As everyone knows, unless they were born into a bucket load of cash and don’t know any better, most people don’t get to spend big on their first camera. But if you do make it past the first few years of a camera hobby, you will be wanting to upgrade or add lenses to your collection. The other reason you may be still reading at this point is that you’re after something older, rarer, or a little retro. Well that’s here too.
Initially a kit lens is sufficient to start, but eventually most photographers realize they have their limitations. The problem here is once you see the price of some of the desirable lenses you find that you may have to settle for something less. The way around this is to purchase equipment on the used market, which is luckily a solid option in Japan! For the most part photographers in Japan don’t drive their cameras like rental cars, and the used camera stores generally offer warranties on the items they sell. Which if you are traveling back home is more a seal of their confidence in their product rather than something that you’re likely to utilize. The items on offer are typically a lot cheaper than in other markets abroad or at least definitely cheaper than Australia (where I’m from) anyway.
On a side note, Japanese second hand stores often carry items called ‘junk’ which tends to be arranged in crates all together somewhere in a corner of the store. As a general rule it implies the item doesn’t work to its full capacity, but this can vary greatly. In the case of a lens, it might mean having some minor dust or mold inside, or it could be a broken focus ring and looking like its been stored in the garden shed for safe keeping. Suffice to say, it’s worth rummaging through the junk bins for a good find. One’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure, after all.
With the intro out of the way let the Complete Guide to Used Camera Stores in Shinjuku begin. The shops are in no particular order. Think of it as a meandering tour through Shinjuku’s camera markets.
1. Janpara Shinjuku
Janpara Camera is located where the bulk of the stores are and carries Cameras, Lenses and some PCs mainly laptops. The stock here tends to be newer models. It is located on the second floor above the Yodabashi Camera which is on street level.
2. Camera Kitamura
Camera Kitamura is a well known dealer and has a chain of stores across Japan. They carry a variety of generally newer equipment of all the major brands. This place is definitely worth a visit. It’s also the chain where I bought my first digital camera all 4 megapixels back in 2002.
3. Lemon Sha Camera
The name may put you off, but its not what they are about. They carry are large number of cameras and lenses from all the major brands. The stock tends to be newer but they do have bins of junk lenses and equipment. They are located on the 3rd floor.
4. Map Camera
Probably one of the biggest in the area with brands grouped on to floors based on which fanboys/girls they feel wont clash. See the picture of the signboard below for your allocated floor. This is probably the benchmark for the area in terms of layout out and range. On a side note, in the basement you can get up close and personal with a Leica without having to ask and feign an interest in purchasing one.
5. Shinjuku Used Camera Market
These guys carry a large selection of mainly film cameras and older lenses with a sprinkling of older DSLRs. They have a large amount of stock and have some true vintage equipment. The store is located on the 2nd floor.
6. Used Camera Box
Unlike the name suggests the items are arranged in cabinets, that being said there are a number of items in boxes around the store. The bulk of the stock made up of film cameras and lenses. This store looks like it has been around an equal number of years to many of the cameras it carries. There is a enormous range of equipment located here and based on the conversation I overheard people come here looking for rare cameras and lenses.
7. Classic Camera Moritz
A little out the way, but the owner speaks English, which for those with limited to no Japanese ability will find makes for a smooth transaction. As the name suggests he carries mainly older cameras. There is a large selection of equipment here and worth a visit if not just to speak to the owner.
8. Lucky Camera Shop
Lucky Camera carry an extensive collection of Film cameras and lenses of the same vintage. They also have a large number of Leicas.
9. Kitamura Camera
This branch of the well established Kitamura Camera appears like that of a flagship store and has a huge selection of cameras lenses from all times of photography. There is also has a floor dedicated to junk cameras, lenses and equipment. Definitely well worth a visit.
10. 5 Star Camera
5 Star Camera has a large selection of used gear ranging from newer cameras and lenses through to film cameras and lenses. The entire basement floor dedicated to junk cameras and lenses sorted in no particular order which makes for an enjoyable hunt.
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Hope you enjoyed ‘a Complete Guide to Used Camera Stores in Shinjuku’. Feel free to send us an email if you have any questions or ideas for photography related future blogs and we will endeavor to make them a reality.
Gone but not forgotten
Nikon Miyama Shokai
A large portion of the store was allocated to Nikon, but the other makers were represented. The store carried new and used equipment and was quite large and well organised. There was also a section dedicated to film cameras that included a large number of Hasselblad cameras and lenses.
Camera No Arupusu (Alps) Dou
This shop was very close to the station, but on the opposite side to the balance of the competition. It was a small shop with mainly older cameras and a few DSLRs.