UPDATE INSIDE: Nikon's newest camera, the D750, is our all time favorite DSLR camera ever. We own the D750 and D810 cameras and actually favor the D750 for video and wedding work because of its small size, articulating screen, fast focusing, and manageable 24mp full frame sensor (the D810 is a badass camera too). Today there is a crazy sale where you can a Nikon D750 Body on Ebay for only $1499! This deal is so good we just bought 4 new D750s for the Fstoppers studio.
This sale has happened before as reported by Nikon Rumors but at $1499 this is the lowest price this camera has ever been up for sale new. Now before everyone gets their panties in a wad, this camera does appear to be a gray market camera. What does that mean? Gray market cameras are cameras that are being sold in a region of the world they were not originally intended to be sold. This mean these cameras could be originally distributed for the Asian or European market but other than that every gray market camera is identical in every way to a camera being sold in a brick and mortar store in the US. There are two big differences and that has to do with the 1 year warranty and future repair work which I will explain below. Please read this before making a decision to purchase any gray market camera.
UPDATE MAY 4th: Today we received our 4 Nikon D750s we ordered last week. They all checked out perfectly and as expected are genuine Nikon products. The cameras do not have the "Black Dot" markings but when run through Nikon's D750 Service Advisory they all come back as models not affected by the early flair issue. The only thing that was unexpected was these D750 bodies are actually from the D750 24-120 Kit where the seller has removed the lens. In the end, everything went as planned and we are happy with saving over $2000 on 4 new camera bodies. If you have ordered this deal with no issue, feel free to leave your unboxing photo in the comments below as well.
What about the Warranty?
The warranty on gray market cameras causes the largest debate on whether gray market cameras are a great deal or a bad idea. These cameras do come with a 1 year warranty from the seller which covers you from any defects in the camera itself (manufacturer defects, not personal negligence). However, gray market cameras bought in the wrong distribution market do not come with Nikon's standard 1 year warranty. Is this a big deal? It depends if you wind up with a warrant issue within the first year of owning your camera. In my experience I have never witnessed a problem caused by manufacturing issues; the few times I've had to send in my camera/lens for repair it required a repair fee every time.
Here is what Nikon's website says about Gray Market cameras:
Does owning a "Gray Market" Nikon product mean I don't have a warranty?
No! All Nikon products come with a warranty by the manufacturer. The designated Nikon service center will always repair "in warranty" Nikon products and perform "out of warranty" repairs. If you own a Gray Market product it will need to be returned to the reseller or importer for service. Refer to your reseller or to the warranty cards included with the product for service contact information.
Keep in mind that Nikon's 1 year warranty is not transferrable between two buyers so if you ever buy a used camera you are buying into the exact same warranty situation as you would be if you bought a gray market camera to begin with: no warranty from Nikon themselves.
Will Nikon Repair a Gray Market Camera?
The argument about a Gray Market camera not having an authorized Nikon 1 year warranty is pretty mute to me because 99% of the time any issues you have with your camera will not be covered under that warranty to begin with or your problem might show up after the first 365 days of purchase. The million dollar question, or the $1499 question, is will Nikon service your gray market camera at all? According to their website the answer is no but that doesn't mean an authorized Nikon Service Center still won't repair your camera. In the past I've sent my lenses directly to Melville, NY for repair, but there are over 20 privately owned and authorized Nikon repair centers in the USA alone. So while Nikon might not service a camera bought on the gray market directly, you can still get your camera repaired through an authorized repair center in your region. After recently having to pay to replace a blown shutter on a 3 year old Nikon D800, I can tell you that the shutter repair price from Nikon is around $600. In my mind it's nice knowing I will have saved $500 on a gray market camera, and that savings can be used for a future repair that most likely will not be free if sent to the Nikon repair facility. Just food for thought.
One more thing to consider with this specific deal is that Nikon has publicly stated they will repair any Nikon D750 from any market if it has to do with the lens flair issue they addressed months ago. While it's not clear if this loophole in the gray market debate will cover you for any warranty work outside of the early model lens flair problem, it is good to know that Nikon sticks by their customers regardless of where they purchased their cameras.
So Is this A Good Deal?
The final question then becomes is this a good deal? Having just bought 4 of these cameras off of ebay my opinion is yes this is a good deal. The Ebay seller has an amazing seller rating with over 60,000 sales. Paypal, for better or worse, almost always sides with the buyer if something goes wrong. I also do not believe the US warranty is really that big of a safeguard for future repairs. Since the majority of camera repairs caused by use and user negligence are well over $400 even through Nikon's own service center, I can easily justify the $500 gray market savings as upfront money that could be used for a repair heaven forbid that happens. The only slight caveat is my repairs will now have to be sent to an authorized Nikon service center instead of directly to Nikon themselves. As an NPS member I can tell you I have nothing but great things to say about Nikon's service center (well except that $600 D800 shutter repair fee) but honestly I've never found myself in such a bind that I couldn't wait a few weeks for a repair to come back because I do have backup gear for such a situation.
I'd love to hear some of your experiences with gray market cameras (not just Nikon but any brand). If you are in the market for a new Nikon D750 camera and do no not mind the slight risk that comes with a non US distributed model, then this ebay deal is not to be missed. If you prefer buying from an authorized Nikon dealer and want a US verified camera, BH Photo currently has the Nikon D750 with a instant $300 rebate making it $1996. Even at this price, I still believe this is the best deal on one of the most powerful DSLRs Nikon has ever produced.