The temptation of Grey Imports

rhody 17 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 4:14PM
I'm looking at changing camera brands. I've been with Canon since 1985 and still have a 5D / 7D along with an Olympus E1 and various lenses.

I still use both systems to suit the circumstances but I am deeply tempted to go over to Sony now.

I've priced up the body and lenses I want to migrate to one system and the prices are as follows.

Wex - 8,800
Grey Importer 1 - 7,325
Grey Importer 2 - 6,930

My Canon and Oly gear is all in good condition so MPB will be hearing from me shortly to make the cost to change much more acceptable.
I've never bought a grey import before but those I have spoken to with Sony cameras via the grey channel cannot speak highly enough of the service they have received.
There is just this nagging little voice in my head about the dangers of grey imports, product registration and warranty work if it is ever required.
In my heart I'd like to use Wex (as I have frequently done, over many years, in the past) but that price difference, for exactly the same kit is eye watering.
Didn't they use to burn people for having voices in their head?

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pink Plus
16 6.1k 7 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:15PM
Would not WEX or A N Other offer you a discount on the whole kit? this could help.
I have bought the odd lens from a hong kong dealer and had no problems, but with this cash layout I would be dubious, lenses tend not to be so problematic from a warranty issue as do camera bodies. Why not buy the body and one lens from a UK dealer and buy others from a grey importer? just a thought and maybe worth splitting the risk.
Also, there is a (supposedly) UK dealer on-line called they are cheap but some of the reviews are not very favourable.
Tough decision, one I might make in small steps.
Tianshi_angie 4 2.6k England
21 May 2018 5:18PM
I bought my Sony DSLR back in 2011 as a grey import. It has never given me any problems at all and I would go the same route again. There are no guarantees. I have come across folk who have bought cameras from reputable dealers in the UK and have had no end of problems, having to send cameras and/or lenses back several times and still not being 100% happy, so it could just be luck - there will always be, I think, a rogue camera (or anything else) in the stream of goods - the one that was at the end of the line on a Friday afternoon!
jembo 15 139 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:21PM
How often have you had to use the warranty service on your existing kit?
Euan65 Plus
2 316 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:27PM
They burn people who stop using Canon cameras - and quite rightly too, this is heresy of the highest order.

More practically, I believe the thing to check for a grey import is warranty. Possibly also software - I know for my Canon 6D I have to enter serial number of the camera to download some of the software and it is of course split by region, so I think it is possible you might end up with proprietary software in a language you can't read and unable to download stuff you can use. Then again, if you don't need to use the manufacturer's software that's not a problem.

You can save much more by using film. As well as my Canons, I have a Cosina C1 manual SLR, they go for 15 on eBay and if they break (actually pretty unlikely) you just buy another one.
User_Removed 8 240 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:40PM
I have had a very mixed experience with grey imports.

What I have found on the whole is that it is 'safer' to buy a camera than a lens. Possibly because the cameras' performance is a specified list of facts and it often soon becomes and indisputable fact if something works or not.

Lenses on the other hand can meet the not working or working criteria but there are other factors which are hard to prove and to get grey importers (in some cases) to support. I had a grey Nikon 80-400mm (new model not cheaper old) at around 2000 but 1500 grey that was just not sharp! Despite being sent away to be fixed (took a long time) I still could see no improvement. Subsequent mtf tests indicated that it was poor but test review words 'bigged' it up! So I never knew whether it was a bad copy or not?

Pre Christmas I bought a Tamron G2 24-70mm grey buy after a single trip I could not detect a sharp image from it? This has rave reviews. The ebay seller (in Ireland) instantly accepted a return and gave me a full refund (Kachashop) so credit to them. After this I found many forums having the same issue but also others stating it was the sharpest ever!?

I do wonder whether production lines split some product into A, B and C groups with the C group leaking onto the grey market? Paranoid? Probably. My other suspicion is that grey lenses are refurbed returns often with token fixing? I should be clear that all grey lenses I have bought (maybe 8?) have looked brand new but had guarantees removed. Boxes were good apart from HDEW who appear to deal in 'hurled across the warehouse' boxes (always seem to have crushed corners or box damage).

I have however bought a second Nikon 200-500mm VR for my wife from WEX (not grey) and that was very poor and WEX were a nightmare to return it to and even claimed my wife had sent back a lens (transported by their own courier) with a smashed tripod foot? It was sorted out eventually by only after it was nearly at the legal stage.

