Author Topic: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?  (Read 2329 times)

Offline catglen

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Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« on: May 23, 2013, 06:43:40 AM »
hey guys! I am coming to yamanashi in August and really want to take pictures while im there. The only thing is i dont own a camera...
I was planning on getting one next weekend (hit up some memorial day sales) but i thought perhaps it might be best to buy one in japan. i dont know how to use the really nice ones with interchangeable lenses so ill probably just go with a point and shoot. Any thoughts on the subject?

Offline kelloggs

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 09:56:01 AM »
Hi, Catherine (Cat?)! Welcome to Yamanashi-- you're gonna love it here.

This may just be me, but I brought a point-and-click when I first came here and haven't used it once. Seriously, it's still hanging in its case on one of the coat hangers in my hallway where I threw it when I moved in. I got an iPhone the second day I was in Yamanashi and realized that it was kinda pointless to carry around both a phone with a perfectly good camera and a point-in-click, especially when the camera quality of both is comparable. The friends I know who use both a phone and a separate camera are those who are either photographers who use nice SLRs, or those who don't have smartphones.

That said, if you'd prefer a point-and-click, they're easy to find at electronics stores here in Yamanashi or in Tokyo and the prices seem about the same as they are in the States, so if you see something you like back home that's on sale for Memorial Day, I'd say go for it.  :-D
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Offline fred

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2013, 10:18:23 AM »
Buying a camera is your own personal choice. There are plenty of online guides that deal with buying the right camera for you needs.

As for whether to buy it at home or in Japan, here are the pros and cons in my opinion.

Cameras bought in the states will work fine here. Almost all, if not all the battery chargers are designed to work anywhere in the world with a plug adaptor if needed.
Memory cards will be also work no matter where you buy them. Connectivity to Japanese computers should not be a problem either.

Really it comes down to cash and cash flow. I am sure you know how to buy a camera in the states but if you want to buy one here due to not having the cash yet, or model availability, I'll go into some detail about camera buying here.

For prices in Japan, I suggest using Amazon.co.jp to look at some prices. If your Japanese is up to it, Kakaku.com. Amazon allows you to order in English but Kakaku price compares a number of websites. If you can't order online, I can do it for you.

The only difference I can see is the language interface. I have found that some cameras here can't be changed to English. Usually I wander into a local store and play with the cameras to find which I can change and which I can't.
It is possible to buy the international version of a camera but usually it costs a fair bit more than the Japan market version. Or you can find the English manual pdf online and use that to work out the functions of the camera.

Obviously, this all depends on how simple a camera you want or how specialised you need it to be. There is also the second hand market here which can be quite cheap.

Offline andypj1

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 10:48:00 AM »
Speaking of second hand market Fred, where are some good store for used gear in Yamanashi?  I haven't had any luck yet and am looking to do some serious upgrades to my Canon 7D.  New pro tripod, another lens perhaps.  I get all giddy when I think about new e-gear :)  I and KNOW you know that feeling.

Catglen, what type of gear were you looking at and how much did you want to spend?  Right now you would actually save a little money buying the gear here because of the exchange rate BUT you will have a much easier time exploring and purchasing the gear in your home country.  There are a few of us that love going on photo adventures here in Yamanashi and we'd always love to have another join!

Offline fred

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 11:01:00 AM »
I nor cat are not into fancy cameras like you.... however, a few years ago I bought some stuff for a friend through Kitamura http://www.kitamura.jp/

He ordered a second hand body that was in Hiroshima and they sent it to my local branch and I inspected it for him and bought it. From what I remember, it was a pretty smooth process and he was able to do it from South Africa.

I think Sheena and Carlos would have a much idea of that market though.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 11:10:18 AM by fred »

Offline Mister.J

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2013, 11:04:44 AM »
Speaking of second hand market Fred, where are some good store for used gear in Yamanashi?  I haven't had any luck yet and am looking to do some serious upgrades to my Canon 7D.  New pro tripod, another lens perhaps.  I get all giddy when I think about new e-gear :)  I and KNOW you know that feeling.

Catglen, what type of gear were you looking at and how much did you want to spend?  Right now you would actually save a little money buying the gear here because of the exchange rate BUT you will have a much easier time exploring and purchasing the gear in your home country.  There are a few of us that love going on photo adventures here in Yamanashi and we'd always love to have another join!

