Need info on purchase of NEW lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have a couple of questions regarding the purchase of a new lens to replace one destroyed in a fire. I have always bought used, but have decided to go the new route since it was the lens I most frequently use. Badger Graphics is the lowest domestic source i have found- $810 for a 90mm F9 Super Angulon. However, Robert White in the UK has the same lens for $660 U.S. dollars less the VAT tax. My first question is how much is the value added tax? Is it a straight percentage, is it based on the commodity, and how much is it. I have been to the UK several times and never paid that much attention to it. Second question- are there warranty concerns when purchasing overseas, or any warranty issues concerning Robert White specifically. As always, thanks for any replies in advance.

-- James Chinn (, October 19, 2001


Why buy new when you can get excellent optics used?

I think the only new camera that I've owned was a 35mm that my folks got me for my college graduation, and that was a LONG time ago. I've always had great luck with used equipment, as long as I purchase well known brands that appear to have been treated well.

-- neil poulsen (, October 19, 2001.

Why this particular lens ? image circle is just 216 mm if you need a small lens, then the nikon f8/90 is just 306g, with an image circle of 235mm but f9 is quite dark for a 90mm, what about a 5.6 (super angulon = nikon = grandagon N = Fuji = 235mm) in second hand ? if you need a light lens and very sharp you can choose the super symmar 80/4.5 (ic=212 / 271g) or 100xl/5.6 (ic=288 / 425g) or even the rodenstock compromise : 90/6.8

-- dg (, October 19, 2001.

The Schneider 90mm f/9 Super Angulon is actually an f/8. I am assuming this was a typo. If you purchase from Robert White and you are located in the USA (or anywhere outside of the EU), you do not have to pay the VAT tax. You do have to pay any import duties and shipping fees. I do not know how much these would be, but I am sure that an email to Robert White would answer the question. The warranty would be the responsibility of Robert White and not Schneider Optics USA. You should ask them about the warranty if you have any questions.

-- Michael Feldman (, October 19, 2001.

VAT is currently 17.5% in the UK, but if you buy the item specifically for personal export, you can claim the tax back by filling in a declaration form.
Of course, you should then declare it as an import at the other end, and pay any local import and excise duties.

-- Pete Andrews (, October 19, 2001.

Thanks for the quick responses. I am very interested in the XL5.6 Scneider. The post by dg has made me realize I need to take some time, research what is available and test a couple of lenses before I make a purchase. Money is an issue but if after determining final costs the savings from Robert White is only 30 or 40 dollars, I would perfer to support a US company such as Badger and have a little closer support. Thanks again.

-- James Chinn (, October 19, 2001.

James, Robert White is a VERY reputable dealer. His mail order service is second to none (items are packed beautifully!!). ALL his staff are courteous and very knowledgable (especially LF matters). Buy from him with confidence!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, October 19, 2001.

The prices on Robert White's site do not include VAT - the current US$ price of that lens is $642. Any lens purchased from Robert White will have to be sent back to Robert White for warranty work. Any lens purchased fron Badger will have to be sent back to Badger for warranty work - they will send it back to Germany where their supplier is (assuming you don't buy a Nikon or Fuji). You MAY be able to get warranty work performed in the U.S. on a lens bought from Robert White since you purchased directly from them it is not "GRAY MARKET" - you will have the bill to prove it (but don't hold your breath). Lenses bought from Badger are Gray Market (except Fuji which doesn't have a large format importer), and no U.S. service center will touch them.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, October 19, 2001.

I totally agree with all the positive information you have received from others regarding Robert White and Badger; I dealwith both of tehm but Badger MUCH more frequently. Generally, Robert White charges ~ 30 - 50 to ship to the US,when you add that to the prices your savings are small.

Secondly, as others ahve mentioned, why that particulra lens? While I tend to favor Schneider I don't thhink that would be my first choice for a 90 mm. If price is a consideration I would look hard at the Grandagon 90 mm f6.8 in its Caltar II N version wich was recently on sale at recentlythat if you call them and get a sympathetic sales person you should still be abel to get the sale price.

-- Ted Harris (, October 19, 2001.

If the lens is bought from Robert White, or any other foreign dealer, we won't touch the lens. As far as service goes any item bought grey market or direct import is not covered under warranty. Badger Graphics does buy our lenses grey market, so we would not do any work on any lenses bought through them either.

-- Michael Klayman (, October 19, 2001.

To Michael Klayman,

Just curious, why would you "not touch" a grey-market or foreign- purchased lens?


-- Dan Montgomery (, October 19, 2001.

I believe he is saying that they (SchneiderOptics)will not perform warranty work on gray market lenses.....

-- George Stocking (, October 19, 2001.

I don't know the formula for Customs charges, but here's a data point: In July, 2001 I made a $1200 purchase from Robert White. The Customs tax was $72 (both values in round numbers). So for this particular transaction the Customs tax was about 6%. The Fed Ex courier collected the tax when he delivered the package.

-- David Bradley (, October 19, 2001.

Why won't you service Schneider lenses bought out of the USA?

I have run into this one before & can't understand it. When out of the USA I ran into a problem & had to replace some gear. Bought brand new stuff where I was. Then, after returning home and holding a "worldwide warranty" on a new product found one lens needed service. Couldn't get it here. Took it to a private camera store, had it fixed & never have purchased a new lens of the brand again, nor will I. If this is how customers are treated I don't need to support the company.

As for what the Added tax from Robert White is, why not ask them?

-- Dan Smith (, October 19, 2001.

