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Mission Impossible: How To Service Or Repair A Grey Market Nikon D750

By Matthew Saville on March 8th 2016

Bad news: if you own a Grey Market Nikon D750 like I do, you may want to sit down before reading any further. Or maybe this is not a surprise to you at all, but just the same, you may want to double-check and make sure your D750 is on your photo gear insurance policy!

09 Grey-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-RepairNikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR, Slik 700DX Tripod, RRS BH-30
1/80 sec @ f/14 & ISO 100, single exposure, Adobe Lightroom CC


04 Gray-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-RepairCamera down! Medic! Mono Lake is a very, VERY windy place, folks.

First, I do need to give credit where it is due: the Nikon D750 is a hearty little champ that refuses to die! Mine is still going strong, despite numerous impacts, all kinds of severe weather, and over a quarter-million shutter clicks of near-daily professional duty. If this isn’t a poster child for “takes a licking and keeps on clicking”, I don’t know what is.

[REWIND: THE NIKON D750 – IS IT THE BEST WEDDING DSLR EVER?]

03 Grey-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-RepairBattle Scars – Mono Lake, CA (The camera survived!)

Trying To Service A Grey Market Nikon D750

Still, as a responsible professional, I decided it was time to see where I could get my D750 serviced, just to make sure everything was working properly. (Despite still focusing, metering, and exposing perfectly, I suspect the frame of the camera itself may be “tweaked”, because my fast-aperture, near-infinity images have a faint tilt-shift effect. Not something the average landscape or portrait shooter would care about, but a real show-stopper for an astro-landscape photographer!)

01 Grey-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-RepairNikon D750, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, Slik 700DX Tripod, RRS BH-30
Four 8-minute exposures, Processed in LR CC and stacked in PS CC

Here’s the deal with “Grey Market” if you’re a Nikon shooter; Unlike Canon, who will service a grey product if you are willing to pay them, Nikon USA will refuse to even touch a grey item, even if you wave cash in your hands and beg them to take it from you.

However, here’s what isn’t talked about very much: “Nikon USA” has just two (?) official service centers; one (near me) in Los Angeles, and one on the East Coast. There are third-party repair shops all around the country. In fact, there’s more than one within driving distance of where I live!

So, I thought, no problem. I’ll just go get my D750 serviced at one of the third-party repair shops. I’ve taken my other cameras there, and even serious body work is only $300. I saved much more than that when I bought a grey market D750, so I’m happy to pay for a repair! Besides, in my case, most of the damage that happens is the type that clearly doesn’t fall under warranty (as you can see). So why pay extra for something I never get to use?

05 Grey-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-Repair

Mixed Replies From Authorized Third-Party Nikon Repair Centers

Here’s where my assumptions caught up with me; I walked into one of the local third-party repair shops, and was promptly told they couldn’t help me. Why not, I asked? Not because it’s grey, but because their technicians aren’t yet trained on the D750, so all of their D750 repairs just get shipped to Nikon factory service anyways. (At this time, the D750 has been around for almost 1.5 years.) So, I’m out of luck.

This seemed odd to me. I did as much online searching as I could. Surely in some dark corner of the internet, I would find a collection of complaints about third-party Nikon service technicians or getting the D750 in particular, serviced. After all, it practically set a world record for shortest time between being announced and hitting eBay in grey market form.

Not one single forum post did I find. Not one single tweet about specific restrictions on third-party Nikon service centers, or technician training, etc. So, I started calling every other third-party repair shop I could find, anywhere in the country. The responses were such a bizarre mixed bag; I’ll just bullet them here:

  • The first third-party service center: Can’t fix a D750, period, because they’re not trained. And when I asked if they had any idea when D750 training might happen or if they had ever serviced other grey market Nikon items, things got awkward, and I received no solid answer.
  • The next local shop I called said there was no such thing as “official training for specific cameras” and they could fix anything! Grey market or not, bring it on down! Hmm. Then I asked if their technicians were officially trained by Nikon at all or if they were an authorized repair facility, but they too started sounding shady and ambiguous.

(Yes, there is such a thing as an authorized third-party repair center. Unfortunately, Nikon has changed their online repair interface, and I can’t find the same list that I used to have bookmarked).

  • The third shop I contacted, an official authorized third-party service center, told me they simply don’t accept grey market cameras. When pressed as to why (is it just a business decision or is it that they’d get in trouble with Nikon USA?), I got my third non-answer! Instead, I got something along the lines of “some customers send us grey market cameras, but we just send them back un-repaired. You’re welcome to send us your grey camera and see what happens, though.”
  • The fourth place (that actually responded) FINALLY gave a relatively straight and hopeful answer: they were indeed an official, authorized Nikon service center, and they could, in fact, service my grey D750, just so long as long as it didn’t need to be sent to the factory. Hmm… I’ll think about it.

