are doing is putting yourself out of a job.

John Kasaian
8-Jun-2005, 19:00
So true, but if it matters to you, don't let the seemingly futility of trying to follow your heart blind you to the core issues. Sure we can look at all the WalMart stuff in our houses and wonder about where it really came from and think "whats the use?" Then I think we have betrayed idealism. only a dead fish " goes with the flow." Once you stop doing what you think is right----you've stopped thinking and you're mind as they say, is a terrible thing to waste. It isn't a matter of "Made in the USA"---its more of a matter who is profiting at your expense. National boundaries don't assure that a productis or isn't the product of slave labor.

Brian Ellis
8-Jun-2005, 19:38
Should you feel guilty? I attended a Catholic school for 10years, I feel guilty about everything, but whether I "should" or not is a question for a psychiatrist, not a bunch of photographers.

Eric Rose
8-Jun-2005, 22:30
To feel guilty about something bad you may have done is an innate human emotion. To not have any feelings of guilt no matter what you do defines you as a sociopath.

1. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense.
2. Law. Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a legal penalty.
3.a. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
b. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.
4. Guilty conduct; sin.

I would suspect 3.a would apply in this case.

Brian your right you don't need a bunch of photographers telling you whether you should feel guilty or not. You also don't need a shrink to tell you. It's in your gut. You "know" when you should feel guilty. If somethng doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't.

Janko Belaj
9-Jun-2005, 02:50
John, excuse one non-american to share his opinion: I like to support my country's economy, anytime I can. But "by Croatian product" is almost impossible when it came to most of technology. I'm Mac user, I don't want to by some PC "made" in Croatia (with 90% of elements built somewhere else). I'm Nikon user, I don't remember any Nikon part to be built in Croatia. I'm Schneider-lens fun, non to be made here. I feel best in Levi's 501, finally, they are made (for 50% of European countries) in Croatia... but - last year only those "new" wired models with some scratches (sorry on my limited english) for kids... I'm not rich, so I bought new Tachihara instead of new Shen-Hao just because I didn't want to wait month longer. And I have choose Asian cameras over European or American because I wanted some add-ons (a lot more) for same price.
...don't feel guilty. Buy what you can afford and what you will use. Finally - you will be creating your shots, in your Case those will be "american photos" no matter what tool you use.

Emrehan Zeybekoglu
9-Jun-2005, 06:43
These days one cannot go too far trying to support one's own economy. It's very likely that the computer you're using to get on this forum has parts that come from different countries. Trying to support owner operated companies such as Wisner, Canham, etc. is a very respectable idea but in the final analysis we all have to consider our purchases in terms of cost effectiveness. If you can get the same quality from a foreign product, why not buy it? After all, there are reliable repair services that can handle a wide range of products.

Ellen Stoune Duralia
9-Jun-2005, 08:31
I think it's nigh impossible to avoid products imported from China. Years ago, I swore off Nikes because the sweatshop horror stories and I didn't want to support that. I still don't buy Nikes but otherwise, I've given up - as others have said, we are in a global economy. But ya know, there are some things that are just faves that have come from China. Like I have a bottle green sweater that I just adore - made in China. Now, ya'll will think I'm probably crazy but everytime I put it on, I send a little "white light good stuff energy" to the souls who made that sweater or whatever it is that I'm using/wearing/etc. It's my little way of saying thanks and sending a prayer so that hopefully the wonderful Chinese people will rise above their less than desirable circumstances. So buy your Shen and send good energy their way!!

9-Jun-2005, 08:40
Why not purchase a used camera? Recycle man!

Dean Tomasula
9-Jun-2005, 08:43
At the risk of setting other people off (you know who you are), I wouldn't worry about buying a Shen-Hao. Don't worry about the American economy, it'll do fine. You have more to fear from Pres. Bush than you do the Chinese in regards to the economy.

If you want to buy a Shen-Hao, buy one. If you can afford to buy a more expensive camera (made in Japan or wherever) buy it and enjoy it.

