July First

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The Qiyi (七一) or July First[1] is a folding camera for 120 roll film, apparently a copy of the Mamiya Six IV. The camera has a rangefinder (presumably coupled), incorporating a depth-of-field indicator. It has a frame counter scale around the film advance knob, suggesting auto-stop film advance.[2] It was the first camera made by Tianjin Camera Factory, in 1956.[2][3][4]

Only forty copies of the camera are thought to have been made. The notes at digi.163.com state that 'more than a dozen' employees made the first two prototypes in 54 days, and that, other than the lens elements, all materials were Chinese.[4]


  1. The name refers to 1st July 1921, when the Chinese Communist Party was founded.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Article 'An antique camera collector in Tianjin' in People's Daily Online, 15 August 2013, showing a picture of Qiyi serial no. 12. The owner Wang Guosheng dates the camera to 1956. This example has the Chinese name 七一 engraved on the left of the top plate, and four more characters on the right, the significance of which is not clear.
  3. Flickr member Jun Peng in this discussion about the Easter TLR, dates the founding of the factory to '58.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Notes on this and other Chinese cameras (page archived at archive.org in 2012) in the feature Chinese old cameras (top page still present July 2020) at digi.163.com state that the camera was made in honour of the Party's 35th anniversary, supporting the date of 1956. The camera pictured in the article, serial no. 17, has only the name 七一 engraved on the top plate.