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It can be extremely costly to purchase new cameras and photographic equipment and although it’s usually worth paying the top dollars for high quality gear there are occasions when you can do an end run around the domestic market and make significant savings by importing products from other markets.
This allows you to easily avoid certain taxes, find unbeatable deals on new items and get the kit you need delivered to your door. Since the advent of the internet and the opening up of world markets to the average consumer the opportunities to hunt around for the best deal have never been better.
There are, of course, certain risks associated with purchasing anything on the grey market however with a bit of common sense and some research you can benefit hugely from the practise.
Before you purchase a grey market item from a website in another country try to do a bit of investigating to find out if they are a reputable company with a good track record, some good reviews from past customers and a reliable delivery system.
What is the Grey Market?
What you need to know about the grey market for cameras and photography equipment.
Grey market goods and products are genuine items that are made by the stated manufacturer but are sold and distributed through alternative channels without the explicit consent of the producer. These goods are often cheaper however they will come without a warranty, support services and other benefits that the trademarked manufacturer will usually offer their customers.
Many of these products come from overseas markets where the cameras or equipment are sold at a much cheaper price. Many online companies and individual traders will buy these goods in the foreign markets and then import and deliver them to customers in the USA and other developed nations.
Is it legal to buy equipment on the Grey market?
Yes, it is entirely legal to buy cameras, tripods and any other related equipment on the Grey market. You will save money on local taxes and can often get a great deal. The process is completely legal so you have nothing to worry about on that front!
Pros and Cons of Buying Cameras and Equipment on the Grey Market.
The main advantages of buying on the grey market is that you can make some incredible savings on your purchases. In many situations you may also be able to find items that are not available in your country or locality. I was recently in the market for a camera and lens. In Philadelphia, the cost of the camera was $1699 plus tax. The grey market cost was $1549 (no tax), a savings of almost $250. The lens that I was interested in cost $1299 plus tax. The grey market cost was $900 (no tax), a savings of almost $500!!
It’s important however to be fully aware of some of the drawbacks involved with buying on the grey market so that you can make the most of the great prices on offer while acknowledging the potential pitfalls of those savings.
- When you buy a camera or other equipment on the grey market you will not get a full warranty from the manufacturer. This is because they will not guarantee goods that are not sold through their official channels.
- In some cases the software on the camera may not be genuine and although this is rare it is something to be aware of.
- When you are buying equipment from other countries you may find that the power chord is different from those which are used in the USA. This is fairly easy to overcome by buying an adapter which will only cost a few dollars.
- When you are buying on the grey market you may discover that the user manual is written in a foreign language. However, you can easily solve this problem by looking up the user manual on the internet and printing it out in English for your own reference.
- Your item that you bought on the grey market will not be eligible for the official repairs service run by the trademarked manufacturer although you can still go to independent camera repair stores to get the full range of services you may need.
The Risks Associated with buying on the Grey market depend on what you’re buying!
Buying cameras on the grey market from certain countries can be a little risky but for many other pieces of equipment the risks are practically zero! For items such as lenses, tripods, camera straps and bags you should have no problems at all by buying on the world wide grey market and in most cases you can make some excellent savings while supporting small, independent businesses online.
It’s only natural that the manufacturers of products will want you to purchase directly through their official channels so they can maximize their profits so don’t be put off by large companies telling you it’s a bad idea! When buying a lens for example you can literally save hundreds of dollars on a single purchase!
Where can you buy a grey market camera, lens or other equipment?
There are many independent online businesses that sell fantastic grey market cameras and equipment but the most common places to find good deals on the grey market is on sites like eBay. However, you don’t have to search online because many camera stores also sell grey market items within the United States.
Shopping on the Grey Market is always an option.
If you’re looking for new photography equipment then shopping around on the grey market is an alternative source of offers, deals and opportunities that you should certainly consider pursuing. For items such as camera bags, straps, tripods and lenses you should have no problems at all and are likely to save significant amounts of money.
However, if you were looking to buy a high end camera you need to be aware of the risks and drawbacks associated with the grey market. You will not benefit from the brand’s warranty and you won’t be able to get your camera repaired in the future with the official brand’s services. This doesn’t mean you can’t repair the camera, it just means that you would have to find an independent store that could do it for you. Fundamentally though, you need to be aware of the potential risks.
The grey market has a lot to offer and as the world continues to move towards a more globalized economic system where national borders are becoming less important and cross border trade continues to thrive you can really take advantage of some fantastic offers from overseas and domestically.
Have you purchased camera gear from the grey market?