Shopping: Kitamura Camera

Hello, everybody! Do you remember Bruce Lee’sGame of Death“? It’s one of the best martial arts movies ever made. It also inspired a lot of video games since each floor of the tower Bruce Lee was at is guarded by a villain, giving you this anticipation as to what or who to expect on the next floor. This is a great concept, something that has never been done before and copied ever since. Today, I will show you something similar, this time with cameras, not Bruce Lee.

Kitamura Camera (カメラのキタムラ) is a well-known name, it certainly is a giant in the camera retail business. Unlike its rivals, Kitamura’s shops are all small and scattered. You will find several shops in an area, even. They’re also selling used gear which many of the bigger names don’t do. They offer great customer service, if you saw something from their website that you’d like to see, simply request for the product to be sent to the branch nearest to you and you could check the camera there and buy it if you wanted to. This is a unique service that nobody else offers. I don’t buy much from them but I used to have my rolls processed by them regularly until recently because they have jacked–up their fee. I was curious as to why they would do that, I now know the reason, that is probably to pay for the rent of their new shop.

This is their flagship, it’s their biggest and best shop ever. It’s open until late at night, 11PM. This is something that nobody offers! This shop is helping a lot in terms of promoting the use of film by offering this service! While I do not know about the cut-off time for processing I do know that you could get your roll from the reception any-time they’re open. This is great for tourists who value every minute of their time during their trip.

The company has been around for decades, they went by the name Kimura Camera until it was changed some time ago in the not-so-distant past. They have shops across the nation, not all sell cameras and lenses, not all shops will process film either. Some of them are shops for ID photos and general photography shops where you could get your graduation photos taken. This is the unique business model of this company, it offers complete services for your photography needs but not under a single roof.

This mega-shop is located in Shinjuku, across the mammoth Bic Camera. It’s easy to spot since they’re beside landmark. The shop’s address is 160-0022 3-chōme-26 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tōkyō.

I came across a familiar face, Mr. M! I always bump into him on my camera raids, looks like we are fated. Each time I see him he always has an unusual camera with him. He works for a big Japanese lens company, photography is his life, he is one of the most-dedicated people I know.

Here’s what you should expect from this building. It’s a real super-store! It’s also a pet-friendly place, you can bring your pets but keep them leashed.

Are you excited? Let me guide you through the whole building and I’ll show you the wonders inside of this building.

1st Floor (Film & Accessories):

This is the first thing that you will see once you enter any establishment. It’s a simple setup and you wouldn’t know what this building has inside unless you get to the other floors. It looks clean, new and stylish, an image that the company wants to push.

This will greet you when you first get into the shopfront. It’s a boutique for accessories, film, trinkets and a counter where you pick your roll up after it has been developed. This may not interest the majority of our readers and it doesn’t show the full-extent of what this establishment has.

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Here are some of the things for sale at this floor. The selection of film is nice but it’s nowhere near what the other shops offer like Bic Camera just across the street.

There’s nothing much to see here but trust me, it’s going to get much better from here. Let’s now look at the upper floors.

2nd Floor (New Items):

This floor displays and sells new items. The prices are regulated so you will not get any discounts from here unless you’re a tourist and you could get an incredible 10% discount. Tourists won’t get charged any consumption tax at all, which is fair.

This display shows all the flagship Nikon DSLRs ever made. The lenses look amazing, certainly not cheap, at least the ones at the upper part, that is.

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There’s a large selection of new items being sold here, all at the retail price that’s specified by each manufacturer.

The only reason to come to this floor is to test the lenses and cameras that’s on display. You could do that at the other shops, too. However, you may find some things here that are not on display elsewhere so it may be worthwhile to visit this floor if you’re considering buying something new.

3rd Floor (Lounge):

This is where you take your rolls so they could be processed. It usually only takes 1 hour, which is the standard in nearly-all Kitamura shops but not all branches offer this service, though. There’s also a well-known coffee shop at this floor where you can buy over-priced beverage and pastry. What’s great about this floor is there’s a huge lounge where you can relax.

You can bring whatever you bought from the over-priced coffee shop beside this wing and spend your time here. I loiter here occasionally, taking a nap at one point. Thankfully, they didn’t throw me out.

There’s a good selection of photography-related literature here so you could read while you wait for your film to get processed. Some people actually use this as a place to study or just chat with their friends.

I imagine that some people only come here to loiter. I rarely spend my time here since this is too “trendy” for me. I prefer a simple no-frills place where I could enjoy my time. This is certainly geared for the fashion-conscious, not an old, boring photographer like me.

4th Floor (Used Items):

Things get more exciting as you reach this floor. This is where all the goods are. The prices are quite expensive to put it lightly but the reason for this is this place is where the company pools all of their best-quality merchandise. Things that are of lower-grade are sold in different branches. Despite being expensive, the things being sold here are all well-presented and you’ll have a great time just ogling at what’s behind the glass.

This is what will greet you as you go up the staircase, an amazing display of used lenses, many of them German and expensive.

This is where you trade your kidney. The prices of older Leica M’s and their lenses have risen in the past couple of years thanks to camera hoarders. It’s obvious where these people came from so I won’t mention their nationality.

Here’s a nice collection of Nikon F3’s, all quite rare and expensive. They are all in above-average condition, even the one that was used by the press. The Nikon F3 is the best Nikon in my opinion, so long as batteries and parts last. It’s the best-handling manual Nikon I have ever used.

Here are some rare Nikkors, all of which are ultra-wide. Some of them even come with their original rear caps and special finders.

A rare boxed Nikon F. I am not sure if the number on the box and body are matching but for the price they better be. You will need more than a kidney to buy the one to the left, I don’t know why it’s so expensive, maybe it’s one of the earlier 640 series cameras but they should cost this much.

