What we like most about this no-frills shop is its professional staff, some of whom look like they were alive when Mel Pierce opened his eponymous shop up in 1951. Although Pierce is long dead and the store has changed hands, the stellar staff of photographers (the repair guy doubles as a landscape photographer, and one salesman is a wedding photographer) are personable and knowledgeable about cameras and lighting equipment, without the typical egocentric bull churned out by those photogs who tend to work at glitzier camera shops. Mel Pierce not only has a great selection of used lenses and cameras but more than 80 different digital cameras, ranging from the fancy-pants Canon IDS Mark III (retail $8,000) to the smallish snap-and-shoot digital models that can be color-matched with your purse. It's a surprise to us, but staffers are still selling ancient-seeming 35mm SLRs. This is a really helpful place for pros with lighting questions and clumsy amateurs who drop their cameras and need parts. If you have a dumb question like how to transfer digital photos onto a DVD, or you want something daring like a waterproof camera bag, this quirky shop on the boulevard offers it all. 5645 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 465-2191. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

—Christine Pelisek

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