Camera Hunting in Tokyo & Seoul

Film photography has undergone a renaissance lately, after fading to the brink of obscurity, many photographers are discovering or rediscovering it. Two places where the comeback is especially big are Tokyo and Seoul, where is feels like film never left.

Tokyo is a Mecca for photography. Many of the worlds best camera brands were founded there and the whole city is a candy shop for camera lovers. There are dozens of beautiful used camera stores with incredible selection and very well cared for products. In Canada it can be tough to find much used gear outside of pawn shops, so it's a real treat to see so many classic cameras in person. 

I'm a big fan of Japan Camera Hunter, who has a great guide to camera shopping in Tokyo. Armed with his map, Ania and I went all over the city searching for every store we could find. Two shops really stood out from the rest. Map camera, with it's massive selection and a basement full of some of the most beautiful Leica's I've ever seen, and Katsumido Camera that is so elegant inside that it makes these old cameras feel more like precious jewels than technology. 

After Tokyo, we did some exploring of the camera district in Seoul. Most of these film cameras I could usually only find on eBay, so being able to play with them in real life was a treat. Many of these cameras are decades old but look as if they came straight off the factory floor. If you are shopping for used gear it is definitely a good sign if it is coming from Japan or Korea, they take excellent care of their equipment.

Some of the highlights were the Contax G2 and T2 which are at the top of my wish list, the Fuji T1i which is a tempting replacement for our X-E1, and of course exquisite Leicas everywhere. If you want a camera as an investment piece a film Leica camera can hold it's value for decades, so even shopping for used is quite expensive.

If you're planning a camera shopping trip to Asia, I recommend you do your research before you go and budget for something nice. The selection can be overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking for, so come up with a checklist of cameras you'd like to look at, and try them all out.