The best way to help the American economy is to buy the best product for the job -- whether it is American-made or not. Competition is good for the economy. Once our economy starts lagging in a certain area due to Japanese, Chinese or Swiss competition, buisness will take notice and step up the R&D and churn out the quality products we are known for.

Scott Davis
9-Jun-2005, 08:46
If the politics of your purchasing are an overriding principle, then get a Canham. I've met Keith (at the Large Format Conference) and he's as nice a guy you'll ever want to work with. I plan on ordering one of his 8x10's at a later date when I can afford one. I'll also get some kind of banquet/panoramic from him. But, for now, since the budget will not accomodate it, I'm using a Shen Hao (bought new) and an old Calumet C-1 8x10 "green monster", bought quite used, but in excellent condition (what's amazing about the C-1 is that it cost about the same as the Shen Hao). I have no guilt about the Shen Hao - it is a wonderfully made camera, and while it lacks the precision of my old Sinar, it is more than adequate for taking pictures. I've had no quibbles with the quality of construction- it has been solid and unfailing. I've taken it out in the field around town, used it in the studio, and even taken it hiking in the California Sierras. If you get one, you will NOT be disappointed with it.

9-Jun-2005, 10:56
Having actually owned a Shen-Hao, let me chime in, in agreement with ScottD. Currently, among others, I own a Sinar P, so I am familiar with precision cameras. IMHO the Shen-Hao is perfectly adequate in terms of precision to shoot outside. I don't think you really need a Sinar, or anything geared, unless you are a tabletop guy.

The Shen-Hao that I owned was a pretty, solid, reasonably rigid and precise camera, and it was dirt cheap, brand new. I sold it because I wanted a longer bellows. I have no reservations recommending it as an excellent entry level camera.

Feel guilty if you want to, but I can't imagine why...

John Kasaian
9-Jun-2005, 11:19
Lots of answers, but what is needed to be known has yet to be told. I don't know a thing about Shen -Hao cameras---from what I've heard they are certainly capable and economical products. No reason for guilt there. No reason to feel guilt for buying overseas products if they win the contest fair and square. What hasn't been determined is who and how are Shen Hao's built? Slave labor? IMHO, that is too dangerous a charge to make but in view of other chinese products (as well as products from other countries) that undercut prices I think it is a very fair question---and if your $$ are going to support that practice then that seems to be a very good reason to feel guilty.

What I would like to know is, has anybody here been to the Shen Hao factory/shop? I know several have bought cameras directly from the office in china, but has anyone seen where and how they are made and who makes them?

If you have, tell us and put this thread to rest so John can buy his camera and get out there.


Scott Rosenberg
9-Jun-2005, 11:29
john, what kind of car do you drive? there's a good chance it was not manufactured in the states, even if it is an american product. check the VIN, the first character identifies the country in which the car was manufactured.


there's a global economy now... buy whichever camera suites you best.

John Kasaian
9-Jun-2005, 13:09
I don't think the global economy is the issue. A healthy international economy and trade is vital and benefits everyone no matter what country they live in---for example we can't export California raisins if other countries can't afford to buy them, so the global ecomony is really pretty important to us hicks in Fresno. I happen to like Efke film and the croatians are happy to sell it to me, but the if US dallar sank to where it was worthless against the Croatia "whateveitis" I've lost out on film and the Croatians have lost a market in the US. No matter what the financial reason, when Kodak closes a plant in Sao Paulo(or Ilford closes up a distributorship in the NY) people loose jobs, vitality and dignity. If cameras are built somewhere---anywhere---taking advantage of cruel working conditions---employees---many barely subsisting--- are hurt, manufacturers who turn out an honest product at fair profits are hurt, and consumers who buy into the notion that all that matters is getting a good deal and the hell with anyone else are foolishly lulled into moral bankruptcy. As I've posted earlier, such underhanded tactics are not the excllsive domain of any one particular nation or continent although some parts of the world appear to have a track record for such banditry. You can argue that boycotting such industries deny the abused workers even whatever meager wage they earn and thats a good point, but to shrug One's shoulders at the plight of so many and go with the Wolly-world flow seems, IMHO, traitorous to the notion of being a human.

