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Best of Toronto

The Best Camera Stores in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / August 19, 2011

Best Camera Stores TorontoThe best camera stores in Toronto may face competition from online retailers south of the border these days, but you wouldn't know it to visit most of them. Photographic culture is stronger than ever in Toronto, a point proven by the local presence on photo-sharing sites like Flickr and 500px, but also the size and popularity of our camera shops. Pay a visit to Henry's late on a Saturday morning, and it'll become clear just how pronounced the local appetite for photo equipment is — which I think is a good thing. Yes, buying products online via U.S. retailers can be cheaper and there are surely deals to be found in the used market, but when you don't already know exactly what you want, the expertise of the staff at many of the shops listed below is invaluable.

Here are the best camera stores in Toronto.

Photos by Jesse Milns

Downtown Camera

Downtown Camera

Downtown Camera strikes a good balance between bigger stores like Henry's and Vistek and smaller, more service-oriented shops. The well-stocked shop is mostly attitude-free, and equipped to handle the needs of amateurs and pros alike. It also doesn't hurt that they tend to price items just below their nearby competition. More »

Vistek

Vistek

I've been buying photo equipment from Vistek ever since I got my first DSLR, a Nikon D50 back in 2008. The multi-level space in Corktown rivals Henry's for the comprehensiveness of its product lines and tends to be ever so slightly cheaper overall. Also noteworthy is the store's excellent selection of rental items and Mac products. Bonus points for a solid service department as well. More »

Henry's Camera

Henry's Camera

Henry's remains the go-to camera and video shop for many Torontonians. The huge space at Church and Queen covers the complete range of photo equipment from point and shoots all the way up to $40K Hasselblads with 60 megapixel digital backs. Add to the mix an impressive video department and a well stocked used department (much of which is posted to Ebay), and you've got one of Toronto's most complete photography destinations. More »

DV Shop

DV Shop

The DV shop, as its name implies, originally specialized in digital video related sales, but has now become a full-scale photography retailer carrying full lines from Canon, Nikon and Sony. A change of location to Runnymede and Dundas at the beginning of the year has increased the size of the showroom, but the store retains a laid-back vibe and knowledgeable staff. More »

Hit Camera

Hit Camera

Located on Avenue Road just south of the 401, Hit Camera isn't exactly in a photography-rich retail zone. But who cares? I got a superb deal on a floor-model Nikon D300 a couple years back that I initially spotted on Ebay (where they have an active e-store). Stock levels don't compare to the big boys downtown, but the prices are good and the Karsh photo gallery in the back of the store is almost worth the visit in and of itself. More »

Aden Camera

Aden Camera

Aden Camera is the type of store to go to when you know exactly what you're looking for and you want the lowest price. Like the camera stores that dot touristy areas in New York, quality of service isn't the shop's calling card. And given that most photographers geek out on web-based research before they buy anything, for shooters on a budget, price is often the bottom line. More »

Film Plus

Film Plus

Sometimes you just can't afford to buy all the equipment you'll have occasion to use as a photographer. In a perfect world, you'd have a well-equipped friend to help you out when you need a tilt-shift lens or the like, but in the absence of such a convenience, Film Plus has got it covered, including pro lighting set-ups and large format equipment. More »

