Along with your keys and your wallet, a digital camera has become a key element on the list of things you should be carrying at all times. Digital cameras have indeed become more of a necessity than a luxury. However, the unfortunate reality is that camera prices are extremely high in Egypt due to high customs tariffs. Don’t give up though; with the help of our guide and a bit of a search in Cairo, you may not have to wait for a friend to bring you a camera from abroad anymore.
First of all, it’s important to determine what kind of photography you will be doing and the features that most matter to you in order to narrow down the search into the category that will be most suitable. If you're looking for an easy to use ‘point-and-shoot’ camera that takes care of all the settings automatically, then it is a compact digital camera you're to look for. This type usually starts from as little as 500LE and can reach up to 3000LE, depending on the picture quality and freedom of control it it allows you.You can find a wide array of brands providing these pocket-sized cameras, with Canon and Nikon belonging to the upper range of prices if you want to experiment a little with manual settings.
Compact cameras are very easy to find in Cairo; big hypermarkets such as Carrefour and Spinney's in Citystars often have special promotions or free-gift offers on their collections. The good thing about compact cameras, besides being small and light, is that their prices don't usually differ that much here than Europe and the US. However, prices may take a slight jump when you shop at places like RadioShack or CompuMe; especially when it comes to the higher end models.
If it’s time to upgrade to a more professional level and explore outside the auto-mode limits, then you can’t go wrong with a DSLR (that’s a big black scary camera with changeable lenses). They allow you full control and more fun in forming and taking your photo, and of course the sharpness and quality are much better than that of a compact camera. A DSLR will definitely let you fully adjust all the settings to get the picture exactly how you want it to be through light exposure, shutter speed, etc.
Downtown Cairo is a perfect spot for DSLR camera shopping and maintenance. However, if the prices are much lower, which they usually are, it means that the camera doesn’t come with a warranty. Professional DSLR prices start in the 3500LE to 5000LE range and can go up to even higher eye-popping prices. A 15 Megapixel Canon Rebel costs around the 4500LE with its standard lens (18-55mm), while the HD video recording Nikon D3100 retails for 5500LE.
Along the narrow alleys and old apartment buildings of the Abdeen area lie some small shops that are almost bursting with both new and used photography gear. King Digital at 15 Roshdy St. is one that sells various types of camera lenses that suit your camera, filters, tripods to cases and picture frames. You may want to call first or ask on their always updated Facebook group to make sure what you’re looking for is available as it might be in stock but not available at hand.
Having another specialized photography shop in the same building makes it easier, though more tempting, to keep going back and forth trying to get the best bargain. El Houfy has so much to offer that their tripods are forced to stand outside the store for the lack of space. El Houfy also buys and sells used camera gear, and you can even make a request for a used camera you want to buy and they’ll keep an eye out for you and contact you when it’s in. Maintenance is also available.
In Mohandessien, El Shennawi is known as a reliable authorized retailer by Canon, Nikon and other brands, as well as for having impressive discounts. Additionally, you can find cameras for purchase on websites such as Souq.com or Nefsak, which fully guarantee your product. There are many choices to browse through and choose from, so take your time reading about the camera and comparing models first.
If you miss the old days when a picture was meant to be held in hand, Antar studio (180 Tahrir St., Bab El Louk) is popular for its high resolution printouts at cheap prices. A standard A4 coloured picture is printed for 6LE and the colour quality is unbeatable.
It’s strange that Cairo isn’t more clued up on the technical aspects of photography, especially when there’s so much to capture. It’s still seen as a bit of a specialist hobby, when it’s actually very accessible. Regardless of what type of camera you might go for, it’s always the one behind it who makes the picture what it is, so be creative and enjoy what is more of an investment than a purchase.