5 best places to buy film cameras in Tokyo {2015|advice}

Today is my last day in Japan, in the last five days i been visiting most of the popular places where film cameras could be found. I did arrive to a surprising result of which i think is the best camera shop. For directions please download the offical subway app by the Japanese gov so you don’t need to ask anyone how to get from A->B.

Now without any order, here are some of the shops i visited and read the end for the best one and my reasons behind it. I did not take all the photos of each shop but i will mention each one here.


Lemon Camera



This shop is located at the Church of united christ, Ginza. It has a good collection of Leica and Nikons. The prices are somewhat pricier than those you can find in Map Camera and Kitamura. No photography allowed inside. Google Map will show you exactly how to get there when you type “lemon camera”.




Fujiya Camera

This is one of the best shop for price. Its located at Nakano just next to the Nakano Station. Its has a mix selection of film cameras and some Contax lens and good conditioned RTSs. On my visit i saw a beautiful set of Pentax 645NII with lens. This is definitely a must visit if price is the main criteria.

You can easily find this in google map.


There are 2 floors that have vintage and film cameras. The nikons here are in very good shape. Overall selection is as big as Lemon’s Camera but it does have friendlier prices for some of the used items. There are 3-4 Leitz CLE around.

I would say that if price is so so and you want to try your luck this would be a good place.

Kitamura Camera
This is located just “in your face” shop facing MapCamera. Basically just facing MapCamera in Shinjuku.
Mix bag assortments of cameras and pricing. Its a very interesting place to find what you want.

Bic Camera and Yodobashi camera

These two are the giants for new cameras. I used them for fast processing + scanning of my negative film. Although i think the best overall lab is in my country Malaysia, Bang Bang Geng which does 5xxx x 3xxxx mps scan by default at half the cost of whatever i am paying in japan.

You can find some gems here in these stores. You see some of the old stocks could be here. I saw Bessa R4m, R3a, R3m at prices that are even cheaper than ebay. Each store however, could be listing the price differently :-).

So did i buy anything after visiting all over the place and which store?

I wanted a Zeiss Ikon because my current main lens is the f1 noctilux. Although my current Bessa r3m is just solid good, the EBL (effective base length). In short, focusing at F1, i will need more EBL and Zeiss Ikon is definitely at the top end. You can read more about EBL here

I couldn’t find the zeiss ikon. The M3 is out of question because it only support a shutter speed up till 1/1000. Lets face its, M3 is super dated and finding a good copy is hard. If you are using f1.4 or f1, 1/1000 is just asking for trouble.

Katsumido Camera

I saw this shop at Ginza and took a tour inside, i notice that the prices are slightly more expensive that the other shops mentioned above but they do offer direct tax free deduction. But i also notice something peculiar about this shop, the items doesn’t list the normal “condition A, B, C” but they look very pristine. In fact i thought they somehow selling brand new vintage cameras like m3, m5.

Then something caught my eye. A limited edition of Hexar RF. The condition is so beautiful that i begin to realize why the other items in the shop are selling at a slightly higher price. It whats you pay what you get here and this shop only carries the best conditioned ones. I had a chat with the owner Mr Yasuhiro Fujimoto and i realized he doesn’t really have the burden of rent because that place belongs to his grandfather who have been selling cameras since 1940.

I bought it and although it doesn’t have the box, they carefully wrapped the purchased with a customed micro fibre cloth.
You can see the condition here, unedited straight from my phone. I don’t sell products so i just gonna show you some casual shot of the Hexar.




In short, if you really want a very good film camera and you don’t mind paying a little, you get the best conditioned cameras here and saved from buying new. The shop name is Katsumido Camera at 9-1,5-Chrome Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. I had to list this address here cause you won’t be able to easily find it in Google map or google, it shows up in japanese. This shop is facing some prominent Ginza road and just few minutes “straight” walk. They can be reached at (81)03-35710468.

I shot a roll of Velvia color film and its and hope to share the results soon.

Five night at tokyo {street photography | noctilux}

smoking corner

I am still in tokyo, my third day. One Film camera, One lens, the noctilux 50 f1. These photos are from my 2nd day, developed and scanned by Big Camera at Ginza, for around 1000 yen for both process. All the photos are shot at aperture F1-f2.8. I never shoot anything with deep dof, noctilux’s vignette seems to diminish a lot on film.


These photos are unedited, i am using Superia Premium Iso 400, i shot this photo using the hip. These teens are lighted only by the shops on the left and the street light. I took this at f2.

electric town

The black tones on this image is just, perfect. taken at F2.0


This shot was taken on my way out of the Fish market near Ginza where i took the first photo shared on top.

do it

Please visit the rest of the photos here at flickr.

