One day a friend and I got on the subway to visit a cafe. Almost two hours later, we finally disembarked.
This cafe exploration took a bit more effort than our last one to Mustoy. This time we visited Cafe’ra, a camera cafe. It’s located in Incheon, which was a bit more than I had bargained for. This was my first visit to Incheon, apart from trips to and from the airport. I suppose I had the naive idea that if you can get there by subway, then it really isn’t that far away! Nope, Incheon is a long way away from my area of Seoul (Yongson and Seongnam). Even though I used my handy subway app to determine the time, it didn’t really hit me how long of a ride it would be until we finally arrived.
We got off the subway at Central Park station, and when we came out into the daylight, I was shocked. We had entered the subway at busy, bustling Ichon in the heart of Seoul. When we came out it was completely quiet. There were no people, no taxis, no buses, no traffic. There were huge buildings around us, but they could have been abandoned for all we knew. It was so empty! Cleaner than Seoul, but empty! The lack of taxis was a bit of a problem because we had counted on catching one to our cafe. It was one of those horribly cold December days, and Incheon was much windier than I expected. Taxiless, we started using my phone to navigate to the cafe. And then my phone froze. No, it didn’t just stop responding to button-pushing, the phone actually shut itself off because it was too cold. At that moment I considered the life choices I have made that left me in such a position. A place too cold for phones, is a place too cold for Bethany.
Luckily, my friend’s phone and a few kind strangers helped us find our destination, Cafe’ra. It is a themed cafe that allows customers to test drive Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses. The concept is so unique that we were still excited despite our long travels and the cold weather. The menu is small, but the lemon citron tea was the perfect drink to warm up with. The staff was very kind and helpful. You simply go up to the counter and ask them for whichever lens you want to try out. We were able to use their lenses on our own camera bodies and wander around the cafe taking pictures. They have a lot of camera memorabilia set out as decor that make wonderful subjects.
I think the cafe is a perfect spot for a beginning photographer to test out different lenses. You can do easy side by side comparisons and get a basic idea of how a lens will work for you. However, more established photographers probably won’t feel as fulfilled by the experience. They do not always have the most updated version of a lens, and, as the cafe’s concept is rather expensive, their options could be limiting for some photographers. The cafe definitely favors Canon; however, I was ok with that because I’m a Canon girl!
As of December 2013, Cafe’ra offers these lens to use in the cafe and to rent:
EF 24mm 1.4L
EF 35mm 1.4L
EF 50mm 1.2L
EF 85mm 1.2L
EF 28mm 1.8
EF 85mm 1.8
EF 50mm 1.8
EF 24-70mm 2.8L
EF 70-200 2.8L IS
EF 70-200 F4L
EF-S 17-55mm 2.8 IS
5D Mark III
5D Mark II
I tried several of the lenses. The 70-200mm looked completely ridiculous on my tiny EOS-M camera body, and it was so heavy that I could barely hold it steady enough to be able to focus. However, I did find that I have a soft spot for prime lenses, which worked out perfectly because Jared got me a 22mm for Christmas!
Overall, the visit to Cafe’ra was fun, but exhausting. I’ll definitely be trying theme cafes closer to home next time!