Discussion

80 Comments

Seshan / August 19, 2011 at 01:57 pm
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What about Merkle Camera, Never been there, but they are in Toronto http://www.merklecamera.com/contact-information.html
Aaron / August 19, 2011 at 01:59 pm
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Right on the money. Downtown camera is generally my favorite store, though I have been going to Vistek lately due to the better selection of lighting equipment and modifiers. If you're buying a camera body or a lens I'd recommend Downtown Camera above all else.
JM / August 19, 2011 at 02:03 pm
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I would go into a BestBuy before going to Henry's. Terrible service, long waits to even see someone behind the counter and the prices are often higher than the other shops. This place has been riding on their name brand for a long time now. Their pro-end shop, Headshots isn't bad though.
Seshan replying to a comment from JM / August 19, 2011 at 02:06 pm
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Yeah, Henrys is usually more expensive then other places, I usually shop around first.
Nick / August 19, 2011 at 02:08 pm
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Thanks for the list..one store you've forgotten and is definitely one of my faves is Headshots at Dundas/River. Great rentals (considerably cheaper than Vistek), just about everything photographic is there and a really relaxed atmosphere make it a great place to shop..
alex / August 19, 2011 at 02:10 pm
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Henry's used to be a recommed from me but their service is lousy, prices laughable and email respose a joke...they get by on name and people who do not know any better
bob / August 19, 2011 at 02:10 pm
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FutureShop! PRICEMATCH + 10% off.
Jack wagon / August 19, 2011 at 02:11 pm
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Gott love Guy and the crew at Film Plus. Agree with Seshan that Merkle should be on the list. I've never been a fan of Vistek. I also miss Broadway camera.
Shooter McGaven / August 19, 2011 at 02:13 pm
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What about Headshots???? far better than Henrys or DT
Gordon / August 19, 2011 at 02:14 pm
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Henry's is my pick for selection and knowledgeable, helpful staff. I've been hit and miss at Downtown and Vistek for the same.
Bob / August 19, 2011 at 02:17 pm
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Yes Merkel and Headshots should be on the list even though Headshots is owned by Henrys now.
Dmitri / August 19, 2011 at 02:17 pm
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I'd say Downtown Camera is my favorite, managed to get my gear there for quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else.
Headshots is Henry's / August 19, 2011 at 02:27 pm
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Just FYI, Henry's and Headshots are owned by the same company if I am not mistaken.
Futureshop replying to a comment from bob / August 19, 2011 at 02:29 pm
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That's 10% <b>of the difference</b>.
Nathan / August 19, 2011 at 02:31 pm
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I wouldn't rely on Vistek for repairs. I had them quote me on a repair at $30 (at most, they said). When they called me to pick it up they said it would be $60 + tax. I ended up abandoning the part there and buying a new one online for $20. They should've known to call before and tell me the cost knowing that the part was worth far less than the repair!

I also had a friend who left a medium format RF there for months until they finally admitted they couldn't repair it. This is analogue equipment though, maybe they're better with fixing digital stuff... I hope.

PS. Rumour has it the Lomo Store is going belly up...
Matt Forsythe replying to a comment from Shooter McGaven / August 19, 2011 at 02:31 pm
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For the record, pretty sure Headshots is either owned by or affiliated with Henrys. But I still like them anyway.
(Go to Henrys.ca and click on "Looking for rentals?", it takes you to the Headshots page)
Kate / August 19, 2011 at 02:32 pm
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8 Elm!!!!!!!!
Jesse Ewles / August 19, 2011 at 02:48 pm
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If you know what your looking for, FutureShop usually has the best price / casual atmosphere.
uvstudio replying to a comment from bob / August 19, 2011 at 02:55 pm
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Too bad no one at FutureShop knows what they are talking about.

I go to DV Shop and Vistek for my video equipment and supplies. And B&H in NYC.
Bob / August 19, 2011 at 03:08 pm
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There is no best shop for this kind of stuff. Best to shop around. Most of the time it's still cheaper to buy from B&H and have it shipped. Vistek is convenient but not the cheapest. But they do get products before anyone else. DVShop is much more chilled, and they have most of what people need at better prices.
Lana / August 19, 2011 at 03:11 pm
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Hey Nathan where did you hear that about the Lomo store?
yt / August 19, 2011 at 03:11 pm
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Lol @ henry's...people have already covered the reasons for how terrible they are...and have been for at least 10 years now.

McRib / August 19, 2011 at 03:20 pm
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Aden Camera almost always has the best prices, routinely cheaper than Downtown Camera.

Both Henrys and Vistek are complete ripoffs.

This list sucks.
PG / August 19, 2011 at 03:48 pm
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I bought a new camera last week, went to both Vistek and Henry's, both horrible experiences. Ended up buying at Best Buy where the service was much better, and the price much cheaper.
KM replying to a comment from Jesse Ewles / August 19, 2011 at 04:21 pm
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I'm not sure how being hounded by unknowledgeable sales people creates a "casual atmosphere."

