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Buying Canon lenses in Japan

Phil Belbin , Sep 14, 2005; 04:10 p.m.

I am travelling to Japan in 4 weeks for 4 weeks and will be visiting all the Major cities (and tourist spots), was wondering if there are any good (and cheap) shops that anybody can recommend to buy lenses and photo junk (according to my wife!) and how does the prices compare to Australia. Just got a 85mm f1.8 last night and wow it's sharp, paid AU$610 (or about US$475) for a cost example. Thanks, Phil.


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Alan Chan , Sep 14, 2005; 04:13 p.m.


ci p , Sep 14, 2005; 05:54 p.m.

Yobodashi camera and biccamera http://www.biccamera.com

My impression was that the advertised prices are a little bit higher than the US. With a passport, you might be able to get 5% sales tax discounted on the spot. And a point card might get you further discounts on later purchases.

ci p , Sep 14, 2005; 06:06 p.m.

Actually, if you go to either of those shops, it is worth taking ear defenders so you don't have to listen to the incessant advertising soundtrack. They both have incredibly irritating background music that drives one nuts.

Andrew Robertson , Sep 14, 2005; 06:10 p.m.

Comparing the prices of new photo gear in Japan vs, the USA this spring, I noticed that the Japanese prices are double the USA prices across the board.

You'll save a hell of a lot of money if you order from the USA.

The prices are actually insanely high in Japan. I can't figure out quite why, but it's probably related to the amount of bribes you need to pay to open a photo store over there.

Steve Brantley , Sep 14, 2005; 08:04 p.m.

I had my Tokyo ofice telephone BIC Camera (in the Ginza) and Yodobashi Camera (in Shinjuku), which are perhaps the two largest diverdified audio/video retail chains in Tokyo, in order to price compare several Canon EF lens. Compared to USA prices (such as through B&H Photo), the Japanese prices were at least 50% - 60% higher. The Japanese certainly have the selection, but they also have a captive market with financially well-heeled Japanese photo consumers who are motivated far more toward quality, rather than discount pricing. They demand new and improved merchandise, not commodity pricing for things like cameras. That is how most of the Japanese consumer mind operates, and thus, their entire retail industry. There are a few exceptions, but generally the Japanese associated high quality with top prices. Just go Leica window shopping when you get to Tokyo, and you'll see what I mean. THey are also really not into a lot of used camera gear, unless it is collectible. FIne watches are the same. For great bargins on photo gear in Asia, Iwould recommend Hong Kong. That's where the Japanese go to buy nice Japanese-made Seiko watches and cameras. Very odd, but that is the scene over there. Nikon House, which seels great used Nikon gear in the Ginza, is one exception.

james wong , Sep 14, 2005; 08:08 p.m.

Ditto for Robert, the used items go for the same as new USA retails, what a joke. And I thought the stuff made there would be cheaper!

yann muzika , Sep 15, 2005; 06:52 p.m.

Yodobashi and Bic Camera are expensive retailers, and in addition their price include a "point card" system, i.e you get free points worth 10-20% of the price for each purchase. You get much cheaper prices in small discount/on-line stores, and you can check those prices on www.kakaku.com (japanese only of cuz). Take the new 24-105L, cheapest price is 128.000 JPY, i.e around 1150 USD, and going down. So not a big interest for US buyers given the complications, but just to counter the argument that japanese are a bunch of idiot buyers ;-)

Michael Sydenham , Sep 16, 2005; 07:39 a.m.

I've found you can do very well if you check out some of the secondhand camera outlets in the Shinjuku area. I've bought most of my stuff used - it's been excellent quality & value. Probably the easiest to find is Map Camera #2 as indicated above - they have a good used Canon section on level 4 if memory serves me. If you can read Japanese, you can check out their used lineup on their web site. To make it a bit easier if you don't, I've just had a look at their site - and I'll pop the direct URL to their used Canon lenses here


That ought to show 50 lenses per page - there were 3 pages when I looked.

There are at least 2 other used camera stores on the east side of Shinjuku as well, but these are harder to find.

Good luck,


Andrew Robertson , Sep 16, 2005; 06:08 p.m.

There are also numerous gents in the back alleys of Shinjuku who sell well used camera gear off blankets in the alleyways.

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