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Lesson Learned, Why I Never Criticize Someone’s Equipment

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by CWRailman, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    When I worked in Downtown Chicago my office was about a block away from Central Camera which is one of the oldest, if not the oldest camera store in Chicago. This photo was taken during my December 2014 visit to Chicago which was the first time I had been in the store in 25 years. The store looked old when I first saw it in the 1970’s and looks more like a relic now.
    Sharon%20tours%20Chicago%202014%20053b.

    Starting in the early 1970’s, I spent at least one lunch hour a week in that store and sometimes more and in the process got to know Gene who was a noticeably handicapped black man of small stature and Joe who was one of the sales people. Gene had a bad left hand with fingers that were bent and completely curled almost into a fist. He also limped on his left side but despite those handicaps he had worked himself up to being one of the store managers. Gene always smiled and had a really great knack for discretely making the appropriate “politically incorrect” comment (before they were called politically incorrect) at just the right time. He knew I was interested in photography but was working within the confines of a restrictive financial budget and he occasionally introduced me to photographers who were producing good work within similar financial restrictions.

    Central Camera is a very narrow store with counters on both sides of the store and a sort of walkway down the middle which would get very busy and congested during the Christmas season. One day I was standing talking with Gene when a guy, that looked like one of the homeless people off the street, walked in with a camera held by a narrow non descript strap slung over his shoulder. He headed for the back room where the repair service was located. As he passed I noticed that there was Duct Tape wrapped around the back side of the camera and it seemed to be holding the back of the camera closed. I turned and made some comment to Gene that the guy was probably heading back toward the repair shop to find out how much it was going to cost to get his camera repaired. But since I knew that repairs were expensive he probably would not be able to afford the repair.

    Without missing a beat Gene walked over to the waist high swinging gate that allowed him to pass through the counter area, he made a big deal about looking both ways down the walkway then crossed over to the display of books in the rack on the other side of the store. He pulled a book, laid it on the counter then fumbled through some pages till he found a spot. He then advanced a few more pages then called me over and pointed to the page. He said, this photo and those on the follow pages (it was a high quality picture book of B&W Street Shots of Chicago) were taken by that guy with that taped up camera. Then with his usual smile and knowing that I would not be overly offended he looked at me and said “ and what have you published”. He then pointed out that the guy was probably headed back to the photo processing room to check on a processing order.

    Gene later went on to say that he had many examples of such work being done by people with so called inferior equipment and that it was not the equipment that made the photograph but the photographer. Though I believe he had no intentions of degrading/insulting me, Gene had put me in my place. That day I learned to never criticize the photographic equipment any photographer used but rather to be intrigued by what they were able to accomplish and to ask them to share their techniques of extracting the most from the equipment they had.
     
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  2. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Mu-43 Regular

    64
    Mar 20, 2015
    Iowa
    It's true that the photographer, not the camera, makes the image. Thus, I never tell a rangefinder user to remove the lens cap. I'm helpful that way. :)

    I admit to being critical of what I see as bad technique but never question's someone's equipment.
     
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  3. panonski

    panonski Mu-43 Regular

    53
    Dec 13, 2014
    almost story of mine ... ;)
     
  4. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Great story, thank you!
     
  5. Clemo

    Clemo Mu-43 Regular

    59
    Jun 22, 2015
    Henry
    Great story Denny, thanks for the share.
     
  6. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    I am dating myself as much as the OP:th_salute: , but that "relic" looks like what I think of as a "real" camera store should. It reminds me of the places I haunted back in the 70s. Thanks for the nostalgia.
     
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  7. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    775
    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I wish there were a camera store around here in which to browse. Great story.
     
  8. Sounds like something I would have done...DOH! We were all young whippersnappers at some point. Like so many other things in life, it's not what you have, but how you use it. That store reminds me of some of the classic stores in NYC. For all the camera nuts in the northeast, you haven't truly lived till you went into one or more of these. Quite the experience for a twenty something New England country boy during the early/mid 70's.
     
  9. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    John,
    I have often wondered if there are any of the OLD camera stores in NY. Do they look the same as they did in the 60-80 era? What are some of the old ones that are still in business? While I have done some ordering from B&H I have never been there and from the photo's it looks like they are in a more modern building.
     
