The state of the high street photographic trade near you


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 09:21
Having been an avid photographer and suffering from LBA for many years I have always taken great interest in the number and quality of camera shops when I visit other towns and cities. Since the 1980's the decline has been obvious, with internet shopping playing a large part, but I'm hoping that the decline has finished and we have reached a point where we could even see some growth.

It seems to me for an independent photo retailer to succeed nowadays it is almost essential to have a good internet presence, even if it's just an "Ebay shop", good "in-depth" knowledge (as opposed to the majority of Jessops/Dixons staff that I have encountered) and increasingly a second hand selection (as I believe the profit on Used equipment is often better than New).

What shops do you have near you, how well do you think they are doing, and do you think they will be in existence in 5 years time?

There are several shops that seem excellent from their websites but I don't see them mentioned on the forum (i.e. Skears, West Yorkshire Cameras) - or perhaps I haven't bee looking at the right times


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 09:27
We used to have Hasselblad, Leica, Pentax and the rest in Glasgow. All gone now though along with Jessops and Jacobs. Now we have the fantastic Calumet and Merchant City Cameras who have an interesting but pricey second hand stock as well as being a Pentax Pro Dealer, allegedly. I shop for Pentax in Watford.
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 10:25
Used to have Jessops and before that an independant retailer, closed because of Jessops, now nothing.
Pentax K1-ii and MZ6
Pentax Lenses 28-80 F, 300 DA*, 80-200 F, 35 F2.4 AL, M50 F1.7, 28-105 DFA, 20 F4 SMC


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 10:31
Indepentants we have Charles Eagles in Sunderland and Durham(Pentax to some extent) and D & P Photographic in Gosforth(no Pentax) Jessops have reopened a shop in the Metro Center with Pentax Stock and a "dedicated" salesman. ie he wears a shirt with Pentax on.

How long they last is anyone's guess. In closures recently it seems that when the current owner retires, no one is there to take the business on.
Too Old To Die Young


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 10:45
My local camera shop closed a few weeks ago (Ivor Howell, West Norwood branch, London). I rarely went inside, they seemed to concentrate on photo processing and picture frames plus a few telescopes. Their secondhand cameras were pretty ancient and mostly CanonNikon so there was little of interest for me. I'm surprised they kept going so long. The few times I did go in it wasn't always a pleasant experience.

It's a shame independents are declining but as a mostly secondhand buyer I'm happy to use the Internet.
Last Edited by RussV on 15/01/2014 - 10:47


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 11:00
There is no high street photo business near us, the nearest is Manchester City Centre. There are five dealers there if we include the Leica specialist.

Locally, there used to be two in Bolton (one now), two in Leigh (none now) and our camera club (ADAPS) was started by a Tyldesley Chemist and other professionals. That was in 1938 though, definitely before my time.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 11:34
We had a great independent camera shop until Jessops came to town, now we don't even have Jessops. That's partly my fault though since I never shopped there, I prefer to deal with staff who know what they are talking about and don't try to force overpriced accessories on me.

I can get next day delivery from SRS even way up here in the Highlands if the gods are smiling. They know what they're talking about, have good prices and are efficient at things like dispatching.

There is or used to be a Ffordes second hand place over in Beauly but the few times I've checked the stuff they had was too expensive.


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 12:32
I am quite fortunate to have 2 Pentax Pro Dealers near me. Wessex Photographic, who are good for the basics, but do not carry many Pentax fit lenses in stock, although they can order anything. Downside is they only have a very basic website which is rarely updated. Last purchase from here was a 100mm WR macro for £499 in December, during a Pentax day.

Second one is Castle Cameras, who carry a large amount of Pentax lenses and accessories in stock and have a very good website. They are sometimes cheaper than SRS, and both Castle and Wessex will price match via a call to the Pentax rep. Good service from Castle who gave me a no quibble exchange on a Sigma 8-16mm after the AF packed up in the first month. Last purchase from here was K-3 when it was launched with £100 trade-in(non-working compact) and free leather Pentax strap.
Both companies also do a reasonable range of second hand stock.
Pentax K-3, Pentax K-5.
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6, Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8
Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 WR, Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4.0-5.8
Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8, Pentax D-FA 100MM f/2.8 Macro WR, Pentax DA*300mm f/4.0


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 15:33
I have one in my local town centre and I used them a few times for everything BUT Pentax gear - they'd order in if you begged, but didn't stock it. I stopped using them after arriving at the shop one evening, 10 minutes before their advertised closing time, to buy something that they had in stock. The door had been locked but there was someone inside, I pointed to my watch, he shook his head. I waved cash (quite a bit, I was after a tripod) but still his head was shaking.