I agree that Downtown Camera strikes the best balance between the products, price, and lack of snootiness. But, these days I always know what I want before going into the store, so Aden serves me best (best stock and price).
Paul / August 19, 2011 at 04:25 pm
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Downtown is super, and they're one of the few places who still process e-6 (in house!!) in TO. Aden should be higher up, and they will kill every other price in the city. Just bought thousands of dollars of gear there yesterday. They saved me nearly a grand over Henry's.

Over a year ago I bought a 5dII from Aden and Henry's refused to match, then said something along the lines of "Canon should dump them as a dealer for not marking up more." Just a taste of their attitude.
jake / August 19, 2011 at 04:56 pm
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www.photoprice.ca is a good site to compare photography equipment prices among the above shops (and more).

(I'm not affiliated with photoprice, just a fan.)
Ghost / August 19, 2011 at 05:13 pm
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Henrys is strange... sometimes I go in there and the service is terrible and other times they are friendly and helpful...
Fake Name / August 19, 2011 at 05:16 pm
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The search feature on Henry's, Black's and Vistek's web site suck and have sucked for years. DTC has an even worse site. I've had bad shopping experience at the downtown Henry's. Does the dismissive old grey beard still work there? Gotta love how Henry's give their Ebay customers much better prices for the exact same gear than they do for their instore or online store customers. Sure builds customer resentment. DTC is alright. I've also had okay experiences at most Black's I've been to. Though nowadays I just order from the states because our stores have the crappiest selection on earth. I could live with slightly higher prices but I WANT WHAT I WANT.
M.Dee replying to a comment from jake / August 19, 2011 at 06:10 pm
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I use Photoprice as well. Makes price shopping much easier.

As far as I'm concerned, Aden's only purpose of existance is to use to price-match. Their service sucks: the one time I went in I was met with what amounted to high school kids behind the counter and a disgruntled older guy. I've heard the stories about both locations (downtown and Pacific Mall).

As mentioned before BBuy or FShop are decent if you know what you're looking for, but I wouldn't expect anyone who works there to know about camera specs if I ask them. I'd go to Blacks or Henrys if I want to know something, and then get them to pricematch. If a store won't pricematch, I walk out and they don't get any of my business.
Dave replying to a comment from Kate / August 19, 2011 at 08:26 pm
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YES!!! How can you leave out Eight Elm!!! Sadly, they will be closing at the end of September! So if you want to get a high quality M body, Leica or Zeisss lens Mike can help you!
Ian / August 20, 2011 at 08:26 am
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Aden is the best store by far.
Warren / August 20, 2011 at 09:19 am
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Honestly, I've felt insulted by the terrible service I've gotten at both Henry's and Vistek. I've only had good experiences at Downtown Camera.

Haven't tried any of the others, but I wouldn't really be surprised if Lomography went under. Most people buy that kind of stuff on the internets.
Jonah / August 20, 2011 at 11:48 am
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I won't set foot in Aden Camera. A few years ago they were selling a used copy of the Voigtlander 15mm M-mount lens with viewfinder for $1,000. At the time it could be had brand new for $300 US online (plus shipping etc).

It is a shame about 8 Elm closing next month. Their C41 35mm processing was only $2 a roll, best deal in town.
dan / August 20, 2011 at 07:33 pm
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Henry's isn't bad.

http://www.wesisearch.com/blog/?p=54
Gav / August 20, 2011 at 11:30 pm
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I've experienced absolutely horrible service at Henry's. I will try to never even visit their store again, let alone spend money there.

Downtown Camera has great service without attitude.
Fantomex replying to a comment from Gav / August 21, 2011 at 03:42 am
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If you think that Henry's is bad (I've been there, and the few times I was I had great service, all the questions I had about film answered), you should see the pawnshop across the street from Henry's. The Nasty Old Man who ran it treated me like shit because I asked if I could take a look at what used equipment he had for sale. He told me that I didn't know what I wanted, and should get lost. Needless to say, I did so, going to Downtown Camera to check out what used film SLR's they had. I was not disappointed; they had a ton of great stuff priced at around $100.00. Eventually, I didn't buy anything from them (I bought a used Minolta Maxxum 5000 AF for $40.00 at the St Lawrence Center Sunday flea market) but I'm glad I went anyway.