06 Gray-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-Repair

08 Gray-Market-Nikon-D750-Service-RepairNikon D750, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, Slik 700DX tripod, RRS BH-30
Single exposure, Lightroom CC processing

Grey Market Cannot Be Serviced In the USA, Period?

Clearly the restrictions for grey market Nikon service go beyond Nikon USA’s select few official locations, and (almost) none of the third-party repair centers want to even talk about it. But why? If Nikon USA has forbidden everyone from servicing a grey market Nikon in the US, why not just say that?

More importantly, what should I do? I could try my luck with an unauthorized camera shop, or I could ship my camera off to a lone shop that sounded promising and honest. But first, I needed to either confirm my suspicions or lay them to rest, so I contacted the wisest Nikon guru I know, Thom Hogan, after reading his article on grey market Nikon products here.

Basically, that’s exactly it; When Nikon says “no warranty, no service” on grey market products, they mean it! I don’t even know if I should share the names of which repair shops gave me which responses, lest some sort of “Nikon service police” show up at their doors. (Neither am I into shaming, unless I’m 100% certain that something is a specific person’s fault). A few phone calls or emails can give you the same results, though.

Suffice it to say, I’m rather disappointed that Nikon’s policy towards grey market gear is so much more aggressive than I had assumed, and I’m also disappointed that even after years of this, there’s still so little chatter on the internet about the details of third-party grey market service.

So even though I clearly have only myself to blame for not fully investigating the matter before trying to save a few hundred bucks, I thought I would share my experience and hopefully help increase the amount of information that is out there on this subject. The moral of the story? Think twice before buying grey market. Or, if you heavily abuse your gear like I do, at least, get it well-insured!

Take care, (of your cameras!)
=Matt=

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

51 Comments

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  1. Glenn Guzman

    A very informative article, Mathew! I’m planning to get my first full-frame DSLR (Nikon D750) so I’m checking the prices at authrizred dealers and grey market. I do have a question, I noticed that your D750 has a different eyepiece. Could you please tell me what brand it is? Do you recommend that eyepiece? Thanks! 

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Glenn! I have used two different Eyepieces over the years with my D750, both of them made by Hoodman. That’s the best brand that uses better quality plastic than the cheap eBay knock-off stuff. Of course if you’re constantly removing the eyepiece for compactness, it’ll always break no matter what brand.

      Anyways, Hoodman makes two kinds, one that is smaller for “normal” use, and one that is HUGE for eyeglasses. Personally, I actually prefer the eyeglass version even though I don’t use glasses; it is just so good at blacking out all other light.

      Either way, you’re going to spend $20. Don’t be fooled by the $10 one, it is JUST the rubber, and not the plastic mount.

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    • Glenn Guzman

      Hey, Mathew! Thanks for the advice.  Will definitely check out Hoodman. 
      On that note, I usually use Live View when I take landscape photos.  How much of the LCD is actually obstructed by the eyepiece? Can the eyepiece be turned in such a way that the obstruction to the LCD is minimized? 

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  2. Jeremy Hobbs

    thanks for writing the article Matt! I learned a lot. Im looking to buy a D750. I was looking into buying a grey market. I was wondering if you knew if there are any US companies that will sell a warranty for a new grey market D750 . I know MACK sells warranties for the d750 but does it work with a grey market?

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  3. Joan Green

    This is where I had my grey market D7000 fixed (twice). Once for shutter issues after being cleaned and the second time when I dropped it!

    Nikon Authorized Service
    Authorized Photo Service, Inc.
    8125 River Drive, Suite 100
    Morton Grove, IL 60053 USA
    [email protected]
    Phone: 800-406-2046 Fax: Please Call
    APS is a Nikon USA Authorized Repair Station

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    • David Vita

      Sorry, man. That is not true. I just called them, they will not take any grey market camera. 

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  4. Shahid Khan

    Hi Mathew, just off the topic, I noticed that you are using an eye piece on your D750, could you please tell me which eye piece are you using as I am also looking for one to buy.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yes, Shahid, it is the Hoodman eyecup I believe. I’ve been using Hoodmans for years on all my camera bodies, I can’t shoot without them! I actually miss my ginormous one that was supposed to work with glasses on; I’ve been meaning to buy another one of those and cut it to fit the standard adapter…

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  5. Mike Poole

    I have a Grey D810 and dropped it and had it fixed by Southern Photo Technical Service and they were great!!!! Camera works flawlessly.

