The Truth About Grey Imports

Grey Market Camera Imports

The truth about grey market cameras

  • Suppliers offering grey imports keep prices low by cutting corners
  • You could end up paying more in the long run, with no warranty support
  • They make it more difficult for legitimate businesses to operate
  • Calumet sells only genuine EU stock – we never deal in grey market goods

You might have noticed that some photography retailers sell products at significantly reduced prices. Often, they are able to do this because they acquire the goods through grey market trading.

‘Grey imports’ are cameras which have been imported from countries outside the EU, outside of the manufacturers’ established and authorised trading channels.

But while you might pay less to begin with, your new camera could end up costing you more in the long run, as there is no guarantee of product quality, after-sales support, warranty cover, or even receiving the product altogether.

Don’t gamble in the grey market. There are so many potential problems associated with grey camera imports that you’ll almost always be better off dealing with a legitimate supplier that sources its cameras through authorised channels.

Calumet Photographic deals only with EU stock from all the major photography manufacturers, so when you shop with us you can rest assured that you get quality stock and your consumer rights are protected.

Why you should avoid the grey market

You might end up paying more in the long run

It’s not worth taking risks when investing in high-precision photography goods. Although grey imports might appear to offer a great deal, there are likely to be ‘hidden costs’ which mean you end up paying more in the long run.

Many grey market camera suppliers don’t display VAT when selling their products, so the price you see might not be the price you pay. When you buy manufacturer-approved products, you get the full package. A real Canon camera might come in a bundle including a charger, lens, software and all informational materials. Canon grey imports, on the other hand, often include the camera only – the customer is expected to pay for these essentials as ‘optional extras’. Some retailers even go as far as calling the instruction booklet an ‘extra’. If the product you’re buying is coming to you from outside the UK, you may well have to pay import duties and VAT – which essentially means covering costs that a legitimate importer would have paid already. Buying from the grey market could even have legal implications for you, as you may have to pay fines or even face prosecution if the goods haven’t been properly declared. Grey market cameras are almost always ineligible for UK-specific promotions, such as cashback.

There are no guarantees of quality

You can find all the best manufacturers on the grey market. But buying Fujifilm, Canon or Nikon grey market imports means you can’t rely on the quality that usually comes with these trusted brands.

Unauthorised imports are often removed from their original packaging as they change hands. Leaving precision electronics equipment in damp or unsanitary conditions can significantly affect their performance. If the equipment malfunctions, it’s unlikely you’ll get a replacement because it hasn’t been through manufacturer-approved storage and import procedures. Products designed for an international market may not have been approved for UK safety standards. If your equipment goes missing in the post, and you’ve taken out, it’s still typically your responsibility to track down or replace the package. If you haven’t paid for insurance, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to trace the lost package, unfortunately.

You’re unlikely to be covered by warranty or after-sales support

At Calumet Photographic, we pride ourselves on providing great customer care from the moment you visit our website, pick up the phone or walk into one of our stores. Retailers dealing in grey camera imports, on the other hand, are unlikely to offer satisfactory standards of customer care.

Grey market camera retailers cut corners by forgoing most of the practices that ensure a great customer experience. They don’t have showrooms where you can check out the product before you commit to purchasing – and they have no helplines or expert staff who can help you choose the right product or provide after-sales support. Authorised camera dealers like Calumet are able to offer extended UK warranties on the products they sell. This is because the regulated infrastructure we work in means we can guarantee quality standards have been upheld. Buying grey market products means you won’t benefit from the security offered by these extended warranties. In fact, you may not be covered by manufacturers’ warranties at all. Often, brands will refuse to carry out chargeable repairs on products that have come from the grey market. Yet again, this results in extra unwanted costs for the end user.

Miss out on warranty repairs when you buy photographic equipment on the grey market

They make life difficult for all of us

Grey market lenses and cameras can cause all manner of problems for photographers who innocently believe they’re getting a good deal. But unauthorised imports have knock-on effects for retailers like Calumet too, making it more difficult for us to continue offering competitive prices and industry-leading expertise.

The easiest way to avoid these problems is to avoid grey market electronics altogether. Remember, with Calumet Photographic, you only get EU stock through manufacturer-approved channels.

It’s the safest option, and often the cheaper option in the long run.