9-Jun-2005, 13:39
Car-wise, if you drive a Toyota or Honda, it was almost certainly "built" (at least assembled) in the US. Toyota has 7 car plants here.

If you drive a Ford, good chance it was built in Canada.

Peter Roberts
9-Jun-2005, 18:36
I feel no guilty when I go to Disneyland and buy toys there. Almost 100% toy in Disneyland is made in China. Back to the city, furniture, shoes, cloth and a lot are made in China. IBM PC was bought by China now. May be you can switch to Apple computer. Just don't know why you limit your sky.

John Kasaian
9-Jun-2005, 22:42
Made in China,

Because it dosen't matter where a product is made, but it matters very much who made it and if they got paid fairly. It matters if thier health and safety matter to thier Employers, because if the Big Boys don't give a fig about 'em, you can bet they won't be too concerned about us customers either---maybe our disposable income, but certainly not about us.

Peter Roberts
10-Jun-2005, 00:31
john kasaian

in this case, disneyland does a very good job already. Micky smiles to children all over the World with his toy which is made in China.

Michael Kadillak
10-Jun-2005, 03:23
John, you make some excellent points but the facts are that as long as there are humans involved in the process, the most basic human characteristic - greed will always prevail. There are not enough policeman or activists to keep the moral water behind the dam. The only normalizing event within a free market economy for this is greed on a larger scale because it engenders competition and over time (sometimes a long time) works in the right positive way.

Case in point. American technology companies recently bought into the paradigm that costs could be cut and their internal return on investment could be much higher if these opportunities were shipped overseas. CEO's want the big bonus and the investers want their stock price to go to the moon. Greed to the second power at least. Americans workers in many capacities lose their jobs to someone on the other side of the globe. I have had insiders in this industry tell me that when programming code from USA workers was scrutinized for performance and efficiency against the competition, Indians and other foriegn nationals were given a higher grade. In other words, they put out a better product. As a result, the CEO had some extra ammunition to better sell the outsource than just the prospect of a big payday for themselves.

Slowly word gets out and other corporations that are slower to react follow the pack and similarly outsource. But there are only a finite number of trained workers to perform this task. When the work load gets beyond the ability of the work force to perform it, the workers can raise their wage demands and get it. These people are interested in taking care of their family and improving their condition and more is better if you can get it than the same or less. When the American company CEO's realize that they are not going to attain the 20% ROI, they get oursourced and the process starts all over. At this juncture, someone in the board room will invariably ask if we can do this job here in the States as cost effective and the cycle begins to reverse slowly. This is happening as we speak. This assumes that the American worker and our educational systems rise to the challenge of educating workers that can compete in the global marketplace. Right now we absolutely suck in this department. And every person that I hear whine about Wal Mart or losing jobs or whatever just does not get it. Thomas Friedman makes this excellent point in his new book about the Flat World where jobs are being performed completely independent of geographical boundaries.

The technical people that got into the technology game because warm bodies were needed several years back and not because they have the proper education and/or training are simply getting displaced in an industry contraction by more qualified workers in the global workplace. I am not picking on anyone here, it is just for illustration purposes. Do I feel sorry for those that get caught up in the transition? Absolutely. But to a point. We have to manage out careers for ourselves in this brave new world and to sit on ones laurels and not being truthfull and proactive about an impending seriously negative situation is simply suicide on the installment plan.

Cheap land in South America is about to put the whammies on the agricultural industry and there are other examples of global competition taking place every day. Get used to it. If you are one of those that are willing to pay $400 for a television that you could purchase for $198 at Wal Mart because you want to promote your "local economy" then my hat is off to you.

These circumstances are not easy, yet we all know people that put their heads down and sit on the couch assuming that they are immune from what is taking place on the financial section of the newspaper (that they hate to read because the news is all bad and they really want a new pickup rather than think about their retirement fund contribution).