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  6. Kim Bentsen

    This might be a USA issue only. I once got at Nikon Coolpix 5000 (15-year-old semi-pro model) bought in Australia repaired by Nikon in Denmark with a new circuit board without any problems.

    Can’t you get it repaired through the dealer you bought it from? B&H will organize repair for gray items they sell.

    Otherwise, it’s a write-off, and time for a social experiment. Leave it on a bench in the city and let some thief be excited about his sudden luck, only to be completely disappointed. Make a YouTube video from a distance. At least this way, you will get the last laugh!

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Kim, fortunately this particular D750 of mine does still work, mostly, and I plan on keeping it until it stops working. Even then I might be able to get it repaired for less than the price of buying a new Grey one, let alone a new USA one.

      But, to respond to your initial remark, yes I do believe this is a USA-specific situation. I think the USA grey market situation is actually making Nikon USA upset about the global market situation.

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  7. Bob Davis

    So, if I needed work on a Nikon that I had bought while I lived in Australia I couldn’t get the work done on it in the States?

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    • Ed Rhodes

      i wonder if the serial number tells them whether it is grey market or not? maybe they have record of the serial being shipped to a legit retailer. Perhaps you could also show them a receipt to prove that you physically bought it at a retailer in Australia, and therefore was not imported?

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    • Phil Scheetz

      If you bought it in Australia, and have a receipt they should work on it.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Unfortunately according to someone else’s comment above, (Chris?) …you might be outta luck. Or, to be more specific, you might have to mail your camera back to AUS!!! :-(

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  8. Jonathan Choto

    Quick question about insurance me fellow photographers, I recently bought a Grey Market Nikon D750form EBay , camera looks like it’s from Europe because of the serial, but the internal serial and serial at the bottom of the camera don’t match is that normal for Grey market? The serial on the bottom sticker are 8 digits And internal is 7 digits. The camera it self has been working amazing and have done photoshoots with it should I be worried about the serial? Also second question is when I buy insurance either through square trade or another do I put the grey market price I paid or what the camera is worth regularly? Thx guys for your help

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    • Matthew Saville

      NO, that’s definitely NOT normal, in fact you may want to read an article on Petapixel about “fake” Nikon bodies. One of the many, many articles I read while searching for answers on this subject. It wasn’t relevant to my particular case at the time, but might be relevant to you.

      TLDR though, I wouldn’t worry about it, just insure your camera or buy a Mack / Squaretrade warranty if you can. You’ll be fine, and you’ll still come out ahead VS buying a USA model. Just consider buying USA next time, especially if you live down the street from a USA authorized service center like I do…

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    • Jonathan Choto

      Thank you so Much Matthew, I indeed checked out the article about the fake Nikon bodies. It seems my camera does not suffer from that its legit and real and did the test to check it out by looking on the camera overview to see what model it states indeed its a nikon D750, I emailed the company on ebay about the two different serials and let them know that it was bothering me they agreed to do an exchange for me If I wanted? Would you return it to get another camera hoping it has matching serials? My camera has not given me any issues or problems and i have used it already just wanted to expertise of what you would do. Thank You

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  9. Piotr Tymcio

    Common practice by unofficial camera repair shops is to send cameras to official repair services anyway. So if Nikon doesn’t repair gray market D750s they can’t send it either. That is why you get shady anwsers. They don’t wanr you to know that they charge you extra for sending your camera to nikon for you.

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    • Matthew Saville

      That’s an interesting fact, and good to know. I’ll probably steer clear of any “unauthorized” repair centers, unless they’re a rather large and reputable company.

      I’ve taken my USA gear to Nikon’s main USA service center in Los Angeles, as well as one of their authorized third-party centers just outside LA, and both seemed to charge about the same for various lens and body repairs over the years. But since they’re only a short drive apart, maybe the third-party’s markup wasn’t noticeable… I’ll pay closer attention in the future.

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  10. Justin Haugen

    KEH.com with their flat rate repair service told me they would service my Grey Market D750. It wouldn’t hurt to follow up on this claim and see what their policy is. It was what prompted my grey market purchase as I felt assured they could help if need be.

    But yeah, I think I’m okay with paying my deductible to replace the camera if I need to do that too.

