I have been looking into Canon's older 28-80mm USM metal mount lens. I have heard that it is a very good lens for the money, but when I looked for it on eBay, the only places that seem to sell it are from Japan.

Here is an example of the lens I am talking about: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Excellent-CANON-EF-28-80mm-F3-5-5-6-USM-/121642460981?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c5274a735

Even though the seller has 100% positive feedback, are there things I need to consider before buying? I have noticed that a lot of lenses from Japan are noticeably cheaper than from USA sellers. Is there a reason for this?

  • What country are you located in? – osullic May 8 '15 at 22:33
  • The US Dollar is currently stronger against the Japanese Yen than has historically been the case in recent times. That is what is driving prices in the U.S. down: it takes fewer dollars to buy the same number of yen. – Michael C May 8 '15 at 22:43
  • I am located in the United States. Thank you for the information. That makes more sense to me now. So I presume that if that is why prices are lower, than there isn't really an risk in buying from someone in japan? – Christopher Spencer May 8 '15 at 23:10

By buying from another country, you are effectively buying on the gray market (related: Is there a drawback in buying an imported (gray market) lens?). You will find it difficult to make use of a warranty or in some cases, even authorized repair shops will be hesitant to touch it.

You are also going to pay... what appears to be $27 for shopping in this referenced auction for a lens that is being sold for $50, for something that will end up closer to $80.

On the other hand, the used domestic market you will find it, well, much cheaper. The 28-80 Canon f/3.5-5.6 that you linked can be found at KEH in excellent condition for about $45 (the second edition of the lens is also in the same price range: KEH search: Canon 28-80) The estimate for shipping on this lens can be found... for me, its $12.

This ends up with something that is less expensive overall, I'll get it sooner, from a known dealer (KEH is very good).

  • Thank you very much for the answer. I will look into your suggestion. – Christopher Spencer May 9 '15 at 20:00

Speaking generally, here are the problems I see with buying photographic equipment internationally:

  • If the seller speaks a different language to you, there may well be problems communicating about problems or even simply about the basic item details/condition.
  • You are importing an item - you may/will be liable to pay sales tax and customs duty as levied by your local customs service.
  • If the item turns out to be faulty and you need to return it, you will incur potentially high, potentially non-refundable shipping costs, as well as probably not being able to recover the tax/duties that you've already paid.
  • I guess there is a higher risk of something getting "lost in the post". You should be paying for a shipping service that includes international tracking with proof of delivery.
  • Some manufacturers do not honour the warranty on an item intended for sale in a different geographic region. For example, the serial number may betray that this lens was intended for sale in Japan, not your own country.

Personally, I do not consider the risk of fraud or unscrupulous behaviour by a seller to be any higher internationally than domestically.


A canon lens is a canon lens. They will honor a warranty and I’ve never had an issue with a dealer in the states working on it. Don’t listen to yahoo’s out there talking without having a lens from Japan. They are not talking from experience they are talking out their rear.

  • You will actually get some trouble as most companies do not honor warranty on a grey market item. – Kai Mattern Mar 23 at 11:23
  • Many years ago I bought a grey-market Minolta camera and a couple of lenses, because Minolta came with an international warranty. Sure enough, I had to send it in for warranty service, and had no problems. The same can't be said for every manufacturer, and rules can also change over time. I didn't downvote, but my biggest problem with this answer is the exceptionally poor, undignified delivery, and the complete lack of references. Just one yahoo's, one-time experience. – osullic Mar 23 at 11:53
  • Canon seems better than most manufacturers in terms of accepting gray market gear for service, with the caveat that they will often/likely charge you for the service if it's gray market, even if it's within the warranty period. Canon's own website states in a big red box, "Customers should also be aware that Gray Market products MAY NOT be eligible for: X Coverage under a U.S. warranty; ..." Thus, obviously, caveat emptor. – scottbb Mar 23 at 22:42
  • But why the poor, arrogant, and dismissive response? I did downvote, on that basis alone. – scottbb Mar 23 at 22:49

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