Buying Grey Market Nikon DSLR Equipment in Thailand, Southeast Asia

Here’s my latest video on buying Tech Gear in Thailand or Malaysia – includes online resources:

If you are buying your Nikon cameras and lenses in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, or anywhere else in the region – you may be buying grey market Nikon items. This goes for other camera manufacturers as well, but since I have Nikon – I’ll write about Nikons.

The warranty you get with grey market items is not valid in the USA, UK, etc. It is only within the same country you bought the Nikon equipment, and, maybe there is only one central location you can send your equipment to get fixed. Maybe there is none.

Grey market items are not always to the same quality as “real” Nikon equipment. Grey market means a dealer bought cameras outside the approved sales channels and likely got a great discount on the equipment. They don’t have to provide technical support, or any support if they don’t want to. With my equipment I got a within Thailand warranty. I bought my latest Nikon from Big Camera at the Big C store.

If you are considering buying Nikons, have a look at the chart below – copied from the Nikon site.

Generally you can tell if the items you bought were grey market by the price you paid for them new. If your price falls under what www.Adorama.com sells them for – you either got grey or refurbished items.

When I’m ready to get my next Nikon camera I’ll likely buy it straight through Adorama and pay the customs fee to bring it to Thailand. Or, maybe there is a chance I will be in the USA and can just pick it up directly.

NIKON

GREY

  • Our products comply with common Japanese standards or regional non-Japanese standards, depending on the region in which the camera was sold.
  • Items may not meet mandatory safety and certification codes, or may not have been handled properly, therefore they may malfunction easily.
  • Full technical service is provided at your local service centre.
  • During the warranty period, any servicing or repairs will be free of charge, provided the camera was bought in the same country as where it was purchased from.

 

Damage caused by owner’s negligence, accident, misuse, do-it-yourself repairs, sand or water is not covered by this warranty.  Please check with the Nikon Authorised Service Facility in your country for any prevailing charges to the service which you require.

  • May not be able to receive full technical support as the warranty is valid only in the country where the camera was purchased from.
  • Certain dealers selling grey items may not be able to provide technical support as well.
  • You will also have to pay to have your camera serviced if it was bought from another country.
  • The manual in the package will be in the preferred language of your region.
  • The manual may not be in the preferred language of your region.
  • The manual is usually a photocopy of the original manual.
  • Users are able to register their product online to download software and firmware upgrades.
  • Owners of grey items may not be able to download online software and firmware upgrades available from the Nikon site, due to incompatible serial numbers.
  • The software CD included in the package will be an INT (International) version.
  • Software upgrade is easier if the initial software installation was an INT (International) version.
  • The software CD included in the package may not be an INT (Inernational) version and as a result, there may be problems involved when wanting to upgrade the software.

Is the Nikon AW100 the Best Point-Shoot Camera for Thailand Photography?

Available in white, black, orange, blue and camouflage.

Years ago I was a photographer in New York City (some photos here). I shot with Canon equipment. I didn’t shoot with Nikon until the late 1990’s. I have to say that after a couple years of using Nikons – I prefer Nikon equipment.

I had a Nikon D70s for a couple years, and it was decent for a mid-range camera. Some of my Thailand photos at this page were taken with the Nikon D70s. The Hawaii photos were taken with an old 4MP Sony DSC-s85. Higher megapixels do not make a camera great, as you probably know.

I’ll likely get the Nikon d7000 for a high-end camera, but on the low-end there are a whole lot of options I needed to look at before deciding which one was right for me, and right for living in Thailand since I don’t foresee us leaving anytime too soon.

I think we really should get an underwater camera this next time.

I’ll use this next point-and-shoot camera for video at YouTube (channel here), and photos at my websites. Any photo you find on this blog or video found at my YouTube channel were probably shot with with the Sony DSC- xxx line of cameras. I’ve used the DSC-90 , DSC-s85, the DSC-H10 and DSC-H20 cameras. Recently we bought a real piece of shite – the Sony DSC-W230 or something like that – just junk compared to the DSC-H10 or H20. We had gone without a camera for too long and just bought the W230 to be able to shoot video when we needed to. It’s absolute junk. That said, I like the other smaller Sony cameras I’ve used for a couple reasons.

