Gray or USA?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Paul Schilter, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Hi All
    What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    Paul
    Paul Schilter, Aug 30, 2005
    #1
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  2. On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, Paul Schilter
    <> wrote:

    >Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    >lens need their share of service? What say you all?


    USA. The saving at least on Gray market Canon L's at B&H isn't worth
    the warranty hassle if I need it to be calibrated.


    ******************************************************

    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/
    John A. Stovall, Aug 30, 2005
    #2
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  3. Paul Schilter

    Kurt Guest

    On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, Paul Schilter
    <> wrote:

    >Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    >lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    >Paul



    Recently I read on some photo site that the difference is in
    non-quality issues such as warrantees. He claim the workmanship is
    the same. Now if you want my opinion, forget what that site said and
    pay more for the warrantee and certainty if something goes wrong.
    Kurt, Aug 30, 2005
    #3
  4. Paul Schilter

    Jeremy Guest

    Paul Schilter wrote:
    > Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    > lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    > Paul


    It is a gamble. You are hoping that you will not require warranty
    service from the official importer in exchange for a lower price.

    Some people will always go for the lower price, regardless of the degree
    of risk. Others, like me, will pay more so that we don't have any
    surprises.

    There is no correct answer. Gray market goods are legal in the US, per
    a Supreme Court ruling that goes back about 2 decades. The official
    importer is under no obligation to provide service on merchandise that
    they did not import. I believe that Nikon USA will not offer any
    service on gray-market equipment, even if the customer offers to pay for
    it. That is a high price to pay just to save a few bucks--at least, I
    think it is.

    My own experience is that whenever I tried to cut a corner to save a
    buck, it cost me double in the long run. I'd buy a gray-market Seiko
    wristwatch--something that I would probably discard once it broke--but
    I'd never buy gray-market on items that I'd expect to operate reliably
    for a long time.

    If I want to save a buck that bad, I'll not eat out, or something like
    that. I just don't view gray-market as being worth the trouble.
    Clearly, you may have a different view, which would be equally valid.
    Jeremy, Aug 30, 2005
    #4
  5. Paul Schilter

    Jeremy Guest

    Kurt wrote:
    > On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, Paul Schilter
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Hi All
    >> What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >>Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >>market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >>much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    >>lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    >>Paul

    >
    >
    >
    > Recently I read on some photo site that the difference is in
    > non-quality issues such as warrantees. He claim the workmanship is
    > the same. Now if you want my opinion, forget what that site said and
    > pay more for the warrantee and certainty if something goes wrong.



    I do remember reading about gray-market BMWs and Mercedes Benzes that
    were being brought into the US by unofficial channels. Not sure if this
    is still being done. The vehicles that were coming in were not models
    that were destined for US consumers. There were problems with missing
    catalytic converters, and speedometers that read out only in kilometres
    per hour--that sort of thing.

    It is difficult to determine the amount of the actual savings on
    products like this, because they really are not always the same as the
    officially-imported product (not so applicable with cameras).

    I can think of other ways to save money, that come with no risk.
    Jeremy, Aug 30, 2005
    #5
  6. Paul Schilter

    Tony Guest

    I'll buy grey lenses etc from a store I trust - certainly not from the
    sleaze dealers who advertise US Warantee and send grey market goods - but
    for camera bodies which are loaded with electronics I buy US. Same with IS
    lenses, although I only have one.

    --
    http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
    A sample chapter from "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html

    "Paul Schilter" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    > lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    > Paul
    Tony, Aug 30, 2005
    #6
  7. "Paul Schilter" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus lens
    > need their share of service? What say you all?
    > Paul


    If you drop your lens and it's still under USA warranty there is a good
    chance they will fix it for free. It happened to me!
    Dave R knows who, Aug 30, 2005
    #7
  8. Paul Schilter

    Ed Ruf Guest

    On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, in rec.photo.digital Paul Schilter
    <> wrote:

    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    >lens need their share of service? What say you all?


