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here’s what B&H has to say about “grey market”:
(just a note, i have bought a few things Grey market and they’re fine, but i wouldn’t trust buying something important like a camera that way)
About USA and GREY MARKET (DIRECT IMPORT)
What are the differences as far as a customer is concerned?
Primarily, how much the item costs, and where you’d send it for warranty service. Generally, “direct import” items cost less than their “USA” counterparts.
A “USA” warrantied item is a manufacture’s warranty that would be repaired by any manufacturer’s authorized service facility worldwide if the item required in-warranty service. A “direct import” item would have to be returned to B&H Photo-Video Corp. in New York City if it required in-warranty attention. A resident of the USA may wish to make the buying decision based on price, since the cost of shipping to an American service center or to us should be about equal. A non-USA resident may want to consider the cost of returning the “direct import” item to us for warranty service, compared to the expense of buying the “USA warrantied” item and having warranty service available locally.
Simply put, “grey market” means that the item is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, because the manufacturer’s licensed or authorized agent or representative did not import that item into the USA and did not sell it to the retailer to sell it to you.
What kind of warranty is available?
Any “grey market” item B&H Photo-Video sells includes a B&H warranty which covers the same particulars the USA warranty would cover for a period of one year. The only difference is that you would ship the item to B&H for warranty service. All you need is your B&H Photo-Video invoice instead of a warranty certificate.
Why offer “Direct Import”?
To give you the option of buying what you want, based on your priorities and budget. Often a “direct import” item is less expensive; sometimes there may be subtle feature or cosmetic differences (examples of which are below). Occasionally, as with some unusual or discontinued items, it is the only way to obtain the item for stock.
So, how did it get into the USA for B&H to sell to you?
Quite simply, B&H bought it from another source, and either they imported it for us, or we arranged to import it directly into the USA. In most cases, there is no difference between the “directly imported” item and its USA counterpart. They have the same specifications, same number of elements in the same number of groups. They were manufactured side-by-side on the same assembly line, by the same workers, to the same tolerances, using the same raw materials. They look, feel and perform the same because they are the same.
Are there ever differences?
Sometimes – and when there are we’ll say so. For many Nikon, Canon, or Minolta cameras, there are name differences. The Nikon N90s in the USA is marketed as the F90x in Europe and Asia; Minolta’s Maxxum line in the USA is their Dynax line overseas; and Canon’s EOS Elan IIE in the USA is their EOS 50E elsewhere. Occasionally, there are more substantial differences.
What happens after the warranty expires?
Any customer, no matter where he or she lives, would take an item requiring service to any repair shop that is convenient, and pay for the repair.
What about film?
In general, the same applies as far as price and availability goes. Of course, there’s no repair issue for film, but we recognize that there is an important issue regarding the handling and storage of the film during transit.
We advertise Kodak film in three types:
* IMPORTED – Film made outside the USA and imported for us. This may also be referred to as “GREY”.
* USAW – Film manufactured in the USA for Worldwide distribution.
* USA – Film manufactured in the USA or overseas and imported for domestic distribution.
Agfa, Fuji, and Ilford film are made outside the USA. While we offer many of these in “grey (direct import) and “USA” the primary difference is not where the film came from, but who brought the film into this country.
B&H Photo recognizes that for many professionals, the method of handling the film and its storage conditions during transport are factors of vital importance. Optimum performance is essential for any professional, whether shooting food, fashion or portraits. We know that you need contrast, tonal range, color rendition and saturation to be accurate, reliable and repeatable. We are also aware of the fact that many of our amateur customers devote the same care and consideration to their photography and deserve the same quality.
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