At the 30th Used Camera Show 2008, held at the Matsuya department store, Ginza,
Tokyo, sponsored by the Imported Camera Society (ICS), the traffic of visitors
increased by about 10 percent over the last year, and one exhibitor said their
sales grew some 15 percent compared to 2007. The increase of younger visitors,
both men and women, was welcomed by most of the exhibitors because they felt
the used camera trade needed replenishment of fresh blood to compensate for
the passing of old clientele. This year the show featured the Barnack-type Leica,
which may have been, in retrospect, a slight mistake because younger customers
did not like the Barnack Leica as much as the sponsor expected. They felt the
film loading was too difficult, although they all were fond of the manual adjustment
of shutter speed and aperture. This control was considered "meaningful
labor, providing the fun of learning and mastering of technical expertise";
according to one young male visitor who commented about the film loading of
the Barnack Leica as being "unnecessarily and ridiculously complicated,
giving no fun at all."
show window of Ginza.
All Photos © 2008, S. "Fritz" Takeda, All Rights
But why such an increase of younger clients, especially women? One of the
important reasons is that there are now in Japan so many photographic colleges,
with more than 50 percent of the students being female. These students listen
to teachers who are elderly enough to appreciate and laud the beauty of analog/manual
cameras, which have been reincarnated as something novel and adventurous, as
opposed to digital cameras, with which they are all too familiar.
The increase of young customers has its shortcomings, however. For example,
Tessar, a sacrosanct name for old-timers, did not spark the younger generation's
interest. A Contessa with an f/2.8 Tessar fetched $500; a Retina IIIc with an
f/2.0 Xenon went for $700. Buyers compared lens speed and not so much "legacy"
For young people, format is important, and the standard rectangular image is
seen as somewhat stereotypical. The square format, however, is more uncommon
for them. Buyers responded less to an expensive Hasselblad (offered at $1500
for a 500C/M with an 80mm f/2.8 Planar and A12 magazine) than to the twin lens
Rolleicord V (with Xenotar 75mm f/3.5 at $450), which was considered a good
buy. Simply put, a TLR looks quite different than an SLR, which makes for wider
appeal for this group. One surprising gem was the Gray Baby Rollei 4x4 with
60mm f/3.5 Tessar or the Xenar, at $450, considered "cute and clever"
for young girls. Clearly, the show indicated that the "used" analog
camera business, especially when cameras are unique, has been and will be further
reinvigorated by younger generation buyers who want user/collectibles that differ
from the standard SLR, and especially digital camera models.
The Distaff View
A female visitor to the 30th Used Camera Show in Tokyo said, "Digital
cameras are too easy. I prefer setting the shutter speed and the aperture myself
rather than leaving it to the camera. What I cannot tolerate is that the digital
camera forces you to see in the monitor what pictures you will get. That spoils
the joy of expectation. When I bake a pie I don't want to know the taste
of it until I open the oven." As to the dislike of digital, she was not
an exception among show visitors. There were many women who came to the show
merely because they thought analog cameras were "superior" to digital
cameras in giving them the joy of photographing.