Here’s where the LTM Nikkors are stored, nothing particularly rare. Prices are on the high-side but the condition is better than what you would find at other shops.

The Nikon rangefinders can be found here. The external condition seems to be quite good judging from what I could see. If you’re interested in buying a camera from many decades ago, always check the condition of the shutter.

The S-mount Nikkors can be found in this display. Again, nothing rare at all apart from the 2 super-fast Nikkor-N 5cm f/1.1 at the bottom. These are rare but not as rare as their LTM counterparts.

Here are more recent models from other makers.

Their matching finders and prisms are all here in this case. The leather case looks nice, it’s not in mint-condition but it’s in great shape.

Most of the older manual Nikons can be found in this display. While they’re not cheap their conditions are all above-average with no dents and dings at all. I am not sure about the state of the prisms.

Recent film Nikons are also on display, too. The Nikon F3 has appreciated in recent years, specially the more-expensive models.

A very nice example of a Nikon F3T. Titanium scratches easily so finding an unscratched sample can be difficult. It’s a magnificent camera, something I have always wanted but too cheap to afford.

Boxed specimens are also sold but they fetch a small premium. Some people are willing to pay the extra in order to get a complete set.

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Here’s the rest of the Nikon display.

Something for the collector. The price seems reasonable until you consider that you will have to pay extra for the consumption tax, if you’re a resident. The lens is one of Nikon’s earliest for 35mm photography.

Here’s another one. It’s cheaper, maybe that’s due to the missing collar. The attached collar on the shutter doesn’t look original to me at all.

The Zeiss Contax IIa is one of my favorite cameras to use. I love mine a lot, it is refined but can be cumbersome to use these days.

A very clean example of a Leica If. This looks like a later model, I am not an expert on this so I could be wrong.

I have always wanted to own one of these.

If you go to the other wing you’ll find the used section for digital stuff. This is nice, they check their gear properly and they have descriptions that state whatever is wrong with the items and what’s included with them.

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Here’s the rest of the wing. They have an incredible selection of used gear, I would spend many minutes looking at what’s for sale, molesting them if I’m interested in buying one, which I wouldn’t since they don’t offer warranties on models that the makers don’t have parts for, which is a shame. This isn’t like Fujiya camera, they still offer shop-warranty for nearly all of their used digital gear with a minimum of 6-months.

This floor is probably the only reason why I would come here. I have never bought anything from this floor yet since their prices are on the high-side, I also prefer buying used digital gear that comes with warranty, even if that’s not really going to help much, it offers some security.

5th Floor (Repair)

They call this section the “repair room” but I think the appropriate name for this should be a “camera spa”. I said that because they will send serious jobs elsewhere such as fungus cleaning and other more-severe cases. What they only do here is general cleaning of the exterior which is not helpful at all if you know how to repair cameras, like me.

I don’t see anything being serviced here. The nice thing about this is you are able to see everything.

I doubt anybody would have their cameras done here, I think they clean all of the gear that are meant to be sold in their shops here. So long as the used camera or lens doesn’t have any major defects it could be cleaned here.

6th Floor (Museum & Gallery)

This floor is dedicated to displaying and worshiping beautiful cameras from the golden age of photography. I am not sure if these are for sale but what’s displayed here all look nice. There’s also a gallery at the other wing, you are able to see works from some of the best photographers displayed there.

This is basically an altar dedicated to the expensive German brand. If you’re a collector or an enthusiast of Leica you will be delighted with this.

Well, they also have modern, digital models here, too. I don’t know why but they’re all here.

This is something that will interest me more, classic film cameras.

Now, this is more my thing, Nikons! Well, there’s a Leotax and a Canon here as well, they probably got lost. The Fujinon displayed here is rare.

Wow, I could sell my kidney just so I could buy all these!

Here’s another view.

There’s more here, but not as rare as the previous photo.

Here’s a better view of the serial numbers.

Zunow used to be one of the major Japanese lens manufacturers, they made some great glasses back then, too.

These aren’t rare at all but they deserve to be displayed here.

These were rivals in their days. The reason why the Nikkor-S 5cm f/1.4 is so special is because it’s the rare aluminum-barrel version.

Here are really nice samples in black. They’re sexy, I would love to own one of these in the future.

Here’s the all-black section. Black cameras age well since brass contrasts so well with the black paint.

Here’s nice sample of a rare camera. Black Nikon F’s from the early batches are rare.

Here’s another view. The engraved “T” on the rewind dial is interesting.

Photography is prohibited in this section so I could only take a photo of the front of the gallery.

That’s all for this article. Did you enjoy this? Even if you aren’t planning to buy anything from here do give them a visit, I promise you that it’s worth it and you won’t waste your time coming to this place.

If you enjoyed this article, please share this with your friends. If you what I do, please consider supporting my work. You are helping me offset the cost of maintaining this blog. You are also helping me purchase and develop film which is getting more expensive these days. Thank you very much for all of your help and see you again next time, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the site’s upkeep, you can make a small donation to my paypal.com (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

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Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country’s name or other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan Klinksgaard
    Sep 27, 2020 @ 09:47:10

    Beatyfull to have a look in thiese nice Store,thank you from Denmark

    Reply

  2. Daniel B.
    Sep 27, 2020 @ 15:24:38

    thanks Richard for this virtual visit , I was in Tokyo last summer but did not know about this store . all that stuff will increase my gear acquisition syndrome as I would have love to buy some items . many thanks again . daniel from france

    Reply

  3. AlexV
    Oct 08, 2020 @ 12:39:16

    Have not visited that side of Shinjuku in a while. It is nice to see something new after a number of shops have closed over the years. Thank you for the report.

    Reply

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