Refurbished DSLRs

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ganz_schrott, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Of late there have been several sales promotions for refurbished Nikon DSLRs. For instance, right now I am tempted by a refurbished D3200 + 18-55 VR DX being offered for $400 by a familiar online retailer.
    What is the downside of buying a 'refurbished' camera? Or am I better off paying 30% more and getting a mint model?
  2. Of the last four Nikons I've bought, three were refurbs. I've had no problems. All of the cameras are still working today.
    Kent in SD
  3. The generally accepted definition of "Refurbishing" is to bring a product to a fully functional factory state. The unit could have been a demonstrator, used, or anything other than new, and generally does not refer to its cosmetic condition.
    There isn't much to refurbish in a camera, to be honest, other than a verification that it's fully functional or with its defects repaired usually at a service center.
    The confidence in buying a refurbished camera rests with the reputation of the vendor as anyone can claim that a camera is refurbished, which is different from Nikon certified even though they are also referred to as refurbished:
  4. I bought my D800 and D300s refurbished. Downside - very limited warranty. 90 days on both my D800 and D300s seller warranty compare to Nikon's 5 years. Also, you may end up with high actuation. My D800 had 10k clicks but no worries for me since the D800 is rated with 200k. My D300s only had 200 clicks though, had it for more than 3 years now and still working great. As long as you are buying from a reputable dealer then you shouldn't worry of returning or exchanging it.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Most people seem to have good experience with refurbished Nikon products, but I am one of the exceptions with two refurbished 70-300mm AF-S VR purchases:
    As long as you can return any problematic item for exchange or refund, your risk is very small. I would check any items you purchase carefully, regardless of whether that is new, refurbished, or used. I have some questions about Nikon's QC with refurb, but of course, if they do a poor job, they will get a lot of returns, which will cost Nikon a lot of money. It is in Nikon's own interest to keep quality high.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I bought my D800 and D300s refurbished. Downside - very limited warranty. 90 days on both my D800 and D300s seller warranty compare to Nikon's 5 years.​
    Actually, for Nikon USA, warranty for new DSLR bodies is only one year. For lenses, Nikon USA provides an extended 5-year warranty. However, since 1990, I have yet to have one new Nikon lens fail within the first 5 years, after buying some 30 new lenses in that period.
    Since most failures happen in the first few months, 90 days is fine. Your main concern is that the refurb is not done thoroughly. That is why you want to check your new item.
  7. Consider buying refurbished from Adorama if they have what you need. If you purchase a VIP membership for only $7.95
    they will extend the warranty to one year. Pretty good deal.
  8. I have purchased one refurbished camera from Nikon. It showed up DOA. Well not really DOA when you put a battery in it the camera was on. Didn't matter what position the power switch was in the camera was on. Since at the time the only D300s I could find was a refurb and the only people who had them was Nikon USA I was stuck. Sent it in to have it repaired. It is now working fine but the experience turned me off to buying refurbished items.
  9. I purchased refurb nikon body once. It developed (showed up?) shutter problem after about 2 months. Nikon repaired it according to 90 days warranty. I have been buying brand new since.
  10. Folks, thanks very much indeed for the great responses. Considering returning merchandise is always a pain, I am having serious second thoughts - though the extended warranty option of Adorama (thanks @Jonathan) deserves checking into.
    Can one draw a conclusion that equipment made in Thailand are more susceptible to problems down the road?
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Can one draw a conclusion that equipment made in Thailand are more susceptible to problems down the road?​
    I have quite a few Nikon DSLRs made in Thailand: D200, D300, D7000, and D7100. All of them are working flawlessly to date. I bought the D200 and D300 back in 2007. I also have various Nikon lenses made in Thailand and in China; all of them are fine. It is not in Nikon's interest to produce really low-quality products, because they are still responsible for warranty repairs, which are costly.
    I wouldn't stereotype things based on country of assembly. A "made in Japan" camera body can have parts from all over the place.
  12. I only buy refurbished, two D300s, Mac computers, printers, never had a problem with any. I actually bought a new Mac laptop 15 years ago that had a bad video card right out of the box.
