TORONTO

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by CraigK, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. CraigK

    CraigK Member

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    I will be visiting Toronto for the first time in a couple of years. The last time I was there, it seemed as if half of the photo stores I used to love to shop had either closed down or moved to much smaller locations. The remaining shops seemed to be staffed by dot-com types with all the right facial hair and piercings but without a clue regarding darkroom supplies or large format gear.

    Is there anyware in the big city that still knows what a photograph is?

    Any suggestions for "must visit" stores, labs, galleries etc.?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Let us know what you find as I will be going down to the big smoke maybe in the summer or spring.
     
  3. Timothy

    Timothy Member

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    Hi Craig,
    I understand your frustration: there used to be several "Mom & Pop" type of stores with some really good people but it has become mostly all big chains now. I recently purchased an Ebony 4X5 at the only remaining small store in Toronto. It is called Eight Elm and you can see from their web site, www.eightelmphoto.com, that they still do a lot of analog work and even some large format. The people to see there for anything serious is either Michael Chan, or Michael Lee. The only other place in Toronto with any expertise or inventory in large format that I know of is Vistek, who also have a web site. You will definitely get the feel of being in a large department store in Vistek though. Whatsmore, when I asked about aquiring the Ebony through the large format department at Vistek, they had never heard of it.
    For repairs or modifications to most studio, LF gear, flash, enlargers etc... the people to see are www.KHBPhotografix.com whom I can recommend very highly.
    What kind of picture taking are you interested in? There is no end to the "street/journalist" type of stuff you can find in the city. But if you are looking for landscape or more picturesque outdoor stuff (my speciality) then I can make some great recommendations.

    Tim R
     
  4. Timothy

    Timothy Member

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    Hi Craig,
    I understand your frustration: there used to be several "Mom & Pop" type of stores with some really good people but it has become mostly all big chains now. I recently purchased an Ebony 4X5 at the only remaining small store in Toronto. It is called Eight Elm and you can see from their web site, www.eightelmphoto.com, that they still do a lot of analog work and even some large format. The people to see there for anything serious is either Michael Chan, or Michael Lee. The only other place in Toronto with any expertise or inventory in large format that I know of is Vistek, who also have a web site. You will definitely get the feel of being in a large department store in Vistek though. Whatsmore, when I asked about aquiring the Ebony through the large format department at Vistek, they had never heard of it.
    For repairs or modifications to most studio, LF gear, flash, enlargers etc... the people to see are www.KHBPhotografix.com whom I can recommend very highly.
    What kind of picture taking are you interested in? There is no end to the "street/journalist" type of stuff you can find in the city. But if you are looking for landscape or more picturesque outdoor stuff (my speciality) then I can make some great recommendations.

    Tim R
     
  5. brimc76

    brimc76 Member

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    There is also Harry's Pro Shop run by Brian Lewington(?) a former Alt Camera Exchange employee. He runs an online shop but you can make an appointment to stop by I believe. His website is - http://www.harrysproshop.com/
    an he is a distributor for Wisner LF.
    For classic cameras and repairs there is also Russ Forfar at Kominek Camera Repair (www.kominek.com). I have been getting parts for my Crown Graphic there.
    Downtown Camera on Queen St. East is going mainly digital but they still have film at good prices (35mm to 4x5)
    Craig (and Eric) when you finalize your plans let us know and maybe we can get a Toronto APUG get together organized with Tim, Frank and myself (and anyone else who would like to join in).
     
  6. CraigK

    CraigK Member

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    Thanks for the tips everyone,

    I've been to some of the shops mentioned. My favorite, by far is 8 elm. They stock Berger and Forte papers and film! Too bad they had to move to a smaller location. In the old place they actually stocked Lotus view cameras!

    Vistek has always left me scratching my head. While I am sure many on the staff woule be happy to tell how many megapixelrams their blackberry has or sell me a 8 gig CF card and a telephonecam, I have been greeted with some pretty blank stares when mentioning such exotic gear as "film holders", "loupes" or "Large format cameras"

    They did have Scala in stock the last time I was there though...

    Brimc76, I will be in Toronto to photograph a jazz trio in concert. I think they are playing at the Montreal Bistro. They are AWESOME! I will let you know where and when the gig is. Maybe we could meet for a drink and to talk APUG. I'll be easy to spot. I'll be the guy with the Mamiya 7 loaded with delta 3200 and smelling slightly of Pyrocat HD.
     