    Both. In my situation I bought the USA version of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
    VR lens and a bit later the gray market TC-20IIE teleconverter, both from
    B&H. As it was the US spec lens had a Nikon rebate that covered much of the
    price difference and came with a 5yr vs 1yr from B&H warranty on the
    import. Given the complexity of the stabilized VR lens, this seemed a
    no-brainer. The TC on the other hand has no real moving parts and a 1 year
    warranty in either case.
    ----------
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990/5700 & D70 at
    http://edwardgruf.com/Digital_Photography/General/index.html
    Ed Ruf, Aug 30, 2005
    #8
  9. I bought a Tamron 24 mm for my previous Nikon FM-2
    SLR, and after letting it in my awful humid flat for the summer it was full
    with fungi, and I had the front element cleaned for free (using the
    guarantee).

    --
    Tzortzakakis Dimitrios
    major in electrical engineering, freelance electrician
    FH von Iraklion-Kreta, freiberuflicher Elektriker
    dimtzort AT otenet DOT gr
    ? "Ed Ruf" <> ?????? ??? ??????
    news:...
    > On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, in rec.photo.digital Paul Schilter
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > >Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > >market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > >much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    > >lens need their share of service? What say you all?

    >
    > Both. In my situation I bought the USA version of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
    > VR lens and a bit later the gray market TC-20IIE teleconverter, both from
    > B&H. As it was the US spec lens had a Nikon rebate that covered much of

    the
    > price difference and came with a 5yr vs 1yr from B&H warranty on the
    > import. Given the complexity of the stabilized VR lens, this seemed a
    > no-brainer. The TC on the other hand has no real moving parts and a 1 year
    > warranty in either case.
    > ----------
    > Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    > See images taken with my CP-990/5700 & D70 at
    > http://edwardgruf.com/Digital_Photography/General/index.html
    Dimitrios Tzortzakakis, Aug 31, 2005
    #9
  10. Paul Schilter

    Mike Berger Guest

    When I bought my Canon EOS 50e I got a gray market model because
    it was a significant cost savings, and had features the U.S. model
    didn't. The prices on the Canon EOS 20D were comparable so I got a
    USA model.

    Canon is good about honoring warranties worldwide. Other manufacturers
    aren't.

    Paul Schilter wrote:
    > Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    > lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    > Paul
    Mike Berger, Aug 31, 2005
    #10
  11. Paul Schilter

    Shawn Hirn Guest

    In article <>,
    Paul Schilter <> wrote:

    > Hi All
    > What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    > Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    > market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    > much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    > lens need their share of service? What say you all?


    I prefer to stay away from gray market camera gear. The benefit to
    buying USA stuff is the warranty. If something happens to an item you
    buy that's off the gray market, you are probably screwed. I would just
    as soon pay the extra money for the "official" product.
    Shawn Hirn, Aug 31, 2005
    #11
  12. Kurt,
    For example with electronics like a TV I never buy the extended
    warranty, if it lasts past its normal warranty they seem to last for a
    long time. Is it your experience that cameras have a good amount of
    warranty issues?
    Paul


    Kurt wrote:
    > On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 14:20:05 -0400, Paul Schilter
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Hi All
    >> What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >>Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >>market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >>much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus
    >>lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    >>Paul

    >
    >
    >
    > Recently I read on some photo site that the difference is in
    > non-quality issues such as warrantees. He claim the workmanship is
    > the same. Now if you want my opinion, forget what that site said and
    > pay more for the warrantee and certainty if something goes wrong.
    Paul Schilter, Aug 31, 2005
    #12
  13. Jeremy,
    Well if a camera or lens does screw up and it's out of warranty, who do
    you get to fix it, do the camera shops repair them or do most just sell
    them and ship them back to the manufacturer if they need repair? How can
    you tell a gray market camera from a USA one? Are there markings or is
    it just a serial number that the manufacturer or store can look up? Are
    there statistics for the amount of warranty repair required like there
    is for cars?
    Paul


    Jeremy wrote:
    > Paul Schilter wrote:
    >
    >> Hi All
    >> What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question
    >> for Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying
    >> gray market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray,
    >> but how much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern
    >> auto focus lens need their share of service? What say you all?
    >> Paul

