Buying Nikon in the USA but using in different country

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by thomas_hanrahan, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm from NZ but have an opportunity to buy a DSLR (looking at the new D90 + kit) in the USA.

    Not sure if there are others either living in NZ or elsewhere outside of the US who have purchased cameras from the
    US, but I would like to know whether there are any compatability issues or other downsides with buying a camera
    from the US and using it in NZ/outside of the US?

    Just wondering about the battery, charger, DC input, HDMI, AV, USB, etc... even the software supplied - are these
    all workeable in NZ/elsewhere?

    Thanks for any help.
  2. Sorry. NZ = New Zealand
  3. you just need a plug adapter....
    that's all
    and a warranty
  4. Thomas,

    Your warranty will not be recognised in Godzone but apart from an adapter you're good to go. Lenses do have a worldwide warranty but bodies usually don't as far as I know.

  5. Unless the price is really much cheaper in US, it may make better sense to buy it from NZ. Sure, you may need to wait for say a couple more weeks or so, but the recognition of warranty probably will make that wait worthwhile.
  6. I Agree with Alvin, you should look into buying it in NZ, US warranties are for US only and are VOID else where. Ando to be honest with you, now that we have global markets, its not that much difference.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Personally, I put very little value on the warranty. I have been using Nikon SLRs since 1977 and I recently purchased my 12th Nikon SLR, 5 of them DSLRs. None of them has ever required warranty service although some of them are still within the warranty period.

    Therefore, if you can save a lot of money getting it in the US instead of New Zealand, I think it is a reasonable risk to take getting it in the US. Worst comes to worst, just send it back to the US for repair.

    For the same reason I think it is very unwise to buy any extended warranty. I would never have taken advantage of any extended warraty. Those are simply very bad deals for the buyer.
  8. Shun Cheung,
    Using that logic would you then recommend that we here in the US buy our Nikon's from the so called "Grey Market", dealers that sell them with non-USA warranties? It looks like to me that there are several big reputable companies online that do that, sell both at a saving for non USA warranty.
  9. Hi Shun,

    I respectfully disagree with your statement as it applies to the original manufacturer's warranty.

    Products are most likely to fail either when they are new - within the first few days to one year of use (engineers call this "infant mortality") - or at end of life due to fair wear and tear i.e. they wear out. The manufacturer's warranty is an extension of the quality control process; it covers the "infant mortality".

    Shipping a camera that suffers infant mortality from New Zealand back to the United States, going through customs in both countries, will be both involved and expensive. Only Thomas can decide if it is worth the difference in price.

    I do agree with you about "extended" warranties. In most cases they are not worth it. (As an aside, most credit cards extend the manufacturer's warranty up to a second year.)
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I routinely buy gray-market lenses when there is sufficient savings. For example, many years ago when I bought my 200mm/f4 AF-D macro lens, the price different between Nikon USA and gray was like $1400 vs. $1000. To me, that was a no brainer and I bought gray. 7 years later, the MF/AF ring on it broke as a lot of them do (which is a design flaw on Nikon's part). Since Nikon USA wouldn't fix a gray lens, I sent that to Authorized Photo Service for repair and that cost me $200. Since even the 5-year warranty from Nikon USA would also have expired, it would have cost me that same $200 to repair it anyway.

    You may or may not agree with my suggestions, but I myself practice the same advice I give here.

    One thing to keep in mind is that concerning lenses, the price spread between Nikon USA and gray has narrowed quite a bit in recent years. Additionally, in the US, I am not sure anybody outside of Nikon USA can fix VR issues. If you are buying any VR lens, you might want to stay with a non-gray lens.
  11. If the camera is substantially cheaper in the US go for it. In the rare instance that you need the warranty you could always ship the camera to a friend or relative here. They could relay it to Nikon's repair facility here in the US for you. Personally I would just buy one in NZ from a local dealer.
  12. In spite of the bodies not being warrantied I have almost always bought mine from Honk Kong at a huge saving over the UK prices. The only warrantied work I have ever had carried out was on lenses.
  13. I might add that the huge savings once obtainable in HK are not nearly as attractive as they used to be a year ago.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Brooks, again, I have been shooting Nikon SLRs for 31 years with 12 different cameras that I bought new. Not even
    one has ever required warranty repair. I would rather make decisions based on my personal experience over 3
    decades than theoretical assumptions on "infant mortality."

    If there is significant savings, e.g. 20%, when say 1 out of 10 camera I buy requires warranty service that isn't
    available, I simply throw that one camera into the trash and buy a new one to replace it, overall, I am still 10% ahead
    of the game over time. The odds are with you because at least the higher-end Nikon camera are quite reliable.