  • small, lightweight, easy to pack
  • cheap (5,000 THB to 12,000 THB)
  • features like macro, and vivid color scenes options that make the images pop
  • 720p or 1080p video that’s good enough for YouTube
  • great sound on the Sony cameras – even though mono and not stereo
  • simple enough for wife to use without worrying about in-depth settings

As nice as the Sony cameras were to use – they were only functional for a limited time in Thailand before they died. Two of my DSC-90’s, my DSC-85, my DSC-H10’s (2), and my DSC-H20 have all succumbed to Thailand’s harsh environment – humidity and heat. We have thrown away all but the latest two – H10 and H20’s, and we’ve sent those to an authorized Sony repair shop and were quoted 7,000 and 7,400 THB for fixing each of them.

I don’t know about you – but, instead of paying 7,000 THB to fix a used 2 year old camera, I’d rather just find a new one. So, over these 7 years we’ve bought new, what have amounted to disposable Sony cameras that cost 10,000 to 13,000 THB each. Finally one reaches a point where it’s getting ridiculous to replace cameras every 2 years and so some other alternative must be found.

I think I’ve found it – but, I’ll need to see more reviews and samples before I buy it… the Nikon AW100 Underwater Camera.

The next point and shoot camera I buy in Thailand must have:

  • waterproofing, or a high degree of weather sealing that can withstand the high humidity
  • macro – I shoot a lot of bugs and reptiles, I cannot do without macro
  • stereo sound or input jack where I could add a stereo mic
  • decent low-light capability, at least as good as the Sony DSC line was
  • exceptional color reproduction for photos and videos
  • panorama shots – I got to like these a lot with my current P.O.S. Sony W230

Nikon’s new AW100 camera is waterproof to 33 feet submerged. It is drop proof from 5 feet. It’s good in the cold weather (so I assume the warm, but they said nothing about that in the specs sheet).

It has a good macro capability, stereo audio for video captures, it offers super slow-motion (240 fps), and a good optical zoom – 28mm to 200mm. The battery is a bit weak, capable only of 250 photos and 95 minutes of video shooting. It does everything and more when compared to the current crop of underwater cameras like the Olympus Tough TG810 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 . It gives 16MP images and is supposedly great in the low-light realm. This is good because it already needs to overcome a very slow f3.9 lens at the fastest wide-angle setting.

I’ve looked at other waterproof cameras and none of them were right for me. I do want very good sound and very bright, snappy images – I want the colors to pop. The other waterproof cameras I’ve used – didn’t have these things (Sanyo, Canon, Olympus). On paper the Nikon AW 100 does everything I need it to do. In the real world I don’t expect it all to work as expected, but hopefully it does just enough to give me an alternative camera that lasts more than 2 years.

If you’re looking for a camera that will last more than 2 years in Thailand’s humidity and heat – a waterproof camera, or an environmentally sealed Nikon d7000, d3s, d300s, d700 or Canon’s 5d or 7d models is what you’ll have to get.

The Nikon AW100 is supposed to be priced around $380 – 400 USD. Update – it is now at $350 at Amazon. To me, that’s reasonable if it lasts 3 years, just a year longer than my Sony cameras did.

Update – I just found some amazing sample video shot with the Nikon AW100. It is absolutely the hands-down winner in underwater point-shoot video. No question!

In the specs below – from Nikon – they forgot to mention a few crucial bits…

They left out that the camera has a built in:

  • GPS
  • compass
  • map feature

One site mentioned that the GPS was functional, and plotting your course – even as the camera is turned off and not in use. It actually tracks where you’ve been on a map. Is that something we want? Not me. I’m sure it can be disabled entirely in the settings. At least I’m hoping Nikon isn’t so clueless as to make that a feature that is permanently on.

Release dates for southeast Asia is anyone’s guess. In the USA they said early September. Thailand might get it quickly, or it might be a couple months wait. Bangkok’s electronics stores will probably have it by September but maybe selling at a premium price.

Nikon AW100 Video with full technical specifications below:

Nikon AW100 Specifications:

 Type
Compact Digital Camera

Effective Pixels
16 million

Image Sensor
CMOS

Sensor Size
1/2.3 in.

