Tucked away down a side street in Bangkok is one of the few real camera shops in Thailand, AV Camera. In a room the size of a bedroom, Khun Mana has sat behind a desk, six days a week, for 32 years and run a business which sells a huge variety of gear to the eager customers that pack his shop every day. If you want something arriving fresh in the market, AV Camera is the place to get it.
Which is why, having seen the Olympus preview launch of the new E-M1 on the 20th September, I sent Khun Mana an email to reserve one. Like a kid in the back of a car on a journey, I then followed up with regular “is it here yet?” emails, until finally, last Thursday, I received a reply advising that yes, it was; the day before they were available anywhere in the world.
Which is why I was on a bus early on Friday morning to pick it up.
There is a ritual at AV Camera. If you are a casual shopper you might get a nod from Khun Mana. If you have been there several times he may give you a smile and shake your hand. If you are offloading a life savings load of cash, you will be invited to sit with him; and if you have sold an organ more than once to raise funds, he will provide you with a cup of coffee. I reached cup of coffee status some time ago; but on Friday, having recently purchased the 12-100mm lens and now a new camera. I received the rare recognition only afforded to the really insane purchasers, a second cup of coffee. I hear that the next accolade is a biscuit, but doubt I can raise the necessary cash.
After two cups of coffee and a pleasant chat with the great man, I walked out of the shop without my E-M1 Mark 1 which I traded in for not very much, and with an E-M1 Mark 2 for which I paid full price with no extra goodies but it didn’t matter because I had had two coffees.
Other than lust, the other reason I wanted the camera quickly was that I was committed to shoot a watersports event over the weekend. The result has been 3,000 images in two days and the conclusion that this is by far the best camera I have ever owned. There will be reports.
Thanks to Khun Mana for keeping me one of three bodies that arrived, and to she who must be obeyed for not flinching when I told her how much it had cost.