Tokyo Used Camera Fair Report
The start of the summertime and the fair is in town, but instead of candy floss, soggy hotdogs and incorrect change, this is the used camera fair from the Imported Camera Society of Japan. Read on and see some gems.
As some of you know, I have been known to get up very early to try and catch the best items of the previous shows. And I have done very well in the past. This time around though there was not a special item that I had my eyes on. Just a number of fairly run of the mill items. Still, that didn’t stop me from arriving at the fair at 5am!
It was the regular faces (most from either Hong Kong or mainland China), and the atmosphere was a lot less tense than in previous shows. The organizers have recently started implementing a ticketing system, so you cannot go and buy all of the best things for yourself.
It means that you are each allowed one item and nobody else can buy that. Which stops a lot of the hustling and fighting. After you have claimed your prize you can then go around the show and find anything else at your pace. This alleviates a lot of the pressure, as it just means you need to get there early to get your ticket, as they only release about 20 tickets. This time I was number 14, and happily I was able to get the item I was looking for (it is off the HK radar for now).
After I had done my job, I was able to take it easy and have a good poke around at some of the wonders at this show. The Japanese shows are different from others simply for the quality of items available. I have never seen such range and such quality anywhere outside of westlicht. I still feel a childlike sense of wonder at all of the amazing things I see, so here I shall share a few of the gems with you.
The other day I was given a beautiful folding camera by a dear friend, and it has got me a little bit hooked, so I spent a bit of time trying to find a nice folding 120 camera for myself. There were far too many to choose from, so I decided to spend a bit more time researching the one I really want. But there were Zeiss Ikon’s, Voitlander’s and many more to choose from. All working too.
One of the stars of the show was this Kodak Signet USAF KE-7 camera. This camera was made exclusively for the military and did not come with serial numbers. I have no idea how many were made, or how it came to be in Japan. But it is there, and working. A very cool little camera, with an Ektar 44mm 3.5 lens and the military style anodized body.
One of the really big items here is the Nikon S3M. This is an extraordinarily rare camera. A half frame Nikon rangefinder, with a motordrive. Reputedly only 150 of these cameras were ever made. And nobody really knows which is rarer, the black or silver. The motor drive is only silver though. As you can see, this camera commands a very high price. Very close to $60,000! And before anyone shouts fake, this camera is verified. In fact, the owner is well known to some of the older traders here, as he has owned this camera from new and was a big Nikon collector for a very long time. Quite a remarkable camera, of that there is no doubt.
The next thing I found though was not expensive at all. A lovely little camera stamp, that I can use on invoices or letters. This was cheap and fun and I simply had to have it. Bonus points if anyone can name the camera on the stamp.
Whilst talking to one of my favourite stalls I noticed a black box, that didn’t really come across as a camera so much as a piece of military hardware from a bygone age. This is a Gaumont Spido camera for 9×12 cm plates. It comes with a 133mm f/6.3 Zeiss lens. The camera was made in Paris for scientific purposes, somewhere around 100 years ago. It is a beautiful camera to look at, and it still works!
From the very old we move to the very new. This is an amazing lens, really. It is also a huge lens. This is the Schneider-Kreuznach Tilt Shift 50mm 2.8 lens on Nikon F mount.
This thing is super cool. It has a huge image circle, so no matter the movement there is no vignetting (apparently, I have not tested one.) It has a complete shift field too, which looks like it would be a great deal of fun to experiment with. It was funny, they had this $4500 lens on an old Nikon F that was worth less than $500. I bet it never thought it would have such a lens mounted on it.
On my way out I caught sight of this cool little thing. The Expo Police camera, made around 1911-1924. This was a ‘detective’ camera that is a pretty important piece of photographic history. There is a bit more about this camera here. Look at it though, it is nearly 100 years old but it looks like new, still has the box and everything. Wonderful stuff.
All in all this was another great show. It is still going on for a couple more days, so if you are in Tokyo and want to see it, get yourself to Shibuya Tokyu department store and head to the 8th floor. Look for all of the old guys with cameras, you cannot miss them.
There are some bargains to be had too, if you are a bit savvy you might be able to walk away with something great.