Japan Camera Hunter 35mm Film Case Review

Since they were introduced a few years ago, I was interested in picking up several Japan Camera Hunter 35mm film cases.  Simple, smart idea, right?  But then I saw that they cost $15.99 each at Freestyle and I pumped the brakes.  I would need at least three, preferably four of these to keep in my bag.  I could buy a whole brick of 35mm for that money.  But then I noticed that there are knock-off’s from China for sale on eBay that look identical but were only $2.93 each, AND the seller had a 5% off deal if you bought three or more.

Not wanting to support a copycat business or paying $16 and shipping for a small plastic box, I refrained until recently when I found out that Japan Camera Hunter actually took the design of his case from a Fuji case that was discontinued.  This made me feel much less guilty about purchasing the Chinese case!

So I bought one JCH case from Freestyle for $15.99 plus shipping and THREE Chinese cases for $13.21 WITH shipping.  The JCH case arrived in about 4 days.  I lost track on the Chinese cases after the second week.

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Can you tell which is which?

The black case is JCH and the white cases are Chinese.  I am pretty sure that I ordered black Chinese cases but whatever.

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Notice that there is no appreciable difference in the look or size of the cases.  Film fits in them nicely and neatly, regardless of manufacturer.  However, I noticed the following nuances:

–The JCH case shows some tool marks where the plastic nipples from the injection molds were filed off.  The Chinese cases did not show any such tool marks, they actually look more professional in this regard.

–The JCH case was much shinier than the Chinese cases.  Gloss v. Matt finish if you will.  Going along with this, the JCH case is slick in the hand where the Chinese cases have a slight texture to them making them less slick.

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–I was able to flex the lid of the JCH case slightly more than the Chinese case.

–When loaded with film and picked up by their lids, the JCH bottom fell out of the lid.  One of the three Chinese cases did the same but two of the Chinese cases held together when picked up by the lid.  I found that by swapping the JCH and Chinese lids, both could be picked up by the lid safely.  Maybe other JCH cases are a better fit but to me, this demonstrates that the JCH cases are not built to any tighter tolerances than the knock-off’s.

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–Inside the bottoms of the Chinese cases, I observed some sort of brown marks on the injection mold circles.  I am guessing this is caused by heat slightly charring the white plastic during manufacture.  Nothing like this is visible on the JCH case but of course my copy is black.

–A feature pointed out on another site was that the bottom of the JCH case is inscribed with “JAPAN CAMERA HUNTER” AND “MADE IN JAPAN”.  However, the Chinese cases are not without charm, sporting the inscriptions “VIVA FILM!” and “MADE IN CHINA”.

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–The ONLY design difference I found was maybe an important one and the reason why the Chinese lids, fit better and are less flexible.  Notice that inside the Chinese lid are little lines molded in around the edge.  The JCH case does not have these.  They add rigidity and a bit of grip to the lid.

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Anyway, so these cases are simple devices and I don’t want to bore you with too much detail about them.  I may write again about how they are in use though.  For now I just wanted to answer the question, should I spring for the Japan Camera Hunter cases or just get the Chinese knock-off’s?

If you don’t shoot a lot, and just need one case, the JCH case is available more quickly and perhaps more reliably from Freestyle (if you live in the US) and isn’t THAT expensive by itself.

Personally, while I’d love to support JCH and Freestyle, it just doesn’t make sense for someone who shoots as much film as I do to buy his cases.  I wouldn’t go so far to say that the Chinese cases are BETTER but for the price, the product is for all intents and purposes identical in quality and JCH isn’t the original designer of these cases anyway.  Though I certainly do thank him for apparently bringing it back to market!

I’d like to see is an iteration of this case made from the same flexible plastic of 35mm film canisters and with an equally simple, smart, locking lid.  Part of me loves the organization these cases bring to my bag but part of me is worried that their lack of air and water tightness, as well as the need to pick them up by their bottoms, or their likelihood to crack or shatter on impact on a hard surface, is going to bite me at some point.  I may keep some gaffers’ tape in my bag to help them along!

Anyway, thanks for reading and please, if you have any thoughts or experience with these film cases, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Japan Camera Hunter 35mm Film Case Review

  1. Originally posted this as a comment on a JCH FB posting linking to this review but it appears Bellamy has removed the original article now

    JCH kit arrived promptly and as described.

    Chinese kit took forever to arrive; were not as ordered (wrong colour); had such poor manufacturing tolerances that 1/3rd of the sample failed to function the same as the remaining 2/3rds, and finally; finish was poor, displaying burn marks from injection mould.

    Not sure I would call the Chinese ones knock-offs of JCH (as Bellamy seems to think). In the same vein I would not JCH’s knock-offs of the Fujis.

    1. Brad, you totally revised what I said and removed it from context, changing the meaning of my article.

      Just to recap what I actually stated and to correct your errors:

      I did not state the the finish was poor. In fact, I prefer the Chinese finish but that’s a matter of personal preference. Nor did I say that the cases took “forever” to arrive. It was less than three weeks which was specified on purchase.

      The JCH case that I received was fitted poorly and had tool marks on the top and bottom. The lid lacks the same rigidity as the Chinese case.

      I really do not appreciate your rewording of my article. What was your point in creating an inaccurate summary? To promote the JCH cases?

      And I disagree, both the Chinese cases and the JCH’s are knock-off’s of the Fuji’s. The designs are total copies, not original, it’s plain to see that.

      1. I simply summarised my understanding of your findings.

        You clearly state there are burn marks on the Chinese ones.

        You clearly state lid fit was inconsistent between the three Chinese ones.

        You clearly state the Chinese ones took so long to arrive that you “lost track”.

        You clearly state the Chinese ones were not the color you ordered.

        I simply paraphrased and summarised your findings. I am not sure why that should bother you.

      2. Brad, listen, you can reiterate what we agree was accurate about your comment but you haven’t actually addressed what was *clearly* inaccurate or what your intention was. Your summary implies that I am not happy with the Chinese cases, however, I prefer them. It’s my conclusion that both cases are of differing but fairly equal low quality and do not warrant the JCH price point. Perhaps in my attempt to fairly compare the cases, I didn’t make my stance clear enough. Maybe I am misunderstanding something here. Probably I am over-thinking it. So I apologize for any hostility on my part. I am just confused by your comments/actions.

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