A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine, Lem Fugitt, while he was at my place for some private consulting on his new camera, and we got onto the subject of where I buy my gear, so I told Lem about Map Camera. It turned out that although Lem has lived in Japan longer than I have, he wasn’t aware of Map Camera. He visited Map Camera the following day, and was quite impressed but also surprised that he’d not yet heard of this great shop. I’ve been asked where I buy my gear here in Japan many times, so when Lem and I got to talking about how I should do a Podcast episode to let other westerners or visitors from overseas know about Map Camera, I figured it was probably a good idea, so that’s what we’re going to do today.
When I initially went to see the people at Map about doing this Podcast episode, they were a little hesitant at first about my talking about their shop because they didn’t want me to give overseas visitors the impression that all the staff in the store speak good English, because my blog and Podcast are released in English. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that there are few places where you can find really good English speakers, but hey, if you are just visiting with work or as a tourist, I’m sure that most Japanese people speak more English than you speak Japanese, so hopefully you’ll see this as part of your Japan experience, and enjoy the language challenge.
Map Camera is in Nishi Shinjuku, so if you come into the main Shinjuku station on the JR Train, you’ll want to head for the South Exit. If you come in on one of the other train company lines, it can be a little more difficult to find, but if you look for West Exit and Bus Terminal, or signs for Yodobashi Camera even, that will get you close. Here’s a Google map with a pin to Map Camera to help you, but basically, as you go past the Yodobashi Camera Multimedia store, you can see the first Map Camera number one store to the right on the next block. In this photo look for the black sign with GMT written on it, and then above that, you’ll see Map Camera written in black on a white background. You’ll need to click on the photo to view the larger size to be able to make this out.
Now, before we go on, I should tell you that I’m not suggesting that you totally ignore Yodobashi Camera. The chances are if you’ve been to Tokyo and asked about where to buy camera gear, you’ve already been to Yodobashi, and I do enjoy walking around Yodobashi, and buy plenty of stuff there. But, when it comes to buying camera bodies and lenses, I pretty much always buy from Map, because they’re generally cheaper. For stuff like the 5D Mark II which has been out for a while, the price gap is to just a few thousand Yen, or about $15, but for lenses, the gap usually increases much more.
For example as of Dec 10, 2011, the Canon EF 70-200 F2.8L IS II USM lens is ¥249,200 at Yodobashi, but the same lens, both new, from Map Camera is ¥212,800. That’s a difference of ¥36,500 or around US$469 at today’s exchange rate. That a 15% difference. You would get 10% or ¥24,920 worth of points that you can use the same day if you already have a card, or from the following day after you create your point card if it’s new, but you do need a valid Japan address to register for a point card, so that rules out visitors from overseas.
Even if you calculate the difference with the points though, the price difference is still ¥11,580, or US$150, which is still significant. The good thing about Yodobashi is that they will discuss a discount if you can show them that what you want to buy is cheaper elsewhere, but it usually takes time and the shop attendant has to go and get permission from their boss etc. I personally just prefer to walk into Map, know that they have already included the discount, and just buy what I want without haggling.
The other reason that I buy at Map Camera is because they give great prices for your old gear, and they throw in a bit more if you tell them that you are going to use the money to buy some new gear at their store. They actually just give you a credit that you take to the floor with your new gear, and then you pay the difference. I pretty much always do this. We don’t cover the part exchange floor today, as they wouldn’t let me photograph it, but basically, if you want to sell something to Map Camera to partly pay for your new gear, make sure you give it a clean, put it in the original box if you still have it, include your manual etc. and take it to the 4F in shop number two, just a little further down the street. We’ll take a look at that later.
So, as you walk down towards the Map Camera sign, you could very easily walk past it if you aren’t paying attention, because the first floor of the Map Camera number 1 store is a watch shop. The entrance to the camera store is down a corridor to the left, below the checkerboard style Map Camera sign.
