The Ultimate Guide to Camera Shops in Hong Kong
Hong Kong remains as one of the best places in the world for purchasing electronics. This is especially true when it comes to camera gear, with a host of new and second-hand retailers selling just about every bit of camera kit imaginable. Whilst retail prices here aren't quite as low as that of online giants like Amazon and B&H, the lack of sales tax in Hong Kong will almost certainly guarantee extra savings for those used to purchasing in countries other than the US or Japan (which in my opinion have the lowest prices for electronics).
Before diving into the lists of stores to check out, for visitors unfamiliar with Hong Kong, please do take note of some of the points below. Shopping in Hong Kong is perfectly safe and it is almost unheard of to be scammed, however there are still a few things to be aware of.
1. Many camera brands (but not all) will only provide warranty coverage for the region they were purchased in. In this case, the warranty may be valid only for Hong Kong.
2. Some stores sell grey market imports, which are 100% legitimate products, yet sold slightly cheaper as they are imported from another region (typically China or Japan). Again, the warranty may only be valid for the country the product was intended to be sold in.
3. You can always expect to haggle on price, as many stores may offer you a better deal when paying with cash.
4. Often when purchasing a camera from the larger chain stores (Wing Shing, Broadway, Fortress), the store might throw in a few extras for "free" e.g. memory card, carry case, mini-tripod. If they don't, ask at the point of purchase if they can sweeten the deal.
5. Always ask about the return policy. Many stores will NOT allow a refund unless the goods are faulty.
6. Check if there is an extra fee for paying by credit card, as there may be an extra 2% fee if you opt to pay by card.
7. Hong Kong uses the 3 prong 240v UK style wall plug. Whilst voltage won't be an issue as pretty much all battery chargers are dual voltage, it's worth asking if they can maybe swap over the plug for one that's suitable for your country.
Above all, the best piece of advice I can impart on anyone is to STAY AWAY from ALL street level camera stores around Nathan Road area in Tsim Sha Tsui, and in the Causeway Bay shopping area on the Island side. You can easily spot these places as the shop facade is covered in large neon signs for Canon, Leica, Nikon etc. These shops exist purely to pray on uninformed tourists, so you can forget about grabbing any kind of bargain at these places.
Avoid any store with a 'Tax Free' sign. Hong Kong has no sales or duty tax regardless of where you purchase.
BUYING BRAND NEW
The first step to finding the lowest prices in town is to head over to www.price.com.hk
Although this website is only available in Chinese, it's not too difficult to navigate for the purpose of simple searches. Pretty much all retailers in Hong Kong, big and small use it to list their products. So it's the ideal way of sourcing the cheapest prices in town if you don't fancy running around everywhere trying to price match.
Note that there are sometimes two prices listed, indicating whether the product is local stock, or imported. Look out for these symbols listed next to the price.
行 - which is short for 行貨價格, means 'Local Price' or more simply; 'Hong Kong Version'
水 - which is short for 水貨價格, simply means it's a Grey Market import.
Besides physical stores, Hong Kong also has a few online warehouses that primarily deal with the e-bay market and overseas buyers.
Stock is typically grey import, yet pricing is typically on par with what you might find on Amazon, and definitely cheaper than buying in a Hong Kong physical store. The trick with these companies is to e-mail them directly to place an order, and then arrange pick-up from their warehouse or have them post it to your address in Hong Kong.
These are some of my frequent go-to places. All highly recommended, but still be prepared to do your research to find the best deal.
Wing Shing Photo Supplies
One of Hong Kong's best known camera stores. The sales staff here are friendly, but seem more orientated towards the consumer market than the professional. Yet Wing Shing do offer some of the lowest prices around. Great range of the latest camera gear in the DSLR and mirrorless market for all brands. I usually visit here first when pricing out equipment, then typically come back as they generally have the best prices. As a bonus, they tend to throw in little extras with larger purchases such as carry cases, memory cards etc.
Wing Shing Photo - 57 Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok
Tin Cheung Camera
For many Hong Kongers, this is the only place to shop. They have multiple stores around the city, but the flagship store is inside iSquare Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. Tin Cheung is one of the most respected Leica dealerships in town, and caters for a niche customer base with it's stock of Pentax and Sigma camera gear, alongside Samyang, Laowa and Irix lenses to name a few.
The staff here are very informative, because they understand photography and are not just there to push you into buying. Prices here are usually very competitive, on par or lower than Wing Shing. Tin Cheung offer both local and grey import stock so always ask if there is a price difference between the two if warranty is not a concern. One other big advantage is they have an English website: www.tincheungcamera.com.hk
Tin Cheung Camera Main store: iSquare Mall, 58 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Also in Mongkok, you can find the big three big electronics store giants branched close together; Fortress, Broadway & Sunning.
Prices are not always the cheapest, but they have a decent selection and sometimes have some pretty good deals. I generally find prices to be exactly the same between these three competitors, but occasionally I have been quoted lower than the listed price. They're worth a visit simply to have a hands-on play with the latest models of mirrorless and compact cameras.
Another large camera retailer with multiple locations across the city. Cam2 can be a great place to check out for competitive pricing on brand new accessories such as tripods, bags, and filters. They are also well known for their range of Sony cameras as well as supposedly having the largest range of Sigma lenses available.
Cam2 Mongkok Store -Mong Kok Yau Shing Commercial Centre (9/f) 51 Sai Yeung Choi Street South
BUYING USED GEAR
Hong Kong is an absolute mecca for sourcing second-hand cameras and lenses. You name it, it's here! There are so many camera stores here selling second-hand gear, just be prepared to shop around to find a bargain.