BTW,what did piss you off about Henry's exactly?
CHEAP UGGS / August 21, 2011 at 05:00 am
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BTW,what did piss you off about Henry's exactly?
Gary / August 21, 2011 at 08:06 am
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Good to hear about Merkle on Vic Park. I used to go there. Perfectly ok as far as I'm concerned. If you're in the east end it's far better than fighting the traffic to go downtown.

Sales people at camera stores are kind of a variable lot. I wouldn't judge a store based on an experience with a unpleasant sales rep. Just go back at another time & speak to someone else.

Around 25yrs ago Downtown Camera had a used dept at the back that they could have charged admission to see!
Gloria / August 21, 2011 at 08:53 am
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Anyone have an idea as to where I can get 35mm film processed and scanned for real cheap?

help MEEEEEEEE
Dave replying to a comment from Gloria / August 21, 2011 at 11:14 am
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Join the Toronto Camera Club, they have a dark room. Then you can buy a really nice Epson scanner for about 200 bucks! In the long run this is the most economical and you will learn a lot too.
JD / August 21, 2011 at 11:20 am
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I always get the price from Downtown and then go to Aden. They will always go lower.

Anyone remember International Camera out on the Queensway? It was my fave by far. Henry's? Fugetaboutit.
JD replying to a comment from Gloria / August 21, 2011 at 11:25 am
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Colourgenics, West Camera, Toronto Black and White, Loblaws on Jarvis.
Filmo / August 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm
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You could try LIFT for scanning and darkrroom rentals here www.lift.ca. Also Gallery44
Personally i would rate film plus over a lot of the others. Vistek are okay but it depends who you get as to whether its a good experience or not. Downtown are good too.
I tend to get all my colour cross processed at Wongs camera on the Danforth. He also has a stock of old obselete things that come in useful with old equipment. Nice guy too.
Surely the Lomography store should not be so high on the list. Overpriced plastic crap remakes of better original crap.
Holly replying to a comment from Fantomex / August 22, 2011 at 11:45 am
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That old man at that pawn shop is the WORST I enquired about a dusty neglected hasselblad he had in the window, "If you have to ask how much it is you can't afford it, little girl, it's for professionals"; so then my eyes spotted an acra swiss 4x5 and I asked about that and he said "get out of here, no really, get out"
Nick / August 22, 2011 at 04:10 pm
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I used to work in the industry and I can tell you that every single one of the camera stores mentioned (both in the list and in the comments) all pay the same price for their inventory, especially bodies, lenses. Occasionally one retailer may have a better price but overall and over time, there is not one retailer that can afford to be cheaper ALL the time...the margin model will just not allow it. (unless they can trim wages and benefits)..great for the us as consumers but not so for the poor sod that is behind the counter.

My advice, pick a store, develop a relationship with one or two individuals and build on this trust. Going to a store simply because it's cheaper is not the answer especially if you're looking at higher end equipment, ya buy cheap- ya get cheap..Don't get me started on B&H..ever tried to return a D300 that is defective?..or get warranty repairs on a camera or lens that was not purchased in Canada..it's not worth the hassle..

MDS / August 23, 2011 at 12:52 am
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Glad to see the DV shop on this list. By far the best prices in town, and helpful staff. I have been dealing with them for years, and would favour them over the really big guys. Great film stuff too.
Dan / August 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm
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I think it's a great idea to shop around, this list is helpful.

I do agree that Henry's is grossly overpriced, although sometimes you've gotta use them just to get what you need in a hurry.

