HDEW Cameras Review
After a number of purchases I thought it was about time I gave HDEW Cameras a review. This little known supplier a bit of a gem and I’ve had a number of items from them over the years. Their business model is very interesting and allows them to supply branded cameras and lenses at significantly reduced prices.
First of all lets just kick the review off by saying that other than being a happy customer, I have no business or personal relationship with HDEW cameras at all.
Grey Market Imports
HDEW offer camera Brands such as Nikon and Cannon significantly cheaper by importing the products intended for foreign markets directly into the UK for sale which is known as a ‘Grey Market’ import. Some people will get all twitchy at the mention of ‘Grey Market’ imports believing that the products intended for example the Chinese market are somehow inferior to those destined for the UK. This is complete and utter rubbish!
Many companies including Nikons make their products in the same factories, generally China, Japan or Thailand and then shipped around the world. A camera or lens made destined for the UK or US market will come off exactly the same production line as one destined for China. Same materials, assembled by same people, same quality and same product. Have you ever noticed how the instruction booklet comes in many different languages? That’s because they are all assembled in once place and then shipped around the world!
What does differ and is important is the warranty. UK and US destined lenses often come with an extended warranty which will be honoured in their intended markets. There are stories of people buying products destined for overseas markets and the extended warranty not being accepted by Nikon UK / other brand country specific service centres.
Usually the other differences are the delivery time from China. Its possible to buy an item much cheaper on Flea-bay, but then there is the long wait time for delivery and then questionable after sales service with no UK consumer law protection. Plus you might get stung for import duties.
So why wouldn’t you buy a Grey import camera?
- Longer delivery time
- No extended warranty (note Nikon’s 1 year manufacturers worldwide warranty is always valid)
- Import duties
- Potentially dodgy aftersales.
While the extended is warranty useful, as an argument against purchasing its a bit a questionable reason for me. I know when I buy any product from Currys or PC world and they offer an extended warranty for an extra 20% of the price or something daft I do the maths on risk and cost and say no. You can think of the difference in cost between grey market and market intended products as an insurance premium. The actual lenses, in Nikon’s case anyway is identical. You’ll need to check other brands to confirm.
HDEW Cameras enter stage left
This is where HDEW Cameras come in, their business model overcomes all of these drawbacks, including the warranty.
- They run on a rolling stock basis, so you seldom have to wait longer than a week for an item to come in.
- You are buying from and they ship from the UK, so there are no imports to pay AND, you are protected by UK consumer law.
- Any world wide warranty is valid for 1 year, plus HDEW offer their own extended warranty on some products to give 3 years in total cover.
- Their aftersales is superb, ring the number and within a ring or two you are talking to somebody in Surrey who is happy to help. Easy Peasy, being able to talk to somebody is always the clincher for me!
But how good is the service really?
Now my theory is you never really know how good a company is until something goes a bit wrong, its all just marketing and words until its put to the test. I’ve bought a camera from there before, plus several lenses but never had any cause for complaint. They have all worked perfectly until my last purchase, a Nikon 50mm F1.8G. It wasn’t a major problem, it all worked, but displayed a little built of front focus on my ‘fun’ D3200 camera and without a fine AF tune facility I couldn’t calibrate it.
I dropped one email to HDEW Lenses explaining the issue at 11pm and just 2 hours after they opened the next day I received a reply apologising, telling me to return the item for a replacement and asking how much my postage costs are so they could reimburse. Customer service doesn’t really get any better than that. Just after a week passed and I still hadn’t heard anything (remember they run on rolling stock basis) so I phoned up to check. phone answered immediately, on giving my order number the very helpful representative explained that the return was received and replacement had been sent out previous day and would be with me that day. On coming home Royal Mail had indeed tried to deliver, good as their word.
How big are the savings?
They can be small or quite significant, but even the smaller savings over buying from the big chains are worthwhile.
For instance I saved, about £21 on the Nikon 50mm 1.8G from buying at Jessops. Note a huge amount but that still a Sunday afternoon in a nice sunny beer garden for me and the family and significant on a product costing £140 in Jessops.
On my Nikon 70-200 F4 VR I saved around £200 pounds from not buying elsewhere. Everybody else was charging the close to RRP of over £1k at the time of purchase.
At the bigger end of the scale again the current price of a Nikon D750 at Jessops is £1,749. The exact same camera is £1,105 in HDEW at the time of writing, that’s a whopping £644 saving. That’s huge, its not a Sunday afternoon in my local beer garden, that’s enough to take me on a weeks holiday somewhere sunny!
Now for those of you who are still holding on to this idea of the manufacturers extended warranty being better and not trusting HDEW’s own let me put a question to you. If you were to walk into Currys and buy a camera with a 1 year warranty for £1,105 and the sales person offered you a 2 year extended warranty for £644 or 58% of the purchase price, what would your answer be? That’s what I thought! Now how about if they offered you a free warranty from a company you just hadn’t heard of before but had been around a long time? Would you take the free one or pay £644? Its as simple as that really!