Always remember when considering purchasing a second-hand camera to thoroughly test it out in the shop first before committing. Make sure that all electrical parts are functioning correctly. You will want to check that all the buttons are functional, LCD's are bright and displaying correctly, and that the flash (if it has one) fires. Physically, check for any signs of corrosion on the lens mount, and cracks to the body. The shop should always have a charged battery for a particular model so you can take test shots.
With film cameras it can obviously be a lot more tricky to ascertain any problems. Typically you will want to check that any electrical metering works, the shutter mechanism doesn't stick, and that the winder and advance lever are running smoothly. This is especially true with automatic advance cameras such as compacts. I recommend buying a cheap roll of film beforehand that you can use as a tester to put through the camera.
With lenses, the main issues are usually fungus growing inside the glass due to the local humidity, or oil leakage onto the aperture blades. Always have a look for any signs of this by shining the torch on your phone through the glass. Also, more obviously, check for deep scratches on the glass as-well as testing the the focusing ring and aperture blades to make sure they're running smoothly.
With that said, here are my picks for sourcing the best second-hand gear in the city.
Sim City (film and digital)
Three stories of independent camera stores selling both brand new and used digital and film camera equipment and accessories. Also located in Mongkok, Sim City has multiple stores catering mostly to second-hand DSLR's and lenses, but also a large range of mirrorless cameras and some hard to find film SLR's and Leica rangefinders. The other 10 odd stores sell brand new gear, tripods, filmmaking equipment, drones and Lomography cameras. Sim City is also a good place to come for cheap accessories like lens caps, straps, and filters. It is also the only place that stocks some harder to find brands of lenses such as Voigtländer, Samyang, and SLR Magic.
You can even trade in your old camera's and lenses here for cash or put it against the cost of another purchase.
It's you only visit one location whilst in Hong Kong, then Sim City should be your first choice!
Sim City - 47-51 Shantung St, Mong Kok, Kowloon (take MTR exit E2)
Enterance to Sim City (left) & inside view at one of the many store window displays (right)
298 Computer Zone (film & digital)
Don't expect to find a wide selection here, there are only a few camera shops in here amongst all the computer retailers. Whilst I wouldn't come here shopping for second-hand camera bodies, I would come hunting for some bargains on old lenses. I've found some good deals in here before. Prices also tend to be lower than in Sim City due to the cheaper rent.
298 Computer Zone - 298 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Sunrise Professional Photofinishing (for film)
- UPDATE APRIL 2019: Sunrise Photo are rumored to close in Sept 2019. No word yet on relocation
My absolute favorite camera store in Hong Kong. It's a very small store, with a modest range of old film cameras, but the prices are very good and the service from the owners is excellent. Like a lot of independent dealers, you can run off a tester roll of film first before fully committing to a purchase. As Sunrise have their own lab, you can get a tester roll developed in 15 minutes so you'll know if the camera is a dud or not. I can highly recommend checking out Sunrise Photo.
Good for: Old Minolta, Leica, Pentax, Nikon & Canon vintage lenses.
Sunrise Professional Photofinishing - 333/B2 Lai Chi Kwok Road, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
or google "東昇專業沖印" for map directions
Zhao Xiang Guan (Aka Camera Workshop)
Also located nearby to the Champagne Court camera stores, is one of hidden gems in Hong Kong. Located on the 12th floor of a nearby office building, this fairly large store has a huge range of second hand digital and film cameras, lenses, along with brand new equipment. They also have a great range of second hand Gitzo tripods.
They are especially well known for studio lighting equipment, and also stock some specialist brand items from Really Right Stuff, Phase One & Schneider.
12/F, Kimberley House 35 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Champagne Court (for film)
For film enthusiasts (and watch lovers) this is the place to be. Pretty much every film camera and lens ever made will be available here. There are half a dozen little independent stores here selling items such as old Leica rangefinders, medium format Hasselblad and Mamiya gear, Large Format cameras and about a 60-year range worth of SLR lenses. Rarer old items like grips, flashes, and even manuals you will find here. It's a must visit place just to check out some antiques of the past.
If you are looking to purchase here, I would haggle immensely and insist on a trial run with a roll of film. Most items here are grossly overpriced, not to mention have probably been sitting on the shelf for years!
Champagne Court - 16 Kimberly Road, (Take MTR exit B1)
Accessory Stores in Apliu St, Sham Shui Po
Finally, one must visit area is Apliu Street in Sham Shui Po. Aside from a couple of street vendors selling old cameras (which I would probably avoid), there are two shops close by on Apliu st, mostly dealing in cheap Chinese produced camera accessories.
If you are looking for LED lights, light stands, tripods, bags, flashes, reflectors, softboxes, stepping rings, body caps, filters, lens hoods, you name it! It's worth a visit just to get some cheap gear like wireless remotes or backup body caps and cleaning clothes.
Look for "Ying Kee Trading" and " Heng Fung Photo Supplies". These stores stock a similar assortment of cheap accessories, but also some brand name products of bags, L-Brackets, tripod heads and filter kits.
Ying Kee Online Store: www.yingkee.hk
Ying Kee Trading - 154 Apliu St, Sham Shui Po
Heng Fung Photo Supplies - 151 Apliu St, Sham Shui Po
Lastly, for those of you looking to buy & develop film, the best place in the city is Dot Well Photo Workshop.
Situated right outside the used camera stores of Champagne Court, Dot Well offer cheap and fast developing for both 35mm & 120 (1hr turnaround on Colour Negative), and with good quality TIFF scans sent via e-mail. They also stock a sizeable range of film in addition to doubling as a used camera store.
Dot Well - 44 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui