Kanto Camera – My new favourite store


by Bellamy /

4 min read

Kanto Camera – My new favourite store
There are a lot of wonderful camera shops in the greater Tokyo area, but this one really stands out. Kanto camera are based in Kawasaki, and you really need to go there if you ever have the chance. Read on…

I am always on the lookout for interesting stores and interesting gear. One camera that I am on the perpetual hunt for is the Leica MP Titanium. There were only 150 made and finding them is like striking gold. So imagine my joy when I was searching around and I heard that Kanto Camera had one in the store. Well, I was there the very next day. I got the camera, but I also got so much more…

Kanto Camera is a very special store. They are not your average used camera shop. Oh sure, they carry several items in their shop, but the core of the company is so much more. Kanto has the very special privilege of being one of the few camera stores in the world that Leica work with to produce special edition cameras. This gold M6 may not be to everyones taste, but there is only one. Which makes it a very special camera indeed. No doubt there will be someone out there that wants this camera.

Gold not your thing? Then they also have this M6TTL which they developed with Leica. Only 100 of these cameras were made and they still have one left in the store. Much more appealing in my opinon.

But Kanto also have a few other tricks up their sleeves. They are officially certified and trained Leica service engineers, which means they can pretty much repair anything. But the best thing is their dedication to this.

There are a lot of repair places in Japan, but not all that many of them are prepared to make their own parts! Yes, that is right, they make their own parts. You see, there are a lot of older cameras that no longer have parts, so Kanto decided to make their own parts. And not just for Leica. They will repair just about anything.
One of my favourite things about the store is when you walk in, they have a series of display cases in the main store, each one showing all of the parts of a camera or a series of lenses. These things are incredible. They are a labour of love and something they have done just to show what they are capable of. They have several different brands of camera broken down into the constituent parts and several lenses too. I know a few people who would simply love to have these on their walls.

I was very fortunate to be given the chance to have a walk around the workshops and the back rooms of this impressive company. They have a complete lens making and coating workshop, several repair areas, calibration systems and a massive storage area for parts.

I was told that there are so many cameras and lenses that no longer have parts now, that they were forced to start making parts themselves. This includes elements for classic leica lenses as many of the older lenses are impossible to repair otherwise.

They are very exacting about their work, which can be seen when you have a look at another part of their business…repainting.

Repainting can be a hit or miss affair and there are a lot of repainted cameras out there that are frankly crap. But these guys are really really good. They offer a complete customer service. Not just painting but changing parts. I asked about getting an M3 painted black from the original brass, but I don’t like the fact that the M3 doesn’t have 35mm framelines, they said this is not a problem as they could put 35mm framelines in the camera. Woah!
They don’t just do simple repaints either, you can have just about anything you want. You just name the colours and they will do it. For example:

Yeah, that is pretty hardcore. You can basically do whatever you want to a camera. They have a huge selection of leathers in different colours too, so you can really go wild.

But lets not forget that they also sell cameras, which is why I was there. They have some of the finest examples rare cameras I have ever seen anywhere. There are several fine regular cameras, but it was the ultra rare items that caught my eye.

A Big Post Leica. I have never even heard of one of these. I cannot find anything about it either. A mysterious Leica if I ever saw one. And they also had another rare beast on the shelf. This one is easy to spot, because you wonder if it might look better in a pimps convention…

Yes, another gold camera.

All in all it was a fantastically productive and informative trip. I hope to start working with Kanto to offer repainting and repairs on all cameras. If you are interested in having a repaint job done then you can drop me a line and I will find out exactly what the process will be.
You can check out their website here www.kanto-cs.co.jp/index.html there is an English section.
I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did.

8 comments on “Kanto Camera – My new favourite store”

    ZDP-189 August 21, 2012 at 7:53 am / Reply

    There are some eye-popping cameras there. They should open branches in Shanghai and Beijing. They would do a roaring trade.

    Archlich August 21, 2012 at 10:05 am / Reply

    Kanto is excellent.

    I just had my 35cron 8 element back from Kanto, repainted and overhauled. They charge an exorbitant amount that I won’t want to try it twice, but it’s an impressive job done and worth – can’t say every, but definitely won’t regret – my pennies spent.

