Taiwan camera hunter

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by Bellamy /

4 min read

Just for this week I shall be known as Taiwan Camera Hunter
Yes, that is right, I am in Taipei in Taiwan, checking out the sights the sounds and the camera/photography scene. Taiwan is a pretty amazing place, with loads to see and do.

It is pretty much street heaven, as there are so many people and so much going on that you can just find yourself shooting like made. The people are really friendly and don’t seem to mind having their picture taken. More than anything they just seem to be a bit confused as to why they are the subject of a photograph.
There are so many little side streets and such hustle bustle that you will soon find yourself completely lost (as I have) and shooting like mad (as I have).
After a very short while I ran out of film, so I decided to go and look for the infamous ‘Camera Street’ that had been mentioned to me by a few people. The picture at the top of this page is Bo Ai Lu Road, which is the street most famous for cameras. Now I am not all that bothered by the new stuff, you can pretty much buy that anywhere, and the prices are pretty uniform too. I am interested in the old stuff, so that is what I went looking for…

The first stop
Sadly I was in for a bit of a shock. It seems that the stores here don’t hold much cop for old stuff. This was the window of the first place I went into. Notice that all of the cameras are clear wrapped and not boxed, very different from the norm. They told me that they didn’t sell classic or used cameras and they didn’t know anywhere that did. Which was clearly a load of rubbish, as the shop next door was!

Next door only had a couple of terrible looking old F2’s, but they did have a reasonable selection of film (the only store I found that did).
But look closer….

Yeah, look at those prices. NT$110 for a 36 roll of Acros? That is about ¥285 or $3.79, which in my book is pretty damned cheap. I wish that I could get it this cheap all the time, but I had to make do with stuffing my pockets with as much as I could:) The same store was also selling a load of dev tanks etc. So it seems that there are at least some people who are using film. I didn’t seem any LF stuff though.

The shop next door to the last one had this in the window…it looked promising enough. Though the shrink wrap didn’t escape my eye. That could potentially be a problem. I decided to investigate further…

And this is what I found. An original Green Millenium M6 TTL, number 249 out of 300. Not a bad looking camera and not an easy camera to find at the best of times. Notice the shrink wrap? Yeah, well that was one thing that turned me off. I asked the price of the camera and was shown a ticket for NT$170,000 (US$5250 ¥404000)! Gulp, but still, if it is perfect and comes with all of the gubbins then it just may be worth it. So, I asked if I could have a look at the camera without the wrap. Which is where I hit the wall. He was not prepared to unwrap the camera unless I bought it. Now I would understand if it was a cheap camera, but 5K is a boatload of cash and I want to test the damn thing to make sure it is working. But he said no dice, you cannot test, you buy. No chance matey. Sorry, but I need to test something before I sell a kidney for it.

And then as soon as it had started it was over. The end of the street was reached and there was nothing else to see other than a smattering of generic close stores selling the same thing. No lenses to be found, hardly any used gear, and crazy prices for the stuff that was rough at best. The staff didn’t seem to know what they had and were all very impersonal. No bargains to be had.

I have been out shooting for a few days now and I have not seen anyone with anything other than a ‘tourist’ camera. No classics, no rangefinders, nobody shooting street just for the hell of it. I am sure that there are shooters here, and I would have loved to meet them. If you are shooting in Taiwan let us know and we can meet the next time I am in Taipei.
You see, despite this, Taiwan is an awesome place to go and take pictures. The streets are loads of fun, there are loads of characters, the food is amazing and the place is dirt cheap (got a beer for about $1!). And what the hell, perhaps we could arrange a street workshop there too, that would be an awesome time for sure.

Perhaps you are in Taiwan or know someone who is. Please comment and let us all know about the scene there.

Cheers
Japancamerahunter

14 comments on “Taiwan camera hunter”

    Bernard Reznicek January 3, 2012 at 1:42 am / Reply

    Please post ANY photos of camera shops. I have some from Guangzhou, China. If you wish to visit Guangzhou and Shenzhen some time, let me know. I can help arrange a visit to some real repair shops and big referb shops. Nothing like MapCamera and still a big step below Fujiya of Nakano.

    Good luck in Taiwan and safe travels.