I've not been back since.


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 19:00
I wrote here some time ago with some rare praise for PC World in High St Kensington, who had a small dedicated Pentax display with a K30 to try.

Went in today and found the K30 replaced with a Sony CSC of some kind (didn't bother to even look at it), sitting on top of the Pentax display which featured a video demonstration of the K30! There was an smc 35mm prime and 55-200 zoom in the cabinet next to the video monitor. But no display SLR to fit the lenses onto????
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
Last Edited by McGregNi on 15/01/2014 - 19:02


Link Posted 15/01/2014 - 19:36
Well I've just found out through the thread that my local shop (Ivor Howell) has closed, but no great loss.

Near work are TCR Spectrum (who work very hard to damage any pretence that Pentax are supported by professional dealers...dreadful barrow boys and Ricoh need to remove their pro status asap if not sooner), West End Cameras (good condition used gear incl various Pentax), Park Cameras shiny new shop (incl the HD lenses), Cameraworld (nice shop but no longer stock Pentax), and Jessops Oxford St (actually quite decent and quite a lot of Pentax on show).

Then there's York Cameras (on borrowed time), LCE Strand (nice but pricey), some expensive Leica dealers, dodgy places along Tottenham Court Rd, and the department stores. Selfridges has the 645D amongst other Pentax a cost. And I'll have to see if John Lewis is now stocking them again. The shops that offer good knowledgeable service always seem to be quite busy, so I don't think all is's more that dealers have to work hard, as well as competing with Internet prices - which is I suspect quite hard.

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link


Link Posted 16/01/2014 - 01:42
I'm close to one branch of Wilkinson Cameras and not far from another. They stock Pentax and usually have a couple of bodies and some lenses on display. They also have a selection of used gear (some of it Pentax). Over the years I've bought a lot of kit off them, including my K-5 body & MX-1 and always found them helpful and knowledgeable.

Jessops closed, but by then they appeared to be concentrating on photo finishing and digital photo frames.

PPG Flickr


Link Posted 16/01/2014 - 06:09
When I'm in Edinburgh, there's a shop in Morningside which is mostly used gear. They have a huge selection but it's very expensive for the most part, though the benefits of being able to try before you buy are worth paying a premium for, especially when second-hand. The gentleman there is surly but knowledgeable. Upstairs in their repair dept, I've had two 35mm cameras CLA'd there and wouldn't recommend it, they did a poor job and aren't cheap.

Apparently there's a Calumet somewhere, but I didn't find it when I was there a few weeks ago.

In Glasgow I've been to Merchant City and found them very helpful and prices for some things are good. I no longer use Ffordes since they conned me out of multiple expensive return shipping costs after selling me gear that was in far, far worse condition than their website stated.

In Madrid there are a couple of shops but gear here is horrendously expensive, especially used (€200 for a K1000 & M 50mm f/2, for example). Film is, if anything, cheaper than in the UK though.
Pentax hybrid user - Digital K3, film 645 and 35mm SLR and Pentax (&other) lenses adapted to Fuji X and Panasonic L digital
Fan of DA limited and old manual lenses


Link Posted 16/01/2014 - 06:50
McGregNi wrote:
I wrote here some time ago with some rare praise for PC World in High St Kensington, who had a small dedicated Pentax display with a K30 to try.

Went in today and found the K30 replaced with a Sony CSC of some kind (didn't bother to even look at it), sitting on top of the Pentax display which featured a video demonstration of the K30! There was an smc 35mm prime and 55-200 zoom in the cabinet next to the video monitor. But no display SLR to fit the lenses onto????

PC World is one of the biggest piles of poop ever to infect this world. Only Halfords can claim to be worse.

These places IMO are the last resort of the desperate when you urgently need something to get you going following an unexpected equipment failure and there's nothing else than can come to the rescue.

Any port in a storm.
[i]Bodies: 1x K-5IIs, 2x K-5, Sony TX-5, Nokia 808
Lenses: Pentax DA 10-17mm ED(IF) Fish Eye, Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8, Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.2, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, Sigma 135-400mm APO DG, and more ..
Flash: AF-540FGZ, Vivitar 283


Link Posted 16/01/2014 - 12:22
If you are in need of a local camera shop, don't move to Spain. I have none anywhere in a reasonable distance to me.

I grew up and lived in High Wycombe until my move to Spain in 2006. In my early years I had the choice of around five well stocked shops dedicated to photography, not in the actual High Street, but close by.

In 2006 when I left High Wycombe and the UK, Jessops was the only one left, and it's still open.

NB: I don't count Curries, Dixons, et al because their core business is not photography products and/or services.
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream
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