Grey Market : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I was wondering, is everything at Badger Grey market and how can you tell? I thought I heard someone say it was. But somethings like the 45AX I'm thinking of buying is only about $100 cheaper than normal. If it is, it would seem like it might be better to get the AII from Robert White for the same price. If I'm not getting any factory service anway or buy a non grey market. But what's to break anyway ;-) Thanks, Ed

-- Ed Candland (, February 22, 2002


I can't help you re: Badger but I do know that Robert White won't ship Toyo products to a U.S. address ... or at least that's what it says on his site.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, February 22, 2002.

hmmmm Guess that rules that idea out...I looked and couldn't find that ifo on his site. Where is it located?

-- Ed Candland (, February 22, 2002.

Hmmm ... I just checked and couldn't find it, either! However, it WAS there just a few weeks ago when I wanted to order a Toyo 6x7 back from him so perhaps things have changed since then...

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, February 22, 2002.

Mamiya America Corporation is the official exclusive USA importer of Toyo view cameras (and obviously Mamiya MF cameras). I believe that Robert White is an official importer of Toyo (and many other brands) in the EU (although possibly not an exclusive importer). Because Mamiya America Corporation is not owned by Toyo (nor I believe by Mamiya Japan), there was at one time clear US import law that protected them against gray market goods (even if the goods were imported by a authorized dealer from another country).

There are two problems with Mamiya America Corporation enforcing this exclusive Toyo (and Mamiya) trademark in the USA. First, if someone buys goods from Robert White in the UK, the purchaser (not Robert White) is the USA importer, and US Customs is unlikely to stop such goods in single quantities from entering the US. Since the importation of genuine goods in violation of an exclusive import license is not a criminal violation (unlike importing counterfeit goods), US Customs does not usually get involved.

This means that any remedies that Mamiya America Corporation could employ to enforce its exclusive import license would be done in civil courts by seeking financial compensation for their loss. But it is not very practical for Mamiya America Corporation to file such lawsuits against individual importers who buy single quantities from Robert White.

Second, there has been recent a Supreme Court ruling that suggest that such exclusive import licenses are not enforceable.'anza.htm But keep in mind that court rulings are not always applicable to other situations (with lightly different circumstances), and US Customs regulations are a very, very murky area of the law.

However, since Toyo Japan relies on Mamiya America Corporation to market (spending their own money doing so) Toyo products in the USA, they probably want to keep their distributor relatively happy. Toyo Japan can put pressure on Robert White to not ship to the USA by threatening to have their import relationship in the EU terminated. This probably explains why the Robert White web site said (up until recently) that they would not ship to the USA.

But given the recent USA Supreme Court ruling, and since Toyo also wants to keep Robert White happy (they probably move quite a lot of Toyo gear), Toyo Japan has probably backed off a bit.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 22, 2002.

Michael....finally a clear explanation of the problem. No matter what happens, I'm not going back to paying what I used to pay when I can pay half to Robert White and still be treated like a King.

This is about greed, I would say support Robert White since he is the one saving us money, not just on Toyo, but on everything he sells. They need to keep us happy most of all since we're the ones buying.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 22, 2002.

I just bought a Gitzo G1570M head from Robert White and came out $50 cheaper than B&H even after shipping from the UK, and that's not counting local sales tax, which I pay, since I'm local to B&H.

-- David Goldfarb (, February 22, 2002.

The logic of this is just mindboggling, put money in their pockets, and they only reason they don't sue you for picking their gear in the first place is that it would be impractical for them to sue each and every customer who buys from Robert White instead of getting gouged here.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 22, 2002.

Michael: Thanks for your posting. We in the LFF need a lawyer for this one. Logic tells me that Mamiya's use of trademark law to prevent users from importing any of their products from other countries is really an abuse of trademark law, which was not intended for the purpose of setting up exclusive import licenses. After all, the product bearing Mamiya trademarks is manufactured by the same firm that owns Mamiya America and Mamiya Japan. In other words, by Mamiya's application of TM law, the manufacturer can have two identical trademarks, one which is owned by the manufacturer in Japan and the other by its selling branch in the US which by any other name is virtually no other than the manufacturer itself. In other words, the manufacturer claims that trademark law allows it to alone pass goods from his left to its right hand. The supreme court ruling ruled that these exclusive import practices are not enforceable. Is that all? it should have declared them illegal, after all, they have helped greedy manufacturers rip additional profits off US and Canadian users. Am I wrong?

-- Julio Fernandez (, February 23, 2002.

