I’m lucky to have a good local camera shop. Not only have I purchased my three workhorse cameras at Keeble and Shuchat,* I’ve been steered in the right direction regarding lenses** and other equipment as well. If you can get past the sort of I-know-more-than-you-do attitude of some of the clerks, this is a great place to actually get a new camera if you want to try stuff out before you buy.
*Nikomat FTn, Nikon Coolpix P3, and Nikon D40x.
**While it’s not difficult to pick a good 50mm Nikkor prime, that they recommended the 50mm f/2 AI as my first lens says a lot about the price/quality understanding.
I also take all my film there for development—even the crappy C41 35mm stuff since I’ve had too many bad experiences with the local minilabs. They’re good enough to return my 620 spools and are friendly to people doing weird things or using weird cameras. I’ve also been able to score and experiment with some expired film as well.
And they have a pretty good used section. Not huge, but pretty well stocked. I’ve picked up a few good lenses there over the years.*
*The 105mm f/2.5 AI and 200mm f/4 AIS being the best two.
What really sets Keeble apart however is the box. It’s legendary. And for good reason. The bargain box is worth cruising past in each visit. Most of the time it’s full of junk, but every so often you find a gem. I’ve purchased six cameras from there so far and shot four of them to-date.
Two which are now in my semi-standard rotation of cameras that I count on:
Kodak Retina IIa—My first purchase and still the one I’m most happy with. This is actually a quality camera with a coated lens.
Kodak Pony 135 Model C—My 35mm toy camera of choice. Double exposures and a cheapish lens make this one a lot of fun to play with.
I’ve also picked up a few “museum pieces” which, while I’ve shot a roll of film through them, have some reliability issues and are just a bit too much work to use. But I can’t bear to part with them either.
Kodak Retina I—Too pretty to pass up. Too flaky and too similar to the Retina IIa to shoot again.
Kodak Six-20 Brownie Junior—Another beauty. Works well, but carrying a cardboard camera in my bag is kind of scary. And filing down 120 spools doesn’t work too well so if I shoot it again, I’ll have to respool 120 onto 620.
I’m a bit scared to look in the box now. It’s too good to pass up but I can’t really justify any more project cameras. I barely shoot the ones I have now as it is.