Shinjuku has plenty of second hand camera stores for lenses and gear.  When you go to Tokyo this week you should definitely hit it up and take the fam to Tokyu Hands! 8 floors of goodies!
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Offline shneen

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2013, 11:16:26 AM »
Welcome to the prefecture! It's a pretty good place to call home :D   

I'm a bit of a camera junky (that might be an understatement), and I've bought several cameras and accessories during my time here in Japan...  so here's my two cents (yen?)...

Kelly (kelloggs) brings up a really good point, and I'm finding this to be true for a lot of people who are happy with point and shoots - that your smart phone camera may be all that you want/need, especially if you're someone who doesn't like to carry a bunch of stuff around with you.  However, a compact point and shoot doesn't take up a lot of room in a purse/bag and you can get a really basic one for 10,000 yen or so (granted, it won't be the greatest).   I'd say expect to spend between 20,000 and 30,000 for something with a little bit more shooting power and a decent range of features.  DSLRs start around 50,000 for an entry model body and lens kit and go up (and up and up) from there.

All of the cameras I have bought here in Japan have had the option to change the displays to English (they've all been Nikons, however). I do know that some other brands don't have the option to switch, so you'll just want to be sure that you have a look at the specs and see if you can switch, they normally say if they can somewhere, or like Fred said, it never hurts to wander into one of the electronics stores and play with the models on display and see what they can do (and if you're feeling particularly mischievous, set all of the displays to English and then watch the sales clerks try to figure out how to work the camera... hehe  :evil:).

I find the used camera market to be a bit hit and miss - used stuff in Japan is really well looked after and tends to be really nice... but I find that I don't always end up saving that much money and that it's often worth it to spend a little extra and have the new gear, but that's mostly a personal preference of mine.    Fred mentioned Kitamura, which can be a good way to get stuff close to you, as you can pick out what you want, they'll ship it to the closest store and you can say yay or nay after looking at it.  There's also a few places in Tokyo that can be quite good, but it just depends on what they have in stock at the time.

As for prices, I'd say do some shopping online... I find Amazon Japan tends to have slightly better prices than brick-and-mortar stores (and even better than say the Nikon Outlet Store), but if you're shopping Memorial Day sales, you may find a better deal in the States.   But like everyone has said, it just depends on how much of a camera you want and what sort of investment that you're willing to make.   

Offline vankuzco

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2013, 12:34:13 PM »
Even with the exchange rate as it is, it's much cheaper to get a camera that  is on sale in the US. You won't find those kinds of deals here in Japan.

www.slickdeals.net is a site that I go to whenever I want to buy something on sale.

After looking at cameras and whatnot here I would say that Japan has the newest cameras, but the US has the cheapest ones (on sale).
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Offline catglen

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2013, 01:09:14 PM »
so i have to ask something to kelloggs.....is the quote on the bottom of your page from The Office???? I LOVE THAT SHOW!! i own every episode and i will be bringing them to japan. i have watched that particular episode 10 times at least. That makes me so happy :)

ok, now back to camera talk

Offline catglen

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2013, 01:20:41 PM »
thank you so much everyone for responding :) you guys are awesome already.

I have never used any camera other than a point and shoot, but i would like to learn to use more advanced cameras at some point. i am not planning on getting a smart phone, i dont have one hear in America (i still have a flip phone) and I dont think i really want one. I thought about getting one for directions, translation, ext, but I decided against that.  So I will def need a camera.

I am planning on spending about $200 or so. I already bought a used Macbook air from a friend so i wont be buying a computer in Japan and should not have any problems with memory cards and compatibility.

I will plan to shop around this weekend!

Offline kelloggs

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 02:08:07 PM »
so i have to ask something to kelloggs.....is the quote on the bottom of your page from The Office???? I LOVE THAT SHOW!! i own every episode and i will be bringing them to japan. i have watched that particular episode 10 times at least. That makes me so happy :)

ok, now back to camera talk


Wow, Catherine, you are now officially my new favorite person for noticing my Office quote.  ^-^ Makes me wanna dance...



I don't want to derail the topic of this thread too much, but yes, I adore The Office and will probably have to watch the whole show again soon now that it's over. Once you get here, I would love to have a marathon buddy.  :evil: I'm Kelly in Fujiyoshida, by the way. Come hang out with me and Sheena (shneen)!

On a camera-related note, I might be giving my old point-and-click to my mom when I visit home for the summer, but if she doesn't want/need it, I might just give it away to anyone who wants it in Yamanashi. I'll post the details in the classifieds if I decide to get rid of it.
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Offline shneen

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 03:08:03 PM »
thank you so much everyone for responding :) you guys are awesome already.