    My point is that one shouldn't get scared by the warranty issue. Consider what the price spread is and what you can
    save overall in the long run to
    see whether no warranty makes sense to you. I once talked to a Nikon USA rep and he told me exactly that I
    wouldn't be able to get a gray lens repaired. I told him exactly that I would just throw that into the trash and buy a
    new one. He was shocked by my response and had no answer.
  15. I guess where I have a hard time with this, is the cameras are made in Thailand (My D40 say it was on the bottom plate), not the USA, so why should there be a difference. Nikon USA is still Nikon isn't it. If all of the camera's are made in the same way then all of them should be warranted by Nikon no matter where one buy's them. Now if the ones that you buy from a place in Korea, China, Hong Kong are different then that could tell a different tale.
    But as a consumer I think that is is just another business rip off.
    It won't stop me from purchasing a Nikon, but in reality I wish it would. (I'm also guessing this is true for most cameras)
  16. As previous posters have said, I guess it depends on whether you feel the need for a warranty.

    One thing I would add, is that you may find small items such as batteries are far cheaper (certainly for us limies an EN-EL3e is 50 GBP,
    versus only 40 USD). You may be better off buying a body in NZ and then lenses and batteries in the US, especially if you're going over
    there anyway.

  17. Agree with Shun - I've had Nikon cameras and equipment since the mid-70s and have never needed ANY service on anything other than an SB25 that refused to sync with my F4s. I've had 6 Nikon digitals now (9 if you count the old Nikon-bodied Kodak DCS SLRs) and my first D70 is still working like a champ - likewise my old trusty F2s still works flawlessly. Warrantees are nice, but in my experience not worth the hassle if you can save significantly buying grey. --Rich
  18. Hi Shun,

    I understand your position and, for you, it may make sense. Nikon does make reliable equipment.

    First, you are in the United States purchasing grey market items from a U.S. merchant. If you open the box and the item is DOA, you can simply return it to the merchant and exchange it. Shipping within the United States is reasonable. Thomas, on the other hand would have to ship it back from New Zealand, a costly process. It would also have to go through customs three times - the original import to New Zealand, then through U.S. customs for return to the U.S., and finally back through New Zealand customs. I have no idea what taxes would be charged, but I am sure there would be taxes and paper work - especially if the camera were replaced rather than repaired.

    In your first reply, you cite your purchase of a "D" type lens. I agree there is little risk in such a purchase; I have even purchased used "D" lens without a qualm. Even if the lens malfunctions, it can usually be serviced by a good local camera repair facility; parts are available. I would have more reservations about an AF-S lens and even more concern about AF-S VR lenses. I understand that parts for some of the latter are not available to third party repair shops.

    In any case, a camera is much more complicated with many more moving parts, and therefore possible failure points, than a "D" type lens.

    Unlike you, I have owned but two Nikon bodies in the past 40 years - and FTn and my present F100. Neither ever required warranty service but that is simply anecdotal and not evidence upon which to base a rational decision. If I purchase a grey D300, save a few hundred dollars, and have to discard it should it fail, I would suffer a loss. You on the other hand, having saved money on 12 cameras, would be ahead.

    It is the difference between self-insuring and purchasing insurance.
  19. I always prefer to save my money up front. I have used and broken a lot of nikon equipment and the maintenance cost v.
    the warrantee has always seemed like a wash. I would never buy an extended warrantee since my repairs have usually
    been about as costly as extended warrantees. Most of my repairs by the way came from horrendous abuse of the
    equipment on my part, so warrantee coverage would have been unlikely.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Brooks, as I said, I provided my reasoning and it'll be up to each individual to decide which approach makes sense. As far as I know, some Nikon equipment is 50% or even 100% more expensive in certain parts of the world, such as New Zealand and places in Europe. To me, with such a big price spread, it is worthwhile to take some risks and trouble.

    Incidentally, according to Consumer Reports, repair rate for Nikon DSLRs is like 4% or so. Typically for DSLRs among all brands, it is around 3-5%. Therefore, the risk is quite small.

    Currently in the US, some outlets are selling grak-market D3 in the mid $3000 range, e.g. around $3600 or so, compared to $4500 for a Nikon USA model. To me, that is at least an alternative I would consider.
  21. An entirely different thought: instead of sending a Nikon lens or body for repair to the US from New Zealand one could
    send it directly to Nikon in Tokyo. No matter where in the world it was purchased.

    Yes, one would still have to take care of customs paperwork but as long as you have copies of your receipts when
    you purchased it new you should not have to pay duties on the repair.