Here's my take on the gray market warranty issue:

Even though the official U.S. importer "won't touch" a gray market lens, it still makes sense to buy gray market because the price difference is quite substantial. You can buy a lot of repair work on a lens for the price difference between gray and officially imported lenses. Depending on the lens, the difference can be $500 or more.

Large format cameras and lenses are simple mechanical devices and are not likely to need warranty work. In the years that I've been buying and using LF cameras and lenses I have never had the need for any warranty service.

In my opinion, the U.S. importers for may camera and lens lines are shamelessly gouging their U.S. customers. Much of this stuff is available almost anywhere else in the world for substantially less. Consumers are starting to realize that much more reasonable prices are available via the Internet from dealers such as Robert White and Badger Graphics.

-- Jerry Gardner (, October 19, 2001.

Thank you Dan Smith, for phrasing my question more expicitly. Why do many camera/lens companies, in this case Schnieder/Michael Klayman, refuse to service non-US purchased equipment? I'm not talking only about "free" warranty work but paid repairs as well. If I buy a Schneider lens from Badger and it arrives with some defect I'll send it back to Badger for exchange or refund. If a year later I break that lens and need to get it serviced, I would be willing to pay Schnieder's U.S. representatives for the repair. Am I correct that Schnieder would still not want my money in that situation? If I've misinterpreted your comments Michael, please correct me. Thanks.

-- Dan Montgomery (, October 19, 2001.

I don't understand "warranty work" on a large format lens. Either the lens is built right, or not. If it isn't, return for replacement. If it is, there aren't many "latent defects" that can show up at a later date. For shutters, however, I can see potential latent defects, but I don't think any of the mfrs cover the shutter, since they don't build them.

-- Charlie Strack (, October 19, 2001.

I agree with Jerry. The price difference more than makes up for the lack of warranty. As an example I just purchased a Sinar F1 for 550 pounds sterling which equates to just under $900 plus shipping and import. Check out B&h's price to see if this seems like a good deal.

-- Rob Haury (, October 19, 2001.

My mistake, I meant just under $800

-- Rob Haury (, October 19, 2001.

My mistake, I meant just under $800

For that price, you can buy two and keep one as a backup in case the first one breaks, and still pay less than what B&H charges for one.

IMO, charging more than 2x the international price is ridiculous and the U.S. Sinar importer should be ashamed.

-- Jerry Gardner (, October 19, 2001.

I think that this "incremental" price for a US warranty prices boil down to two fundamental issues. #1) The cost of insurance - the manufacturer betting that it will not need service and foolish buyers taking the hook that it could and #2) What the market is willing to bear. And at the current time, there must be enough US buyers that feel that they are willing to take the financial pain of the higher cost or the practice would have already been terminated. Fact is, the factory turns out both products and if US sales with the warranty lag grey sales of the same product, surely this sales data will jell someone into reality in the corporate office. What photographers want are superb optics at the best possible price without getting jerked around. Never bought a USA warranty lens and of the 8 lenses I own, I have never had a problem with any.

-- Michael Kadillak (, October 19, 2001.

Dan Montgomery:

The reason that Schnider USA will not "touch" your lens is because they want to discourage the practice of buying grey market, you see Schinder USA is only the official importer, in other words they buy the lens from the factory and they "resell" them to us at a hefty profit, this is how Mr. Klayman earns his paycheck.

Personally I would never buy a USA warranty LF lens. For the 35 mm autofocus with all the dohickeys etc, maybe it is a good choice to get a US warranty, so you dont have to send the lens for repair overseas, but for a LF lens the worst that can happen is a bad shutter which many people can fix. Another point is that dealing with Badger you are assured you have always an option and good service from them.

As to Mr. Klayman's statement they will not touch my lens, well I don't mind, they are not touching my money either. And given the attitude they display I can assure you they never will. I guess it all comes down to voting with our pocket book, my vote is for Schnider, not for the importer...

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, October 20, 2001.

Sooner or later whatever you buy in whatever format, is going off warranty. The 'markup' for U.S. equipment is 100% and their attitude is 'if you don't pay it, we won't fix it', but so what.

No matter what you've got, it's eventually going to go off waranty, and the 'markup' for some U.S. stuff versus 'grey market' works out to you paying $500.00 a year for three years on equipment that's warrenteed for three years just for the privilege of having a warrenty.

The attitude of some of the folks here in the U.S. has made it easy for me to decide against paying any more 'blackmail'.

I've purchased from Mr Cad, Robert White, and they take the time to Respond to EVERY e-mail you send them IMMEDIATELY, and with courtesy and civility no matter how small or insignificant your request. When they can't do something, they explain WHY.

I think e-bay is going to help in the long run to grind down the prices around here since the dealers themselves use e-bay to dump their inventory at discount prices. There are too many other sources for new equipment for these folks to keep acting like they're doing you a favor by taking every penny you've got.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, October 20, 2001.

I purchased an extensive Arca-Swiss system and a number of Rodenstock lenses from Robert White this year. For shipping extensive orders, we used International FedEx Express or UPS Worldwide Express, both of which were very efficient, and brokered the necessary the customs transactions, and Robert White does not charge any additional mark-up on any shipping. For smaller items not requiring tracking numbers, we used the Royal Post's standard airmail service, which also worked just fine. I too was curious about the import duties imposed by the U. S. Customs service, and spoke with a representative in Detroit who explained that there is no duty on cameras, but there is a 5% duty imposed on imported photographic "accessories," which in their primitive understanding comprises everything photographic EXCEPT cameras. Still, even with the cost of shipping and the imposition of duties (which is somewhat uneven), I estimate that I saved more than a third of the cost of virtually all my purchases.

-- Christopher Campbell (, October 20, 2001.

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