Monday, August 30, 2010

Shopping for Camera Gear in Hong Kong

The following information are taken from: Bill Dickens

Shopping for cameras

Hong Kong is a great place to buy electronic goods - high turnover keeps prices low and the territory is tax and duty free. However there are a few things you should know before shopping.

The most important point: It is your responsibility to make sure the product is what you want, and that the price is fair. Once you have made a purchase - in most cases there is no possibility of return or exchange (unless the goods are faulty.) If you have been mislead (lied to) or pressured, then you should contact the Hong Kong Consumer Complaints Council immediately for assistance.

1. DO NOT buy cameras in Tsim Sha Tsui with the exception of Tin Cheung Cameras which is in my recommended list, and perhaps Echo Photo & Audio which was recommended to me.
Many of the shops on Natham Rd in particular will pressure you into buying products you don't want, use bait and switch tactics, and outright lie and rip you off. There are several shops that are okay but you are not going to know which ones - so don't do it.

2. Do not buy from any shop that has "Duty Free" or Tax Free" in neon over the store entrance. This is misleading as all shops in Hong Kong are duty and tax free. The worst shops also often have "Sony" in neon over the shop entrance.

3. A list of recommended camera shops is provided at the bottom of this page. They have been around a long time and are favorites of Hong Kong photographers. I have personally bought camera gear from all these stores. They are very dependable companies.

4. Research before leaving home. Get an idea of features, models, and prices back home.

5. Don't expect sales staff to give technical advice on any particular model. Most stores are staffed by clerks, not photographers.

6. If buying a video camera make sure the video-out standard is compatible with your home country - PAL or NTSC.

7. Warranty is HK & China only. Ask if international warranty is available. However usually it's HK/China coverage only, in which case, if a fault develops, you either need to ship it back to HK for service, or get it repaired at home at your own cost.
Some stores sell parallel imports without warranty at a 5-10% discount.
With Japanese quality control you are unlikely to need warranty, although it's a risk you need to acknowledge.

8. Buy several days before leaving HK so you can check that everything is working as expected, and get it swapped at the store if it's not.

9. Don't be rushed into buying. There are plenty more stores selling exactly the same camera.

10. 2-3% extra for payment by credit card is normal. Before finalizing the price ask whether it's the same price using a credit card.

11. Negotiate any extras/accessories at the same time. Otherwise your hard-won bargain will be cancelled on the accessories. Make sure the quality of the accessories is to your satisfaction.

12. There is not much scope for bargaining at the good stores; their margins are already very low. You are unlikely to get discounts on cheap point-and-shoot cameras ( However if you are paying HK$12000+ for an expensive camera or lens, then you should bargain. If buying an SLR body / lens combination, then you should expect to get a reduced price compared to buying separates.

13. Some stores will bundle complimentary accessories. (Wing Shing Photo Supplies does this.) Consider declining these for a discount. These extras will be budget quality. i.e. Memory cards will be small capacity and about the slowest available. For some extra effort you could go to a computer mall close by and buy a better quality/larger memory card for the same price.

14. It is a normal practice in Hong Kong for the clerk to unpack the carton and show you all components that you are purchasing. This should happen before you give them your credit card. This also means that you cannot return later to the store and claim that something is missing from the carton.

Recommended camera stores

You should visit at least the following two places to compare prices.

Tin Cheung Camera

Location: Shop 5 Friends' House, 6B Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui station - exit D2 - over the road next to the 7-eleven.
Tel : (852) 2722 1265
Store hours : Sun: 12:00pm -6:00 pm, Mon-Sat: 11:00am-8:00pm

* Official import plus parallel import (therefore you have the option of HK/China warranty, or discounted without warranty.)
* Run by a photo enthusiast. As well as the usual digital and 35mm, there is a selection of medium format gear.
* Some stock kept on-site. Sometimes you might have to wait a few days for selected models.
* They also run a large-scale internet sale business.
* Tripods and other accessories upstairs.

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui. This the only store I recommend in this area.

Wing Shing Photo Supplies

There are two branches - both located in the busy shopping district of Mong Kok.

* Official import (therefore HK/China Warranty is included)
* Prices are good enough. Most popular and new models in stock
* Large sales volume - staff are primarily sales clerks and not photographers so don't ask for their opinion on cameras/features.

Shop Location 1: 55-57 Sai Yeung St., Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong. (Original store)
MTR: Mong Kok station - exit D3 - 25m ahead over the road.

Shop Location 2: 91-95 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong. (New store)
MTR: Mong Kok station - exit D3 - 2 blocks away from location 1 above on "sneaker street".

Other Camera Stores

Man Shing - 106 Tung Choi St., Mong Kok. I'm told it has the same owner as Wing Shing. Smaller store and product selection than Wing Shing, however I sometimes use them for accessories.

Fortress and Broadway - hundreds of branches all over Hong Kong - large electronics chain stores. Higher prices than Tin Cheung and Wing Shing above and the staff are relatively clueless about the products they are selling. The sales clerks in Broadway have some discretion to reduce prices. Fortress is fixed-price only.

Photo Scientific - Stanley Street in Central on Hong Kong Island. I have never used Photo Scientific although I've heard they are okay. If you are in Central then worthwhile checking out. However compare prices with Wing Shing and/or Tin Cheung before buying.

Echo Photo & Audio (phone: 2376-0478) at Hankow Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon close-by the HMV store. This was recommended to me by a HK photographer - however I have never shopped here myself. (However it's in Tsim Sha Tsui - so make sure you get the right store. As explained above there are some terrible camera shops in TST.)

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