At the end of the passage, there’s an elevator to the various floors. I was accompanied from floor to floor by the deputy manager from the store, a young lady that used to work on the Canon floor, so I’ve known her for some time. We started on the Nikon Digital Camera floor, which you can see here (below).
Each floor contains both new and used kits, or bodies and lenses sold separately. I didn’t shoot every cabinet on each floor, but just to give you a taster, for example, as you walk around the Nikon floor, you have some cabinets like these, with used Nikon bodies (below left) and lenses (below right – click on the images to view larger).
They usually stock all new cameras from the day of their launch, also cheaper than most other stores in Tokyo. Here we can see the latest Nikon camera lineup (as of Dec 2011). There are also new bodies and lenses in the other cabinets, and they do sell accessories and batteries etc.
Next, we dropped down to the 4th floor, where I have parted with many a Yen, the Canon Digital Camera Floor (below)!
It’s a similar layout to the Nikon floor, with lots of camera bodies, lenses and accessories. Again there are cabinets of new and used gear, such as these telephoto and TS/E lenses (below right), and I also bumped into another Tokyo based photographer Paul Stevens (below left).
There’s a cabinet full of used 1 series Canon bodies (below left), and a fancy stand with the Canon consumer cameras, with pride of place in the middle of the room (below right).
For some strange reason I seemed to spend about twice as much time photographing the Canon floor, but again, there’s not much point in including too many photographs here. I just want to give you a feel for each floor, and also give those of you that haven’t been to Japan or Map Camera a feel for what the Camera stores here are like.
On the third floor, we have the Pentax, Sony and Sigma range of Digital Cameras (below).
Slightly more sparse than the Canon and Nikon floors, we now have room for a Christmas tree and some Orobianco Italian camera bags. I thought these were quite funny actually (right).
They look like the designer bags that you see around town, but when you open them up, they contain padded compartments for a camera and a couple of lenses. Ideal for not drawing attention to the fact that you are carrying around expensive camera gear, but depending on where you are, you’re probably more likely to get mugged for a purse full of cash and credit cards with bags like these. That’s not much of a problem here in Japan of course.
Having skipped the watches on the first and second floor, we dropped down next to the Leica, Rangefinders, Twin Lens Reflex cameras, and the Medium and Large Format Cameras in the 1st floor basement.
They’ve also got some second hand tripods and new and used camera bags as well, as you can see here (above), but at the back of the floor, there are a number of cabinets full of Leicas (below) and cameras that take Leica lenses, as well as medium format and large format cameras.
That finishes a look at the four camera related floors in Map Camera number 1 store. Just a few buildings down from this is the number two store, with an equally camouflaged appearance, as this store has a noodle shop on the first floor.
This second building contains three floors of Map Camera, and the first building contains two floors of watches and a pen store on the sixth floor. I believe these are all owned by the same company, and really can’t understand why they don’t just put the three watch and pen floors in this building, and have one almighty camera store on all floors of the first building, but then, it’s not my company, and I’m sure they have their reasons.
It’s the same story as Store #1 here, you go down the little passageway to the left to an elevator at the back of the building. It feels a little like you’re walking into a some seedy joint, but once you get up in the camera floors you’ll see it’s just good old Map Camera.
On the third floor we have Olympus and Panasonic DSLR cameras and compact digital cameras from various companies (below).
On the second floor we have a bit of a mishmash of film cameras including Canon FD, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Olympus and Ricoh, as well as Contax and other Medium Format cameras, Leaf backs and compact film cameras.
It was weird to see so many old Canon FD mount lenses lined up like this (below) as well as some old Canon F-1 and Nikon FM3A bodies that really changed photography as we know it, back in their day.
So, as I mentioned earlier, the fourth floor of the second Map store just down the street from the first is the Trade Center. This is where you can take your old gear to sell for cash, or part exchange for something else. I believe the percentage changes depending on what you intend to buy, but you generally get more for your old gear if you are selling it to buy something else.
