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5 Sep 2014

Fast disappearing camera shops

Whilst I was in Paris a few weeks ago I went to the Bastille end of Boulevard Beaumarchais intending to visit the interesting camera shops which populate both sides of the boulevard. Well I should say used to populate both sides of the Boulevard because in the space of two years most have gone. Even the multi front store which incorporated Le Moyen Format (medium format) has consolidated down to just one shop incorporating a Leica shop and all the other formats.

The camera business is in retreat all over the world. Sadly smartphones rule for young users and the latest digital cameras have arguably become so good that most buyers cannot see the point of upgrading when there is no visible improvement in the quality of the photos from the new model.

Hong Kong used to be the place to go to buy new cameras at seriously keen prices. The world has changed and now Hong Kong retail prices of new cameras even after vigorous bargaining are not competitive with either the internet or retail stores in Australia/NZ/UK/USA and most of the Hong Kong camera shops have gone. Although oddly many of the very cheap deals on new cameras on eBay come from Hong Kong which seems nonsensical.
In Hong Kong just a few serious enthusiast shops remain as do some very specialist shops selling second hand film cameras and lenses and accessories. Most of these are tucked away in side streets and alleyways with hole in the wall shopfronts.They are crammed with gear- Alladin's caves for collectors- and they smell of decaying old cameras. The Hong Kong climate is not camera friendly. And their prices are outrageous by Australian standards. I will be surprised if many of them survive for more than a few more years.





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