Just to clarify a few issues from above. In situations like Toyo where they rely on independent companies to do their marketing and distribution outside of Japan, there is usually no such thing as a “factory warranty.” The warranty is usually offered by the importer (Mamiya America Corporation, Robert White, etc.) in the specific country they import into, and is considered to be a marketing expense. The warranty coverage can be different in each country, especially since local laws may have some impact on the legal wording of the warranty terms.

Obviously, the "official authorized" importer (who provides warranty service in the local country) is able to purchase parts, manuals, receive training, etc. from the factory, but the warranty and non- warranty service expense is usually absorbed by the local marketing organization (importer). Depending on what the agreement is between the importer and the manufacturer, the factory may, or may not, be responsible for reimbursing the importer for defective parts within a specified timeframe. The price the importer pays the manufacturer for the original goods is somewhat determined by how much warranty liability the importer is assuming for themselves.

In the case of gray market goods (not Robert White, but probably Badger Graphics on some items), the importer does not purchase from the manufacturer, but usually from an official importer or retailer in another country. So it is best to simply ask about (and get in writing) the specifics of the warranty service, such as where it will be performed and how long it usually takes. Some gray market retailers simply replace the item (with a new or used one) if there is a problem, since it may be difficult or time consuming to get repaired. In these cases, you must rely on the integrity of the gray market importer to make good on the warranty. From comments I have heard, Badger Graphics is very good in this regard.

Some “authorized exclusive” importers such as Mamiya America Corporation may say that they do not perform any service (including non-warranty service for a fee) on equipment they do not import. That is their right to refuse such service, since part of the profit of every item they sell goes toward setting up the warranty and repair facilities in the USA.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 23, 2002.


Prior to the 1998 Supreme Court case referenced above, it was definately legal to set up exclusive importing and licensing agreements in the USA. Many “official” importers collected civil damages against gray market importers (usually not individuals). But there was one major condition that had to be met to enforce the trademark: the exclusive USA importer cannot be owned (directly or indirectly) by the manufacturer. Therefore, Mamiya America Corporation could (prior to 1998) enforce its exclusive trademark license, since it is not owned by the manufacturer (despite its name), and it filled for and received the trademark for these products in the USA.

The justification for this has been that companies like Mamiya America Corporation pay for all the marketing costs in the USA (magazine ads, trade show representation, repair service, stocking parts, etc.). They are in effect paying the manufacturer (by bearing the cost of USA advertising and marketing themselves) for this exclusive right to import, and they would suffer harm if the manufacturer allowed gray market imports into the USA. The gray market goods are usually purchased from countries that have no local advertising and marketing support costs.

However, in the case of NikonUSA and CanonUSA (who are owned or controlled by their Japanese parent companies) there has been no legal restriction (at least not for quite a few years) to gray market imports since the importer (same company as the manufacturer) was not harmed regardless of who sold the goods to the consumer (the importer and the manufacturer are really one and the same). That is why you see B&H Photo sell gray market goods from Nikon and Canon (along with the official USA goods), but they do not usually sell gray market goods when the official USA importer is independent of the manufacturer.

It is important to note that, the 1998 Supreme Court case notwithstanding (the facts of every case are not identical), Mamiya America Corporation still claims that their exclusive trademarks are valid in the USA. Whether they could prevail in court is open to debate.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 23, 2002.

Robert White doesn't pay taxes in this country to keep your kids in school, your roads free from potholes, your water clean, your navy and army and airforece staffed, etc. etc. etc. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 23, 2002.

oh my god! well I guess we better string that worthless scum up on a tree! god knows we live on this planet all by ourselves!

-- mark lindsey (, February 23, 2002.

Quit your Bogus flagwaving, patriotism and loyalty work BOTH WAYS!! Where's the loyalty of the distributers and vendors around here to us, the people that keep them in business?

Explain to me how Robert White can charge as much as half of what they charge around here for some gear and still stay in business? What in the hell are you talking about? The countries not going down the tubes if we quite padding the bank accounts of some folks around here!

I had the carpet in my house replaced last year, when I was estimates done, I two people come over to give me an estimate, one drove an old '78 Mercedes SL, and one drove an $80,000 BMW. The quality of the carpet, the amount of work each was willing to do, the honesty vs the greed of these two was evident down the line.

One offered me a good quality carpet, a good installation, and was satisfied with a small but comfortable profit, and one just wanted to throw any old piece of shit into my house. He wasn't thinking about schools, hospitals, or the Army, just greed, like the folks you're trying to defend.

Paying out good hard earned money to feed greed isn't Patriotic, isn't american, it's dumb.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 23, 2002.

"Robert White doesn't pay taxes in this country to keep your kids in school, your roads free from potholes, your water clean, your navy and army and airforece staffed, etc. etc. etc. Kevin"

LOL - and your point is...?

