“My god, my first film was developed here,” said Freed, who characterizes himself as a serious amateur. “My first camera, a Honeywell-Pentax Spotmatic, I bought it here. My first real camera, too, a Nikon F2, I’ve still got the lenses. This is a real shock.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Wade Steinfeld, an employee whose relationship with the family goes back to the ’60s. “It’s a shame, but that’s what we do in California. If it’s more than 30 days old, you knock it down and put up something new.” For 58 of the store’s 62 years, the Thorsch family proved Steinfeld wrong. Proud anachronisms that believed in knowing its gear and customers, both Thorsch and his son, general manager Ron, refused to give in to the low-price, no-service trend that swept through the retail world. Though they made the jump to the digital world, they still sold darkroom equipment, chemicals old-fashioned film, big Hasselblads and finely crafted Leicas. They upheld the legacy began when Thorsch started as a young apprentice in his father’s camera factory in Germany. The over-sized flashbulb atop the entrance lured in customers for years, even as the area changed into an upscale shopping district. “People were comfortable with us whether they were an actor, a rock star or just John and Mary Q. Public,” said Ron Thorsch, who started with the store when he was in college, then returned 15 years ago to run it with his father. “There were a lot of great customers – those are my best memories. We had people who came in for decades, ones who came in when I worked there in the ’60s and still bring their grandkids in.” Fred Freed, now a 67-year-old North Hollywood retiree, became a patron in high school. Film, lenses, cameras, developing, prints – he got it all when he’d stop in to chat with the staff and get their opinions on what film to shoot, what lens to reach for. As he read the going-out-of-business sign on the nearly empty store’s window, he did a double take. STUDIO CITY – When the Studio City Camera Exchange opened in 1944, the government had seized all available color film, autofocus didn’t exist and digital referred to fingers, not pictures. Its industry changed immensely in the past 62 years, its building moved and grew and its wares went from black and white negatives to brilliant color computer printouts. And yet the unusual store, cobbled together from smaller buildings and filled with antique cameras, stayed the same. Owner Bernie Thorsch, now 85, reported for work in a suit each day, even after he was nearly blind. Family members pitched in, customers developed intense loyalty and the staff became renowned for its knowledge and expertise. Next Tuesday, that will all come to an end. More than six decades after Thorsch purchased the shop on the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Vantage Avenue, family illness has forced it to shut its doors for good. A few accessories, shelves and cameras remain, but the shop has become a shell of its once vibrant self.