Photo Equipment
January 8, 2004 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Besides B&H, are there any reputable websites that have a good-sized inventory of gray market photography equipment? Specifically fixed focal length lenses (e.g. 24mm/50mm).
posted by chrish to Shopping (7 answers total)
I've heard good things about both Adorama and KEH (if you're looking for used).
posted by bshort at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2004

All the gray market stuff I've bought at B&H has been superb. Are you looking for lower prices mainly?

I've noticed that the 2 or 3 things I've bought off ebay have all been gray market stuff, though it usually sells just a tad under US retail (but they never say so, the manuals always come with the telltale japanese -- at least for canon stuff). Moving gray market stuff on ebay is probably an easy way to squeak a few bucks as a living but I wish sellers were more upfront about it.
posted by mathowie at 8:45 PM on January 8, 2004

Slightly off-topic: B&H is great if you live outside NYC, the tax is a killer. Yet, their staff is incredibly knowledgable and extremely helpful. I always recommend anyone I know in the market for a camera to visit the store, so that they get a good idea of what they want to get, in person. Often they buy the camera there too because they're so impressed with the staff.
posted by riffola at 9:58 PM on January 8, 2004

B&H seem to have cornered the market for the 'reputable' part of your question. Adorama are ok, I've bought a couple of things from them before. The big difference between them seems to be that when B&H say 'in stock' on their website, it is, and if it isn't, they say so up front. Adorama's stock seems to be a lottery and they let you complete the order even if they haven't really got something.

And agreed, KEH for used stuff, if you don't want to play the ebay game. KEH seem to be the only online used dealer who have a condition rating approaching honesty.
posted by normy at 12:04 AM on January 9, 2004

In short: B&H, Adorama, and KEH, pretty much.

There are alternatives, but their selection tends to be more limited. A discussion on reputable online dealers. (Note: I'd recommend avoiding Abe's of Maine, contrary to what the original poster in that thread said.) Reputable dealers should all identify gray market items as such, and very clearly. Most of the smaller reputable dealers listed, such as Beach Camera and Canoga Camera, have rather limited selections, especially since primes tend to be less popular than zooms. If you're using a different mount than Canon/Nikon, then it'll be hard to find any selection at places other than the three major players above.

AFAIK Canon will honor international warrantees in the U.S. but Nikon will not. This is something to keep in mind when buying gray market items.

I've had some luck playing the used lens game but it's not for the faint of heart. :)
posted by DaShiv at 8:24 AM on January 9, 2004

Not only will Nikon USA not honor grey market warrantees, they won't even let you pay for repairs once the warrantee has expired (they can tell from serial numbers if an item was sold with a USA warrantee or not). I've read rumors that they even refuse to sell parts to repair shops who work on non-USA items. Pretty crappy behaviour, really. For older stuff, this doesn't seem to be a problem, but I might think twice before buying a non-USA, high-price item from current production - which is what they want, of course.
posted by normy at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2004

And a couple of resources: - as mentioned in the discussion DaShiv linked to. user recommendations - but even here you need to be careful, there may be shill posts.
posted by normy at 11:29 AM on January 9, 2004

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