For the products that they do carry, DV Shop seems to be consistently lower in price than any other store. Good customer service as well.
Sheila Murray-Belisle / August 24, 2011 at 01:17 pm
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I think Aden Camera is the best kept secret. There are a couple of salespeople who will spend two hours with you and not be the slightest bit annoyed if you leave without buying. Price is always the lowest. For our business we have several cameras and Henry's have told me they don't have the time to explain the differences to me.
John T / August 24, 2011 at 02:31 pm
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Henry's first, then the Sony store in the Eaton's centre on the concourse. Downtown Camera who?
Nathan replying to a comment from Lana / August 24, 2011 at 04:53 pm
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Hey Lana,
I heard from the employees there.
Teena / August 26, 2011 at 02:07 pm
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Just bought a digital SLR at Black's at 2 St. Clair W this morning. Alex was great ... very patient and gave me lots of options. I bought a Nikon D5100 and see that Henry's has it $30 cheaper online ... Black's will rebate me that $30 when I show them.
John / August 28, 2011 at 05:47 pm
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I too used to shop at Henry's when I first moved to Toronto, however, I have graduated and moved on; in my opinion Henry's is for people that don't know better. Henry's does the most advertising and half thier success is based on such. Henry's is rude, expensive and don't like standing behind their products, and I am one person that fell victim to such; only to go to Vistek and they repaired the said equipment, only costing me ten dollars for shipping, and yet I purchased it at Henry's on Church Street. One more thing: They change staff constantly. If you are serious about photography, stay clear of Henry's.
John / August 28, 2011 at 06:08 pm
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Gloria! This is John, in reponse to your question as to where to get film processed and scanned: Go to Silvanos, 355 Weston Rd. I have been going there for years and they do a good job and are very polite. They also cater to professionals. The woman that works behind the counter at Silvanos is Mary, and is very nice. It is worth the trip there. Hope this helps1
Alexis / November 9, 2011 at 02:00 pm
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Vistek has the poorest service of any camera store in Canada!! They just don't care. Especially if you're intereted in a product that they have exclusively. Hate giving them money. Prefer to pay the extra and shop online out of the USA.
Shosh / January 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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I have an old Leica that needs cleaning and tune up. It has a sentimental value as it belonged to my father. Does anyone know what are the best stores to have it fixed without breaking the bank? Thank you
Fan1 / January 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm
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Henry's can be good or it can be so-so. Can't say I enjoyed staring at the horseshoe shaped piece of metal dangling from the middle of one of the sales people's nose. That was quite off-putting. What's up with that?
victoria / January 24, 2012 at 02:40 pm
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i shop almost exclusively at merkle camera at victoria park :) Patrick is extremely knowledgeable and will never sell you anything you don't need. he also gets to know what you shoot, how you shoot, what existing equipment you have, and gives you great recommendations on things. highly recommended. other than that, the only time i don't buy anything at merkle, i buy from henry's, and that's ONLY IF i know exactly what i want and i'm only getting it because it's on sale there (henry's does have some pretty good sales, i admit). i've managed to luck out once or twice at henry's with SAs who know what they're talking about, and who don't try to sell me everything under the sun, but it's rare...(401 and Kennedy location, btw).
i would never buy from aden. the only reason most retailers aren't matching to aden is because of their "return/exchange" policy, which is practically non-existent.
Hassan / February 20, 2012 at 12:22 am
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I agree with Seshan, Merkle Camera is the best camera store in Toronto. I buy all my cameras from Merkle Camera. They have the best selection and the best camera warranties in Toronto.
Josh / February 26, 2012 at 05:20 am
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I had horrible experience with the old man at the pawn shop as well. I walked in and he told and the person I was with said hello and he told him to F**k Off. Putting that aside I asked about Super 8 cameras and he showed me one that he had but he would not provide any information about it until we would say if we were interested or not. Eventually he gave us a price and when I said that I had looked at one for half the price the day earlier (which I did) he basically told me I had no knowledge about the cameras (I am a film student) and to get out.
holly replying to a comment from Fan1 / March 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm
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It's called the year 2012.
John / June 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm
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When you are starting out in photography you are drawn to Henry's, but when you graduate, get more experienced or if you don't come to your senses first, then you go elsewhere. Simply put, Henry's is the most poular, because they advertise the most. Upon entering the great cathedral of Henry's, they give you the impression they are the gods of photography; as if you have been blessed, nothing could be further from the truth. Within the past two years, I've had two seperate problems with them. Henry's has a problem in standing behind their products and it's chronic. (continuous, long lasting) No camera store is perfect, but it seems as if Henry's goes to great lenghts to be rude and alienate their customers. In fact, Blacks is better than Henry's; did I just say Blacks, my god things must be bad.
Osama / June 18, 2012 at 09:33 pm
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Had my best experience at Henry's. Don't believe anything negative about them. They are simply the best.
Cosplay / September 26, 2012 at 09:50 pm
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Thanks for the list..one store you've forgotten and is definitely one of my faves is Headshots at Dundas/River. Great rentals (considerably cheaper than Vistek), just about everything photographic is there and a really relaxed atmosphere make it a great place to shop..
Cass McCombs / October 10, 2012 at 01:59 pm
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Thanks for the article, and for all of the opinions as well. It can be difficult to find the best camera stores in canada, but there is a lot of research on this page, and that is helping me out more than anything I've been doing so far.
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Martin / February 22, 2013 at 03:56 pm
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This list is terrible. All good stores.
But alas there is a code to how these stores work.
Everyone knows that you find the deal and then pit the BIG 3 against each other.
It's also important to establish a consumer relationship with anyone on this list so you
can get recurring deals.