-- Tim Atherton (, February 23, 2002.

Hmmmm... Robert White does pay taxes in Britain so that British kids can go to school, grow up to be British soldiers, and be our staunchest allies, so paying a smaller amount for goods there does that and leaves me money to spend locally on other things than padding greedy distributors pockets.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, February 23, 2002.

And by the way, the taxes I pay around here don't seem to do doodly squat for eliminating potholes.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, February 23, 2002.

Michael: you have provided learned opinion on grey goods which answers and clarifies issues of law and lay logic. Great to see that the law makes sense. Your posting is valuable reference material which goes into my computer to stay. Many thanks. Glen: Potholes, really, in the sunny south? what excuse for them without the deep frosts that make ours in Canada? Get Mamiya America to create a pothole fund with their pickpocket money!

-- Julio Fernandez (, February 24, 2002.

My Point is that your local distributor contributes to your government, and hires people that need jobs, and pays for their hospitalization insurance, etc. etc. etc. Yes, you can make the argument that all that is well and fine but I shouldn't have to pay for it. The only trouble is that one could make the argument that we should not support your employer or your business for the very same reason and you would be out of a job and not paying the taxes we need, etc. etc. etc. In my 30 years of photography I cannot believe how many people I have had personally bitch to me about how expensive photography equipment was and how they were getting ripped off. A few had legitimate complaints (those on fixed incomes) but the majority either smoked, or drank, had expensive SUVs, belonged to country clubs, went out to eat alot, had snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc. etc. etc. I am sure that my income is considerably less than almost everyone else who is reading this, yet I have found a way to own a hasselblad system, full set of lights, meters, light stands, and a sinar 8 x 10 with their shutter, etc. And I purchased all of it save for a lens or two in this country. Thats my point. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 24, 2002.

Keep in mind than when purchasing from Robert White, USA customers are avoiding the 17.5% VAT (value added tax) that everyone else in the EU must pay. I imagine that the average EU resident is not happy about that.

But the real issue at hand is the idea of the “distributor.” The existing 3-tier supply chain model that some businesses currently use (manufacturer/distributor/retailer) is an anachronism in the age of the Internet. The Robert White model (manufacturer/retailer) eliminates the middleman and significantly contributes to the productivity of the economy. These productivity gains are measured by the US Federal Government and are frequently mentioned by Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) as the primary factor for the economic prosperity of the past decade. The use of middlemen in the supply chain adds zero to productivity measurements.

Bob Solomon of HP Marketing (USA distributor of Rodenstock, Heliopan, Wista, Linhoff, and others) is a sometimes contributor to this forum. In response to questions about products that HP Marketing distributes, he often asks that we send him an email, and he will mail us a brochure. I once asked him why HP (or the manufacturer) does not convert the all the (very expensive full color glossy) brochures to PDF files (or other digital format) and put them on the Internet. His response was less than satisfactory, which is not surprising since this would probably put him out of a job.

In a free country, Mamiya America Corporation, HP Marketing, and the manufacturers they represent can distribute their products however they please (within the law), but don’t expect me to pay for their inefficiencies. Companies that cannot exploit technology and eliminate (or significantly reduce) costs in the supply chain (e.g., middlemen) will eventually end up in the ash heap of history.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 24, 2002.


I disagree in the respect that without these importers you would not have individual camera shops handling warranty work. there is no such thing as a free lunch. That work is paid for through your importer. Buy from Robert White, or buy from others. Thats fine. But when the thing breaks see what happens. Or when you need an obscure part just run down to your local camera store and see if he/she has it in stock.


-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 24, 2002.

Thanks for all the input...Guess grey market is a topic everyone feels strongly about...

-- Ed Candland (, February 24, 2002.


I am not sure I understand your first sentence, but I think I get the gist of what you are saying. However, Robert White is an official authorized importer of the goods they sell. They are also the retailer. They also handle warranty service. Marketing of individual brands is done via the Internet (including recommendations of equipment made in this forum). This eliminates the middleman. The fact that they are in the UK is irrelevant to this discussion.

I have found it much more convenient, and much more productive, to do business on the Internet with specialists and companies that have virtually unlimited inventories. The local shop can rarely afford to stock every item or part, and the time and cost of traveling around town is not trivial.

Eliminating the middleman (distributor) is not limited to import situations. In a free society, the consumer chooses whether they want superior service and support, or whether they want lower prices. Invariably consumers want lower prices, but obviously there will always be some exceptions. The companies that prosper in the 21st century will figure out a way to provide both excellent service and low prices.

