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Thursday, 04 June 2009


Most "mooks" I have seen have been well enough illustrated that they would be interesting for non-Japanese readers - how can we in USA and Europe get them? - publishers' websites seem impenetrable and the examples that do come on eBay seem to be priced about 3-5x the yen price. How about some entrepreneur scourcing them?

A second thought is that some of these would be well-worth translating and publishing in English - anyone need a business opportunity (not me)?

They're not all about equipment - eg see the recent 'camera magazine' - a new film-based classic-equipment enthusiast-photographer periodical.


I will agree here with Danny. The Japanese camera world has its quirks (lighting equipment is always more expensive here, and many of the key companies do not have a presence), but their publishing industry can produce quite interesting materials on photography and cameras. Depending upon the topic, _Asahi Camera_, -Nippon Camera_, _Photocon_ and other magazines always have much more content than the popular magazines in the US. (I have not yet found an equivalent to _Lenswork_, though.) The Mook series, or Gakken's texts on photography are often full of ideas, maps of places to shoot, etc. (If you ever thought Yosemite was over-shot, it is hard to imaging the variations on the Mt. Fuji theme.) On the other hand, I have yet to see as much coverage of topics such as HDR, pano stitching, and other such topics.

In another interesting twist there is still a very strong film base here that makes its presence know in the print media. In April, Asahi Camera ran a special article based upon a survey of readers' most favorite cameras. The winner was: The Nikon F3!!!!
The remain top ten were (in descending order):

Nikon F6, Nikon F, Leica M3, Nikon F2, Nikon D3, Nikon D700, Canon EOD-1V, Nikon F100, Nikon 300.

Now what does this really tell us? Those readers of _Asahi Camera_ who respond to such surveys (only 600 or so; average age in the mid'60s) like Nikon. It does not necessarily reflect general purchasing trends, especially among young photographers. Nonetheless, the survey does hint at an extensive film user base. I suspect many are retirees who have joined local photo clubs.

One of the local high definition satellite companies also ran a program on famous vintage cameras, with commentary by the fellow who runs Kawamasu Camera in Asakusa. A bit heavy on the nuts and bolts (literally: the commentator took apart Leicas, Rolleis, etc. every program, cleaned them, and then gave them to two other commentators to use while shooting the Tokyo area.)

Reading texts and web pages in both languages, I do have a sense that there is a somewhat different photographic ecology here in Japan. It has its limitations (and its costs), but there are a number of benefits to gained from indulging in it.

I sorta agree with Danny. I bought five such "mooks" a few years ago, dedicated to Leica and Contax gear. They're really quite glorious. Camera Porn. The photographs of the gear and the sample imagery stand on their own, but it would have been nice to have either English or dual language versions available. They are really very effective as 'selling devices,' presenting an almost worshipful and fetishistic perspective on photographic equipment. Even when they don't sell one particular item, the presentation just builds 'the legend,' in the case of the Leica, Contax/Zeiss publications....

"Seems someone has taken the time to visit Wetzlar and Solms with a DP2 and take some landscapes and street shots! I had to chuckle...."

Okay, I don't get it. Someone fill a newbie in, please.

I have a pair of Mooks - both about late-era Contax (Kyocera) cameras. They are absolutely beautiful, have all sorts of neat illustrations and photos, and if they (Mooks) were available in the US, I would probably have a shelf or two full of them.

Mooks are a wonderfully Japanese thing, and their aesthetic appeals to me very strongly.

OK...at the risk of violating the "there are no stupid questions" rule, I'll ask. What are Wetzlar and Solms? And why is it funny/amusing that someone took pictures there with a DP2?

Keith and David,
Sorry...Wetzlar, Germany is where Leicas used to be made; Solms, up the road a bit, is where they are made now.


Thanks Mike, I probably could have figured it out with a quick search but thought asking the dumb question would answer it for others too ;)

I've owned many of the Japanese camera mooks on Nikon-F and Leica-M series in the past and they are all glorious publications... even though one has to glance through them back to front. I think there's no need for English translations... treat them simply as "eye candy" which is what they are. BTW folks, you can get some of them through Mike's Amazon.jp link!

I can't stop laughing...

Photo Mook

Sounds like what some produce guy in Brooklyn might call art students. "That little photo mook keeps taking freakin pictures of my apples and turnips."

"BTW folks, you can get some of them through Mike's Amazon.jp link!"

Would you believe no one has EVER bought anything through our Amazon.jp link? True. I finally took it down.

In fairness, I could never read anything, so I never even knew if I had it set up right.


Where do I get one!??

charlie d,
Sorry to always be the prissy editor, but I believe in Brooklyn it's pronounced "fokk'n," and, further, I believe all nouns in series are required to be followed by an "an' shit." So it would be, "That little photo mook keeps taking fokk'n pictures of my apples and turnips an' shit."

If the speaker then wanted to provide opinion or commentary following his own observation, he would add it in a further pithy sentence at the end of the speech, like so:

"That little photo mook keeps taking fokk'n pictures of my apples and turnips an' shit. Fokk'n mook."

