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Vintage Camera Shopping in Japan

Great used camera shop in Omori, Tokyo | Japanorama.co.uk.

 

Many great TLRs are made in Japan. the famous yashica family, autocord family and so on. so you must be wondering where to find some second-hand camera store in Japan?

here you go. Just compiled some info about where to find these precious vintage babies in Hot Japan!.

 

Tokyo is not exactly short of good used camera stores but Cross Point in Omori, Shinagawa-ku, has some amazing bargains especially on film and especially medium-format cameras. We take a look to see what is on offer at this suburban alladin’s cave of cameras.Omori might not be the trendiest or glitziest of Tokyo’s suburbs or even the most well-known. But it’s easy to get to [just ten minutes from Shinagawa Station on the Keihin-Tohoku or Keiky Lines] and it has one of the best used camera shops in town.

Cross Point Cameras is about five minutes walk from Omori Station and about ten minutes from our office, which is pretty dangerous it must be said; the impulse-purchase dial reads ‘maximum’ at all times, and for good reason.

Japan and especially Tokyo has some superb used camera stores, feeding off the national obsession for the camera and – more particularly – the national obsession for all things new and shiny or, more specifically, the desire to turn in the old in preference for the new.

Some Japanese camera-buffs are utterly obsessive about having either the newest gear or having gear that is immaculate. The tiniest blemish on a piece of equipment can often tempt cameraphiles to trade in old for new as much as their desire to have the latest lens, body or accessory. This means that the place is literally awash with good quality used equipment. Great for those who relish quality over trends and for those seeking a more retro approach to their photography; i.e. film cameras rather than digital.

It’s in the film and particularly the medium-format film end of the film department that Cross Point offers its most stunning bargains. Currently in the window [see the photogallery below] is, for example, a Mamiya RZ67 that doesn’t look too long out of its box, complete with 120 film-back, 110mm lens and AE metering head. All this for just 37,000Yen. Alongside it are a bunch of RB67 cameras, all ready to shoot, ranging from just 10,000Yen.

Cross Point is not for the Hasselblad fan as, like other very sought-after items, Blads tend to get bought from the owner of the shop by many of the other used camera stores in Tokyo. But you can find them here occasionally and it is worth leaving the owner of the shop your details so he can keep an eye out for you and let you know if he finds what you are looking for.

This lack of Swedish camera gear is a minor shortcoming though and I would dare any serious camera fan to not find something at Cross Point to tempt their wallet out to play. Taking our visit there just last Saturday as an example – and bearing in mind that the owner is about to do one of his buying runs around Japan, picking up new stock – Cross Point had a good selection of mediumn format cameras, including the following:

  • Mamiya RB67 – priced from 10,000Yen to 40,000Yen
  • Mamiya RZ67 – priced from 28,000Yen to 60,000Yen
  • Pentax 67
  • Pentax 645
  • Bronica EC
  • Bronica GS1
  • Bronica ETRS and ETRSi
  • Fuji 6×9
  • Graphlex 6×7
  • Mamiya 645
  • Fuji GSX680

On the 35mm side of life Cross Point also stocks an excellent selection of gear, from classic Nikon and Canon rangefinders, some excellent quality and reasonably priced Leica M3, M4, and M5 rangefinders. To more recent Canon AE and F1, Nikon F Series, Olympus OM series and various other SLR cameras.

The lens selection is not comprehensive but there are always plenty of Nikon Ai, AiS, AF D and both newer and older lenses. In the Canon section Cross Point carries a good range of older FD and the newer EF-mount lenses.

Like any good used camera shop there are also a number of eccentric oddities in stock at any one time. Current highlights would have to include….

  • 1200mm lens with Bronica medium format mount [you can’t miss it, it’s the lens near the counter that looks like it could be a pillar supporting the shop’s roof]
  • Nikkor 600mm af ED
  • Sinar P2 monorail camera
  • Horsemann 6×9 and Polaroid rotating back
  • Nikonos flash gear, wide angle lenses
  • …and a few more besides.

Chief amongst reasons to visit Cross Point is the friendly owner, who speaks a little English and who can be very generous on the discounts and items he throws-in for free.

This weekend a friend of mine [a genuine vintage camera-holic] came down to the shop for the first time and left with a mint-condition Mamiya RZ67, complete with a  110mm lens that looked like it had just come out of the box, its 120 film-back, a Polaroid back, camera bag, fresh battery, authentic Mamiya RZ strap and a roll of film to test the whole lot out….. all for 22,000Yen.

I defy anyone to find a better bargain in Tokyo than that!

Photo gallery: a few shots of Cross Point Cameras in Omori

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Access details:

  • Five-minutes walk from Omori Station [Keihin Tohoku Line]
  • Ten minutes walk from Omori-kaigan Station [Keikyu Line]
  • Co-ordinates, to put into Google Maps or similar: 35.59148,139.731315. Click this link to see these co-ordinates in Google Maps. StreetView is available and shows the shop quite clearly.

One last thing to remember; print this article out, take it into the shop and at least the guy will know you found about his place through Alfie and Japanorama. It can’t hurt and it might help you get an even better deal than the price tags already suggest.

Happy shopping and happy shooting!

 

 

Tokyo Used Camera Stores (Source: http://tonymcnicol.com/2009/05/24/secon-hand-camera-shops/):

5 shops, in no particular order . . .