There are companies such as that buy directly from manufacturers (eliminating the distributor) and have outstanding customer support. From everything I have heard, Robert White, B&H Photo, Badger Graphics, and a few others fall into that same category.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 24, 2002.

This thread seems to make RW out to be some kind of a knight in shining armour. The fact is: RW isn't. RW is simply capitalising on the recalcitrance of American distributors to price their equipment in line with international pricing. The more recalcitrant they are, the more RW gains as his prices look low in comparison. The funny thing is they are really helping to make RW rich by being intransigent. RW did the right thing by jumping in on e-commerce early and had the wits about him to offer good service to boot. He doesn't have to lift a finger as Americans do not even try to drive a bargain.

Americans get gouged, RW wins by not even trying. also has similar 'very good' prices and service but hardly anybody mentions them.

-- Erik X (, February 24, 2002.

Levity about potholes aside, I am bothered by one aspect of this problem. Price differentials maintained by many US distributors are killing local camera stores in most US cities. Large stores in NYC, LA and other centers of extensive professional photography may survive, but even in a large city like Houston, there isn't much left.

I would LOVE to buy products from my local dealer. I do buy many things there, and gladly pay a premium to do so. I could save 10% or more, plus our 8.5% tax by buying film by mail. But I will spend that money to keep them going. I would also buy LF equipment there, if they could come within 10-20% of prices from Badger or RW. But they cannot, because of the pricing structure of many US distributors or US subsidiaries of the manufacturers.

The problem is exacerbated in the US by the inability to enact a uniform sales tax structure. This is hurting many local businesses and tax bases, and really must be solved soon.

So I am willing to pay a resonable premium to support both my local dealer and US distribution. What is reasonable. Clearly I would pay 10% more, probably as much as 20%. But the current premiums are 50-75- 100% in many cases. Market economics says such price differentials CANNOT be maintained. The internet has opened a closed market. And the US distributors cannot bury their heads in the sand and try to protect their former ways.

Clearly this is doable. Check gray market Canon vs US Canon at B&H. The difference is minimal, even with a very large advertising budget from Canon USA. Maybe they bury losses in copier sales... but Nikon differentials aren't large for most products either.

Some of that is volume. Maybe we don't need advertising for LF equipment. Has anybody here bought a lens or camera based on advertising? Anybody seen an Ebony Camera ad lately. My point is that the business model of many US LF distributors is in trouble, and the quicker that changes, the better for everybody, me, the distributor, my local dealer, and the potholes.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, February 24, 2002.

well, I don't have experience with Robert White so I guess I have to shut up about that situation and just say that it should be justified on a case by case basis. So maybe everyone here should write down their hourly wage or yearly salary, and then we can all decide whether we thing that person should be paid that or whether it might be better to bring somebody in from another country who will work at that job for less money and less benefits. I think the clothing industry has gong through this before, and so has the automobile industry. Anyway . . . . . hurray for capitalism. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 24, 2002.

As a spin-off of Ed's question who is the official U.S. distributor of Arca products? In other words who in the U.S. offers a USA warranty on Arca? And if you do buy gray market Arca and need it repaired or it is defective upon purchase what then?

-- Mark Windom (, February 24, 2002.

If I were particularly gung ho about "buying American," I would not approach it by purchasing products made in Germany, Japan, and Switzerland, even if they came by way of a U.S. distributor. Seriously, if this is an important motivation (it isn't for me), then at least stick to the fine products made by Wisner, Canham, Galvin, Gowland, AWB, Ries, Wimberley, Kirk, Norman, and such. Call me sentimental, but I feel much more sympathy for people who actually innovate and make fine products by hand than for the distributors.

Even living in New York City, I send most of my repair work out of state these days. If I have to ship to the UK or Europe, that's not really a big deal in the age of FedEx and UPS.

-- David Goldfarb (, February 24, 2002.

Arca-Swiss Inc., 442 W Belden, Chicago, IL 60614, (773) 248-2513, fax: (773) 248-2774

-- Michael Feldman (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin: Supporting the tactics of greedy firms that use the subterfuge of trademarks and exclusive distributorships to gouge the citizenry is unpatriotic because it undermines the country's productivity. Such firms may pay taxes but otherwise their contribution to the economy is sub-optimal in as much as in their hands your money is worth less. In a free society citizens can drive the gougers out business by not to giving them their money. It is he citizens patriotic duty to do so.

-- Julio Fernandez (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin: Supporting the tactics of greedy firms that use the subterfuge of trademarks and exclusive distributorships to gouge the citizenry is unpatriotic because it undermines the country's productivity. Such firms may pay taxes but otherwise their contribution to the economy is sub-optimal in as much as in their hands your money is worth less. In a free society citizens can drive the gougers out business by not to giving them their money. It is the citizens patriotic duty to do so.

