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Closure of a Melbourne photographic institution

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Jozioau View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jozioau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Closure of a Melbourne photographic institution
    Posted: 13 January 2021 at 13:12
Very sad to have learned that Michael's Cameras in Melbourne has closed its doors after 105 years of trading, essentially due to Covid causing the lock down of the CBD and work from home over a large portion of the past year.
Michael's was one of the best camera stores in Melbourne, if not the best.
It ranged over several floor levels and apart from its new cameras that were sold by knowledgable staff, it also had all sorts of specialist gear like studio lighting, tripods, accessories, bags, straps, a repair service, a hire service, an outstanding and extensive camera museum with ancient, rare and exotic photographic treasures, a gallery display space, lecture rooms where it ran lunchtime and after office hours workshops and product launches, and a well stocked second hand department where traded in gear was offered for sale.
Apart from still cameras, it also had a good stock dedicated to the moving image, originally 8mm, 16mm, Super-8 then VHS, then digital as well as projectors.
Also a good range of film, and darkroom equipment.
It will continue as an on-line new camera business and that's going to be tough pitching itself against the high volume discounters and off-shore sellers, but all other of its functions have ceased.
It hopes to donate its camera museum to the Melbourne Museum where hopefully the contents can be preserved and displayed in their entirety.
All very sad - over the decades I bought and traded in cameras and lenses, selected lots of my gear there after being able to 'test drive' it at the store, had repairs done, and insurance valuations carried out, and often enjoyed the museum, the talks and launches when I worked in the CBD.
Here's a snap I took of one of my favourite past cameras in the museum. Might even have been the one I traded when I upgraded to the Minolta X-700??
Minolta SRT Super, Melbourne by Joe Lewit, on Flickr



Edited by Jozioau - 13 January 2021 at 19:24
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bonneville View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote bonneville Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2021 at 15:10
That is a very sad story Joe. And a sure sign of the times. Physical walk-in photographic related shops have been on the decline for a good while now, certainly in the UK, and no doubt this dreadful pandemic has hastened things along.

I read this week in the latest edition of Amateur Photographer magazine that Richard Caplan Photographic, a well known central London Leica and Hasselblad specialist has just closed for good, after 25 years.
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waldo_posth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2021 at 17:02
Indeed, very sad, Joe. If I were you I would probably try to buy back my SRT Super!

My immediate response was to write an email to the store clerk of the photo business in Berlin where I am a regular customer - and order a lens (Tamron 70-180mm).
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Fred_S View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Fred_S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2021 at 20:23
It's a petty indeed that shops like these are fading out.
Recently I was doing some orientation for some new gear (have't decided yet) and for this reason was very much in doubt to buy "local" instead of making one of the richest guys in the world (who is trying to enter the Dutch market through real aggresive pricing ) even richer.
Obviously ordering from home is convenient (especially thes covid days) and prices seem very attractive, but what if we lose all the real shops with their knowledge and service? . I am strongly tempted to pay a bit more (if I can afford it).
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dCap View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dCap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 January 2021 at 21:46
Sad in some ways to hear this story - but at the same time - online is an opportunity (and isn't difficult) and I have seen other businesses just fail to get online properly.

Hopefully this place will thrive online. And perhaps re-open in a different model than yesterday.

Every dollar/euro/pound/etc. spent buying used items from a used camera shop is supporting that business - and that supports their shop and their staff - I started photography before the internet was a thing (in the home) and would not have been able to without my then local camera store.

In 33 years of photography and buying new and used gear I've bought about 50% from used stores and about 50% from private sellers on eBay (normally due to supply).

Prices today are at a point where used stores are often cheaper than eBay. Even though I'm a big fan of eBay I'd rather use a store (and get a warranty).

I DO NOT buy from "the big warehouse company that started out selling books". My family know that I won't even accept a gift from them, at any value, if it was bought there.

I have a future web project that y'all might get to see one day - it'll be ad and affiliate link supported (with one rather large and obvious omission).
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adhox View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote adhox Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2021 at 22:24
Peter and his team at Michael's were great supporters of our local photographic community; it'll be sad to see them gone. I hope that the museum can find a new home, although it is unlikely to find a home that can have as much of the collection on display. I worry about the transition to online; Michael's website is awful and shows only a fraction of what was previously available in the shop.

Along with Michael's, that block of the CBD has also lost Camera Lane, which was always a treasure trove for interesting used equipment. Alan & Venus have relocated that shop to the 'burbs on the wrong side of town so I won't be tempted there as often as I was previously.

DigiDirect and Ted's are still in that block, but neither of them offer the same experience as the two that have gone - although digiDirect is very good with Sony.

DCW also closed the doors of its Melbourne shop during the lockdown. An email I received in November said that they were looking at reopening somewhere in Melbourne, but no date for that.
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skm.sa100 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote skm.sa100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 January 2021 at 23:55
It's sad for the businesses impacted. It's also sad for the regular customer who're used to their favorite stores and get to know the business owners and the people at the business.
Retail has been bludgeoned by online shopping, needles to say.
The pandemic that's lasted for close to a year now hastened the demise as well, sadly.

On the other hand, though, online has been a good thing for customers.
My first camera, the A100, was bought online. Then I found Dyxum, learned a LOT about photography, acquired lens lust. I've bought/sold many pieces of equipment over the years. ALL of it was online either on eBay or Dyxum.
I could not have relied on my local camera store to cater to alpha mount users for the gear. Without online sales, I could never have bought and sold that stuff half as easily.
Just trying to offer a bit of a counter view, without taking a stand towards either perspective.
More Dyxumer, less photographer.
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mirthseeker View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote mirthseeker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2021 at 03:17
It is indeed unfortunate that Michaels' has closed. I bought my SRT 101 with 50 1.4 lens from them, later added 28 and 135 lenses, and extension tubes. Served me well for 40 years! I remember often looking through the second-hand selection of lenses in Michaels' side windows in Lonsdale Street, hoping that a longer lens that I could afford would make an appearance.

In more recent years, I have been longing to access the camera museum, but it was upstairs, and I believe, inaccessible to me. Perhaps I will now get to see it some time in the future.

I have often wondered why there are just so many speciality camera shops still open in Melbourne and suburbs. Apart from those around Elizabeth St, I have used Digital Camera Warehouse in Northcote, and Camera Warehouse in Ringwood/Croydon on occasion, while Teds' are spread widely throughout the Eastern suburbs. I wonder how they manage to compete with bulk stores like Harvey Norman and Office Works, as well as all the on-line discounters.
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adhox View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote adhox Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 January 2021 at 11:23
I thought that there was a lift from the ground floor (although I can't remember whether from the Elizabeth St ground floor or the Lonsdale St ground floor) but maybe it takes you to the training room level which is a half dozen steps lower than the museum. Either way, fingers crossed that the collection can be kept together and able to be displayed in a new home.

The Lonsdale St window of Michael's and the window of Camera Lane have both provided me with some well priced A-mount (& maybe some Leica) equipment over the years - both my former A77ii and A68 came from those windows.

At least we still have the Croydon Camera House - the Ringwood branch feels too much like a Teds to me - and a few other gems scattered around the city. At least for a while ...

Teds are the shops that never make sense to me. Other than the Elizabeth St shop, the branches never seem to have anything available, so I can't be tempted to yield to a sudden urge, and the pricing is generally higher than digiDirect, Michaels, or DCW, so I'll go elsewhere (with stock to try and better prices) if I make a planned purchase.

As for HN and OW, I don't want previous generation models at the original release price points!
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