I'm in Times Square shooting the Imagine Cup event, and several people said that to fix my shot, I would need a faster lens. Just for the hell of it, I went across the street to a photo shop to see if they had the lens, and what they would be willing to sell it for. The price they quoted though, is kind of unbelievable. Particularly given that on Manhattan Island I would expect pretty much everything to be more expensive.

I'm concerned that I would be walking right into a ripoff of a refurb'd, used, or "grey market" lens. But I don't know enough about what the legitimate lens looks like to tell. What things should I look for to distinguish a legitimate lens from a fake one?

  • Tricky one. The only thing I can suggest is to find another store nearby, perhaps a chain store if you can find one, and have a look at the same lens, check the weight, whether the fittings are made of metal on both etc. Manhattan must have at least 2 camera stores... ;) Jul 12 '11 at 7:51
  • You should be able to register it with respective manufacturer. you may require serial number & bill.
    – RDX TFC
    Jul 22 '12 at 19:36

Both refurbs and "grey" lenses are genuine. The only way you could tell the difference from a US made new one is if you had a list of serial numbers for each category.
Fakes are more easy to spot, will usually have clearly inferior materials and often (deliberately) missspelled brand names (so the seller can claim he wasn't trying to scam you, you made a mistake in misreading the name. Something that may not hold up in court when the actual trademark owner sues, but will hold up (probably) if you'd sue). Think fake "Louis Vuitton" bags sold as "Louie Vutton", Nikon might be changed into Nikkon. For the very best fakes though, it'd take good knowledge of the real thing to tell the difference. But this being Manhattan (New York in general, long home to very shady camera stores) I'd not trust anything offered at much under manufacturer RRP.

  • What is an RRP? EDIT: Ah, nevermind. Same as MSRP. Jul 12 '11 at 13:36
  • Would $360 for this: amazon.com/Nikon-50mm-1-4G-Digital-Cameras/dp/B001GCVA0U/… be setting off red flags then? :) Jul 12 '11 at 13:38
  • no, that's a tad over what B&H charges for a Nikon USA version of the same lens. And they're a reputable source :) Not that I'd ever buy it, I'd buy the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D instead for $150 or so :)
    – jwenting
    Jul 13 '11 at 7:45
  • B&H charges $430 for that lens, not $360. Jul 28 '11 at 17:45
  • 1
    not when I looked it up, Billy. But prices change...
    – jwenting
    Jul 29 '11 at 5:54

You can't.

There's no way to tell the difference between a well kept used lens or a gray market lens and a new one because it's the same exact lens.

I have no idea how to spot a fake lens, so I can't comment on them.

If a deal is too good to be true it usually is.


If its a Nikon, not sure on Canon, it will say right before the serial number US then the number. If the lens does not have the engraved US before the number its grey market 100%. I called BHPhoto and had that verified.

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