-- Julio Fernandez (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin.....The dealers themselves dump their stock on e-bay when it's to their advantage, undercutting other dealers in effect, but does the thought of this being maybe unpatriotic stop them, NO. Have you ever checked out e-bay, they're 'guys' with 6000 feedbacks, who would have time to shoot with 6000 feedbacks?

I have communicated with some of these folks and they are the dealers or are affiliated with the dealers. They'll cut each others throat when it suits them, which is why I can understand why you're so riled up? I only bought American for years, and most of the time they didn't even think they had to be polite while I was doing it.

I bought a lens from RW that is an additional $1000 here, that savings goes to my family, and I feel no pain, because this a world community.

Erik....RW is first and foremost a Businessman but consider this; I've sunk plenty into the pockets of B&H which I consider a good and honest outfit, truly, but RW did me several favors just based on the fact that I was a valued customer, he contacts you the next day no ifs , ands, or buts. He's no saint(who is?), but he's got CLASS.

Once he knows you, your word is as good as a check. He is no saint, but he's is a businessman I perceive to be honest, how many of those are there?

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin, If all of the photographic equipment we are talking about is NOT manufactured in this country do not those workers pay taxes in their country. How then does paying for middleman markups help employ workers in this country so that they can pay taxes. I imagine that the staff of the middlemen sellers to retailers is not terribly large nation wide. Frankly , it would seem to me that since we are supporting the tax base of other countries by purchasing their manufactured goods it behooves us as good citizens to save as much as we can so that we can pay taxes here. Seriously, every one is obligated to pay a FAIR share of the cost of government, but not more than a fair share. I see no problem in paying a FAIR price for an item but I would be a fool to pay more than that just to support the greed of a seller.

-- Barry Trabitz (, February 24, 2002.


Please tell me who you work for and what you make so that I can decide if you make too much so that I can boycott your company's product. Come on. Hasselblad USA is not just one guy sitting behind a desk. Nor is Mamiya. They employ technicians, secretaries, drivers, accountants, and so on and so forth just as your company employs you, or you employ yourself. AND as I mentioned, the most important thing these importers do is to maintain the warranty department and parts department as well as to let everyone know whats new and old and all of that good stuff. I don't say you should not buy from overseas if you want to. What I say is, if we all buy overseas, then we don't have those importers here, and we don't have the services they provide either. That is why I buy my film locally even though I can order it for 50 cents a roll from someplace else. I like it that there is a photography store close to me that I can go and browse around in, and have avalailable to ask questions of, and get things for me in a hurry when I need them. And that is why I want importers. And why I am willing to pay a little bit more for them. If you don't want them fine. But then don't come back here and complain that you can't get warranty service or that some company is downsizing in its product line or some other stupid complaint. And don't complain if you happen to lose your job because it was outsourced to Japan or China or Korea or where ever. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin, For what it is worth I am a retired Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. I don't really see this as germaine to this discussion. What I do believe is germaine is the fact that the warranties you seem to feel are so valuable become terribly overpriced insurance policies(often with a lot of fine print). Doesn't it make more sense to pay half the amount that "official' importers are asking and send defective or broken equipment back to the factory or to a qualified repair shop here. Postage or Fed ex or UPS rates are not that expensive. Who repairs equipment after the warrantee expires? As for dealing with a local shop I too would rather, but problems do arise. I am still waiting for my local shop to notify me that the Schneider lens that I ordered two years ago has come in. I now get the feeling that the salesperson really didn't understand that this lens was for a 4x5 view camera and not a 35mm slr. We are not talking about fifty cents more for a roll of film but a thousand dollars for a lens or a body.My insurance company charges $1.12/$100 for full coverage insurance. If the impact of not buying stuff locally and by paying more for film locally why is Kodak cutting more and more of its production? Please lets get back to the issue of where these bodies and lenses are made and where the employees of these manufacturers pay taxes. Respectfully Barry Trabitz

-- Barry Trabitz (, February 24, 2002.

