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Buying cameras online...is it worth it?
cereal_port 
5/8/08 2:57:35 AM
Journeyman
Greetings all,
Just a couple of questions...
When buying cameras and associated bits and pieces online from somewhere overseas, what's the deal with customs and duty etc? I've never paid anywhere near $1000 for anything online as yet, but I know anything over $1000 can theoretically attract import duty, and make things just that bit more expensive.

Forgive my ignorance, but should I expect a surprisingly large bill from customs along with my new camera?

So, anyone had experiences with this? should I pay more and buy locally (online or at a shop), knowing that I'll have a decent warranty and suchlike, or should I feel fairly confident that an o/s purchase will be cheaper, and most likely ok, but could quite possibly end in disaster one way or another?

I'm planning on buying a D80, or possibly a 450D once I've finally decided between them, I've spent time using a D200, and a 400D, but honestly, can't yet decide between Nikon or Canon. They are both vastly superior to what I've had before. No doubt I'll decide sooner or later, toss a coin perhaps...

Any advice gratefully received...

Thanks!

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Cereal_Port

"He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots."

dBUG 
5/8/08 3:43:27 AM
Champion

Cereal,

I have seen a few friends bought cameras or lenses value at $1000+ online. and iirc, the seller marked down the price to avoid import duty.

i hope others who have first hand experience in this could confirm.

i have used Nikon D50, which was a great camera, but i replaced it with Canon 30D, because most of my friends use Canon, so i can borrow or buy their old lenses if they're upgrading.

Cheers =)


Edited by dBUG: 5/8/2008 03:44:08 AM

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Athiril 
5/8/08 7:45:19 AM
Titan

depends on what you want, tried keh.com?

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stadl 
5/8/08 8:26:05 AM
SuperHero
Titan


Personally I've found there is a lot less variation on camera bodies than lenses between local and OS pricing. Typically camera bodies are only about 10% cheaper OS than locally by the time you factor in exchange rates, shipping etc, not enough to make up for loss of warranty and local service.

I'll list the shopping options and their pros and cons as I see them., it's your call if you agree with me.

1. local bricks and mortar - typically the most expensive, but you can try before you buy and get the advice. suport wise, if they seem to be helpful, this is good when you are starting out because if you get a problem and you're not sure if it's you or the equipment they can usually helpyou find out - try swapping lenses etc to see if the problem goes away etc. If you don't have this support you' have to know enough and have the gear/skills to fault find yourself before sending the body/lens back for repair. While the most expensive, local stores are typically your best option for packaging a bag, cards and other goodies to make the higher price a little bit cheaper. Warranty should allow you to take it back to the place of purchase, or an authorized australian repairer.

2. Local mailorder (australian product) - If you local area doesn't have a lot of competition, then local mailorder can get you the better prices with an Australian warranty, hopefully someone you can call during business hours if there's a problem, but the service is geared around people who know what they want and pick it off a website. Warranty should be honoured at any local authroized repairer.

3. Local mailorder from a grey importer - There are australian companies that specialised in grey/parallel importing so you get the cheaper prices of by passing the australian distributor's markup, but they still handle the customs importing and GST issues. any local warranty won't be through the local repairer, you'll probably have to send it back to the grey importer (at least only local shipping) who may have to send it back to hong kong or elsewhere for service. The prices are typically the cheapest you can find buying from a local company.

4. Mailorder from a big company over seas. There are plenty of big international online camera stores that sell huge ranges of equipment and because of their large volume they do good prices. They may be either "US" or "US Grey" (grey for people buying in the US) The difference for someone re-importing is probably not an issue. The prices form these places can be good, warranty is a problem though because the australian repairers probably won't touch it, and you'll have to ship it back to the country you bought it from, and possibly pay return shipping as well because their warranty is typically domestic.

5. ebay - cheap prices variable service and results. Often a good way to get cheap parts direct from distributors in hong kong, malaysia etc. Your call.

Personally for bodies/kits, I'd go with option 1 for the local service even more so for a beginner until you know what you're doing. The price diference on bodies is not that great, and the package deal if you're planning on throwing a bag./filters/memory cards into the mix can be reasonable.

For lenses and other accessories, I've bought from all of the options above. It depends on a risk profile I decide for each purchase depending on the cost and chance of failure, or a subjective DOA issue (like a poor copy of a lens I'd expect to exchange).

