Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Namdaemun - Camera Shopping

Last weekend I decided to make a quick trip down to Namdaemun Market in Seoul and do some shopping. I've been thinking about purchasing a DSLR camera for a while now and have been doing lots of research online to see what camera I wanted and what price I should pay. 

While I was at home in New Zealand in March and April I got a chance to try out my parents new Canon Eos 1100 and I had some fun learning how to use it.  I have not really been interested in photography until then, I don't really even use my point-and-shoot very much when I travel. I always think about it after the fact - 'oh I should have taken a photo of that' is pretty much my motto.  After doing some research on it I decided that photography would be a good hobby for me, I need something to do, I always like to learn new skills and you can do it anywhere, so it fits the bill.

After doing lots of research online I decided to go with a Nikon rather than a Canon because I liked the options better.  I narrowed it down to two cameras the D5100 which was a solid beginners camera with good reviews but it was a bit older and they had since released the D5200 which also had good reviews and some extra features.  I decided that I did not want to go over NZ$1000.00 and that I wanted to get at least two lens and hopefully a bag and any other extras that were available.  With all this in mind I headed to Namdaemun Market on Sunday afternoon.

Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun Market is a traditional market located in Seoul, it is named for the gate which it is located next to and is one of the oldest and largest markets in Korea.  The market is huge and is a combination of both street merchants and shops.  It is built in an area not accessible to cars as it is such an old institution that predates them, so the main market is foot traffic only - merchants use wagons and scooters to transport their goods in and out.

The market can be accessed easily by subway, the closest station is Hoehyeon Station, Line 4 when you come of exits such as 2 or 5 you will be right on the edge of the market. Otherwise you can also make your way there from Soul Metropolitan Station but it's about a 10 minute walk.

Namdaemun (Also Sungnyemun)

Ilsan to Namdaemun
I took the bus as I find that unless traffic is bad buses are usually quicker.  I took a red bus no. 1000 from Ilsan-dong gu Office (일산동구청(중)) bus stop and got off at Samsung Plaza (삼성프라자) bus stop - this is one stop before Seoul Station - if you do go to far you can still walk from Seoul Station it's just a bit longer. The Samsung Plaza stop drops you off diagonally opposite 'Gate 1' of the market. You just need to get off the bus and walk up towards the big intersection  - can't be missed as you will also be walking towards Namdaemun Gate. Cross the street twice so you are diagonally across to your left, you will be able to see the 'Gate 1' sign on your right and if you are looking for the traditional market you can enter here.  If you go to your left, away from the 'Gate 1' sign you will walk down a street with lots of camera shops and you will be heading for 'Gate 2' - this is where I did my camera shopping after finding some other blogs that talked about shopping here.

Looking towards Gate 1 - once you get across the street

On the way back you don't need to cross the street to get to the opposite bus stop like you usually do. The red 1000 bus does a circuit so you need to get on the same bus that you got off - it will go on to Seoul Station and then make a loop and head back to Ilsan.

Camera Shopping
So I had a look in a couple of stores for the two cameras that I was looking at. The D5200 ended up being more than I wanted to spend so I found a store that I had read about on another blog that had the D5100 new.  I think I did Ok in price but I did not haggle as I'm not really sure how to do that, I think I should have offered a lower price as I do think now in hindsight I could have gone down a bit.

I got the Nikon D5100 with kit lens (18-55) and a bag, 4 gig SD card, UV filter for lens and a cleaning kit.  I also got another lens (55-200), this one was used but it was the only one he had and he did show me that it worked before I paid. All and all I got what I wanted and I was within my budget so that's what matters. The name of the store was 'YesDica' (just a few stores down from Gate 2 of the market) and I've included a picture of the store below. 

YesDica - Where I bought my Camera
The owner was very nice and helpful, he spoke English, although I'm not sure he understood everything; a few times he just responded 'Yes Okay', but good enough to answer basic questions and get everything sorted out. He showed me the serial number on the camera and that it matched the box and the warranty and assured me if there were any problems I could come back and he gave me his card.

In conclusion hopefully in the future you might see some more photos on this blog - I have also set up a flickr account  - so far only some photos that I took in New Zealand when I was practicing with the camera I borrowed from my parents but I will add to it as I get going and learn how to use my new camera.