Dr. Trabitz

For what its worth, I am a practicing attorney and a practicing photographer. I spend 75 percent of my time doing pro-bono work for poor and disadvantaged people and I work full time. The rest of my time is spent doing enough work so that I can get by. I earn less in one year than you probably earned in 2 months. But I still buy my photography equipment here becasue I believe that buying here creates jobs here, regardless of whether the jobis working for an importer or working for a manufacturer. The importance of warranties is secondary to the importance of supporting our own country. Sadly, much of what we like to own in this country isn't made in this country becasue of the very reason I feel strongly about this issue. Once again, I do not mind if people want to save money by buying someplace else. That is capitalism and I believe in it. What I do mind is those who are hypocrits. By that I mean those would would complain they are not being paid enough and whose every belonging is worth a fortune, but when it comes time for them to buy it seems everyone elses stuff is worth nothing. I don't specifically say you are that way becasue I have no evidence that you are. But I stand by my arguments. Respectfully, Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 24, 2002.

What I say is, if we all buy overseas, then we don't have those importers here, and we don't have the services they provide either.

Maybe, maybe not. I certainly don't begrudge anyone who earns a buck but unless those importers that're trying to maintain unrealistically high margins on their products start to lose sales to those elsewhere in the world that don't, they have no incentive to lower their prices or improve their customer service or whatever else might be necessary to preserve their share of the market they helped to develop. If you know of a better way to drive this point home to them -- write them a letter, perhaps? -- then I'm all ears but historically, spending your money where you get the most perceived value (be it the lowest prices or the best service) has proven to be the most effective approach.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, February 24, 2002.

Kevin, by locally you mean domestic retailers, not local (as in Minneapolis), right? I only ask because when I saw some of your posts in this thread I went back and found an old email from you that states you buy your film from B&H in bulk and either process locally or ship it off to Kansas City and you buy most of your equipment off of eBay. I'm not attempting to take a cheap shot at you, simply trying to clarify your stance since your posts have read to me as your support of truly local, not domestic, retailers -- yet in the past you have failed to practice what you preach. And, if you do mean domestic and not local, some of your theories about taxes, roads, etc. are negated.

While I wholeheartedly support the concept of purchasing locally and attempt to do so when reasonable, the local stores charge 2-4 times what I can buy film for at B&H, there is no LF equipment to be found for the most part, and last time I checked out the darkroom section of the local "pro" shop I heard the woman working there explaining to someone that there was no difference between RC and Fiber except that RC dries faster. My personal stance is that I while I try to support local retailers, the price discrepancy becomes an issue. I will pay a slight premium to support the local shops (because when I need a roll of film TODAY B&H cannot help me out). However, my overwhelming preference is to buy from someone who actually understands the equipment and needs of the LF community. These are the people that are going to continue to stock the items we want and need and have the best connection to the manufacturers. I also have an advantage that I only live a few hours from Badger and my family is from near there so I can somewhat justify supporting a "local" retailer.

Off my soapbox now. My apologies but I feel much better.

-- Jennifer Waak (, February 25, 2002.

Jennifer Yes, I have in the past bought bulk film from B and H but I no longer do as I try and support the local retailers now even though their prices are quite high. And if I cannot get it locally I try to buy it here in the United States. So yes, I mean domestically.

Once again, I don't say you shouldn't buy where you want to. All I say is don't complain when the distributor isn't there, or kodak isn't there, or something is wrong, when you didn't support them in the first place.

And I am also saying that it is funny to me that people are so hypocritical. Thinking that their value is so very high, but when you have to make a deal with someone their value is low. How would you like it if on your next job you finished and the buyer said well, I know you asked for $100.00 but I don't think you are worth that so I will give you $50.00. Or, if you went in for your paycheck and the boss said well, I know we pay you 25 per hour but this week I am only going to give you 10 per hour. You would howl bloody murder. But its okay to tell the guy down the street trying to make a living by keeping some stuff in stock that you might want or need that he is charging too much. Bullshit.


-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 25, 2002.

Kevin, aside from the hypocrisy about your own past purchases revealed by Jennifer above, it is interesting to note ( that about 7 years ago you started a new career as an attorney in private practice at about 40 years of age. In my experience with such endeavors, attorneys in individual practice are constantly scrounging for new business among the local citizenry and the small business community. In addition, I notice that you are currently seeking election to a judgeship in your community, which further necessitates the need to suck up to the locals and buy votes with your purchases.

So in fact, your recent conversion to purchasing local (rather than from B&H Photo) is a crude sort of barter that is part and parcel of your struggles as an individual attorney in private practice and your future political aspirations. In your pursuit of personal financial rewards, for you to pontificate as some sort of morally superior person and accuse others of not supporting their country, makes my stomach turn.

I suspect that the example you gave of someone being told they are only worth $10 per hour comes from a real experience you have had as an attorney. That could be the result of several factors. First, it could be the result of an oversupply of attorneys in your area, and the “market” is telling you that (although you work very hard and very much enjoy your job) you need to look elsewhere for a career if you want more money. Better that the “market” tell you what profession to pursue, rather than like it was in the Soviet Union when the government assigned people professions based on the “needs” of the state. Alternatively, it could a reflection of the quality of service you have provided your clients. Based on the ridiculous arguments that you put forward in this forum, I would not rule out the later.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 25, 2002.