As you’ve seen, the Map Camera store floors contain a mix of new and used bodies and lenses, and I’ve actually never bought anything used here. Everything comes with a warranty though, so you can do so in confidence if you’d like to save a bit of money buying used. Map is a reputable store, and will see you right if something did go wrong with any used that you picked up here, as long as you’re still in Japan when it goes wrong of course. I doubt that they’ll work with you to replace something that went wrong if you take it to another country, but I might be wrong.
Note too that if you do shop at Map while visiting from overseas, in addition to them already being the cheapest store I’ve found to buy in Japan, if you show your passport, they’ll give you another 5% discount, by removing the tax from your purchase.
As I say, don’t expect these guys to speak great English, though I believe a few of the staff members do. Remember that you’re in Japan, so both sides of your communication will need to work at it a little, but I believe like Lem, you’ll be happy that you took a look at what Map Camera has to offer. I know that as long as they are in business, this will be the first place that I go for my camera and lenses.
I’m not affiliated with Map Camera in any way, and have received nothing for doing this Podcast, other than permission to photograph most of the floors of their store. If I recall correctly, the first lens I bought from Map Camera was my old 100-400mm L lens that I bought back in July 2003, before my first trip to Hokkaido. Since then I’ve bought almost all of my lenses there and always part exchange old gear for a good price when I buy. I’ve never had a problem with their gear, or the people that I’ve interacted with, so feel comfortable recommending Map to you too.
Here’s a Google Map to Map Camera: https://mbp.ac/mapmap
Map have a Web site, which is great, as long as you understand Japanese: http://www.mapcamera.com/
Music by UniqueTracks
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Martin, Map is good, but for selling used equipment you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Fujiya Camerain Nakano–not only do they give you a good price for your gear with great service and something extra if you buy stuff in their store, they also give you a point card with 10 percent of the total value of your sale that can be used to purchase anything in the shop. Awesome!
Thanks for that Jon! I’ve been to Fujiya a number of years ago, and still prefer Map. Maybe if I want to sell for cash, I’ll try Fujiya again. 🙂
Thanks Martin – has Akihabara any decent camera shops? (so I can kill two birds with one stone whilst gadgeting up.)- my last experience in Korea (Yongsan electronics market, Seoul) was not good….. Mike
The general “Electric Town” part of Akihabara has no decent camera shops. If you leave the station from the opposite side though, there’s a huge Yodobashi Camera (Akiba) that is really worth a look. Having said that, the same rule applies on prices as mentioned above. If you have something specific in mind, check with Map Camera (you can do this on line but their Web site (www.mapcamera.com) is all in Japanese) and be prepared to haggle.
I can’t agree more about buying new lenses and bodies at Map Camera. This is great advice. I lived in Tokyo for 10 years and researched all the online and store prices. Map ended up working out great and they were very helpful despite my poor Japanese language skills. Beware, the folks I worked with did not even try to speak english throughout my 4 or 5 purchases of L lenses and a 5D Mark II over a few years.
As for selling my own used equipment, Yahoo auction Japan proved to give me at least 20% more return on my used lens sales than what I could find anywhere else. Also, Yahoo auction is very simple and reliable in Japan. Much better than eBay is in the US. People sell high quality stuff and are very meticulous and honest about disclosing any tiny scratches or dust. Highly recommend this option for those who live in Japan.
Thanks for the comment David!
I think if you speak any Japanese at all, the Map guys will not try to speak English. I have heard them struggling along in English with totally non-Japanese speakers though.
I have often been tempted to try Yahoo Auctions, but it has never seemed tempting enough for me over just walking into Map and sorting it all out right there, especially with their additional percentage hike when buying new gear. Maybe I’ll bight the bullet and give it a try at some point though, especially if you recommend giving it a try.