Back to the camera question. It is healthy for this industry to have someone that sees the price point for a less expensive alternative. Particularly with private and international companies, you have no ability to get to the factory wage paid unless you get it directly from the workers themselves. Even if you get the data, what can you do with it?


John Kasaian
10-Jun-2005, 08:39
Made in China,

I've got no problem with Mickey Mouse or Disneyland, or China. But if Disneyland will sell my kid a toy that the person who made the thing can't afford to buy his or her own child---if they're even permitted to have a chhild, then something is wrong. The smile is insincere---well no, more of a mockery.

I've travelled enough to see Westerners in all parts of the world living it up in pretentious luxury accomodations while the natives who serve them live in dumps without safe water, protection from bandits(often government officials) or any viable medical care. Now its fair to argue that at least these people have jobs and a token income but I take exception to the notion that citizens of any country are being reduced to social and economic slavery.

Michael Kadillak,

Your right of course. I'm not opposed to competition and technology making products more afforable. There certainly is a place and need for beginner type gear, especially in lf photography and I would doubt that the good people at stores like Badger Graohic, Midwest Photo and J and C would stock gear made by oppressive tyrants in order to make a quick buck---and I mean that sincerely---these retailers have my respect and have earned the respect of many more of us---but the personal dilemma is what does the consumer do? What is the right thing to do? The Powers That Be tell us that everything is relative. Supposedly if We are being creatively fulfilled as individuals, it dosen't matter what happens to people China or South America or Africa or elsewhere(even in North America)

You're right in thats its almost impossible to know where products come from thanks to globalization---and so its probably impossible to know if those products are the handiwork of slave labor unless there is good supporting evidence. To tell you the truth, I don't know "What To Do" but I've got an idea about "What Not To Do."

"What Not To Do" is to stop questioning. "What Not To Do" is, as you've written "...put thier heads down and sit on a couch assuming that they are immune from what is taking place..."

FWIW, I'd like to see Shen Hao, Nike, Chiquita, or any other company offer qualified proof that thier products and /or components aren't built by political prisoners or in sweat shops where children are endangered by machinery and that they see a moral obligation to conduct business fairly in respect to employees, distributors, and customers. Not to do this is not to accept the responsibilies of globalization, it is IMHO quite literally stealing---stealing not only money from laborers and competitors, but even more importantly the moral fiber of society and that can only lead to violence. They'd probably sell a heck of a lot more cameras, sneakers, and bananas, too.

Hows thatfor an arguement? ;-)

Michael Kadillak
10-Jun-2005, 09:22
John, I understand that you would like business men to openly demonstrate that they are decent in dealing with their employees, but the world is sick of America attempting to tell them what to do and how they should act. We could come up with a host of injustices from womens rights in the Middle East to genocide in Dhar Fohr that are well up the scale of urgency well beyond workers injustices. It is what it is. The Spanish pillaged the South Americans, the Vikings did the same in their region and South Africa was similarly opressed in modern times for many years right in front of our noses and relatively nothing happened until the South Africans decided that enough was enough. My point is that if you cannot offer these workers a viable alternative to the status quo you are perceived as a antagonist trying to take their modest lifestyle away from them. They would rather deal with the downside in hours and pay rather than not have any job. It is as simple as this. There has always been and will always be the opressed and an opressor.

I would like to see litigation as an alternative to hard work take a back seat in our country. I would also like to see people take responsibility for their actions rather than blame the fact that they were (or were not) breast fed or lived in a small (or a large) town and should not be to blame for their criminal behavior. Once we get the foundation of moral behavior back into our society then we will be capable of compassion and empathy for the less fortunate around the globe.


John Kasaian
10-Jun-2005, 10:46

True enough, moral behavior starts at home but part of the process of globalization is that "home" has become global too. I can teach my kids that patience is rewarded when the tomatos ripenin our little garden, and that there is no finer place to spend a summer afternoon than under a canopy of green leaves up in the treehouse or that lemons, not Wylers, will yield the best tasting lemonade. Beyond the back yard things get clouded. Do the children that stitch baseball gloves ever taste lemonade? Do the worlers who spend every hour of daylight cementing together Hello Kittys every see the sun filtered through the green leaves of trees? Do migrant farm worker kids stay in one place long enough to watch there own garden grow? Do I tell my kids "Just be grateful that WE'RE not like THEM?" Or do I tell my kids "See, that plastic Wal-mart gizzmo that has no legitimate function except maybe for making lazy people more lazy(until it breaks) was made by a little boy or girl just like you, who dosen't know how to read but can sure enough handle carcinogenic bonding agents?"