    Both service and communication are excellent – they speak good English. The lens came back packed like expeditioners touring the Arctic – even the tips of the tapes used are carefully folded so you can peel them off easily. Japanese details.

    I vouch for them highly for anything you’ll want to do with your gears…as long as you don’t mind paying dearly for it.

    Bob Rogen August 22, 2012 at 5:50 am / Reply

    Thanks for the tip on this unique shop-it’s on my “visit list.” The Leica MP titanium is stunning (looks so much better than the M6 titanium). I saw one at the Leica shop in the Ginza on my last trip to Japan and have never forgotten it. As much as I love all of my Leica and Nikon rangefinders, I’d sell a bunch to have one of these. Congrats on getting one.

    Hiro August 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm / Reply

    Kanto Camera Service have been my favorite repairer in Tokyo area for the last ten years and I have fixed, overhauled and custom painted a few of my personally important cameras and lenses. It is my understanding that the company initially span out of Canon and have been operating independently since. Kanto was a Leica-authorised repairer at one point in the 90s but Leica decided to set up their own service in Ginza and Kanto had to give up their rights. However, some of their engineers were trained by Leica and that still is their big asset.

    Most manufacturers today no longer have engineers who have expertise in repairing film cameras and that is where Kanto fill in as a contract repairer. Because of the background, they not only clean and adjust your camera or lens but also fix problems using parts and components whch they have manufactured. As pointed out, their custom parts not only include nuts and bolts but also glass elements for certain lens. If you want to stick to the original parts, however, all you have to do is to say so when you place your order. They will do their best to regain the performance of your camera or lens within the circumstance. By policy, they do not do restoration work.

    What I like about them the most is that they are a business organization who can invest in machines and tools which individual repairer cannot afford. A good example of this is the expensive MTF machine which was jointly developed by Leica and Carl Zeiss to methodically evaluate optical condition of each lens. Kanto always check your lens first with this machine and it is quite intriguing to find out how pre-war lens fare with the modern test machine. Of course, sometimes the mchine delivers an unexpected verdict and I have to abandon the lens entirely. But, of course, that is life.

    The service is located near Kawasaki station but you may find it easier to get off at Hacchou-Nawate on Keikyu line and walk from there. By car, you will need a car navigation system to find the place. The products they sell in the lobby are the examples of their work and they are usually in prestine condition and my past experience tells me that you never go wrong if you purchase any of them. I must add that, if you are interested in a repair work, a fat wallet is a requiremant but I think it’s worth it.

    Darius Kromoser February 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm / Reply

    I know I’m a bit late on this, but I did a bit of research on the “Big Post” Leica:
    According to this site (http://www.lausch.com/leica1metc.htm, only in German unfortunaltely) they were manufactured for the German postal service.
    A poster on photo.net (http://photo.net/leica-rangefinders-forum/0094zC) explains: “Sounds like a Post camera – used by the german Post Office to photograph telephone meters. These had ‘DBP’ stamped on them. They were adapted from general models – 1c, M1, MD, MDa. They hd non-interchangeable lenses, fixed-focus Summaron 35mm, initially f3.5, later f2.8. Some of the camera took a 24 x 27mm negative, others used the standard 24 x 36. (All info from Rogliatti’s First 60 Years’ book).”

    Mike Chong April 20, 2013 at 12:30 am / Reply

    In an age of mass production, high tech and cost per unit, it refreshing to see attention to detail and old world craftsmanship. The old days weren’t so bad after all.

    Colin Barey November 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm / Reply

    I love this place. I gave them my dad’s well-used Canon F-1 and it came back with the most accurate meter on any of my TTL cameras. They’ve since done my Contax IIa, my Canon VI-T, and two Leica lenses. The work is fantastic, communication is great (in English). This is the best camera repair shop on the planet. If you want it done right, give it to them. I’ve had too many bad experiences screwing around with American repair places to bother with them anymore.

    Anthony Oresteen November 11, 2015 at 3:04 am / Reply

    The “Post” camera was made for the German Post Office to photograph meters for billing..

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