    >
    >
    > It is a gamble. You are hoping that you will not require warranty
    > service from the official importer in exchange for a lower price.
    >
    > Some people will always go for the lower price, regardless of the degree
    > of risk. Others, like me, will pay more so that we don't have any
    > surprises.
    >
    > There is no correct answer. Gray market goods are legal in the US, per
    > a Supreme Court ruling that goes back about 2 decades. The official
    > importer is under no obligation to provide service on merchandise that
    > they did not import. I believe that Nikon USA will not offer any
    > service on gray-market equipment, even if the customer offers to pay for
    > it. That is a high price to pay just to save a few bucks--at least, I
    > think it is.
    >
    > My own experience is that whenever I tried to cut a corner to save a
    > buck, it cost me double in the long run. I'd buy a gray-market Seiko
    > wristwatch--something that I would probably discard once it broke--but
    > I'd never buy gray-market on items that I'd expect to operate reliably
    > for a long time.
    >
    > If I want to save a buck that bad, I'll not eat out, or something like
    > that. I just don't view gray-market as being worth the trouble.
    > Clearly, you may have a different view, which would be equally valid.
    Paul Schilter, Aug 31, 2005
    #13
  14. Tony,
    I tend to agree with you. I have a FE Nikon with a couple of mechanical
    lens. I figure lens like that there isn't too much to go wrong. But with
    modern auto focus lens it seems there's a lot more that can go wrong.
    The camera body for all practical purposes is a miniature computer.
    Paul


    Tony wrote:
    > I'll buy grey lenses etc from a store I trust - certainly not from the
    > sleaze dealers who advertise US Warantee and send grey market goods - but
    > for camera bodies which are loaded with electronics I buy US. Same with IS
    > lenses, although I only have one.
    >
    Paul Schilter, Aug 31, 2005
    #14
  15. Dave,
    Now that is sure more then I'd expect, almost an insurance policy.
    Paul


    Dave R knows who wrote:
    > "Paul Schilter" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >
    >>Hi All
    >>What do you guys buy, gray or USA? Obviously this is a question for
    >>Americans but I wish to know what is the plus and minus of buying gray
    >>market cameras and lenses? I know the warranty is less on gray, but how
    >>much of a warranty do you need on a lens? Or do the modern auto focus lens
    >>need their share of service? What say you all?
    >>Paul

    >
    >
    > If you drop your lens and it's still under USA warranty there is a good
    > chance they will fix it for free. It happened to me!
    >
    >
    Paul Schilter, Aug 31, 2005
    #15
  16. Mike,
    Well that's good to know.
    Paul


    Mike Berger wrote:

    snipped

    > Canon is good about honoring warranties worldwide. Other manufacturers
    > aren't.
    >
    Paul Schilter, Aug 31, 2005
    #16
  17. Paul Schilter

    Bob Salomon Guest

    In article <>,
    Paul Schilter <> wrote:

    > Is it your experience that cameras have a good amount of
    > warranty issues?


    How often do you throw your TV over your shoulder and take it to the
    beach, or on a boat trip or up a mountain? Or use it to record a ball
    game or a riot or a horse or car race? How often have you dropped your
    TV? even just on a sofa? or turned around suddenly and banged it into a
    wall, door, tree? When was the last time your TV was used outdoors in
    rain, snow, hail, etc.? When was the last time sand was blown or kicked
    in to it?

    A camera is exposed to far more things that can make it need service
    then a TV that just sits and turns on and off and changes channels.

    --
    To reply no_ HPMarketing Corp.
    Bob Salomon, Aug 31, 2005
    #17
  18. Paul Schilter

    Jeremy Guest

    Paul Schilter wrote:


    > How can you tell a gray market camera from a USA one? Are there markings
    > or is it just a serial number that the manufacturer or store can look
    > up?


