Tian Chi

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The Tian Chi is a Chinese near-copy of the Contax F that was developed by the Chang Chun Optical Research Institute in 1959.[1] Only ten cameras were made, and two of them are thought to have survived.

The Tian Chi has a special breech lock mount and a 56mm f:1.9 lens[2] with automatic diaphragm. In addition to the lens mount, it differs externally from the Contax F mainly by the shape of the top housing above the prism, which is engraved with a triangular logo.


  1. "Tian Chi" means "Heavenly Pond" according to St Denny. It is also the name of a lake in China (see the corresponding Wikipedia page), situated in the province of Jilin like the Chang Chun Optical Research Institute. It is likely that the name of the camera comes from the name of the lake (天池; i.e. "heavenly pond").
  2. St Denny says that the lens is focused from 6m to infinity. Either it is a typo, or the lens barrel is experimental only.


  • St Denny, Douglas. Cameras of the People's Republic of China. Leicester, UK: Jessop Specialist Publishing, 1989. ISBN 0-9514392-0-0.