Driving to work this morning, I heard on the news about how the Australian dollar has hit another high – it’s now 92.6c!
The last time it got really high, I took the opportunity to buy my 17-55 2.8 lens from the US. With the Aussie dollar really high again, it’s the best time to buy gear from the US.
So, say I decided to upgrade to a Nikon D90 body only.
Local Australian Brick and Mortar Shops
Buying local does mean you support local business and you get personal customer support, as well as much more convenient after sales support, especially if anything goes wrong. These are the advertised prices on their website, but I’m sure if you go into the shop itself, you may be able to get a better deal – but probably not as low as overseas shops.
PRA Imaging AUD$1355
Camera Electronic AUD$1395
For those that read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve purchased quite a lot of gear from DigitalRev. They are an eBay shop, but they also have a physical shop in Hong Kong. Returns are a little more complicated, but I’ve had to return my D80 SLR body before and got a replacement one with no problems. The good thing about an eBay shop is that their feedback is all laid out for everyone to peruse. Like any eBay purchase, you should buy from reputable shops with high levels of good feedback. Also, if shipping from overseas, you may need to pay duty (10% GST) on the price if it’s more than AUD$1000 (see http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=5549).
Digital Rev AUD$1089 (free postage to Australia)
Pretty dumb that they’ve priced it just about the AUD$1000 customs limit. Hopefully they’ll drop it below sometime soon, or I wonder if they could reduce the body price below AUD$1000 and add shipping on top of that.
The other thing to think about when buying from Digital Rev (or other eBay sellers) is sometimes they advertise the same product in different currencies – and when you convert these to Australian dollars, the amounts can be different.
Overseas online shops
B&H Photo and Video is a huge photo/camera/imaging store in New York with a very good online website. Buying from the U.S. means longer times to get gear and having to pay for shipping, but since they’re advertising in U.S. dollars, the exchange rate can help make their prices competitive. Also, if shipping from overseas, you may need to pay duty (10% GST) on the price if it’s more than AUD$1000 (see http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=5549)
BH Photo & Video US$809.95 + US$88.75 (International Express Mail) = US$898.70 = AUD$970.26 (http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi?Amount=898.70&From=USD&To=AUD&image.x=58&image.y=14)
Other Australian online shops
There are other Australian online stores that sell photo gear. Unfortunately, without a feedback system that is highly visible and transparent, it’s hard to determine the reputation of these other shops, or even where they are. If you want to buy from these shops, I’d recommend doing some investigation on the shop itself.
Shopbot shows prices starting AUD$950
If you’re just going for the cheapest price, and don’t worry too much if you may need to post your camera back for warranty claims/repairs, then buying online and/or overseas seems to be the cheapest way to go.
For the D90, the overseas price is below the AUD$1000 customs limit, so you won’t need to pay extra duty. However, if you’re looking at more expensive lenses and SLR bodies, then you may need to reconsider, and buying and haggling locally may be more beneficial in the end.
But if you want to form a relationship with a local shop, try gear before you buy it, have the peace of mind of being able to go back to a physical shop for repairs or help, you will need to pay just a bit more…
The other thing worth thinking about – if you’re buying expensive lenses or digital SLRs, you’ll want to make sure that every pixel works on the CCD, LCD at the back or that the glass in your lens has absolutely no defects (back focusing issues, etc). If you’re spending $1000-$3000 (or even more), it’s much easier to ensure you get a top quality product or return it and try a few others if the shop is local.