Photo – Grey Matters

LakeArt35Flipped_D850252

I thought I would share my experience in a grey market purchase of a D810.  The deal was too good to be true, but eBay feedback on this mass seller was 99.6 at the time of purchase and current ratings were good, plus, they had already sold 258 at the time I finally broke down and decided to give it a whirl.

This D810 was straight up advertised as a Direct Import so there was no deception in the advertising.  It was advertised new factory fresh.

I ordered at about 7:00AM and got a response back at about noon asking if I wanted to add a 3 year extended warranty.  I replied back asking who the warranty was by and if they offered Mack warranties.  I also asked for the country of origin to understand where the camera was being imported from.

Before I continue, let’s talk about warranties a bit.

The sellers typically offer 1 year of warranty with your purchase like mine did.  Beyond that your recourse for repair assuming the vendor takes care of you in year 1 are much more limited.

First, Nikon USA will not service a gray camera anymore.  Your camera will be refused if you send it in for a repair, even if you want to pay for that repair, they will not work on it.

You can buy an extended warranty from the seller, however, unless they are someone like B&H you really cannot be sure they will even be around to honor a warranty up the road.

Square Trade will not warranty a gray camera.  I called and asked and the answer was simply no.

So I called Mack.  Their answer was yes, but… because Nikon won’t provide parts for a gray camera to them to service cameras, repairs could take excessive amounts of time.  At least they were upfront and honest about that!  They will fix it or provide a settlement though so if you have backup cameras like me and want to risk it, their warranties are actually very affordable.

I decided to call them back again and ask a few more qualifying questions.  They state you must buy their warranty with at least 90 days left on the manufacturer warranty.  Well, that presents a problem you see, because a Gray camera may not have a manufacturer’s warranty.  The kind service rep at Mack told me on Grays you have 30 days from PURCHASE to buy your Mack warranty.

The second questions is with regards to the warranty one would purchase.  Is it based on the retail price, or the value, or the price you paid for the camera? The answer here is on price paid.

The last thing I did was see what the cost of the Warranty would be through Mack as I felt like I would be sure to get the correct warranty and also know it was real and certified.

Here was the quote I was given:

1313 – 3 Year Accidental – $205.49
1613 – 5 Year Accidental – $410.99
1015 – 3 Year Standard – $99.90
1018 – 5 Year Standard – $149.90

I decided to go with Mack in the end as I have used them once before long ago on a Fuji S2 and had a positive experience.

So with all this in mind, and not having received a response back from GetItDigital to the questions I asked on who their warranty provider was,  I replied back again telling them that I did not want their warranty.

A few days passed and I saw they had not shipped yet so I asked for a tracking number.  I did receive a number back, however, it was a few more days before they actually tendered the package to Fedex.

I had asked if I could get them to hold it at Fedex for me, and they said they would notify Fedex, however, they never did.  Knowing roughly Fedex’s delivery timing for my area I worked remotely for the afternoon at home so I could receive the package.

Here are pictures of the package and unboxing:

  1. Package

Box

 

  1. Inner Package

packing

  1. Open Box

D810Box Manuals

 

  1. Camera

CameraPacking camera

  1. Accessories Included

Accesories

I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well the camera was packed, well-padded and an original Nikon D810 box.

Included were a manual, a disk, Strap, Battery, Charger, Charging Cord US, and USB Cable.

 

Testing out the goods!

Insert Charged battery, set for Jpeg, Click check EXIF in Photoshop, Shutter count equal 1.  Check!

Reinsert SD Card, configure menus, take series of test shots with 105 VR.  Check!

Check Flash.  Check!

Go outside and find some herons, snap some long shots.  Ehhh… not so good with the Tamron 150-600, even off a tripod.

Attached Tamron 70-200 and take sharpness test shots.  Check!

Shoot some lake scenes with the Art 35, decent for being handheld.  Check!

Tripod shots for super sharpness.  Check!


LakeOlathe_D850297

OlatheLake_D850260-Pano

The verdict!

The quick tests reveal I have a legit D810.  Nikon USA lets me register serial number.  Why not try right?

Purchase of extended Warranty from Mack – Go with #1018 5 year standard fro $149.

Total cost of D810 with 5 year Mack Warranty is $2248.  Check!

Get digital doesn’t really communicate well, although they did follow-up after my package was marked received.  So for about a $900 discount I feel the experience is pretty good.

I don’t think many people know what to expect when buying gray from a deep discounter.  You trade speed of receipt and communications for a deeply discounted camera that you will even with warranty still have trouble getting fixed.

Other Notes

The camera had a much stronger factory fresh oder than the US versions.

There were two odd pieces of plastic included with the accessories – Junk?

The camera was certainly well packed and was not a disassembled kit.

Would I do it again?

Yes

UPDATE 7/30/2015

Regarding service, this actually isn’t as bad as people make it out to be after looking into it more as a follow-up.  There are a few reasonable options for US buyers of Nikon Gray Cameras.

APS will accept and repair Gray Nikons and will get you parts.  They do not work with 3rd Party Warranty providers like Mack though, so you just pay the cost of shipping and repairs.  Insurance will be your biggest factor in the shipping fees.  I had APS service a camera a long time ago and it worked out fine.

While you can ship your camera to Nikon Japan directly, you may be better off shipping it to Nikon UK, who will again repair your gray camera for the cost of parts and shipping.  Bad news is it will cost you $150 Shipping each way.  I suspect your out $300 just for shipping regardless of whether you use UPS, Fedex or the US Post Service if you include insurance and signature required.

So the real question becomes one of whether to buy an extended warranty or not.  Honestly, it sounds like to me that you are better off speed wise to just send it directly to one of the solutions referenced above.

I did call Nikon with my serial number and they did confirm it was not a Nikon US import and that they in fact would not service it under any circumstances unless I had the original bill of sale from the retailer.

I also called GetItDigital to see how they would answer the question of country of origin and for a copy of the bill, as you can imagine I didn’t get any answers there other than most were purchased in the EU.

Both Nikon India and Nikon UK appear to let me check serial numbers for issues.

 

Some more photos from the Grey D810!

 

DF_D811114 Rearviewlines_D851082 MorningDrive_D851069

 

This entry was posted in Talking Photography.