1) Fujiya Camera, Nakano

Nakano was Tokyo geek central before Akihabara, and it has some of the best hobby shops in Tokyo, including cameras. There are several Fujiya shops in a small area. The biggest one has used cameras on the second floor. Check out Mandarake while you are in Nakano. No cameras, but everything else you could imagine!

2) Sanpo Camera, Meguro

Sanpo is the most inconviently situated of this list, but I suspect that is the point. They are VERY cheap. I’m not so sure about their used cameras, but they kitted me out with a new DLSR kit not so long ago for much less than anywhere else I could find. A favourite of pros.

3) Map Camera, Shinjuku

Right round the corner from Yodobashi camera Shinjuku West exit. There are about 5 or 6 used camera shops within a stone’s through of this one but Map is the biggest and best. I just sold them a lens the other day and they were super-efficient. I’ve always had good advice from the staff too.

4) Sakuraya, Akihabara, Shinjuku etc

There are Sakura camera shops dotted all around Tokyo and Japan, actually a chain of used camera shops, and how that is economically feasible, I have no idea. In any case, they have lots of extremely cheap classic cameras. I bought a Yashica Samurai for 1000 yen in one the other day.  It came with a free battery worth 800 yen!

5) Lemonsha, Ginza

By no means the cheapest of the above, but my favourite. Lots of Leica, a fair selection of Nikon and Canon, medium format etc. They stock other collectables like fountain pens and watches too. (I’m writing a story on Seiko right now). They have a little coffee machine and seating area, so its perfect for a break during an afternoon of ginbura.

10 thins to look for when shopping a vintage camera (Source: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/08/the-10-most-important-things-you-should-be-looking-for-when-buying-a-classic-camera-or-how-not-to-get-ripped-off/):

Click to read more

Pictured above: Canon 7 Black w/50mm f1.2 screw mount. Shot by Bellamy Hunt

Eric’s Note: For this blog post I am excited to present this article written by Bellamy Hunt (aka Japancamerahunter). Not only is he a skilled street photographer, but he is a professional camera hunter. If you are looking for a vintage or classic camera, he is your man. Knowing nothing about classic cameras myself, I asked him some tips that you may need to know when looking to buy one. Read what he has to say below!

So, you have decided to take the plunge and buy a classic camera, well hold on to your horses, this is something that you shouldn’t run headlong into with wild abandon.
Obviously if you are buying a $20 camera most of this will be completely irrelevant to you, but if you are thinking of getting something a bit nicer, then there are a few things you should consider.

First up, and perhaps most importantly, know what you are looking for. Don’t have a vague idea that you want a film camera and just buy the first one you see; you will just be disappointed.

Here is a little list of things that you should be looking for when you are buying a classic camera.

1. What sort of camera do you want? A rangefinder? An SLR? A large format aerial camera?

Give this some thought. The internet is your friend, go and do some research and find out what you think you would like. Perhaps you have a friend who has a camera you like, if so, blag it off them and try it out.

2. How much money do you want to spend?

Be realistic about this, these things can get expensive. Just because it is old does not mean it is worth less than the new gear. Research prices online, set yourself a budget and you will find something. Don’t be cheap though, you are not going to get that Leica for $400. Not. Ever.

3. Research. Research. Research.

I cannot stress this enough, I am super serial. No really, the amount of people that have bought a $2000 camera from me and then asked me how it works simply staggers me. Download a manual, read forums, stalk photographers, whatever it takes.

4. Don’t be fooled.

If you are looking to buy a classic camera and you find one for an amazing bargain, there is always a reason why….always. Be skeptical of cheap prices or super wonderful deals. Is there a problem with the camera? Or worse, is it stolen? Be careful.

5. Check the functions.

Ok, so you have found the camera, the price is right, it looks pretty enough, but does it work? Check the shutter speeds, all of them. How does 1 second sound? Like 3 seconds? Skip it. Check the power, the film door, the meter (if it has one), check everything.

6. Mold is your worst enemy.

Check the inside of the camera, is there any mold anywhere? If there is, just walk away. Unless, of course, you like throwing your money away. Same goes for lenses.

7. What battery does it use?

This may sound silly, but some cameras (Leica M5 being a shining example) only use mercury cells, which are now outlawed in many places. Make sure you can get the batteries for your new toy. Some cameras now take adapters, so you can bypass this, but not all of them do.

8. What sort of condition is it in?

This may sound obvious, but if it says mint, then it really should be mint. How was it stored? One careful lady owner? Lovely, I shall take it. In a bucket full of spiders? No thanks.

9. Where is it?

Again, may sound silly, but it you are having it sent to you, you have to factor in the postage and if is from abroad, the import taxes. Trust me, most people forget this, but it can be a fair chunk of your budget.

10. Where are you going to keep it?

Really, where? On the shelf next to your mother’s heirlooms, gathering dust? Be sensible, if you are buying something expensive make sure you have somewhere to store it. A humidity cabinet is best, but expensive. Get a plastic storage box with a whole load of silica gel packets and you would do yourself a favor.

So, that should cover it. Obviously if you are buying from the internet then you cannot physically check over the camera yourself, which is where the trust thing comes into play. Check your sellers, see if they have a good reputation, see what people are saying about them and you should be grand.

Most of all, good luck, with the right amount of research you should end up with something really cool.

Cheers
Japancamerahunter

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