Hi, came across your post while researching for places to get medium format TLRs. Any advice on where to get a Yashica Mat 124/G or Rolleicord Vb or Seagull TLR? Can’t seem to find information on where to get these cameras. Closest matches were Cross Point (Omori) and Fujiya Camera (Nakano).
Do they have these at affordable prices in Map Camera? Thanks!
Map have a lot of medium format gear, but I don’t know if they have your particular requirements covered. It would be best for you to mail them directly. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to help you.
I did buy some used gear in Map Camera – excellent quality, 1 year warranty and original packaging. But price is cheap only for older models. New models, I prefer to buy new on amazon.co.jp. Cheapest store in the long run, for sure!
For the very cheapest prices on an hour-by-hour basis, check the camera section of kakaku: http://kakaku.com/camera/ For those who can read elementary Japanese characters, these are the very cheapest prices available in Japan, including charts with historical data for the average and cheapest offers! Some of the shops are in Akihabara (mainly PC Bomber and Direct Hand), 100% deliver to your home – or hotel.
For sure, amazon.co.jp have some good deals. Kakaku.com is a great reference too.
Although I’m fine with buying online for lots of things though, I really like to buy camera bodies and lenses from a store that I can walk into. For those that are OK with buying this gear online, this is great advice. Thanks Eric!
Hey, thanks for such a complete review. I’m going to Tokyo next month and I’m really looking forward to purchase some Canon equipment there. Here in Brazil they’re very expensive. I don’t speak japanese at all but I think it will be a fun experience 🙂
You’re welcome Olga!
The folks at Map will be fine in English, though it might not be the smoothest conversation. They try hard though, and are patient, so it won’t be a problem.
Have a great time!
Hey, Martin! Thanks again. Quick question: do you know where I can find audio equipment in Tokyo? I need to purchase a Zoom H1. I thought about ordering it from amazon.co.jp but I’m not exactly sure how this could work ’cause I’d need to receive it at my hotel…
Try Yodobashi Camera, just down the street from Map Camera. Their Multimedia (Kan) Store has a floor for audio equipment, though I’m not sure they stock the Zoom H1.
Don’t forget to show your passport at these stores too, as they both should not charge consumption tax for visitors.
I’d be like a child in a sweet shop, now I just need the air fare!
Looking forward to trip in Japan & checking out the Nikon gear at Map Camera! have bought in Hong Kong,Hing Lee the best, will check out prices in Japan & compare to HK, as off to HK straight after Japan.Thanks for info!
@martin, this is such a rich resource. thanks so much. arriving in tokyo on the 20th. looking forward to visiting map. will be staying at nearby keio hotel. 🙂
@bern, does hing lee have an online presence? maybe you could pin the store in google maps?
I’d like to thank you ’cause you lighted up the way to “heaven”!
let me explain: one dear friend of mine went for a job trip in Tokyo and, with your expertise and valorous advices, I could guide him find Map Camera (from here in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil).
Now, with my D5100 and a pair of good lens (and a few dollars – much less then ever!!), I’ll make my history full of good images!!
Thank you so much!!
rio de janeiro – BR
ps – soon I’ll send you one of my new shots
Hi Martin, I’m heading over in November and I’m looking for a decent compact (the Sony RX1) to back up my DSLRs – do they do overseas specification models and is there a big price difference like Yodobashi?
Although the camera might come with the menu set in Japanese, most cameras are multilingual, so you can switch it over to English. I don’t know if that specific model comes with English menus, or manuals. You’d need to check in the store, but they’ll work with you on that, probably in broken English, but it will likely be better than most peoples’ Japanese.
The price at Map is usually about 10-20% less than Yodobashi, but they’re right next door, so do check for yourself before buying. Don’t forget to show your passport too, as they won’t charge you tax as a foreign visitor.
actually cameras in japan dont often come with multilingual menus. especially higher end cameras panasonic and sony are notorious. yes their international models do.