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  11. Jimmyt Roberts

    Nearly all of my camera bodies and lens purchases are gray market. I use a Nikon shop in Canada for my purchases. I ship defective/repair products to them and they handle all the paperwork and transfer to Nikon as needed. Why pay several hundred dollars more for a Nikon product when all you receive is the USA Warranty, Buy a third party warranty if your’re that concerned. Find an authorized Canadian shop and give them your business. How many of us actually go to or have a large camera store in our area to develop a relationship with, most photographers I know today are buying from the internet. This saves product dollars and no sales tax to boot.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Jimmy, thanks a ton for this comment! It’s very good to know that in Canada there are better options. I wouldn’t mind living in the great white North for a few years myself, it’s beautiful up there…

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  12. Phil Scheetz

    Yes, this whole grey market issue has been going on for a long time. Here is a link to a page on Nikon USA site that explains it, from the horses mouth, as they say.

    https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/331/~/what-is-gray-market%3F

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    • Matthew Saville

      Indeed, Phil, I read this page and many, many others in my search for answers in this predicament. TLDR; it’s a pretty tough situation compared to Canon’s grey market options. But then again, Canon’s grey market bodies aren’t as dirt-cheap as Nikon’s.

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  13. Jon Smallwood

    Wow…good to know & thanks for sharing. I always thought like you, if it came to it, I’d find SOMEWHERE to service my D750. Good thing I’m still just an amateur and only have about 5,000 clicks on mine after 6months. I’ll make sure to be even more protective of it now that I know this!

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  14. James Lorentson

    I can help since I went through the same thing and found a solution. Message me and we can chat about it.

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  15. Brandon Perron

    What is really interesting is that Nikon fixed my gray market D750 under thr shutter recall and covered shipping both ways.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yup, mine too. I have half a mind to take my D750 into Nikon USA and ask them to check mine out again, but I doubt they’ll go for that.

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    • Phil Scheetz

      I find it interesting that Nikon is actually fixing grey D750 under the service advisory. It would seem to go against the idea that they don’t service grey.

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    • Eyal Darshan

      I guess there’s a huge difference between you ruining your camera on your own and them releasing damaged goods to market. The chances of a class action probably goes up by an order of magnitude.

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    • Matthew Saville

      As I commented elsewhere, I suspect that Nikon only does something if they think there is the thread of a serious uproar. If they thought they could have gotten away with refusing grey bodies even if they had a service recall, they might have.

      Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation for Nikon. By offering to repair a grey camera under a global recall, but still refusing service in general, they’re just sticking it to the US consumer.

      This was obviously just a business decision by Nikon, a compromise that they made in order to get grey bodies into the market for some of the lowest prices around. Seriously, the savings on a grey D610, D750, and D810 has been many times greater than any grey market lens ever was, especially 5+ years ago. I remember ~10 years ago a ~$100 grey market lens was like, $20 less than USA. And now we have discounted bodies that are like 35% below MSRP.

      I think it also has a lot to do with Nikon’s market projections falling short, and over-producing DSLR bodies in the face of both the mirrorless revolution, and IMO more significantly, in the face of a general market slow-down.

      In other words, the global economy is still in the crapper, and this was just Nikon’s idea of how to get through it. I for one will continue to love Nikon bodies and lenses, but I’ll certainly be buying USA from now on.

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    • Jimmyt Roberts

      One thing shoppers don’t know or understand in the USA is manufacturers were taken to court by retailers wanting to stop being forced to sell items at manufactures set prices. The court ruled for the manufacturers and this is why you have set retail pricing in the USA. Retailers will try to add value such as a gift card, lens filter, cleaning kit or other to persuade you to buy from them. This is not the law outside the USA and one reason you can buy grey market so much cheaper than in the USA. If a seller wishes to only make a small profit on units and win by selling in volume they can with no recourse from Nikon. This why you see the high volume grey market dealers on Ebay having great pricing on photo gear. It is an artificial market the camera manufacturers, Apple and others have been controlling for years. Be a smart shopper with your dollars.

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  16. John Rowland

    The reason I shoot Canon is the service. I worked at newspapers for many years and some people shot Nikon and some Canon and when equipment needed repairs CPS would have it repaired and back at the paper in one week every time. I can remember the Nikon guys working for weeks with one body or lens out for repair.

    After Hurricane Katrina the Nikon guys went for months with out some bodies.

    They are both great systems but when you need your gear you need it. You can’t do work around for weeks. Sometimes we could get a loan from Nikon but not that often.

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    • Matthew Saville

      If it came down to it I’d rather throw my Nikons in the trash and buy new ones, than shoot Canon, but I will admit that Canon’s CPS is definitely by far the best in the industry.