    Why don't you call your local government customs office and ask about the paperwork when sending an item out of
    country for repair? I recently dropped my Nikon D70 and kit lens while shooting stills on the set of a movie. Now the
    zoom ring is stiff. I'm seriously thinking of sending it back to Nikon in Tokyo via air freight instead of having the
    repairs made by Nikon USA.

    Terry Thomas...

    the photographer

    Atlanta, Georgia USA
  22. bmm


    Thomas - I'm in Sydney and have been building up my kit exclusively from the major US stores, travels in Asia and now contemplating a couple of things on eBay.

    My rationale is that Sydney prices for Nikon gear are on average 30-50% higher than the US prices even with shipping included. Switch that thinking around to warranty issues, that means that over 1/3 of my gear would have to fail for me to be ahead by buying locally. To give a specific example, I've saved so much by buying overseas that even if my D80 were to go completely cactus, I could replace it with the current equivalent (D90) and still be well ahead in terms of my total kit cost on what I would have originally paid in Sydney.

    So for me its a no-brainer and I am happy to accept the risk as an outcome of my decision to go with less price.

    I say don't fret and get the gear at the best price, as long as the dealer is reputable. UPS gets it to you from the USA in around 5 days and in good condition so the wait is not long. And for what its worth, a year and 30-odd bits of kit in - ranging from a simple memory cards, cables, etc to camera bodies and advanced lenses - I've not yet had a failure despite taking a fair bit of it on some crazy-arsed travels and adventures.

    Finally just to make it clear if I was a US resident I would probably get part of my kit non-grey as the difference is marginal. But as others have pointed out the difference in Aust and NZ is not at all marginal and the risk/price equation is overwhelmingly in favour of buying grey from the major US stores.
  23. I’d like to relate my experience. I am in UAE-Middle East. This country does not charge any custom duty on camera items and only 5% on any other items. The only issue importing camera items are the warranty (Nikon will not honor any warranty for camera items bought outside UAE and also refuse to repair even if want to pay), and the shipping cost which comes to approximately $50 from USA.
    We have one Nikon franchise (same with Canon) and everybody has to buy through them. Most of the Nikon stuff is priced at 40% more than USA. Another problem is even if you buy within the country and if your camera or lens develops any problem and if it is professional equipment the service center in the country does not have the facility or expertise to repair it, it would be sent to Japan for service and you only get it back after more than 2 months. All the Nikon lenses have only one year warranty in UAE compared to 5 years in USA. Keeping all this in mind its better for me to buy from US and if any there is any service needed ship it to US. With the money saved I can ship to US many times and I’ll get my equipment in 2 weeks. I import from USA only those items that are expensive and the saving is substantial.
  24. If shipping from NZ to Japan is less costly, any Nikon product may be returned to Nikon in Japan for service under the warranty. It seems the 'home-market" Nikon networks are selective in working on what they have imported into their 'home' country.

    Any 'tourist' in Japan may purchase a Nikon product. Going home, that Nikon product is covered under a 'new product' warranty from Nikon.
  25. bmm


    Oh, on your practical questions which no-one has focused much on:

    Software and PC-related stuff is fine, and the only thing that interfaces with power in your basic kit is the battery charger. I went to my local electronics store and bought a local figure-eight cord which plugs straight into the charger (for about $5). And I kept the shipped US-type cord and use it for when I travel - avoids needing a clunky adaptor on the end of my Aussie one.

    If you are buying an external flash just get high-capacity rechargeables and a charger locally. All the Nikon speedlights just take AA's so no problems there. 4 Energiser high-cap lithiums and a charger cost me about $20 in my local supermarket. I bought a second charger for travel with US and Euro pins while I was recently away (again very cheap and from a supermarket), but thats just me and my aversion to adaptors.

    Oh my final thought is back on software. Even if the supplied stuff isn't fine or is an outdated version its simple to download and install latest versions of View NX, Transfer NX and the other Nikon utilities from their website. Also includes trial versions of Capture NX and the other top end stuff. Nikon has a NZ website so I'm sure the downloads from there will be the right versions for your region. Downloads are under the 'service and support' tab on your website.
  26. First, customs in to the US is nil or low for small packages, they just generally do not bother.
    Packages returned for repair are generally not subject to customs in either direction. Items going in to the EU attract
    attention by the insurance often, but I am told if it is a repair, there is no customs. My friend will find out soon, his
    repaired Nikon is on its way to the UK.

    Second, when I was selling cameras, the US Warranty was US plus World, times may have changed, read the
    cards. Gray market warranty was the rest of the world.