5 real reasons why i shoot film in 2015 {portraiture}

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fuji superia 200, noctilux f1.

* All images here are unedited and taken using film on fuji Superia200 and kodak Porta160.

Often its the old school guys that pushes for shooting films. Folks that are caught in the past and never got the balls to seriously try digital. As a result of that we end up having all kinds of articles in the internet that is both misleading and silly. Sifting through the internet for gems and valid points from experience people who have done both and yet decided on film is like mining for gold in a ghost town.

I believe that before you can judge something, you need to either have divine knowledge in it or you have spent enough time to provide some authoritative opinion on it. Being ignorant or reactively being defensive is a fool’s mentality.

i am a firm believer in digital. I have subscriptions to LR and Adobe CC and i have spend countless hours perfecting my outdoor portraiture works both in editing and photographing. I could shoot manual 100% easily in almost any lighting. I have owned and used Sony a7r, Nikon D4, Sigma SD15 and various other cams during my course of photography. Ownership of premium gears is of course not a credible factor except for being a gear head. My last set of gears that i still own are the Leica ME/M9, Ricoh GR and the Panasonic FZ1000 travel cam.

And so i tried film…gave up few months ago…and i am back.

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fuji superia200, noctilux f1.

Here are 5 reasons why i have no plans to do digital anytime soon. I have one caveat to list here, that is, i am a hobbyist, i don’t shoot studio commercials, my commercials are outdoor portraiture.

1. film are for pros.

Pros as in using a camera and knowing what to set. I am not in the learning stage nor amateurish level where topics like iso, aperture and whitebalance are being learned. If you are starting out, i highly recommend digital. If you can’t take up any camera and shoot successfully in manual, i recommend sticking and using digital. I use 0 exposure compensation for all my images shot since 2013, if you don’t understand how is that possible, stick to digital.

If you have done all that. Welcome to film.

I am using a bessa R3m, which is a rangefinder, similar to my M9 except its 7 times cheaper.
Because it has a magnification of 1:1 i could open both eyes and just decides when to press the shutter.
I have like 500% less things to fiddle on the film camera. Just the shutter speed.
Films is less fiddling because you know what you want.

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fuji superia 200, noctilux f1

2. film sticks to the moment

There is no chance for chimping. You keep ur eyes open, you raise your alertness to the model’s or subject’s ever changing situation. You take the shot, wind the film, next. All the while, you are in the moment, u never left the scene.
When you are using film, you surrender the luxury of digital capabilities like replaying the shot and retaking, 5-100 fps (use a 4kvideo plz) and every click cost money.
Suddenly, your mind is more alert, sober and serious when taking the next shot. This only works on film.
When you have digital and even if you cover up the LCD or if you attempt to limit your shooting process, your mind is not stupid, it knows and you will shoot it like a machine gun.

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kodak porta 200. noctilux f1.

3. film saves you time

This might sound really silly but its true. A typical workflow in digital goes this way.
– 300-1200 shots on a 2 hours shoot
– 1-2 hours just identifying which photo to use, simple tweaks
– 1-3 hours per retouching on each photo

A film workflow is :
– drive and pass to the lab (30 minutes?)
– goto nearest cafe and enjoy your coffee or go home

Today’s modern labs will scan and automatically upload to your google drive, you can collect the film negatives only when you need it. I do pay for the development and scanning, but it comes down to around USD 0.50 per shot. Time is always more expensive and precious.

The tones are so beautiful and i don’t even need to edit to tweak the image vigorously. (See 4 : film tones are awesome)

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kodak porta 200, noctilux f1.

4. film tones are awesome

VSCO dominates most of the picture editing apps today. In instagram VSCO is used more than any other apps added up.
VSCO attempts to deliver film-feel to digital and people just realized they love it.
When you shoot film, you get these awesome tones out of the box. In fact, i could not use any VSCO on any of my film images because the original is just so much better.

None of the images shared here were edited.

kodak porta160. noctilux f1.
kodak porta160. noctilux f1.

5. shooting film slows you down

Each click cost your something. Your “system” is aware of that and you will compose much more before you take that shot.
You will see more and get yourself out of the digital upgrade hell hole and insufficiency complex that the industry is selling you.
At this point of writing i am in Tokyo. I took 5 days off my full time job, to Japan. I came with one film camera and 12 rolls of film.

Don’t get me wrong here. Film is in no way superior to digital when it comes to output and clinical sharpness. It is however, a fantastic process and experience to get into.