  13. I have purchased 4 Nikon DSLRs as refurbs from Cameta Camera. All worked flawlessly, same for several refurb lenses and a Nikon 1J1.
  14. SCL


    I have bought a reburb Nikon D300, Sigma SD14 and Olympus problems with any of them. The Nikon I've had for about 3-4 years now, the OLY about 7 months...the Sigma I had about 2 years with no issues either.
  15. When I was a working professional and wearing cameras out on a regular basis, I never bought new. I aways bought refurbished cameras. I did some studio work, but most of it was on location -- and I mean "on location." The gear was ridden hard and put up wet. Nikon service gave us great support and at any time we had about a third of it in the shop for maintenance and calibration. That was back in the film days. But buying refurb gear was how almost every working photographer I knew operated. We would literally wear the paint off of the gear. The fact that some amateur had used it for a year meant nothing. We were pushing gear to the manufacturer's limit and beyond. The gear today I would think can last much longer than the stuff we had back then. Any gear refurbished by the manufacturer is probably a good deal. As someone pointed out earlier, the failure is likely to happen soon after it arrives. Once you get it, test all of the functions and put it through a hard acceptance test. If it passes, it is probably good to go. If not, it is within the warranty period. That warranty is there for you to use and part of the deal is for you to inspect it after you get it.
  16. Not sure Thailand would be different than Japan.
    I have generally had good luck with several refirb items. The D800 refirb we got had all AF sensors in calibration, as far as I can tell, which is good, maybe better than some of the new ones in the initial batch.
    The 135/2 DC lens that I got as a refirb had the AF calibration out more than I thought it should have been. That lens has something of a reputation for AF calibration issues, anyway. Nikon adjusted it (accurately) under warranty. The 70-200/2.8 VRII that we got new required AF tweaking (done in camera), so new items are not exempt.
    I sort of think that there are not any more issues with refirb vs. new, but don't have any statistics to back it up.
    As mentioned earlier, carefully test anything you get, new, refirb, or used.
  17. My refurb D90 from Adorama has been great.
  18. My D700 is refurbished, great so far. I have had good results generally with refurbed products, including computers. Sometimes they are safer, because they've been through a tech's hands and looked at more closely than the brand new product. Plus you save as well. Just make sure it has a good warranty. Generally they have same or similar as a new one.
  19. I rarely buy "refurbed" equipment, preferring straight-forwardly "used" cameras.
    The reason for this was my earlier experience with refurbished laptops, where whatever original problem had led to its being returned to the manufacturer had not, in fact, been completely addressed before the resale. This happened twice, which is why I don't do that anymore. Worst part about it was that the flaws did not turn up until the short warranty had expired.
    Many people seem quite happy with their refurbished items, of course; but I have had excellent results with used equipment too.
  20. Bought a couple of refurb Nikon cameras, all 100% perfect.
    Bought a D600 last year, it arrived with a serious fault, Amazon replaced it very quickly, courteously, and with absolutely no hassles.
  21. JDM, did you by Apple refurbished? Never had a problem with one and getting a good as new warranty is a good thing and one reason I would tend to buy refurbished over used generally, not always.
  22. Would agree with importance of dealing with a reputable seller. I have had bad experiences with e-bay, where "refurbished" can mean "failed manufacturer's quality controls, should have been scrapped but somehow got hauled out of the dumpster and sold". This applied to a Vax vacuum cleaner, peep to indicate full bag not working, so I kept on using the cleaner until the motor literally melted, and to a McCulloch petrol-engine strimmer - piston was too tight, did not run in as expected, strimmer would run only on full throttle and only for 3 to 4 minutes before seizing.
  23. JDM, did you by Apple refurbished?​
    Yes, although I don't think the problem is (was) unique to Apple, of whom I am a 1984 adopter.
    I bought two Apple manufacturer refurbished laptops, some years apart and both had hidden problems after the warranty had expired. I might add that having used Apples since circa 1978, these are the only two failures out of 13+ other Apple computers - the others were all bought new.
  24. I might add that having used Apples since circa 1978, these are the only two failures out of 13+ other Apple computers - the others were all bought new.​
    That's interesting, I've had just the opposite experience, with one "genius" telling me they were often more thoroughly gone through than new. Anyways, the Nikon refurbished have all been great in my experience, costing less, yet having the same warranty as new.
