Sociedad Ibero-Americana de la Historia de la Fotografia Museo Fotográfico y Archivo Historico "Adolfo Alexander"
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Hong Qi 

Also Dong Feng and Heping


Two extraordinary Dong Feng (Eastern Wind) and  Hong Qi (Red Flag) photo cameras were built in Shanghai to comemorate the 20 years Chinese Revolution. Those cameras however only became ready at the begining of 1970 years. Development and production  were personally ordered by Mme. Jiang Qing, Mao’s 4th wife and were done as a demonstration to the world’s countries’ representatives the capabilities of the chinese industry.

Also two movie cameras  Hong Qi for 16mm and  Heping (Peace) for 35mm film with the same high quality level, at the world’s top standards.


Here, the 6X6  camera with normal lens (3rd Version)



Here the outfit. These high grade cameras were sold in kit form in order to impress foreign people.



The wide angle and telephoto lenses with their own “Compur “ type shutters.(w/ 1/1000 top speed !)

Lenses are direct copy of 80mm Planar, 50mm Distagon and 150mm Tele-Tessar.

The body of course, is a direct Hasselblad 500 series descendant.



zhang xk comment:


Dong Feng 120 SLR ,like the Red Flag 20, is another attempt to produce a top end camera. It is a copy of a Hasselblad 500C, but with a top speed of 1/1000 second.
Only 97 cameas were made in three slightly different variations.

An outfit was retailed at more than RMB 9000 in the 1970's, when a Leica M3 with a normal lens was only about RMB2000-3000.
So the camera was hard to sell for the very high price.

The owner of this camera is a well known Chinese camera collector. I heard that he sold part of his collection of vintage Chinese cameras a few years ago for US$100,000. He also has some other versions of this camera.

BTW, a
Kiev 4 was priced at RMB 1200+ in the 1970's as a luxury item. A Rolex watch was only RMB 300+ then. A Chinese Seagull 4A was about RMB 200.

But don't take the price information seriously. That only gives you a rough idea.
But the Rolex was a fake!


First version as Dong Feng (Eastern Wind) 1/1000 maximum shutter speed

In this version, film magazine is opened by a back door for loading (Bronica style)


J. Paul comment: 

I think, to be able perhaps to answer some of your questions on this mythic camera


I had luck, indeed, to meet and to question for a long time on this topic, about fifteen year ago, a representative French  dealer on China at the  70 – 80 period.
He was, during this period, exclusive importer of Chinese machine-tools and camera bottoms of range ( maybe Seagull ???) , for
France and very bound with the Chinese authorities of the time. Its firm name was “C.C.I.” with Paris headquarters.

 Hoping not to be too long, here are some answers to the calm questions, that I can give here, according to this man's confidences, that I will call here " MX ", which was, in my opinion, very aware:

 - MX confirmed me, that it was well Mrs. Jiang Qing,  Mao's 4th woman, who had given the order to put in construction a camera, that would be technologically better than the then current Leica M4 and M5.

 - In fact, she would have given the order to the engineers of the factory Shanghai C.F. to manufacture just… " The best Camera of the world "; with lenses as good as the best of at Leica. This idea seen the day at the summer 1969. MX doesn't have the memory that one told him that, this camera would be called the " 20 " or  “RF20” (Red Flag). Why not?  Indeed the 20th birthday of the revolution of 49?
Between 69 and 73, they worked,  and after these 4 years made birth the 1st body.

 - MX didn't know anything of the supposed photographic passion of Mrs. Jiang Qing.

 - MX assured me that in the notebook of the loads, the factor " cost " had to not be on any account a problem, nor taken into consideration, because the RF20 didn't have ever to be merchandised. It had to be rightly a window of high technology, in order to prove to the whole world, that China was capable to produce objects of high technology, the best of the world.
- It also had to be offered, as gift for guests of mark. - Fidel Castro, Tito and I.Gandi would have received one of it in " case ". I will come back there later... and in gifts " of honor" to the politicians, policies/military of high ranks and maybe science people…
- According to MX, since China had to convince the west as well as the Orient, of its supremacy, the chosen shape, characteristic of the device was a mixture of Leica M4-M5 and Canon 7. The " look " of the device becoming thus " universal ".
- It was chosen Leica bayonet " M " on the lenses and camera , this prevented all import and merchandising outside China, because patent rights, in most countries and in particular the industrialized western countries, including Japan. So the RF20 was in fact, unmarketable outside
China. But MX have never seen a RF20 to buy into (????) or outside China.
- For what concerns the produced quantities, MX informed me that one had told him that he had been manufactured 198 bodies - for all product in 1973.
- 198 x 1.4/50 lenses made between 1973 and 1974
and 72 x 1.4/35 and 2/90 between 1974 and 1975.
- Contrary to what is sometimes said, MX , had never heard about the construction of a scientific body without view-rangefinder.
- Rigid “ case " made of black leather, stamped of the acronym gold RED FLAG 20, with the inside made of red velvet would have been produced according to the needs for prestigious gifts. About 30 pieces would have been produced. These cases could contain the body and its 3 lenses, has place for 10 circular filters and a pitfall to accommodate 4 X 35mm films in its side.