  10. I'm not sure what's left as far as the classic ones...like Olden and Cambridge and so many others that graced the back pages of magazines like Modern Photography. I was in Adorama about 10 years ago and it had the feel of the old school camera store. Was in B&H about 7 years ago and they've done very well in adapting to the changing times. Those changes are what doomed some of the stores... sadly. The transition to digital and the economic situation in general both took their toll on several store I think. Living in Massachusetts at the time (70's), I would do mail order. Had a bad deal with one store and received a Sigma 70-210 macro zoom, when these first came out, that had one element with huge gouges in it. Took me several months of phone calls to get a refund. After that I started buying from Competitive Camera, down near Madison Square Garden...low 30's street...and never looked back. Mail order saved the NYC tax, but I did get to the store a couple of times. Was even able to spend a couple of hours at a free concert in Central Park...Jefferson Starship...1976...and then go down and purchase a Canon 135mm f2.5 for my F-1. Good times!
     
  11. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    ㅇtㅈyㅅr
    One of these days, I'll go on a photo shoot of all the camera stores here in Seoul. There's a camera district with probably close to 100 camera shops dealing in new and used. Whatever you might be looking for, it's available.

    There are also two official Leica stores, an official Olympus store, a Fuji store and a bunch of Canon and Nikon shops. The Leica and Olympus stores also have a kind of museum showcase inside the stores with pristine older bodies and lenses from yesteryears housed in glass cases for people to look at.

    Aside from Tokyo, it's probably the next closest thing to heaven for anyone looking for older cameras and lenses.
     
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  12. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    918
    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Wow. I think I bought my first camera there in summer of 1970. I recall the shop was on Wabash.
     
  13. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    I enjoyed watching the video tour Blunty did of the Olympus museum but I think he visited the one in Tokyo. Are most of those stores new or have they been around for a while? You say district? Are the camera stores located within a certain area and is that common? Back in the 1980's my company had an office there but I never made it over. I probably would have spent most of my free time in those stores.
     
  14. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    Yes it is on Wabash between Adams and Jefferson. You may remember that the Elevated tracks go by. The front of the store probably looked the same then as it does now.
     
  15. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    ㅇtㅈyㅅr
    Aside from the official stores of Leica, Olympus, Fuji, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic, most of the other stores that deal with new and used are quite old and have been there for decades.

    There are two large camera districts, Namdaemun and Chungmuro which are both located right next to each other and are within walking distance. One of the two Leica stores and the Fuji store are located in Chungmuro while Namdaemun has a bunch of individually owned camera stores dealing with new, used or both. When I first moved here, it was amazing walking by these stores with camera bodies and lenses from decades ago. Even finding one store like this in the U.S. is rare but having store after store after store was a wondrous sight.

    The official company run Olympus store is located in Gangnam and I'm fortunate enough that they gave me an Olympus VIP card which gives me 10% off any Olympus branded product regardless and sometimes even 15% off of lenses for all future purchases.

     
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  16. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    Those of you who read my story of Central Camera and Gene might enjoy taking a look at the store. In the 4th or 5th photo you will see a tall grey building just right of center. That is the Mid Continental Building and you can see how close it was to the camera store hence the reason I spent so much time there. My company occupied 17 floors of that block long building. You can also see how relatively narrow that walkway in the store is. With customers lined up at the counters the sales associates had to be careful when crossing from one side to the other so they did not get run down by someone heading to the back rooms. The cameras were on the left hand side of the store and the film was on the right side. Repairs, darkroom, lighting equipment and photo processing was in the rear. Enjoy the visit.
    https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x880e2ca308403ec9:0xc84597b68faef953!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4shttps://plus.google.com/118092058591972309208/photos?hl=en&socfid=web:lu:kp:placepageimage&socpid=1!5scentral+camera+chicago+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ei=vb-WVd--I4mbNvSTg_AE&sqi=2&ved=0CHwQoiowDQ
     
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  17. Jeece

    Jeece Mu-43 Rookie

    23
    May 7, 2015
    Granby, QC, Canada
    Great story!
     
  18. fsuscotphoto

    fsuscotphoto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    819
    Feb 15, 2013
    St. Cloud, FL
    Ron
    I was B&H a couple of years ago. I was looking for a flash and the girl waiting on me looked up my ordering info while we were talking. I had picked out the flash and she in outraged me to wait till I got back to FL to order to save lugging it around (I didn't need it on the trip) and to save me the NYC sales tax! Where else would they do this! Customer for life!

     
  19. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    Looks like autocorrect inadvertently made this kind of funny. Could you have meant "encouraged" rather than "outraged?" :)
     
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  20. fsuscotphoto

    fsuscotphoto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    819
    Feb 15, 2013
    St. Cloud, FL
    Ron
    That's what I get for replying on an ipad.