The billboard advertising beer in front of the County hospital where hispanic migrant farm workers can take advantage of the county free clinic is in spanish. The gunslinger ninja posters in the convenience store window a few blocks away advertise violent videos in cambodian. The television commercial for an investment brokerage house reminds us in english that "It's all about You." Yeah, the moral fiber of society in all sectors have taken some serious post modernist hits.

The terror we see---the poison gas in japanese subways, the 9-11 attacks, the posturing of goons in various parts of the world---including good ol' mainstreet USA is I'm afraid, the natural result of the whole "Look out for No.1" mentallity or the bogus "Question Authority" bumper stickers seen in faculty parking lots(Ha! Don't even think of questioning a tenured Prof's authority!) These attitudes are misleading and do nothing but support the feeling a futility in parts of the world where terrorists are nurtured. Intricate issues are reduced in scope, supposedly for the sake of clarity but the effect is that the bigger picture isn't taken into consideration. Solutions are by design inadequate and misleading which makes the problems worse (come to think of it, saying "Don't feel guilty about buying stuff made by slave labor" most certainly supports a feeling of futility, dosen't it?)

If I'm ranting, forgive me---I tore a muscle in my shoulder and the painkillers that are supposed to keep me togther until surgery ain't working.

John C. Murphy's concerns are well taken. It is far better to be concerned than not care.

Got to get away from this 'puter!


Scott Davis
10-Jun-2005, 14:30
I don't know if you saw the thread here on the economics of Large Format. While I have not been to the Shen Hao factory myself, I would be comfortable in asserting these cameras are not being made with slave labor. The volume of large format gear being made every year (or lack thereof) argues against slave labor, which is really only effective for high-volume operations. Also, while the people assembling these cameras don't have to have PhD's in engineering, they certainly have to be skilled laborers. To produce a camera of the quality of a Shen Hao with the consistency that they do, you aren't going to be getting that from a sweatshop using slave or coerced labor. They're only making maybe a couple hundred Shen Haos a year. Best case scenario they're making 1000 4x5's a year, and a fraction of that number in 5x7 and 8x10, but I suspect it is less than half that. You don't survive with slave labor at that kind of volume, because you have to feed and house your chattel if you don't want them to run away or die on you, which becomes more expensive than paying them.

In short, the economics of large format photography argue strongly against this being a slave labor environment.

Peter Roberts
12-Jun-2005, 19:07
In terms of slavery, I can see more in US history in the past hundred years. Even now, I can see more slave ruled by the US in Middle East! You are the most not qualified to discuss this matter in this World.

John Kasaian
12-Jun-2005, 22:34
Made in China,

I'm not aware of anyone here owning slaves, though many might feel economically enslaved.

I have had relatives who were slaves in the middle east. When I was young I saw a few of them(they were quite elderly then) I saw the whipping scars on thier backs. A scar from being struck with an ax by a brutal master. I saw an old woman who as a young girl had a tatoo of Her owner's name on her forehead, lips and chin claiming her as chattel. These ancestors of mine were political "booty" sold into slavery as children---and they were the lucky ones.

Created quite an impression on me. As a photographer, albeit an amateur, I wish they were still alive as I'd like to have taken their pictures. They must have been in their late seventies when I was just a lad of six or seven but like I said, they made quite an impression.

Later, in high school, I met an instructor who bore a tatoo on his wrist---a souvenier of a nazi death camp where he'd been "slave labor" with the noteable difference difference being that historically most slaves at least had a monetary value.