Mr. Feldman

I do not woryy about clients one bit as I have as many as I can take, and as I noted above, most of them I do not charge money but rather work for them on a pro bono basis. I have probably given away more than $150,000 or more in free legal work in the past four years.

Moreover, I am a very generous person. Ask Ms. Waak and quite a rew others whom I have loaned books and tapes without even knowing them or sometimes meeting them. Ask 20 or so people whom are photographers today because I helped them.

Before I became an attorney I was a CPA. I have been a wedding photographer for 30 years.

From your note, I suspect you do not even understand what I have been talking about. But rather than stoop to your level I will just wish you well and hope that you do well in the future. Take care.


-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 25, 2002.

Kevin, One of the things I don't understand is why you denied in response to Jennifer that you purchase gray market goods, when in on February 03, 2002; 08:01 P.M. Eastern you said:

"by gray market I assume you mean lenses that carry the Hasselblad International warranty rather than the Hasselblad USA warranty. I own such a 50 mm cfi lens. It is super."

Your personal generosity is very impressive, but I don't understand what it has to do with whether one should purchase gray market vs. authorized imported goods.

-- Michael Feldman (, February 25, 2002.

Mr. Feldman

If you would look up the page a bit you would see that I am not trying to deny anything. I said "all except for one or two that were purchased in this country", thereby admittig that I have purchased what could be called a gray market good, just as I have in the past ordered film from New York, and purchased items on Ebay. All I am trying to do is make the point that I believe it is better to purchase items in this country if possible. My main argument is no different than General Motors asking you to buy a Cheverolet, or GM's Union asking you to buy a Cheverolet. My second argument, if you will reread what I have written, is that it is fine if you buy your stuff elsewhere, but if you do, then don't complain later when you can't get it locally. My third argument is that if you don't want someone telling you that your not worth what you earn, then don't tell other people they are not worth what they earn. That is all I am saying. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 25, 2002.

Why don't we just lay this to rest, with the fact that everybodies just trying the do the best they can and get the best deal they can find, which doesn't have anything to do with being UnAmercian.

I firmly beleive that after losing enough business because of their pricing folks around here will simply adjust prices, they aren't going to go hungry, they've made plenty. The 'Boss Hoggs' are simply going to have to admit it's a new game now with e-bay and the internet.

I firmly believe that more attractive pricing will lead to more sales not less, more jobs not less, and to more sales here and not Robert White but with your mind set you are refusing to see that. You have the right to your position and that's that.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 25, 2002.

A dealer has a lens that is 'marked up' $1000 over what RW sell the lens for, so someone buys the lens from RW, and not only that but tells his buddies about the deal so they buy from RW.

The dealer here with the overpriced lens makes nothing on the lens which doesn't sell, while RW sells five or six lenses, getting a lot more than the $1000 the dealer here is still waiting for, that doesn't make any sense. It just seems like the folks here have a problem understanding this. Well I'm done, C ya later.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 25, 2002.


Are you running the thread now? And can you prove your scenario?


-- Kevin Kolosky (, February 25, 2002.

In an effort to give you credit, I stated that you had a right to your position, does that sound like I'm trying to run anything?

There's no need to prove anything, Robert White sells a lot at his reduced prices, there's no reason on earth, the folks here can't reverse the situation by making their pricing competitive with RW, what about that doesn't make sense to you?

Kevin.....regardless of how you would like it to be, there's no going back, I took all of one business course in school, but I remember they said you had to compete and be flexible. Robert White, e-bay, and the internet are here, and here to stay, the folks here are going to have to adjust and compete.

Even if you think I've failed to make a reasonable argument for my position, I'm not ever going to pay $1000 more for a lens to somebody here instead of Robert White to prove somehow that I'm an American, I'm an American regardless of who I choose to buy from with MY MONEY.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 25, 2002.

BTW if there is a lens that sells here for $2500.00 with that same lens selling for $1500.00 for Robert White, would you pay the $2500.00 on the basis that it confirms your Patriotism. I don't hear you saying that. Would you forego searching out competitive pricing and pay the highest prices here without question for the sake of Partiortism? Please tell me that because it would make my night!

You pay the dealer here $1000.00 more that Robert White, are you saying you know the dealer is going to divide up that extra $1000 and send equal parts to schools, hospitals, and the armed services?