  7. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Again, I think I'm too late in my reply. I really should learn to scroll more when I visit APUG. My hometown is Toronto.

    Yeah, Vistek and Henry's leave me in a d'uh? state when I visit. I'm not really sure any of the sales staff are there to actually sell you anything!?! Just snots really, most of them. 8 Elm is a great place. No other place like that one. The market in TO is pretty small unfortunately, and we Canadians are pretty cheap too. Most pros in TO buy their equipment from B&H and other US websites.

    Vistek, I have to say is a great place to rent stuff though. That department is pretty on top of things. Don't bother asking anyone about MF or LF. I'm not sure they know what those are! LOL If you're not digital, you're nothing at Henry's or Vistek. Pretty sad actually.

    If you're looking for some decent B&W labs for the Ilford Delta 3200, try Toronto B&W on River Street around Dundas or Steichenlab on Richmond at the corner of Berkley Street. Pretty decent labs. Toronto Image Works is also pretty decent from what I hear. Colourgenics is also a decent place from what i've heard as well.

    Galleries? Slim pickings as well. Although every year in the month of May, TO holds a photo festival called Contact. About a hundred galleries throughout the city conentrate their shows on photography. It's pretty kewl. Here's the link: http://www.contactphoto.com/

    Hope this finds you before your trip.

    Art.
     
  8. CraigK

    CraigK Member

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    Thanks to all who posted re: the big city...

    I went, I saw,

    I got depressed.


    Well, maybe not completely bummed out. There was after all, a bit of pearl in the rotting oyster.

    First, the bad: It ain't like it used to be (but then again, neither am I).

    ALT is long gone. Henry's set up shop in the old ALT location with a sort of "bargain bin" outlet store for all the crap they did not have room for in their main store around the corner. I spent a few minutes there picking through piles of stuff but really couldn't find anything worth mentioning...well maybe if I needed a waist level finder attachement doohickey for a Miranda something or other....or a really cheap yellow filter in a non-standard thread size from Croatia.

    At the Henry's main location it is more or less divided between traditional and digital stuff. The trad. stuff is at one end of the store and seems to suffer from the deliberate removal of about half the florescent tubes in the lighting fixures. Items are well displayed and there in quantity but the whole feel of the section is more like a tired jewelry store than an exciting place to check out the latest Leica gear or find out about a new paper. The digital section on the other hand is lit up like a runway...and staffed by what seems to be the same sort of wind-tunnel-haired salesmen you'd find in a used car lot...the kind of guys that could probably sell you a plate of shit and have you come back for seconds. I spent about 5 minutes in the digi section and felt an urgent need to go home and take a shower.

    Vistek is still Vistek, which means that the darkroom stuff gathers dust in a forgotten corner staffed by a bored, clueless goth chick with a fish belly complexion and pierced everything while the latest and greatest digi gizmos take center stage in a store that is looking more and more like a Best Buy every day.

    I didn't make it up to the rental section to see what was on offer. I fled the store after I witnessed an older gentleman trading in a Leica 3 for a Casio digi-cam...I'm not sure if he opted for the "plate of shit" upgrade.

    So was there anything good to be seen?

    Yes. I had a great time photographing the Steve Koven trio at the Montreal Bistro (GREAT jazz band, fine restaurant...it doesn't get any better that that). There was also a pretty good exhibit at the Jane Corkin gallery. The Mirvish book store had a great selection of books on Photography and I did manage to get few nice shots of my niece Rachel (Mamiya 7 80mm, APX100).

    The big surprise however was a place called Picto. It is a sort of digital/traditional lab/ gallery/cafe in the distillery district with a nice exhibition space, magazines, books, computer rental stations and a really, really cute girl behind the counter. The lab tech was a nice young felllow, very eager to talk shop. There was an exhibit on by a digital guy (Micheal Reichman from Luminous-Landscape.com). The shots were very pretty from afar. Upon closer inspection however some were under-whelming in a digital kind of way (oversharpened, printer speckles, weird overall look).

    So now I am back in Winnipeg and on my way to Photo Central, my sanctuary of Agfa films and chemicals, Ilford fibre based papers and real, live photographers behind the counter!