Lastly Vistek is the worst. I don't how a bunch of sad out of work EX-Professionals
get a job to humiliate the undereducated consumer who is bringing a heard earned buck
onto their premises. The amount of torpor contained in the downtown department store
makes me mad that they are still in business.


If you're looking for price then the Top 10 are:

1. Aden (Pacific Mall)
2. DV Shop
3. Headshots (Part of Henry's)
4. Downtown Camera
5. Film Plus
6. Henry's
7. HIT Camera
8. Lomography
9. Cinequip Whites
10. Vistek

Best Floor Selection
1. Vistek
2. Heashots
3. Aden
4. Henry's
5. DV Shop
6. Downtown Camera
7. Lomography
8. Film Plus
9. HIT Camera
10. Cinequip Whites
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Someone You Know / August 6, 2013 at 05:51 pm
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My two (terrible!) experiences at Henry's:

1) Buying a used camera (downtown location). They tried to sell me a ~$3-400 used PowerShot S50 camera with a random power cable (calling it the charger); if I didn't know better and have my gear from my lost camera, I would have been without a charger.

2) Buying a new camera (Kennedy Commons). Wanted to buy the Sony RX100 (a $750 camera). Had it in stock. The camera's screen protector had massive air pockets in it, and the interface language was in Chinese -- i.e. someone had used it before and probably returned it.

If you go there, understand that their excellent return policy is both a feature and a problem. (and always double check any new purchases.
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John / May 14, 2014 at 11:15 pm
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Nathan: I am replying to your comment " Don't rely on Vistek for repair." Almost three years ago I purchased an exposure meter at Henry's. (A Sekonic) Three days after purchasing it, I decided to take it out. Good thing I took along my Gossen which I've had for years. The camera I used that day was a Mamiya RZ 67. I found the Sekonic to be apprx 1/3 of a stop off. I took it back to Henry's, however I had misplaced the receipt. They couldn't be bothered looking it up on the computer and the guy started smiling because I have a speech impediment but I have been into photography for over 30 yrs. I went to Vistek, they sent it way, knowing I bought it at Henry's. Two weeks later I hsd it back. Vistek charged me only $10.00 for shipping.
I would not trust Henry's for anything. They are relying on their name and, Henry's is the biggest pack of liars and con artists.
John / May 14, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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I compare Blacks and Henry's on the same level. Henry's may know what they are talking about but, will have you bend over so they can give to you ( Sorry if this is a bit vulgar ) Blacks on the other hand will try and put it to you because they don't know what they are talking about. They will place high school kids behind the counter that don't know the difference between digital and film. God forbid, you go in and ask for a particular filter; they stand and look at you. And personally speaking, I have never had any problems with Vistek.People complain that they are rude, but they know what they are talking about. Your choice. Anyway, I am sick and tired of the camera stores in Toronto. Seems to me they could all use a rude awakening, especially Henry's. Go to Hamilton if need be; they have a couple of GOOD camera stores. Or go to the U.S. Only problem is coming back, you have the damn Canadian Customs to deal with, and they can be nasty.


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