Experience with Robert White?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I thank the responders who have pointed me in the direction of Robert White in London. His prices are exceptionally low, especially on German lenses. Is there any other hidden expenses I am not aware of dealng with an overseas merchandiser, such as frieght, possible grey market products, etc..

-- Gary Albertson (garyalb@outlawnet.com), September 19, 2000


Gary: Robert White is an excellent dealer to work with. They will usually give you a very accurate estimate of shipping charges, and shipping is very prompt. Some products may be subject to US duties, which tend to range from 2-5% on camera products. You can check out potential duties on the department of commerce website.

By definition, when you buy from Robert White, YOU ARE a grey market importer, since you are not buying through a US importer or distributer. So what... The rest of the world does just fine with products that don't get marked up by US importers. Last I checked, they actually make great photos with these products. The whole concept of grey market and the very name "grey" are an invention of US importers who wish to maintain unreasonable markups via scare tactics.

Don't get me wrong... I support official US importers who are fair and provide real value added for their costs... I will ususally pay 10-20% more for officially imported products. But 50-60% markups on large-format lenses for a "lifetime" warranty that doesn't cover the shutter (which is the only thing likely to fail in a lifetime) is absurd. Paying $700 for a Gitzo CF tripod in the US vs $450 from Robert White is equally absurd.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), September 19, 2000.

Gary I can't answer your question from the import aspect because I live in the uk. But he and his team offer a superb service at very competitive prices. I purchase nearly all my hardware from him and depending on how much you spend he will often cut you a deal. I've had free lens panels, a Heliopan 67mm UV filter even a free View Camera mag.!(mind you I was spending quite a fair bit at the time). I've also had some sponsorship from him in the supply of film. Don't be afraid to ask for his best price or any deals, you could end up saving even more.

Good luck,

-- Trevor Crone (tcrone@gm.dreamcast.com), September 19, 2000.

Gary I have been dealing with Robert for the last 10 years!! He is a gentleman in the true sense of the word!! You CAN buy new or used with complete confidence, there are NO hidden extras. He does not "grade" his used stock as most dealers tend to do, rather he gives you an honest description of the item. I have found that he tends to "under" describe used goods, leaving the purchaser pleasantly surprised, especially buying mail order. All goods shipped are packed lovingly by his staff. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!! Both he and his staff are a mine of information , especially with LF. If you get a chance to visit his premises, do so, they are an Aladdins Cave !! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), September 19, 2000.


I can only second the remarks of the previous posters. I have purchase two lens' from Robert and he is courteous, professional and trustworthy. He will advise you of all costs except US Customs and you stand a 50-50 chance of paying that. Many times small parcels pass through Customs without being assessed duty. Regardless, considering the savings, duty is negligible.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), September 19, 2000.

I am new to the field of large format cameras and have made two major (for me) purchases through Robert White and had them send the equipment (camera, 2 lens, filter, film holders, Polaroid back, etc.) to me here in Chicago. Both times, I got very courteous and prompt service, accurate information, fast shipping, and paid only 1-2% import duty. My purchases were complicated by the fact that my credit card company put automatic holds on the purchase both times for fear of fraud...and each time, the folks at RW were patient and bent over backwards to accommodate a very frustrating process - making extra phonecalls, holding equipment, etc.

Thus, having spent a lot of time on the phone and a lot of money, I can do nothing but recommend them highly.

-- Malcolm Fox (foxmalcolm@aol.com), September 19, 2000.

I too have used RW and found the process very easy. I recently purchased a Gitzo tripod and saved a good sum of money. RW is very professional and pleasant to work with.

Right after I placed the order, I called my credit card bank and advised them to expect a charge from the UK. This permitted the charge to go through trouble free. The only unexpected charge was from UPS who adds a small customs brokerage charge (around $20). This is in addition to the 2% customs fee and is in the noise for largish purchases.

-- Brad Evans (bevans@best.com), September 19, 2000.

Sorry to post a question that has been answered before. Could one of you readers please provide contact information regarding Robert White? Thanks for your assistance.

-- Matt Long (long@ycsi.net), September 19, 2000.


tim a

-- tim atherton (tim@KairosPhoto.com), September 19, 2000.

How is the duty on a purchase from the UK paid? Does UPS pay it if necessary and pass on the cost?

-- John Hennessy (northbay@directcon.net), September 19, 2000.

The best prices, the best service, simple as that. And Robert is very knowledgeable also...he will do anything to help facilitate your order...and best of all, he has a great sense of humor - a true Brit! Best of luck....

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), September 20, 2000.

What a pleasure! Nice man, excellent service, fair prices.

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), September 20, 2000.


UPS acts as a customs broker (for which they charge a fee of about $5.00) for international shipments. After looking at the invoice where the vendor writes a description of items including country of origin, UPS makes a judgement as to which of the 1000's of categories the item fall for duty purposes. Each import category has different terms and conditions. The duty as determined by UPS + brokerage charges are due upon arrival of the package at your doorstep.

For photographic items alone, there must be over 100 categories. Many LF items seem to fall into three categories (from the customs website):

HTS Number 90069100: Parts and accessories for photographic cameras, not cinematographic 5.8% rate

HTS Number 90021190: Objective lenses and parts & access. thereof, for cameras, projectors, or photographic enlargers or reducers, except projection, nesi 2.3% rate

HTS Number 90065990: Photographic cameras, other than fixed focus, valued over $10 each, nesi 0.0% rate

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), September 21, 2000.

I've dealed several times with Robert White and the service is first class. R. White and team are very efficient and its a pleasure to work with them.

-- Manuel Gomes Teixeira (punctumgt@netc.pt), September 24, 2000.

Not only are their prices great, but Robert White offers probably the best service I've ever gotten from any camera store. I've written them many emails inquiring about new equipment being released (scanners), cameras (the new Bronica 645 Rangefinder), pricing, compatibility issues, and hard to find accessories, and in all instances, they've tracked down information from the manufacturers and gotten back to me. For any large purchase for which they can save me money(and for which I'm willing to forego a U.S. warranty), Robert White is my first choice.

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), September 28, 2000.

Yes, Robert White is really second to none. I live in France and I recently bought a 6x6 TLR camera.Working with him and his team is a real pleasure. His prices are probably the lowest in Europe. Here in France, prices of LF and MF equipment are a real SHAME. For example you'll pay a Mamiya RZ 67 system about 45% cheaper than in France (and VAT is 2,1% higher in France) I'm sorry for french importers and retailers, but I first worry about my bank account ! Absolutely NO problems for ordering, payment, shipping... Robert White is a gentleman too. No mail without an answer.

-- Jean-Louis LLECH (jean-louis.llech@wanadoo.fr), November 08, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