 - MX was contracted by the Chinese authorities in 1976 to present the RF20 in the Fair of Paris 1977.

 - He had the mission to present this material in show box and not to take it off, of course, not to sell…   Then MX received a " RF20 case  of prestige” as payement for the task.
- This material was clearly unknown in
France and was also, the only photographic item to enter there. MX explained me that during the fair, he had the body and the optics taken from the show box, only in order to prove to the amateur and professional that this material was not made of wood.
- MX had to send back to
China this material, as soon as the fair would be finished, according to orders of the Chinese authorities.
In 1975 - 1976,
China was in full “Cultural Revolution ” …October 1976, Mrs. Jiang Qing was jailed.
- At the end  of 1978, other people  contacted MX. One proposed him to send back the complete  Hong Qi  outfit case to China or to keep it against the sum of 1.000 $. MX decided to keep this camera and to use it in complement of his M3. He used the RF20 regularly during 20 years, without problem,; what proves that the quality of this material is very good.
- Optics are judged excellent by MX, exact Leica copies of :
- 1.4/50 Summilux
- 1.4/35 Summilux
- and 2/90 Summicrons.
- The optics for Leica " M " are perfectly usable on the RF20 and those of the RF20 on the Leica bodies except, of course, CL. Mount and rangefinder system being precisely identical.
- MX didn't speak the use that one made to some RF20s, except that the address for back " its " RF20 was, " military ".

 MX accepted to sell me this photographic whole (for part by exchange...) into its case, 15 years ago. I have often tried the body and the optics with big pleasure and very nice slides.
RF20 and its 3 optics are a really exceptional quality and are perfectly interchangeable with the Leicas M. lenses
Body n°: 73001 -The first RF20 body made !
Lens f1.4/50 n°: 740021 - it possesses a sunshade dedicated for 48mm diameter. This sunshade, put makes plug upside-down the lens.
Lens f1.4/35 n°: 75009
Lens f2/90 n°: 750052 - it possesses, as the Summicron, a built-in sunshade and a nut of foot.

 MX informed me that he left France with his wife and his dog, without leaving address, some weeks after our meeting, on a sailboat...Cape toward Greece…Have a good trip Mister X !!!

 I hope can have brought some answers, while hoping that they are reliable…
My long discussion with MX, having convinced me of the exactness of his subjects.
Thank you, and

J - Paul

Hong Qi 20 and normal lens


Hong Qi 20 with 90mm lens



 Camera with three lens outfit


Hong Qi 20

Hong Qi 20 normal lens, sunshade and eveready case 



Three lens outfit and case 


Outfit 2nd  view


Outfit 3rd  view 


with 50mm lens


with 90mm lens


Rear view: The first body made!

Front view 1.4/50


f2/90mm telephoto


f 1.4/35mm wide angle


Lenses with French Customs liberation cards.


photocrazy comment:

The Red Flag 20 is actually a copy of Leica M3 and M4, and possibly the only one in the world. Mao's wife, Madam Jiang Qing was very keen on photography. She worked as an actress in Shanghai in 1930s and had several affairs with some stars of that period. During the Cultural Revolution, Madam Jiang Qing's role was mainly to control the arts movement for the campaign's propaganda. Being loyal to Mao, she took a quite number of Mao's portraits and published them under different pseudo-names. When the then Iranian king visited China, Madam Jiang was presented with Leica M3 as gift which she adored immensely. In 1970s, production of sophisticated cameras was regarded as a symbol of a country's industrial strength, particularly for developing nations. And also in the 1960s and 70s, China was pursuing an economic policy of absolute self-reliance and attempted to produce anything it needed. Against this background, Madam Jiang ordered the copy production of Leica M3 and gave her M3 to Shanghai Camera Factory to dissemble. The copy production of Leica M3 was a huge challenge to China's manufacturing industry. Every parts of the original M3 were measured and then hand-copied. Many institutes, universities and research centres were involved in the process and special glasses were imported from East Germany. The first batch of Red Flag 20 kit came out in 1973 with three lenses, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4, 90mm f2, exact copies of Summilux and Summicron. But the Shanghai Camera Factory also made some modifications, including the back-door film loading mechanism. However, the production cost was unsustainably high. So only a total of 187 cameras rolled off the production line. The quality of the Red Flag 20 is said to be a long way behind Leica but is of great collection value due to its rarity and special history.


Hong Qi 20 at 1977 Fair of Paris


Yes ! Hong Qi also was a movie camera!


Hong Qi  S-16



Made in the Guangzhou Optical Research Institute factory is here seen with three fixed focal lenses and one zoom lens. They are 1,9/16mm: 1.5/25mm : 1.8/50mm  and a  Zoom 1.8 20-70mm Reflex finder and Bolex RX Mount  12 to 36 fps speeds

In a new developed body one can easily see tre strong Paillard Bolex influences. Even to the Kern objectives,

As the RED FLAG camera, it sports its name with the Mao’s caligraphy.



Inside view. One can clearly see the Bolex film loop forming guides


And why  not a 35 mm professional  movie camera?


Now the Arriflex inspired the


 Heping (Peace)


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