When taking images is more than just photography. {thoughts}

i see u
i see u

its 12:45 am. i am sitting next to my bed, a smaller bed that is just next to the main one. i have just ordered from ebay a BessaR3M and a Nikon F3ma, both are film cameras. film? what?

four years ago before i started photography, life is just standard operating procedure. married with a kid, financially sufficient, runs a company with shares in two more companies. life is good one would say.

Day in, day out, visit my office, chat with the staffs, partners, dividends, sales, technical issues.
Life is good one would say. i am a prodigy in computer development, wrote my first game on commercial game on floppy disk when i as 14, on the apple ][. my best friend who inspires me in programming went to silicon valley and never came back. literally. He died of heart attack last year.

my circle of friend for the last 15 years, guys that grew up with me in the church, Phoenix that i met from the church and some collegues from 2 companies i joined before i started my own. I believe in God, all programmers should, seeing how stupid it is to cook up codes by chance, everything is by design.


Fast forward to 2012. Participated in a paid portrait event. Portraiture hits the key. I have never found interest in anything except people when it comes to photography. Humans are the ultimate design and whose image are so divinely created, i could find no joy in taking photos of dead objects nor animals. At that time i was 38. I pursued this field by learning from the best, ming thien, dragon chow or whomever that i felt i could learn from.

Like a born-again superhero, i added some noble intention to my newly acquired skills. Helping young models to create albums that they can use in kickstarting their freelance jobs and offering advices on standing out but keeping it safe. It was all too enjoyable. Why wouldn’t it be, meeting beautiful aspiring models every week, fanning friendships and seeing some purpose in life. Any guy would have enjoyed doing it. You shouldn’t be reading this part in a sober mood though, hahaha. Truth be told, after having done thru over 86 models and albums, one tends to go over the initial excitement and focus more on perfecting the art.

As my page in facebook : http://www.facebook.com/marcuslowphoto became more popular, write ins poured in. Paid jobs came in which i happily took, not because of the money, but because its just something you had to do when people wanted to pay you to do the thing that u love to do. I had to turn away most of the invites for events and group photos regardless the pay.

Apart from models, female friends continue to ask me to shoot. Some guys ask me why. Its pretty simple. The flower fades and the grass withers but your photos last thru generations. Female beauty are at the peak in the range of 16-27, after which the ageing effect inevitably sets in visually. If the photos are not captured during this stage, it has missed the train, so to speak.


Capturing light has brought plenty of experience and episodes in these four years. I fell in love with not the mere output of the art, but the whole process. Leica being an outdated camera with minimalistic knobs just works. I wager that film shooting this time round would allow me to focus even more. Looking back, there are episodes where i fell in love more than just on the gears, but that is life, in its full vulnerable state and journey. This craft have changed my life, open doors and reached out in many ways, there is no regret in photography.

My next plan is just to shoot and pass to labs to develop, no plans to open up lightroom nor photoshop at all. Lets keep it organic and real. Lets do this for some albums.

* images here are taken recently at myespresso cafe, one of the best cafe in kuala lumpur, subang jaya. model is a long time friend Angela Lieche that has her own story to tell about her freelance life in malaysia.

That noc-thing again {portraiture|thoughts}


There is just something about the noct on the leica CCD that keeps you addicted to it. These images are taken casually without much editing, in fact, when i saw the colors and bokeh, i just loved them. This particular shot exhibits candylike pastel colors and it didn’t require much effort on my side. If i were to be downright frank, in reality the rendered image beats the actual image.


It takes a little bit of practice and once you developed what i would call the “bokeh eyes”, you can envision certain aspect of the images and bet that it would turn out amazing. An example would be the distance and lights behind the subject, the noctilux f1 is at f 1.0, it renders it very differently than say a 1.8.


These images are taken during the non flattering hours of the day. They are all taken in shaded location without any form of reflector nor flash. In Malaysia, the equatorial position guarantees that the sun will be directly above the country most of the time and you have very short side lighting than other non equatorial countries.
Using the noct, you need to get around 3 meters away to allow a certain margin of movable recomposition. This is because on the rangefinder like the M9, you can compose only in the center and you recompose by moving the camera horizontally, but because you are using f1.0, you only have a very small margin of depth in the subject you are shooting.


I should be shooting a lot more and sharing them. The GR now lies in my other bag as the noct’s alluring call for action is just hard to resist haha. I have been offered to goto Korea to do a portrait shoot for a girl whom i think has just undergone plastic surgery and wanted to have an album to share her newfound beauty, but we’ll see.