Tinsol, some compact cameras that I’ve seen over the years do come with multilingual menus, and my Canon cameras are always English and Japanese, so not multiple languages as such, but you can get them into English if that’s your native language.
Thanks Martin – much appreciated – my Japanese is very, very rusty but I can remember the basics (I hope). I was just thrown by Yodobashi advertising domestic ‘Japanese’ only models against more expensive ‘overseas’ versions with multilingual menus – plus I know very little about compacts having relied on my trusty canons for many years which is why I thought I’d save a few yen going secondhand at Map Camera.
Oh – and thanks – I had planned to keep my passport at hand at all times!
I like Yodobashi for nick-nacks, but really, if you are buying cameras or lenses, Map Camera will probably be the best place to buy. But do check about the menus. Although I would think that an English firmware update may well do the trick. Don’t hold me to that mind.
Yes, you’re better off keeping your passport with you at all times anyway. The police sometimes spot check foreign visitors, and you are supposed to have it with you.
Have a great time!
you cant simply put a new firmware- the Japanese firmware is locked. think like a locked phone. they have thought about this already.
That wouldn’t surprise me, but as I just replied in my above comment, cameras can at least be put into English, so if English is all you need, this will not generally be an issue. Again though, I’m suggesting that people check before buying.
Cheers Martin – I’ll check whether I can update the firmware ahead of Tokyo though ideally I’ll try to find a camera with multilingual menus as it’s potentially risky otherwise. Not the end of the world if I don’t as it’s just a back up to the 5D’s for those times when a big DSLR isn’t practical. Anyway – thanks for the great & useful article, the lovely photos, and the sage advice.
(And thanks for the passport tip).
Thx Martin. Found your post as the right time as I’m about to make a trip to Tokyo. 1 question though, for the trade -in’s, does Map Camera accept bodies or lenses that were sold internationally ( not originally sold in Japan )?
Good question. I’m sure they do, though they may lower the price a little if you only have the English manual. If you have the multi-language manual, you’d probably be fine. Come to think of it, I think I sold some gear that I bought in England years ago. I’m pretty sure you’ll be OK.
Arrived to Tokyo from Norway yesterday. Staying a week in Shinjuku. After reading about Map on your page I will go and look for a used 5dmkIII.
Do you think I will be able to find one there? And to what sort of price?
I just checked their Web site, and see that they only have the 5D Mark III used as part of the 24-105mm kit, for 298,000JPY. They have a whole bunch of bodies on the site too, but they are all marked as sold out.
You might want to just go and check it out. They might have something that isn’t on the Web site yet.
Hi Martin, thanks for great information and Happy New!
Do You have information, can I order camera online from Europe to some Japan hotel or home adrdress…if somebody during their trip will pickup i for me?
Happy New Year to you too.
We could probably arrange something if you yourself were coming to Japan, but otherwise, it won’t be possible to have anyone take this back for you. There’s too much risk of items going missing, and that leaves a nasty taste in people’s mouths. Sorry!
hi please would u like to give the adress
There’s a map to the store and a link to their web site above. You can get their address there.
Many thanks for the help. Managed to get to Map Camera with no problems as it’s only about 5 mins walk from Shinjuku station. Using Google streetview to do a virtual ‘walk’ from the station to the store was beneficial. Another thing I found really handy was to print off the relevant pages from their website to show the staff the lenses/cameras I was after – made things much easier (although their English was excellent & much better than my Japanese) and it was very straightforward getting the kit I needed. Not sure how useful this might be but I found the Yen-GBP exchange rate was much better using my credit card than cash. The 2nd hand equipment is worth looking at – the Japanese tend to really look after their kit so most are in very good condition – plus they’re a lot cheaper. Seem to remember only the new equipment got the ‘passport discount’ though. Again, many thanks for all the help & happy new year!
Thanks for the update David! This is all great information. The Yen-GBP exchange rate is moving up and down quite a lot recently, so it looks like you got a good deal. Plus, the banks/exchange bureaus often add a pretty hefty lifting charge, which can certainly make credit cards the better option. Certainly good to note this.