Lens
5x optical zoom, NIKKOR ED glass lens

Lens Focal Length
5.0-25.0mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 28-140mm lens in 35mm [135] format)

Lens f/-number
f/3.9-4.8

Lens Zoom
5x

Digital Zoom
Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of 560mm lens in 35mm [135] format)

Vibration Reduction
Lens-shift VR

Autofocus (AF)
Contrast-detect TTL AF

Autofocus (AF) Focus-area selection
Auto (9-area automatic selection)
Center
Face priority
Manual with 99 focus areas
Subject tracking

Focus Range
[W]: Approx. 1 ft. 8 in. (50 cm.) to infinity
[T]: Approx. 3 ft. 4 in. (1 m.) to infinity
Macro close-up mode: [W]: Approx. 0.4 in. (1 cm.) to infinity

Focus Lock
Yes

Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points
99

Monitor Size
3.0 in. diagonal

Monitor Type
TFT-LCD

Monitor Resolution
460,000-dots

Monitor Frame coverage (shooting mode)
98% horizontal (Approx.)
98% vertical (Approx.)

Monitor Frame coverage (playback mode)
100% horizontal (Approx.)

Storage Media
SD memory card
SDHC memory card
SDXC memory card

Internal Memory
Approx. 83MB

Storage File System
DCF
EXIF 2.3
DPOF compliant

Storage File formats
Still pictures: JPEG
Audio files: WAV
Movies: MOV (Video:MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC stereo)

Movie
Audio file format: AAC stereo
Movie file format: MPEG-4 AVC H.264

Voice Memo Function
Yes

Image Size (pixels)
4608 x 3456 (16M)

ISO Sensitivity
ISO 125-3200
Auto (auto gain 125-800)
Fixed range auto (ISO 125-400)

Exposure Metering
256-segment matrix, center-weighted

Exposure Control
Programmed auto exposure
Exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
motion detection

Scene Modes
Back Light
Beach
Black and White Copy
Close Up
Dusk/Dawn
Fireworks Show
Food
Landscape
Museum
Night Landscape
Night Portrait
Panorama
Party/Indoor
Pet Portrait
Portrait
Snow
Sports
Sunset
Underwater

In-Camera Image Editing
Crop
D-Lighting
Filter Effects
Glamour Retouch
Quick retouch
Skin softening
Small Pic

Exposure Compensation
± 2 EV in steps of 1/3

Exposure Lock
Yes

White Balance
Auto
Cloudy
Daylight
Flash
Fluorescent
Incandescent
Manual

Shutter
Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter

Shutter Speed
1/1500-1 sec. (when ISO sensitivity set to Auto)
4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)

Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution
Up to 3 shots at approx. 7.1 frames per second

Continuous Shooting Options
Best Shot Selector
Continuous H
Continuous L
Multi-shot 16
Single

Aperture
Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2 AV) selection

Self-timer
Can be selected from 10 and 2 seconds duration

Built-in flash Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto)
[W]: 0.3 to 3.5m (1ft. to 11ft.)
[T]: 0.5 to 2.2m (1ft. 8 in. to 7 ft. 2 in.)

Built-in Flash Control
TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes

Built-in Flash
Yes

Interface
Hi-speed USB

Video Output
NTSC
PAL

HDMI Output
Can be selected from:
Auto
480p
720p
1080i

I/O terminal
Audio/video (A/V) output
Digital I/O (USB)
HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI output)

Supported Languages
All

Power Sources
One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (supplied)

Battery / Batteries
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12

Battery Life (shots per charge)
Still pictures*: Approx. 250 shots
*Based on Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) standards for measuring the life of camera batteries. Measured at 23(-/+2)°C (73(-/+4)°F); zoom adjusted with each shot, flash fired with every other shot, image quality set to Normal, image size set to 4608 x 3456 (16M). Battery life may vary depending on shooting interval and length of time menus and images are displayed.

Tripod Socket
ISO 1222

Approx. Dimensions
Height: 2.6 in. (64.9mm)
Width: 4.4 in. (110.1mm)
Depth: 0.9 in. (22.8mm)

Approx. Weight
6.3 oz. (178g)

Operating environment
Temperature: -10 to +40°C (14 to 104°F ) for land use
Temperature: 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F) for underwater use

Supplied Accessories
AN-CP23 Strap
UC-E6 USB Cable
EG-CP16 Audio/Video Cable
EN-EL12 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
MH-65 Battery Charger
UR-E23 Filter Attachment
NikonView NX 2 CD-ROM
Reference Manual CD

 

You can now order the Nikon AW100 at Amazon here. They don’t ship to Thailand – but you can have it shipped to your home country address if that makes any sense for you.