Everyone would nod, because they would know ezzackly what he meant.



P.S. On the NY subway once I overheard two people holding an earnest but hushed conversation. I swear this is exactly what I could make out: "Mumble mumble mumble mumble fokk'n mumble mumble. Fokk'n mumble mumble mumble; mumble mumble da FOK mumble mumble. Mumble mumble mumble fokk'n mumble mumble mumble..." etc. All I heard was emphasis, no content.

Hi Mike,

On a more serious note, Leica has let a lot of us true fans down. The S2 is wonderful, but I doubt I'll be getting one in this lifetime. How about a little love from Solms?


There are Japanese bookstores to be found outside Japan, and I often buy my Japanese photography magazines therein. Even Sydney in Australia had a Takashimaya bookstore.

Here in Hong Kong (which isn't in Japan, for those North Americans who think it is) there are a couple of Japanese department stores that have a bookstore within, carrying all the Japanese photo magazines.

I can't read the complex kanji characters, but I did teach myself katakana, a phonetic character set for mostly foreign words and proper nouns. My wife gets a chuckle when she hears me read the katakana out loud: "Pen taksu 645... 120 mirri" (Pentax 645, 120mm).

As a side note, photos in the Japanese landscape photography magazines are mostly from the Pentax 645, even these days.


Whateva you say smart guy. It's your little bloggy woggy.

[huge grin]

PS First time I was in NY I was in a deli at noon and asked for a corned beef sandwich on rye. The 140 year old lady screamed at me...It COMES ON RYE. What are you from Chicago?

I was 20 years old and utterly mortified.

What a world.

I like that one.

Another time I was walking to Penn Station with my suitcase. It was a little further than I thought, and I had walked about twenty blocks when I realized I didn't know *exactly* where I was. So I approached two uniformed police officers who were standing there talking, and said, "Excuse me, where is Penn Station?" which was still about six blocks away. The one cop looks me up and down, with this expression as if he's amazed that I interrupted him, jerks his head in the direction I was going, and in an incredulous voice says, "It's right down the f*cking street!"


I dunno about you guys. I was born and raised in Brooklyn - we never spelled that word with an asterisk. We used a f*ckin' "U".

You should have prayed to be delivered from evil and not led into Penn Station.

There's a big Kinokuniya bookshop in Sydney, near the Town Hall. They have Japanese & English books, with an excellent arts/photography section.

"Would you believe no one has EVER bought anything through our Amazon.jp link? True. I finally took it down."


I am pretty sure that I made purchases at amazon.jp through this site. I remember intentionally clicking on the link here to get a book or two. Guess it did you no good though.

Ah yes, the ol' Mook (Magazine-Book, ... get it?).

I have had the pleasure of translating two of the things into English, both of which were destined to be used as promotional giveaways in the Singapore/Malaysia by one of the biggie camera manufacturers (whose products were featured in the Mooks, of course). As far as I know those were the only ones ever to be translated into English.

I'd be interested to know how many people would actually be interested in English versions of the things ... might be worth a little discussion with Gakken.


@ charlie d: Damn, I think I went to the same deli, sometime around 1980. The woman was about 54 inches tall, wore a babushka, and had a better beard than I could ever grow. It was lunch time and the place was jammed and loud. But I can still see that woman mouth, "It comes on rye...and with a pickle!" to me like I just fell off a turnip truck.

I think she's dead by now.

"Here in Hong Kong (which isn't in Japan, for those North Americans who think it is)..."

Mumble mumble fokk'n mumble mumble arrogant mumble mumble mook.

Hey pop, your Art House is Heaven!

For those looking for it outside of Japan, Kinokuniya is a large bookseller with stores in multiple countries. In the States (The frickin' Amuricun ones, mook), they have stores on both coasts. The site is mostly in japanese but you can search in english.

This mook is currently out of stock but it looks like you can order it.

Can you reinstate the Japanese Amazon.co.jp link? I was not aware of it. I purchase up to 100,000 yen a year in books from them, and I would love to be able to do so in a way that helps this site.


A Boogazine, you mean?
Like Verb, published by Actar.

"All I heard was emphasis, no content.".
Hold on...
This is the best phrase of the year, bar none. It actually sums up quite a lot of the current world.

Further to my earlier comment, some quick research shows that there are eight "Books Kinokukiya" stores in the US. You can see the addresses on this web page (scroll down to "Store information":


You can probably get the Japanese photography magazines there.


MJ> Would you believe no one has EVER
> bought anything through our Amazon.jp
> link?

Yikes! For the last 6 months or so, everything I’ve bought through Amazon Japan has been through your link.

AV> It has its limitations (and its costs)

Yeah, I’ll say about the price. After the recent references on TOP to Leica, I decided to check out M6 prices. The cheapest I found was 100,000 yen (almost exactly US$1000) for a body with a speed dial that had semi-lost its indent stops and didn’t turn lower than 1/30, and half the little mirror thingy had flaked off or something!


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