A Happy New Year to you too!
I’m heading there next week. Thanks for this blog.. I was just wondering, If it’s possible to replace the point card with a discount to the price instead seeing as how I’m a tourist and probably won’t have a chance to come back and use the points?
Thanks in advance
You’re welcome Alex.
I don’t think they’ll do that, but you can always ask. Take your passport though, as they’ll knock the tax off for you.
Thanks for the reply! Will probably see what else I can buy with the point card then 🙂
Are trading in old lense a hassle with map camera? I have a couple of really old lense, will map camera reject them?
I’ve never found it a hassle, but my gear is usually in relatively good condition. If they are relatively well kept, then just being old shouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t say for sure that they’ll take your lenses. You’d have to ask Map directly.
I think I will do like what you suggest give the old lense a good “scrub” and hope Map Camera is able to give me some credit to get my new lense!
Just had a bad experience at Map. Great prices, but they get all nervous when you show a foreign debit card. They pass it as a credit card and it gets rejected. I explained its a debit card, but their agent UC cards are not familiar, and after rejecting it the card gets frozen. I called up my bank, and they said there were no issues, but the card was passed as a credit card. I politely asked them to call their agent and see how a debit card could be processed (perhaps with a PIN instead of signature), but I was told there were a lot of camera shops around the area. Very unusual in this day with 100`s of tourists visiting their store and the weak yen. Very unbusinesslike. A lady did try, but one guy at the Canon floor was totally a jerk.
Thanks for letting me know Peter. Debit cards are just not common here, so I can understand this could cause an issue. If you were going to pay basically in cash (via debit card) was it not possible to just go and get the cash?
Thanks for sharing this store. I was looking for a store to trade my gear and you saved my time.
At last I found your site that could convince me about Map Camera. I’ve been looking map camera sites for nearly six months and do the checking about pricing as comparison to other shop in my country (Indonesia). My only question is, did I will get an English menu when I purchase brand new or used camera from them? I don’t mind about the Warranty issues. It only bothering me because many sites tells that buying camera in JP is in JP language. Appreciate your prompt reply as I will travel to Japan in the not too distant future. Thank you so much and compliment to you site! It helps a lot.
It would depend on what you buy. Canon cameras for example come set in Japanese, but you can easily change that to English, and if necessary, the person in the shop can help you to find that option. For other manufacturers, I imagine it will be much the same, but you’d need to check.
I’m pleased my site/post was useful.
Appreciate much on your replied. Thank you so much. In the future time, I’ll join your workshop! Must be a great journey indeed traveling with a pro 🙂
It would be great to see you on a future tour Dhany. I look forward to traveling with you.
sony and panasonic most likely wont. fuji did not sure if with all cameras.
Thank you very much for your information. Please help me to clarify my concern. Does MAP Camera accept foreign credit card payment ? I have Chase visa credit card from USA. I plan to buy new gear at MAP Camera; it will be my long trip and Tokyo will be my last stop, so I don’t have to carry a lot of cash with me.
Map accepts Visa/Mastercard etc. but whether or not they accept a card from overseas probably depends on your card company, rather than Map Camera. My advice would be to call your card company and tell them that you will be traveling in Japan, and ask them to ensure that transactions from Japan are accepted during the dates you’ll be hear.
Thank you very much for your information.
Interesting reading, thanks for the post!
I’m going to visit Tokyo soon and I might going to spend some money on used gears.
I’m a big fan of old manual lenses, is it Map Camera still the best place to go considered they also sell used gears, or is there a better, more specific place for old manual lenses/camera?
You’re welcome Andrew.
Map have an extensive range of used gear, so it’s definitely worth a visit. There are lots of used gear shops, but I can’t think of any that I’d recommend over Map.
Sounds great, I’ll go visit Map for sure then, can’t wait!
Thank you Martin.