One of the busiest markets in Delhi, Chandni Chowk is known for its mouth-watering delicacies, decades old shops of books, clothes, leather products, electronic and other consumer goods.
People throng the narrow lanes of this 350 years old market for all kinds of shopping. A good number of them for their photography needs!
With about 250 shops selling still and video cameras of all brands, their spare parts, photo albums, tripods, lenses, filters, camera bags, studio lights and other photo accessories at wholesale prices, Chandni Chowk is home to Asia’s biggest camera market, which came into being around 1951.
On the Esplanade Road are small shops that offer various ranges in cameras and accessories. The market largely caters to professionals, news channels and retailers besides amateurs, and is often termed as a grey market.
Vinay Kumar Sethi of A Sethi, whose shop has existed in this market since 1952, shares his memories with Metrolife. “After my father, I have been running this shop and now my son too has started helping me. We are into cameras, studio lights and repairing.”
Most of the shops here have existed since a time when photography was not common or very popular with the masses. In fact, it was considered a very expensive hobby or profession.
With time, the paradigm of this market and the industry has changed. While only professionals from all over the country paid a visit here earlier, now the common man too has become a regular, what with the growth of digital cameras. At the same time, a number of photo studios have closed down giving way to newer shops which stock digital SLRs, handycams and accessories.
Rajinder Singh, owner of Pritam Sons, one of the oldest camera shops in the market, says, “Unlike today, all camera brands were not available in every city 50 years ago. So people, professionals particularly, would come here from all over the country to buy cameras, their spare parts and get them repaired. Now, we have customers mainly from Delhi. But retailers still come from different parts.”
On the other hand, due to revolution in digital photography, the number of camera users has gone up and so have the shops here and their respective businesses. “People, who come here, buy cameras and spare parts at prices lesser by 10-12 per cent than they would at a company outlet. That feature still attracts many. Also, nowadays every member of the family has his or her own digital camera. This trend has positively affected overall sales,” he adds.
From glass film to sheet film and from roll camera to digital and SLR, the market has witnessed a revolution in photography, photographic material and cameras. “The focus is as much on spare parts and repairing as on brand new cameras now.
People prefer to come here to get their cameras repaired because it is a very costly affair at an official outlet. Now, one camera works as much as 100 reels would. So, if somebody buys a camera, he normally does not return until three or four years after,” says Kunal Kapoor of Lovely Photo Service.
There are as many camera spare parts and photo accessories’ shops as those selling cameras. Many of these employ a repairer of their own, while there are others who deal only in repairing cameras. So, now you know where to head when searching for your dream camera!