On the other hand I bought a Nikon D850 (not grey) from London Camera Exchange on first day of release and this failed 3 weeks later with a segment of the ISO display failing. I took it back and they took another brand new one right off the shelf and gave it to me. This was first class service and as such I have returned again to then. They are professional.

I would like to see all products sealed by manufacturer
Chris_L 5 5.3k United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:51PM
I got my Sony A7R II from WEX. It developed a fault where it would crash immediately when recording 4k video.

It was just over a year old and I rang WEX who arranged pick up, waiving the pick up charge which apparently they could have levied when older than a year, Sony fixed it FOC and there was an apology, a report and a satisfaction thing to fill in.

I was without the camera for about a fortnight

For such an expensive camera you would expect nothing less.

If it had been a grey import i doubt it would have been anywhere as straight-forward.
Euan65 Plus
2 316 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 5:54PM
I've never bought a grey import anything. I think I'd have to say that although modern cameras and lenses are ruinously expensive, if you're going to buy something of that value you really ought to consider doing it the "proper" way if only for peace of mind and knowing you've got some comeback if there's a problem. Whilst the probability of a warranty claim with modern big-name equipment is fairly low, if you end up in the situation where you need the work done and can't call on a warranty it could end up costing you more than you've saved.

You pays your money and you takes your choice, I suppose.
rhody 17 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 6:58PM
Very many thanks to everyone who has commented. I really appreciate thinking about "both sides of the coin".

Pink - making the change in small steps is a good idea thank you, as is talking to wex about the whole order discount. You are on commission if Wex do a deal!!
Tianshi - the Friday afternoon body or lens does set me thinking - thank you
jembo - you are right. I've never had a warranty issue on any of my camera gear - thank you
Euan - Lol! Oh I still use my film cameras too. I will be sad to see my Canon T90 & Blad go. A joy to use. Sony don't have anything to compare with my Canon 200mm L 1:1.8 - my "Eye of Sauron" which sucks in light and has bokeh to die for. Thank you
User_Removed - I bought all my Oly gear from LCE. They are good. Thanks
Chris L - My fear in a nutshell. Thank you
Euan - Thank you. It's not clear cut but I do value everyone's opinion.
EddieAC 14 2.5k 2 United Kingdom
21 May 2018 7:52PM
I've bought from MPB before and would recommend them......

.....however they will not offer you what your current gear is actually worth as they will need to sell it on and make a profit themselves.

If there is no rush then I would advise trying to sell it privately yourself and you can now advertise your gear on this site in a forum section. You can also upload photos to show the condition the items are in. You can search MPB and other sites that are selling the gear you have in a similar condition to get an idea as to what price you need to set.

You can always go the MPB route at a later date when you can't put off the Sony switch any longer. Smile
Dave_Canon 13 1.6k United Kingdom
21 May 2018 8:43PM
At the NEC last year, I updated my Canon EOS 5D Mk ii to a Mark IV. At the same time I upgraded my 24-105mm lens from Mki to Mkii. I received a very good discount at the NEC from Calumet/WEX and they paid 5oo for my old kit. I would not consider a grey import.

cuffit Plus
12 342 5 England
21 May 2018 9:23PM
I have to say I wouldn't buy something from beyond the EU as getting things fixed would be too difficult. Have you looked at HDEW Cameras, I have bought from them for many years without an issue; they are a UK on-line business and I think you will find the prices favourable. I have bought from WEX as well although, over the years, I have found they have become less competitive - perhaps as margins have come thinner and with overheads of shop and staff and the like; however, I have found their customer service good. HDEW for me though. Hope this helps. Chris
justin c 15 5.0k 36 England
21 May 2018 10:26PM
A lot of people always use to mention and recommend someone called Kerso for cheaper camera and lens prices. Not seen his name mentioned on the forum for some time. Has he ceased trading?
Carabosse 16 41.3k 270 England
22 May 2018 1:32AM

Quote:A lot of people always use to mention and recommend someone called Kerso for cheaper camera and lens prices. Not seen his name mentioned on the forum for some time. Has he ceased trading?

No, he's still around.

rhody 17 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
22 May 2018 2:14AM
Eddie - I'm struggling to keep Sony out of my camera bag. Thank you
Dave - Thank you so much. Great idea if I can wait that long
Cuffit - I will try HDEW tomorrow - thank you
Justin - I thought Ian Kerso was no longer trading - thank you for reminding me
Carabosse - Thank you very much for the Kerso link

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