    Third, Gray Market, normally had to be serviced under warranty out of the US, which might be Canada, or the country
    of origin, there was a warranty, but the US Importer, if they looked at the warranty card, or if the markings on the
    camera showed gray market, they were not responsible.

    Fourth, Some importers would not service any product, for free, or for money, nor sell parts, for anything gray market
    US, e.g. Bogen would not sell parts for Metz flashes, but it seemed they were charging about double. I had heard
    some other companies were looking at serial numbers, but generally others charge enough for flat rates that they
    may not care.

    Fifth, I have had Nikon, and Olympus serviced at factory service centers in Europe, and they were quite reasonable,
    and did not care the least where the item was purchased. They added a one year warranty after the service.

    Sixth, most chargers are universal, get out the magnifying glass and see if the input is 110-240v, if so, just find an
    adapter, or many of the new ones use the international dipole, and that part of the cord is normally available in
    hardware or electronic stores with the plug for where ever you are for low cost, I keep one in my suitcase. Oddly, my
    european Nokia charger would not work on 110.

    Finally, some stores sell so much to European buyers, they carry European market items. NYC for sure.
  27. Im also from NZ, and was also thinking of buying a DSLR when I go to the USA (freaky coincidence :p). But when I
    checked on, it seems that prices for non-pro bodies are comparable and possibly even cheaper
    in NZ, especially with the recent exchange rate increase. Lenses seem to be a different matter, and US prices are
    considerably cheaper.

    Since it seems that Nikon lenses have a worldwide warranty whereas bodies dont, then the best thing to do would
    be to get the body here, and buy lenses (and other accessories) from the USA.

    The D90 is not available in NZ yet, that might be a factor in your decision.
  28. I recently sent a lens (non Nikkor) to the US for modification. Before sending it, I enquired at the local Customs office about what I wanted to do, simply because of the declared cost of the lens and my concern that I would have to pay duty tax, both on its arrival in the US, and again on its return home. They said to state it as " Used photographic equipment to be modified and returned to Australia". They said that the value of the modification is to be stated on the return; and, that they do not normally apply duty on anything brought into the country with a value of less than $1000.

    The lens has since arrived in the US, and the company carrying out the modification has not said anything about US duty tax being payable. Any duty tax payable on the lens's return remains yet to be discovered; however, I have the original Declaratation Statement which should (hopefully) negate any duty tax.

    On the basis of this, I would be prepared to buy from the US if there were substantial savings to be had, and if the item ever required repair, then send back to the US and be prepared to pay postage and insurance both ways.
  29. I found a store selling Olympus cameras gray market, in Europe, it was an American Model, somehow the gray
    market game may go both ways. May have to do with exchange rates at the time, but they too used different model
    numbers for the US.

    John, I assume you were speaking of Warranty returns? I would think you have plenty of non warranty repair folks?
  30. I've had one instance in which I would have benefited from warranty service; the aperture of the 70-200 got stuck when exposed to cold and the pictures would be taken at maximum aperture until I manually unstuck the aperture. I had however moved to Finland where the 5-year extended USA warranty was not valid, and the cost of shipping to Nikon USA would have exceeded the local repair price by a factor of two.

    In any case for many instances Nikon in Finland has repaired many items for me free irrespective of whether I had warranty. I realize this isn't true of all places and people.

    I buy my DSLR bodies where ever I happen to live at the time. This is to minimize the consequences of manufacturing errors in the body to me. However I usually buy my lenses from abroad as the price difference can be considerable and at least the 1-year warranty on Nikon lenses is valid worldwide.
  31. John,

    Yes, I was referring to warranty returns. If the item is out of warranty, it is more economical to get it repaired locally if this is possible. In my case, the reason for sending the lens (non warranty) to the US is that the company concerned specialises in these type of modifications.
  32. Thanks so much for all your input - this advice is invaluable. The comparable pricing is US$1299 in the US vs a
    rumoured NZ$2380 (about $180 cheaper for parallel-imported). This is for body + 18-105 lens
  33. From Bernard Mills : "I say don't fret and get the gear at the best price, as long as the dealer is reputable. UPS gets it to you from the USA in around 5 days and in good condition so the wait is not long."

    Which dealer(s) can you recommend? I was going to use B&H.

    Thanks so much for the advice! I love Sydney !! - long overdue for another visit there...
  34. Do not make life more complicated than is is already :p

    I can only say this for the EU. If you export an item to be serviced in another country outside the EU "because "you prefer the expertise in Japan ^^" you will not have to pay export duty nor will you have to pay import duty if you prove you exported the camera. Nikon Japan would not have to pay import duty for items they receive and send back.

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