If you are in the market for a new camera body, then you’re probably after the best market price. Who wouldn’t?
In that case, gray import products are likely to attract your attention. But with all controversies surrounding the topic, you might stop and wonder…
Are gray import cameras OK to use?
The short answer is yes; they are okay to use.
But since there are two sides to this coin, we better dive deeper into the risks and opportunities of gray import cameras. But first…
What are gray import cameras?
A gray import camera is sold to another country by a party that is not directly tied to the manufacturer.
As a result, there’s usually no guarantee that the product you are getting is genuine or new, and thus the term “gray.”
Are such optics genuine? Of course, they are.
It’s just that the manufacturer made them specifically for an intended market.
For this reason, the products’ accessories and manual language will be unique to the target country.
Risks of gray import products
With gray imports, you get a lower price but the protection of the manufacturer’s warranty.
So if your camera arrives damaged, you cannot hold the manufacturer responsible. Neither can you demand a refund/replacement.
Secondly, gray imports can sport minor technical differences in the manual’s primary language, video settings, charger type, or electrical voltage.
Also, in some incidences, if your country taxes the product, that could potentially bump up the price.
And now to the third and the scariest risk. If you are unlucky to buy from unscrupulous retailers, they are likely to send you a fake product.
Some will sell refurbished goods with the “new” tag to lure you into the deal.
Furthermore, others blatantly send returned or used products to customers who are genuinely looking for brand new devices.
How some grey import brands mitigate the risks
When it comes to customer protection, some resellers offer extended warranty with a promise to replace a defective unit.
They can also make sure taxes are not added, and if that happens, they’ll issue a refund.
As for the technical differences, you can easily change camera settings, get an adapter, or download an English manual online (for non-English guides).
Working with credible brands
Many international sellers distribute grey import cameras at lower prices. Some of them have stellar customer reviews and ratings.
Unfortunately, there’s still a compromise; most of them have a shipping period ranging from 3 to 7 days.
Suppose you decide to buy locally, then the product would arrive on the same day or the next.
Generally, it is the buyers’ full responsibility to scrutinize the seller before swapping their cards.
If you doubt a certain vendor, you should probably listen to your instincts and try elsewhere.
Why so much controversy over grey import goods?
Grey import arrangement is a type of arbitrage that benefits resellers more than the manufacturer.
In other words, the company making the product receives measly profit margins. Secondly, it lowers the manufacturer’s value in a given target market.
Why are grey import cameras so cheap?
Typically, the manufacturer’s price (MSRP) of a properly imported camera is usually higher than that of a grey import.
So how do these goods get to be so cheap? Let’s get to that.
A product’s final price is based on so many things. Some costs that are considered include manufacturing, transportation, marketing, distribution, and import fees.
But it doesn’t end there.
There are other expenses incurred like labor training, support staff, warranty repair, and recalls. These costs can be too much for the manufacturer.
But here’s the thing; costs of production, transportation, labor, and warranty length differ from country to country.
Take, for instance, grey Canon and Nikon cameras entering the US.
Most of them come from Asia. Why?
Because Asia has much lower production, transportation, distribution, warranty, and support costs.
Now, because grey market optics are way cheaper than properly imported ones, their demand keeps growing.
Their boom is highly credited to eCommerce shops and auction websites sprawling all over the internet.
Since many Nikon and Canon import cameras sold in the US come from Asia, these manufacturers, from time to time, decide to move many of their pieces to the country.
This way, they hope the non-authorized parties reselling their products would help them sell more.
So as you can see, grey market imports help manufacturers sell more and dominate a bigger chunk of the grey market.
So, if you bump into a credible seller of a grey import camera, don’t hesitate to buy one. You will save a lot of bucks.
Happy hunting. Adios!