  25. Can one draw a conclusion that equipment made in Thailand are more susceptible to problems down the road?​
    Not in my opinion. I find Nikon's quality control to be good in both Thailand and Japan.
    For the record I have bought both refurbished bodies and lenses and had no problem at all. Go with Adorama as was said and get the VIP extended warranty.
  26. I've bought over 50 cameras and lenses from Nikon marked 'refurbished' and find the failure rate to be extraordinarily low.
    In fact, I have a hypothesis that the majority of refurbished Nikon cameras and lenses I've bought have NOT been formally 'sold', 'used', 'returned', or refurbished at all, but were picked off the factory line and put into different boxes, given a shorter warranty, called 'refurbished', and the price knocked down.
    Why the belief?
    I've only had two repairs on refurb products, both hidden battery post defects on D300s out of 9-11 D300's I purchased and used over time.
    I had never seen a mark or a scratch on any refurb (except one, see below for story), and the shutter count on each was set to 'O'. Of course the manufacturer can reset the shutter to '0', but I can't think of any law that says they guarantee or represent the product was previously used -- that's something represented by the retailers and is a commonly held belief.
    If a manufacturer such as Nikon found it in their best interest to keep a manufacturing line operating longer than the demand for 'NEW' products would justify, but if they kept filling the 'refurbished' boxes with excess inventory and could still turn a profit by keeping the manufacturing line working, even if they sold the product to the retailer at a lower price, then why not?
    It would make sense for the manufacturer to keep pushing through 'newly manufactured products with a 90-day warranty (short warranty) and keep the warranty liability off the books after a short period and accept a somewhat smaller price. The warranty cost projections would disappear within about a quarter of a year after projected sale, thus keeping bookkeeping simple and not requiring fancy bookkeeping which is required when selling cameras with a 1-year warranty and a four-year 'service contract' (a misnomer for warranty designed to keep it off the books).
    Dealers tell me Nikon won't allow its dealers to cut prices in their advertising and still accept 'co-op' advertising money unless it's an authorized Nikon sale of 'new' goods, keeping in mind that Nikon can set the time limit on the sale or it can set the time limit on the goods, so that say a camera bought under an agreement allowing a discounted price or rebate might possibly be bought in large amounts and warehoused by the retailer, which is a sales practice I suppose Nikon in many circumstances might want to foster, and might resulting in shifting sales and/or profits from one quarter or year to another, which can be helpful for corporate bookkeeping.
    I don't know much about co-op advertising money, but if I were a dealer selling big time but wanted my name known as a low-priced dealer (perhaps in New York with mail order/Internet sales), I'd want also to get those co-op advertising dollars, especially if I were Nikon's biggest or one of their biggest worldwide retailers (B&H photo video anyone?)
    I really don't know if B&H Photo Video, Adorama, Cameta, or J&R Music Video or others who offer discounted prices on 'refurbished cameras and lenses' really get that co-op advertising money, but generally you don't find regular merchandise advertising 'discounted' at those places, but those retailers still endeavor to portray themselves as 'low cost' and emphasize refurbished products. Emphasis on 'advertising' not on regular sales, but on Internet sales it's very hard to negotiate; one fills the shopping cart or not, though if one looks carefully, one might find an identical product on page 58 $100 cheaper than the one on page 2 of the advertisement -- a reward for thoroughly examining the entire Internet advertisement.
    (I can be corrected on my observations and claims of course; this is NOT the final word but a hypothesis based on observations over a decade now and three decades prior.)
    The advertised 'discounts' on say Nikon products appears mostly to be limited to planned and authorized Nikon sales (plus rebates) (dealer overpurchasing and warehousing of those purchases), plus the appearance of much lower-priced 'refurbished' goods which fill the gap and allow those huge volume retailers to offer lower prices than the Nikon limits on advertising lower than list prices (or not get co-op advertising dollars),
    Ever notice that as a Nikon product nears the end of its product run and a new product is predicted, then announced, there is a huge run of available 'refurbished' cameras and/or lenses available?