Even later, while at college I had an instructor who had the opportunity to be a slave laboror in a Soviet Gulag. If you ever get a chance, read "The Stalin Canal." Its a bit upsetting.

But I guess I'm not qualified to discuss this matter according to You---and you could be right.

Confucian China lasted something like two thousand years, right? Possibly the most successful and stable society in history. I'm going by memory of some writings by Dr. Peter Kreeft, professor of Philosophy at B.C. here so don't think I'm an expert on History. At best I'm paraphrasing since I can't remember the exact qoutations.

Confucius saw social justice as harmony since only those who lived in harmony could allow for social justice. Justice was not "equality" in the sense of a balancing individual rights or negotiating different self assertions acording to Confucius. I don't know if the analogy is Kreeft's interpretation or Confucius' but Justice is like music, treating equals as equals and unequals as unequals---every station in life in regards to age, sex, education, wealth etc...being an like an instrument and playing music in harmony with the rest of the band.

Confucius was successful and China survived "The Period of Warring States."

(Thanks Dr. Kreeft. I'll take over here):

Like Aristotle's, this scheme of Government could allow for slavery, but in it's truest light, only if the slaves constituted a seperate and unique class that had a natural inclination to being enslaved, like a domesticated animal(one of those obnoxious little rodent dogs with pink ribbon bows---or a domesticated Turkey, though I'm not certain how "natural" either of those really are)
Race was once held as being indicative, but thankfully no longer(I hope) but being found in disfavor with a political dictatorship still is. I don't want to be a part of that scene. I encourage those who are like minded not to roll over and play dead to the cries of those unfairly imprisoned and pressed into working in sweat shops for whatever reason. While I am more fond of Chinese food than Chinese philosophy, I'm comfortable with Lao-Tzu's art of wei-wu-wei----"doing by not doing"(I learned about Lao-Tzu and the art of wei-wu-wei from Dr. Kreeft's books as well) and my personal interpretation of wei-wu-wei in this case is not buying things that are likely made by slave labor. Sure I probably have lots of junk in my house that is made in sweat shops (I'm pretty sure most of my kid's toys are) but I'm not going to throw in the towel and give up because that would be like saying that its OK. Its not.

But hey, I'm not qualified.

If Dr. Kreeft reads this I hope he's not offended by my lack of APA citations or my unprofessional parapharasing which no doubt turned his great research and logic into something of a pretzel. I simply didn't want to give the impression that I read and digest scholarly tomes on Chinese philosophy---like I said, I'm more fond of the food (kung pao prawns---extra chilis!)


28-Aug-2005, 10:07
Shen Hao is a one man operation.

Now, go shop at Walmart.

29-Aug-2005, 06:02
Eric Rose: If you shop at WalMart then you already have committed the crime you are concerned about. One of these days people are going to realize that by shopping at WalMart and their kind, that all you are doing is putting yourself out of a job.

That's for sure. I was in Walmart's LF Pro photo aisle and my gosh, they are offering a free Chineese photographer with the purchase of a Shen Hao!

29-Aug-2005, 08:14
Eric, that was my point, although the sarcasm has failed horribly.

29-Aug-2005, 10:46
Dean Tomasula The best way to help the American economy is to buy the best product for the job -- whether it is American-made or not. Competition is good for the economy. Once our economy starts lagging in a certain area due to Japanese, Chinese or Swiss competition, buisness will take notice and step up the R&D and churn out the quality products we are known for.

I realize you are making a general statement, but the question was quite specific - have we not already better cameras than the Shen Hao made outside of China or Japan? If the OP can afford it, and desires higher quality, it seems clear that the Shen Hoa is already below consideration.

Regarding your general statement, well I want to believe but find it very hard to be optomisitic when a Command Economy has already become the major player in a worldwide consumer market. Did any American camera maker (other than instamatic types) re-emerge as a winner in the economy after Japan, Inc. had become the dominant market-maker? Besides, when a public American company has to compete with a Command Economy like China, the outlooks seems hopeless because the Command Economy can sell at a loss to win territory and eventually win over the American public company which cannot because it has to show a profit every quarter.