Japan Camera Hunter – Notes on a positive experience.
As soon as you stumble across the name Bellamy Hunt his name starts to pop up everywhere!
I originally discovered him, his website and services after I watched a digital rev video that mentioned the diminutive MS-Optical Perar 28mm lens … I was instantly intrigued by this lens and got my self on to google to find a bit more about it.
The first search brought Japan Camera Hunter up. Other than through eBay, Bellamy had been seemingly one of the only routes to purchase one of these hand made Japanese lenses for anyone outside of Japan. Since then I’ve seen him mentioned on almost all the forums and blogs I read.
There is little point in me doubling up on the content of his about page, you can read it your self. But in brief, he is a seemingly very well informed and connected camera expert who lives in Japan. He runs a blog and, primarily, sources cameras on request. He’s basically a camera broker, but one in a position to source pretty much anything you could want… And make sure it works properly before sending it to you.
I decided not so long ago to buy my self a Fuji Klasse W, I had seen a few on eBay, some second hand from the US and Canada, a couple of second hand ones from Japan and a few new ones, also from Japan. The new ones (I won’t name the seller) were best part of £300 and they were selling the lens hood separately for another £30. I had read that the hood was included in the box … So I wasn’t going to buy one off them.
I had also recently bought a Ricoh GR1v second hand that was faulty. This experience had pushed me toward a decision to buy new. If I was going to spend this sort of cash on a glorified point and shoot, it wanted to be in perfect condition.
I remember staring at the eBay listing thinking about the few members of RPF that live in Japan, wondering if I could ask them to hunt down a new boxed klasse w for me … I couldn’t, that would be far to cheeky. I suppose I could offer to pay them to do it? But what if something went wrong? The camera was faulty, or went faulty? It would have a guarantee but I couldn’t send it back to them. No, what I needed was an expert in Japan, who spoke English, was happy to buy cameras for folks and deal with any fall out should something go wrong. If only such a person existed…
Of course at some point later that day after ruling out asking one of our members on the forum completely, I had all but given up on the idea when I one of those head slap moments! Japan Camera Hunter … He’s just the man I needed!
A couple of emails later I had a price that even including a cut for Bellamy was only about £20 more than buying the camera and hood off the eBay seller. That wasn’t the first thing to impress me about the service though. The first thing that stuck me was how open Bellamy was, he sent me a link to the camera he was to buy, it was on a Japanese website but I could see the price. Bellamy explained his fee structure, gave me a price for shipping, gave me an idea of how long it would take to get to me etc. The only thing that stopped me sending the money straight away was that I was having some trouble with PayPal. In fact, I did try sending the cash, and was a little embarrassed after having used up so much of his time that I had to tell him there would be a delay … No problem was the answer, just to let him know when.
A few days later all was well and I placed the order. There was a small delay in shipping as Bellamy was dealing with the run up to a life changing event, it’s not my place to say what, but it was certainly an adequate excuse in my books, so I let him off
The camera took about a week to get from Japan, I had a tracking code that (after a bit of confusion) I worked out would work on both the Japanese currier and Parcel Force websites. I must have looked at it about 4 times a day. I’m like a kid at Christmas sometimes.
I should have taken a photo of the parcel, I didn’t, I was far too excited. I opened it and found inside not only a fuji klasse w, but a nice leather strap and a roll of fuji natura 1600 (which is also only seems to be available from Japan). Of course the lens hood was in the box, and a battery, and a cloth strap. I asked Bellamy about the film and leather strap, he told me they had come with the camera. I of course wasn’t expecting them, so he had no reason to include them, but he did. It’s a little thing, but it’s a good sign of an honest bloke to my mind.
I can imagine for Bellamy that this deal was a fairly run of the mill. A Fuji Klasse w is just a compact camera … It’s not some fancy hand fettled Leica or a mint linhoff super technica with a bunch of bits and bobs to boot … No, a simple point and shoot. Yet despite how dull a camera it is, or at least, relatively speaking how dull it could be considered, I wasn’t left wanting when it came to the service I received. And even I had been, I bought my self some piece of mind… And that for me, is really where dealing with JCH comes into its own! You will rarely get close the level of piece of mind on eBay, never mind the service!
Good on ya Bellamy, keep up the good work …