Tokyo Camera Style

A photo book of rare, custom and beautiful cameras found on the most stylish streets of Japan's capital


Though smartphones might take the bulk of our daily point-and-shoot photography, street shooting with film is alive and well—especially in Tokyo. Throughout the ’90s and early aughts, Japanese camera-makers from Contax to Nikon produced a range of of high-end quick-snapping film cameras that are popular with professionals and amateurs alike. Born in Nebraska, analog camera lover John Sypal moved to Japan in 2004. Enamored by the cameras he saw every day on the streets of Tokyo, he began visually chronicling them on his blog Tokyo Camera Style in 2008. Now Sypal is releasing a book of the same name with Thames & Hudson. The aesthetically-driven softcover features 299 color images of some of the most captivating cameras (and their owners) on the streets of Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku.


“A camera demands a tactile relationship in its partnership,” Sypal explains in the book’s introduction. “It is something we need to dedicate both hands to—it’s something we put close to our faces and peer through.” Sypal likens this relationship more to the way some feel their bicycles are an extension of themselves. Film camera enthusiasts won’t have to flip far to find a new piece to obsess over as rare models from Leica to Pentax dot the pages. Several of the cameras featured come from recognizable brands but never made it to markets in the US and Europe. Interestingly, many of the cameras feature custom straps and some even feature makeshift modifications that will surely inspired more DIY-minded fanatics.


Ironically, Sypal shot the entire book on a digital point-and-shoot. “There is no denying the ease with which digital images can be made and transmitted on the internet for the instant enjoyment of people all around the world,” he writes. Available for pre-order now via Amazon ($22), “Tokyo Camera Style” hits bookstores 17 February 2015.

Images by Cool Hunting