Some sites to consider:
local sellers: http://camerastore.com.au http://cameras.net.au
local grey importer: http://d-d-photographics.com.au
OS mailorder: http://www.adorama.com http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

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Mademan 
5/8/08 11:07:32 AM
Disciple
I've saved about $1000 total by not buying my lenses in Australia. Camera bodies are often cheaper too, though not necessarily the cheap bottom of the range models. You will attract the attention of customs if you purchase items that total to $1000 or more, including their shipping ('goods AND SERVICES tax'). This is still the case if you purchase the items seperately to lower their respective costs, but have them arrive 'within a short period of time' to you. That said, the lump sum %10 GST and Customs clearence charges can still amount to a cheaper item.

A good place to start is BH Photo Video or Adorama (links in the above post), or http://www.photobuff.com.au (local grey importer)

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cereal_port 
6/8/08 1:56:19 PM
Charge
Most excellent indeed,
Thanks for the vast amounts of info and opinions from you all, it's given me something to think about.

I am again thinking that Stadl's first option is probably the way to go. It was my initial thought, but then got unreasonably greedy and thought I could get a bargain.

No doubt when I make my mind up, you'll be the first to know, more or less...

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Cereal_Port

"He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots."

ne()phyte 
6/8/08 3:42:34 PM
Titan

Quote by cereal_port
Greetings all,
Just a couple of questions...
When buying cameras and associated bits and pieces online from somewhere overseas, what's the deal with customs and duty etc? I've never paid anywhere near $1000 for anything online as yet, but I know anything over $1000 can theoretically attract import duty, and make things just that bit more expensive.



You pay duty/GST/whatever the hell it is on any shipment arriving in Australia with a value of more than $900. If you purchased something that costs $300 and something that costs $780, the total of $1080 may have a duty charge thrown on it when it arrives in Australia.

See this link first:
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=4264
then:
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=4728



Forgive my ignorance, but should I expect a surprisingly large bill from customs along with my new camera?



As above, it depends on the value of the goods.


So, anyone had experiences with this? should I pay more and buy locally (online or at a shop), knowing that I'll have a decent warranty and suchlike, or should I feel fairly confident that an o/s purchase will be cheaper, and most likely ok, but could quite possibly end in disaster one way or another?



I've purchased a number of items from the US and Hong Kong, all sub $900 in value. No charges applied yet.


I'm planning on buying a D80, or possibly a 450D once I've finally decided between them, I've spent time using a D200, and a 400D, but honestly, can't yet decide between Nikon or Canon. They are both vastly superior to what I've had before. No doubt I'll decide sooner or later, toss a coin perhaps...

Any advice gratefully received...

Thanks!



There are the obvious financial benefits of buying overseas, especially while the US dollar has been performing badly (I recently purchased a second hand lens that was a total of $407US including international shipping, the cost in AU was $417).

The downside of this is that if you buy a grey import item (something that wasn't imported to Australia through the official wholesale channels), then warranty may be an issue. Canon seem to honour warranty on grey imports, but there are varying reports as to whether they actually do in practice. Various other manufacturers flat out refuse to honour warranty, meaning you will need to send it back to the country of origin for warranty work (which can be very expensive!).

For the most part, I've purchased brand new lenses and camera bodies in Australia through retail because I like the advantage of a pain and hassle free warranty system, just give it to the store and let them sort it out (which I've had to do twice).

There is never any harm in asking if you could get a discount on the items you want to purchase in Australia - I saved over $400 on a 70-200 f2.8L IS lens by doing so, and nearly $800 off retail price.

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stadl 
6/8/08 5:52:21 PM
SuperHero
Titan


Haggling is definitely on.

I had one salesman in a store tell me a couple of years ago "these days you can't expect to get a discount off shelf price on gear, there isn't the room to move". I shrugged and walked out because he was $100 more expensive (on a $700 lens) than the shelf price of the other store a block away, and they were able to discount even further.

Not surprisingly the store with that policy went out of business about 12 months ago.

I tend not to shop around in stores much more. Check web prices for a rough idea of local vs grey vs import, and the risk profile. If i want local, I go to the same shop I've bought most of my gear, they seem to give good service and prices, and hold good stock, and I'm not going to spend hours schlepping across town to save $50 bucks.

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...so brilliant in fact, that by simply harnessing the power of one live frog, it.. it.. uhh.<poke> <poke>
World domination has encountered a momentary setback. Talk amongst yourselves.

Waffles, Lots of Waffles... And Chips...

fliptopia 
17/8/08 2:07:29 AM
Hero
Guru


I usually shop around on the web, go into a store and tell them the price I'm prepared to pay and then see how close they get. Depends on the saving as to if I buy online or not. I bought my body local and my lenses and flash (should be on it's way now :D ) online.

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