    The official importers can tell from the serial numbers whether the
    cameras submitted for repairs came through their channels. I believe
    that Nikon may even use the "USA" designation on their serial numbers,
    and Nikon USA as I understand it WILL NOT TOUCH a gray market item. So
    the customer had better hope that he can obtain service--warranty or
    otherwise--from the gray market importer. An amateur might be willing
    to assume more risk, but if I made my living from my camera gear, I
    would never consider gray market for anything that was mission critical
    to me.

    When I purchased my Pentax gear, back in the early 70's, Honeywell was
    the official importer for the USA and Mexico. Pentax cameras made for
    sale in every other country were badged "Asahi Pentax." The merchandise
    destined for the US and Mexico were badged "Honeywell Pentax." You can
    see examples of what I mean by searching eBay for Pentax Spotmatic bodies.

    Honeywell refused to sell parts or give service to gray market cameras,
    and they had the use of the Pentax trademark in the US. Back then, US
    Customs would actually scratch the Asahi name on cameras coming in that
    were not purchased by foreign visitors, defacing the cameras.
    Servicemen that purchased Asahi cameras and lenses in places like
    Vietnam actually had to apply a black, gooey substance to cover the
    "Takumar" name on the lenses, so Customs would not deface the lenses!

    Honeywell got out of the photographic business sometime after 1975, when
    Pentax introduced the K-mount bodies and lenses, and Pentax marketed
    their goods under the Asahi name worldwide, until they changed their own
    name fro Asahi Optical to Pentax Corporation. You can see differences
    on the K-1000 bodies--the original ones were badged "Asahi Pentax," and
    the later ones dropped the Asahi name. I am unaware of US Customs
    defacing the trademarks on Pentax cameras imported after Honeywell
    discontinued its association with Asahi.

    I am really not up to speed on this issue, but I believe that I read
    that Mamiya USA pursues trademark violators. Mamiya gear, as I
    understand it, costs considerably more in the US than it does in other
    countries, and Mamiya USA guards their monopoly.

    It all boils down to whether the savings are worth the hassle. Backup
    bodies might be candidates for gray market, but it is a given that the
    best parts and service are going to come from the official importer. If
    a critical piece of photographic gear were to be tied up waiting for
    parts or repairs by an unofficial importer, that could easily wipe out
    any perceived "savings" to a pro that relies on the gear.

    From a moral standpoint, the official importer is the one that pays the
    heavy cost of promoting the brand. They are the ones that send reps to
    trade shows, pay for advertising campaigns, set up parts warehouses and
    train technicians--all so they can be standing by when your camera
    requires service. Why should they allow their resources to be siphoned
    away by giving service to equipment brought in by gray market importers?
    Why should the official importer pay the bills, while the bloodsuckers
    in the gray market reap the profits? And why should customers that paid
    full price to buy officially-imported goods have to pay even higher
    prices, if the official importer elects to serve the gray market customers?

    While I respect the right of anyone to buy as he pleases, I have no
    sympathy for them if they find themselves in need of parts or service
    and cannot obtain them from their gray market importer. That is not my
    problem. "You get what you pay for."

    It is entirely possible that the higher-priced officially-imported goods
    can actually be a better value over the long run.
    Jeremy, Aug 31, 2005
    #18
  19. Paul Schilter

    henryp Guest

    <If you drop your lens and it's still under USA warranty there is a
    good
    chance they will fix it for free. It happened to me! >

    Canon USA has a very good rep for doing warrranty work on "grey" goods
    as long as the purchase date can be documented. Nikon USA OTOH is
    adament they won't touch a "grey" product in or out of warranty.

    That said, if you drop it, that's not covered by ANY warranty.

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video, Inc.
    henryp, Aug 31, 2005
    #19
  20. Paul Schilter

    henryp Guest

    <Honeywell refused to sell parts or give service to gray market
    cameras,
    and they had the use of the Pentax trademark in the US.>

    Owning the trademark is a big deal as far as "grey market" is
    concerned. Mamiya America owns the trademark for their name and there's
    no "grey market" Mamiya stuff around.

    <http://www.supnik.com/parallel.htm>

    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video, Inc.
    henryp, Aug 31, 2005
    #20
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