    Is that because customers suddenly began finding defects and returning already-purchased equipment, or is it because the manufacturer has decided to run the older product lines to the end, use up its parts and push out all the product it can before discontinuing the product, then meet the expectation of superiority for the new product with its inevitably greater features with an reduced price by offering the 'older' or 'outmoded' product as a 'refurbished' item with comcomitant lower price.
    That being said, I did spy one item, a lens, that obviously had been a salesman's sample, and evidently had been rolling around in the trunk (or so) of his car, to the point where it was brassed out.
    It was unsalable though the glass was not damaged, but after months of trying to sell that brassed-out 'refurbished lens,' the retailer (LA's largest) sent it back to Nikon for credit as 'unsalable'.
    I am sure that legally after a famous case involving BMW autos that were repaired and sold as new which cost BMW a huge reputation, Nikon can't sell returned products as new.
    It seems based on my experience and logically that some number of items that are sold as 'refurbished' are exactly newly manufactured, repackaged, recertified after inspection and testing and are therefore designated 'refurbished'. Or a variant, perhaps defects from assembly line inspections are fixed and those items are called 'refurbs' - -one cannot know without having a spy with knowledge inside Nikon.
    Businessmen being businessmen, they cannot be counted on to tell the truth (I once was a reporter, then a business reporter, then business editor and learned that almost everything I was told (often even the basics) was a lie or a misrepresentation, and my job was to find the truth -- businesspeople have a tradition of protecting their secrets and not sharing them and feel obliged to lie in many circumstances if it has a business justification. In other words, 'no, we don't do that' may not mean 'no, we don't do that' unless one inspects the books and interviews the workers who have left the company and objectively verified what one is told.
    I have a well-founded belief that Nikon (with which I have great familiarity) just keeps its assembly lines running to the bitter end, pushing out product and reducing prices by offering 'new' product by packaging and marketing those end-stage products as 'refurbished' mixing remanufactured and/or repaired product with production line overruns or picks from the regular production runs.
    There also is incentive to keep B&H, Adorama, Cameta, and other Internet retailers filled with stock they can discount as they're HUGE customers of Nikon's, so incentive is there to keep selling 'new' as refurbished with a low price, put in a plain box marked 'refurbished' non-defective items, even if not refurbished, and slap on a 90-day warranty instead of a 1-year camera warranty or a 1-year lens warranty and a four year service contract. (misnamed warranty).
    I buy refurbished and can't tell the difference, and that being so, what's the difference? A fancier box which I'll put away?
    If I intend to buy to resell the product and show the empty 'new' box photo on e-Bay, then that might make a difference, otherwise, it would seem to make little difference.
    Very occasionally I find a hidden problem, but I found then when I paid often hundreds more and bought only new I also found an occasional hidden problem.
    Regrettably, mom and pop camera stores and high end and chain stores don't generally get offered 'refurbished' lenses and cameras by Nikon, several prominent retailer owners have told me.
    The above argument and recitation is partly speculative, but it is informed speculation. It is without proof and should never be quoted as fact; because it is based on hypothesis only, but it is a hypothesis I presently believe, and I have never seen this particular allegation addressed by any camera manufacturer that offers 'refurbs'.
    I would be interested if any reader calls my attention to a formal, official response by Nikon or Canon. 0If one is made. I think the issue is going to be ignored, and it's in the manufacturers' best interest to ignor0e it.)
    Also, Nikon gives good service to refurbished goods during the repair period, PLUS a courtesy one-month (usually) gratuitous extension period. If something goes wrong with any Nikon product, I NOTIFY Nikon immediately to stop the time from running, then return in my early convenience, as I often travel and often cannot make a 90-day return period, but once notified (and acknowledged by Nikon) with excellent personal contact records kept, the warranty applies to that problem provided it's a covered repair if reported within the 90-day period (and perhaps the one-month gratuitous add-on repair extension' period which few people seem to know about . . . . and is specific to Nikon USA repairs only.
    John (Crosley)
  27. i just ordered a refurb d600 from adorama with the vip warranty. Ill let ya know what I think. Nervous a bit but its adorama
    so not too worried.

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