I have never used any camera other than a point and shoot, but i would like to learn to use more advanced cameras at some point. i am not planning on getting a smart phone, i dont have one hear in America (i still have a flip phone) and I dont think i really want one. I thought about getting one for directions, translation, ext, but I decided against that.  So I will def need a camera.

I am planning on spending about $200 or so. I already bought a used Macbook air from a friend so i wont be buying a computer in Japan and should not have any problems with memory cards and compatibility.

I will plan to shop around this weekend!

Yeah, I'd say that's probably the best bet, as with the sale season you're likely to get a better deal in the States than you would here in Japan. Although yeah, just poke whatever models you're interested into kakaku or AmazonJP to compare the prices.  And if you decide to get more into photography and get a fancypants camera, it's still always nice to have a point and shoot to throw in your bag for quick snapshots/something to toss in your purse when you're headed to the bar/etc.

Unrelated note about phones - the providers here have gone mostly smart phone. There are still some flip phones out there, but most of the providers have seriously reduced the number of models they have (my company - au -  now only offers 4, docomo has 10 or so... softbank still has quite a few on their site, but not sure how many of those are actually still available ).  Something to ponder!

Offline fred

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2013, 01:49:20 PM »
Here is another second hand shop for you. All Japanese again I am afraid
http://www.fujiya-camera.co.jp/

Offline mike

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2013, 03:05:15 PM »
Two things to keep in mind that I haven't seen mentioned:

1.  Cameras sold in Japan are legally required to have a shutter sound, including cell phones.  Personally I find it really annoying.

2.  It's getting harder and harder to NOT get a smartphone with some carriers.  Furthermore, smartphones are awesome - especially for GPS and looking up train timetables.  They're also more likely to have an English UI option.  But... they make a shutter sound.

Offline Jotham

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2013, 03:30:05 PM »
Two things to keep in mind that I haven't seen mentioned:

1.  Cameras sold in Japan are legally required to have a shutter sound, including cell phones.  Personally I find it really annoying.

2.  It's getting harder and harder to NOT get a smartphone with some carriers.  Furthermore, smartphones are awesome - especially for GPS and looking up train timetables.  They're also more likely to have an English UI option.  But... they make a shutter sound.

Is that to stop perverts taking sneaky pics?? Creeeepy...
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Offline fred

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2013, 03:47:33 PM »

1.  Cameras sold in Japan are legally required to have a shutter sound, including cell phones.  Personally I find it really annoying.


Is this something new? For cell phones, this has always been the case, but for the point and shoot cameras, if they make a sound, I have always been able to switch them off. Bear in mind, I haven't bought a camera in over 2 years.

Offline Terranasaurus Rex

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2013, 04:08:15 PM »
Cellphones you can buy in America that have cameras can have the shutter sound turned off.


Wow that is the most awkward English sentence ever.

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Offline The Notorious M.I.G.

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2013, 08:05:56 PM »
I thought that shutter thing was international.
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Offline Karurosu

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2013, 12:42:30 PM »
I actually think most camera brands here have no English menu option. I bought a Japanese Panasonic GH2 and at the time it was cheaper than buying it from a U.S. website with international delivery (a rare exception). I hacked the camera firmware in order to switch it to English (and make it do some other fancy things), but it wasn't a fun process.

A new ~$250 Panasonic GX1 would be a good, cheap option. Somewhere between a DSLR and a compact camera. That said, Micro Four Thirds lenses are usually quite expensive.  You can get adapters though. If you do want to go for a M43 camera, I have a hideous zoom lens that I'll give you if you buy me dinner/alcohol. It's fine for starting out (i.e. it works), but once you start experimenting with other lenses you realise that it's much better as a paperweight than a lens.

Offline Mister.J

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2013, 12:56:33 PM »
How did you hack the firmware on the camera carlos?
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Offline catglen

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2013, 01:08:26 PM »
thanks for the feedback guys:) 
My brother just called  (he is a deal finding machine!) and he found a nice camera with interchangeable lenses for $300. Hopefully it will work out and i can learn how to take awesome pictures.

Offline Karurosu

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Re: Buying a Cameras at home or in Japan?
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2013, 01:27:36 PM »
How did you hack the firmware on the camera carlos?

Do you have a GH2? I forget the details, but I had to put files on my memory card and then start up the camera in some mode or something like that. It's a hack for filmmaking that happens to add English, but it's only available for Panasonic GH models.  If you google "Vitaly GH2 hack", you should be able to find more info.