    Bernard

      Jerome January 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm /

      Bernard, I don’t know if you’ll read this, but I’d be interested in a contact in Guangzhou

    Alessandro January 3, 2012 at 1:49 am / Reply

    looks like there’s no place like japan for camera hunters!
    thinking about testing cameras, it would be nice if you could open a yt channel where you review the cameras you sell. i was looking on the tube for a contax t2 review (digitalrev style) but there’s nothing like this out there..i can already see the title “analogrev tv” ahah!have a nice 2012!cheers

    ale

      Bellamy January 3, 2012 at 8:28 am /

      Thanks for the suggestion Alessandro. That is something that I am actually considering, though I cannot afford a TV crew like DigitalRev:)
      Cheers

      Daphne January 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm /

      It’d be interesting if your clients/ buyers added their own reviews too about the cameras that bought from you.
      Cheers.

    Hannes January 3, 2012 at 5:38 am / Reply

    I visited Taiwan in October 2011, it was a great time.
    Many people on the streets and many interesting places to explore.

    Everybody on the streets was happy to be photographed :)

    Enjoy your trip!

    Regards from Germany
    Hannes

    Eddy Tseng January 3, 2012 at 9:26 am / Reply

    Oy Bellamy,

    Happy 2012, brother!
    You can hit up my friend, Hally Chen. He shoots, and his an awesome guy.
    His email is hallychen@gmail.com

    here’s his website – http://homepage.mac.com/hallychen/

    take carez, mate!
    Eddy

    Christopher January 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm / Reply

    ‘Camera Street’ and Bo Ai Road are not coterminous. There are also a handful of classic and used camera shops on the adjacent Hankou Street and Yanping South Road. They are nothing like what you have in Tokyo, but several are worth a second look:

    文雅照相攝影器材行 / Wenya Camera Shop
    台北市延平南路58號 / Yanping South Road, No. 58

    佑昌攝影器材行 / Youchang Camera Shop
    台北市延平南路12號 / Yanping South Road, No. 12

    Cosmos Photo Supplies (Since 1958!)
    漢口街一段31號 / Hankou Street, Section 1, No. 31

    This last one is not on camera street, but they have two large display cases with used gear:

    品光數位 (品光攝影)
    台北市新生南路一段6之3號 – Xinsheng South Road, Section 1, No. 6-3 (near the intersection of Bade Road)

    I can also recommend two locales where you are more likely to run into (film) shooters.

    信義公民會館 / Xinyi Gongming Huiguan
    Songqin Street, No. 50 – at the intersection of Zhuangjing Road and Xinyi Road, Section 5 (near Taipei 101) The best time to go is on a Saturday afternoon.

    Shida Night Market
    Shida Road / Longchuan Street / Yunhe Street
    The best time to go is Friday night, and weekends.

    It sounds like you enjoyed Taipei. Do tell the next time you are in town.

    PJF January 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm / Reply

    There used to be a Leica/classic camera store near the top of Bo Ai. It is close to the old city gate under the bridge. There is another camera street that t-bones into Bo Ai near a jewelry store. It also had a small shop with classics.

    sean marc lee June 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm / Reply

    Bellamy! Next time you are here tell me! As far as used goes, from what i’ve been researching, the internet is prob the best place to go. I was quite disappointed with the used market as well here compared to Japan. There are film shooters here, but they are hiding!

    -sean

    sashi January 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm / Reply

    Hi, I’ll be travelling to Taiwan next week. Looking forward to buy a sigma 10-20mm wide lens for my d5100. any idea where to get?

    Marcel Sauder July 21, 2014 at 9:32 am / Reply

    Taiwan is definitely not the place to go for classic cameras. I’ve been in Taiwan for 14 years (until 1992) and i repeatly come to Taiwan every year. What i can tell you here is dry land for film cameras. The shops are focussed on modern cameras and cheapest price. But to be honest the price levels here are one of the highest für cameras. You can buy cheap accesories like tripods and bags here but thats it.

    I prefer eBay or much better Tokyo, especially since i got the addresses from Japan Camera Hunter. Hong Kong might be the better place than Taiwan too…

    Jose Lopes Amaral October 7, 2015 at 9:48 am / Reply

    Hy,
    well so war here are some people that do street photography, but i just know them from the web (facebook, flickr, etc) but of course I am one of them :) As soon I have free time I take my camera and go shoot (rare the last months)

    If one day you come to Taiwan and I am there let me know ;)

    Besides this, I would be interested in an Ricoh Gr some advise would be welcome.

    Robert Machado August 16, 2016 at 1:35 pm / Reply

    Film shooter living in Taipei here! Although Taipei cannot be compared with Tokyo in terms of film and analog cameras availability, I still think it enjoys quite a good health.
    I gathered some popular spots in the city on my blog, take a look if you come back to Taipei, and of course, let me know! We can go for some shooting together.
    http://www.miradasu.com/film/buy-film-in-taipei/

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