Shopping: Alps-Do Camera (Last Day)

Hello, everybody! It is with profound sadness that I bring you the news that the best camera shop in Japan has closed. This shop has been an institution for 9 decades, pre-dating and surviving the war, even. Times were hard, the corona issue has been harsh to nearly-all businesses. Majority of mom-and-pop shops and medium-sized enterprises found it difficult to cope, that and the problem of nobody wanting to take-over the family business forced lots of long-standing shops to close. It’s just not sustainable. Today, I’ll guide you through this shop’s last days and through its last business hour.

For many, Alps-Do Camera (カメラのアルプス堂) is a familiar place, many of my friends, local and abroad found their best bargain here. I consider this place to be the best camera shop in Japan because of their service, price and selection. I was a regular here, at one point visiting the shop several times a day when I was working at the area. This shop helped me appreciate classic photography gear, it helped inspire me to build this blog and nurtured what I would call a “healthy addiction” to restore junk equipment to their former glory. Many people called this shop their favorite and the people here were considered friends to the regular customers.

This is the last time I will be walking through this junction with a purpose. I would meet with my wife or friends at this shop since I see to it that I visit it at least once-a-week. For many, this was a routine, a ritual. For those of you who haven’t seen or known this amazing shop, read my article about Alps-Do Camera in its better days before you proceed.


Repair: Nikon 36-72mm f/3.5 Series-E

Hello, everybody! I’m pretty busy these days practicing programming. I am one of those people who prefer to use a simple text editor to code instead of using the latest code editors since I believe in good foundations. All the new and convenient features mean nothing if your fundamentals are weak. The simple ways will hone your discipline so I end up writing cleaner code. This can be translated to just about anything including photography. I like using older gear because it helps me focus and think before I click the shutter. I’m going to show you something today, it’s down-to-earth and it will teach you a lot about patience if you’re a new photographer. These don’t cost much as well and they’re great for students or people who are on tight budget.


The Nikon 36-72mm f/3.5 Series-E was sold from 1981-1985, quite short for a production zoom by Nikon’s standard. It was designed to be a portable and cheap companion to the Nikon EM which was marketed towards the lower-end of the market segment, by that Nikon meant the amateurs, students and women. Yes, you heard me right, Nikon and the rest of the world back then thought that women enjoyed small, light and easy-to-use setups. This would have caused a controversy these days but that was the late 1970s. This lens was quite popular since it was sold to be cheap at a time when zooms were rather expensive and served a specialty market unlike today where it is the most common type of lens due to their convenience.

It offers a good range for practical photography, its f/3.5 maximum aperture is adequate in most cases but indoor photography will be challenging if you are shooting with film. It’s a nice lens to use with a Nikon F3 but I believe it deserves to be paired with a better lens, it was Nikon’s flagship camera.


AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Anybody rocked a mullet several decades ago? I once had a mullet and even had it quite recently. It’s considered ugly today, and you’ll get images of MacGyver in your mind whenever you see somebody who has it. That was the 1980s for you. But mind you, not all things from that time is ugly. There are things that were made back then that made plenty of sense, some of the most beautiful things were made during that time, too. Today, I will show you something that stuck-out amongst the rest. Compared to what the other manufacturers were making, this is pretty in a sea of ugliness.


The AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 Ai-S is an odd lens today. Many people do not see or even knew about it but it has attained cult status amongst people who do and that all has to do with a special characteristic of this lens which you will see later in this article. This was made to compliment the Nikon F3AF, that’s the first professional autofocus Nikon that entered production. Without any lenses that could autofocus that camera would have been useless. Back then the servos and motors needed for this were relatively huge and fitting them to a small lens was challenging but Nikon did it and in an elegant way, too.

It’s a familiar-looking shape but back then many AF lenses have unusual or even out-of-place form like what Pentax and Canon had for example. Those were ugly, Nikon thankfully had better sense and taste! The engineers did a lot of work just so that the barrel is cylindrical as it should be. That made it easier to grip and it doesn’t feel odd in your hands. This may sound trivial, I don’t think anybody realized how difficult it was until they consider that it was the early 1980s and miniaturization wasn’t as good as it is today. Do you remember how ugly the old handy-cams were? That’s just the result of what technology could offer us back then.