      Probably because they actually charge people for membership, lol. And they recently had to cut way back on which repairs and service they’re able to subsidize, because clearly the camera service industry is not a cash cow for anybody, but yeah Canon CPS is still the best by far.

      I do have an article to write about Sigma service, though. It has been nothing but good for me personally!

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  17. Nate Castner

    I remember hearing that the latest service recall would cover even grey market cameras. I wonder if yours is affected they would perform any other needed repairs too? http://www.nikonusa.com/en/service-and-support/service-advisories/i4xzkqns/Technical-Service-Advisory-for-Users-of-the-Nikon-D750.html

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Nate,

      Thanks for reminding me about that! Yes, Nikon USA will indeed service Grey Market D750’s if it is for the recall. I know, because I took mine in for that very reason, and they did work on it.

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    • Rodrigo Leyva

      Hi Matthew, thanks for all the info, I just sent my D750 for the recall issue, my shutter started malfunctioning showing a black part on the top of the photos taken. Nikon just replied to me saying to provide a valid proof of purchase outside of the US because it was grey market. Is there anything I can do to make them repair it? They’re refusing to repair my camera body. Unfortunately I bought on eBay… I also contacted the seller to see what happens.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hey Rodrigo,

      As long as you’re the original purchaser, if what they’re asking for is in fact “proof of purchase OUTSIDE THE US” then you might be okay. Did you try to just send them your Ebay receipt?

      If it’s a recall issue, then they should be obligated to repair the camera no matter what. I got my D750 repaired (I just wanted them to check it out) for the original shutter flare issue at Nikon USA, actually, and they didn’t ask for any information. But that might have been a more serious, official recall; this new shutter issue isn’t something I’ve heard a press release from them about, not just yet.

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  18. Andrzej Witold

    Hmmm, what is grey market anyway? Because in my country grey market item is when we talk stolen goods or you imported bypassing taxes/customs. What if I am on vacation in the US and buy a camera. This is not going to be repaired in EU by Nikon?

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    • Alex Kartashov

      A gray market item is an item not sold through one of their authorized resellers. If you’ve ever seen a store like B&H selling a body for $X and a local shop selling it for $200 less, then that’s probably gray market.

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    • Matthew Saville

      @Andrzej, Yeah in the USA, “Grey Market” simply means that it’s legally imported via other means than the official US distributors, and therefore not entitled to warranty repair. If something is Illegal in the US, it’s usually called BLACK Market I guess. ;-)

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  19. Stephan Bednaic

    What if you are a Nikon photographer from Europe, you have a job in the US and need repairs? Will they still say no? To me that’s a di*k move by Nikon, if you are willing to pay them, why does it matter where you bought the body? It’s a Nikon, it says on the body. Think CPS have a much better service after reading this…

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    • Alex Kartashov

      They’ll service it if your Nikon was purchased from one of their authorized retailers in Europe. Or, should, anyway.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yes, if you purchased a warrantied, legit camera in your country of origin, then Nikon USA will definitely help you! Especially if you’re NPS.

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    • Chris Cameron

      They won’t. I tried to have a 70-200 Lens I’d bought in New Zealand repaired while on assignment in San Francisco. Nikon wouldn’t touch it without proof of purchase in the USA. I had to buy a new lens.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Wow, that’s really sad to hear.

      In my conversations with folks like Thom Hogan (Nikon guru) and others over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Nikon values consumer customer service only at the bare minimum required, and professional (NPS) service to a similar albeit slightly higher standard.

      This is a shame, obviously, and I’m definitely interested in seeing how customer (both consumer and professional) service is for Sigma, Sony, and Pentax. Because between those three I could really do some killer landscape and astro-landscape photography…

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    • David Zvi

      This was my understanding as well. If you personally purchased a body or lens while in another country then Nikon service in any other country would repair it.

      Sad to hear that might not be the case.

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  20. Alex Kartashov

    This is a really interesting article for me, as I own a D750 and was considering getting a gray market one before I knew about Nikon’s “you’re screwed” policy about gray items, luckily I got it from an authorized reseller.

    But this makes me think, what about the Mack warranty that you often receive with Gray Market gear? Will it be applicable to contact them for servicing?

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    • Matthew Saville

      That has been what I’ve encouraged most folks to do if they buy a grey market D750, or D610, or D810, or whatever. Get the Mack or Squaretrade warranty, and get the “drops and spills” protection.

      I don’t know what they’d do for you, though. I think buying that warranty is more like an insurance policy, not an actual warranty. Meaning, if you call to collect they’d probably just toss the whole camera in the bin, and send you a new one. IMO a GREAT way to spend however much ($200?) such a Mack warranty costs…

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