You're threads imply that the dealers and middlemen around here somehow need the higher prices, the profits of which they will automatically pass on to schools and hospitals, I don't believe that, I wish it were true, and in some isolated cases it may be, but by my figuring, a honest businessman doesn't set out to gouge you in the first place.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 25, 2002.


Rather than think about the political, social and economic ramifications of buying from one or another capitalist parasite, why don't you call or email Jeff Taugner at Badger. He is a nice helpful guy. One advantage to buying from Jeff is that he has a nice return policy. Posting back to the UK might be a pain if you aren't happy with the camera. Also, Jeff offers, at least on the lenses, a one or two year warranty...

-- Jason Sanford Greenberg (, February 25, 2002.

In all fairness I would mention some of the folks here in the U.S. that I've come in contact with who are fair, honest, and service oriented like Steve Grimes, Ries, Bostick $ Sullivan, Freestyle and some others I can't think of right now, so Robert White isn't all by himself when it comes to class.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 26, 2002.

Kevin's argument is a classic example of the losing side of prisoner's dilemma. As brief as it goes, if police aprehend two suspects but need testimony from one to get at lease one conviction for the suspected crime, the technique is to isolate both of them and offer each the opportunity to go free in exchange for damaging testimony versus their cohort. Thus each suspect is faced with a choice; if both don't talk, both go free. If one talks and the other doesn't, the one who attempted to work as a team goes to jail while the one who attempted to thwart his cohort goes free. Invariably both choose to talk. This applies well to why cartels such as Opec rarely succeed in their efforts to raise the price of the good that they could control with cooperation. If everyone elected to get less for their money and buy as locally as possible on each purchase decision, there would be plenty more (inefficient) jobs available to the populace. That much is certain. But to think that this idea can perpetuate is foolish, and in due time this will be realized by the Kevins of the world as well as all middlemen distributors who seek to maintain their windfall profits per unit. Nonetheless, even I guilty of taking the loser's side of prisoner's dilemma in an effort to be an idealist. I choose not to own a gun nor knowingly maintain a friendship with anyone that does, vainly hoping that if no one had a gun we'd all be safer in the process. Nonetheless, if I'm shot I'm sure my dying thought will be that I'd wished I'd had a gun just before my killer tried to shoot me.

-- jarrod connerty (, February 28, 2002.

Your last thoughts should be commands from your cerebral cortex to your legs to run.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, February 28, 2002.


I don't know where you went to Law School. I do know that I went to William Mitchell College of Law and graduated Cum Laude and I have never heard of anything like the concoction you have dreamed up in my 10 years of practicing law. I think you have been watching too much tv and reading too many radical books. One thing is for sure. If your theories were true there would be no retail anymore. That might be good for prices in the sense that there would be no middlemen to mark them up. But without the efficiency of such a system we would have chaos. Moreover, you misunderstand my points. Once again, I do not say it is wrong to try and find the best price. What I do say is that those who do not buy locally should not complain about the disappearance of local services that have to close becasue they are not supported locally. And by the same reasoning they should not complain about losing their job to overseas competition if the price of their labor is too high. I for one want to be able to go down to my local camera store and look at things and be able to buy things that I need right now. In order to do that the store has to be there. In order for that store to be there it has to make a profit. It is as simple as that. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, March 03, 2002.

And to Jonathan

When I was in undergraduate college I took 3 or 4 courses in macro and microeconomics. One things I remember vividly is the theory of the velocity of money. I do not know if that extra money would be spent specifically on a hospital or a road or whatever, but I do know that its velocity ( as the economists call it) would contribute indirectly to all of those things and much more. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, March 03, 2002.

And here I thought 'Gray Market' was where colorblind folks shopped.

-- Dan Smith (, March 04, 2002.

I didn't go to law school, Kevin. My degree was in geography, the major in the United States that is the least declared by incoming freshmen. This is due to the abundance of space here in the USA; in other less space-endowed countries such as England(where it is the fourth highest declared incoming major) geography has plenty of respect.

My wife is a practicing attorney and a graduate of Emory University's School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. She works as a large firm's pro bono specialist, and also will be attending a two-year fellowship for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund's charter office in Atlanta come October.

I didn't dream up prisoner's dilemma, it was taught to me by a respected geographer from the University of Florida named Grant Thrall. Prisoner's dilemma is taught in many fields ranging from geography to economics to sociology to law-including some classes at Emory's School of Law. Plug the words "prisoner's dilemma theory" into any search engine and be enlightened. It is a primary tenet of cooperation theory worldwide, and frankly I'm suprised you've never heard of it given your educational background.

In geography, prisoner's dilemma describes why cities without political or geographical constraints suffer from vast urban sprawl and horrible traffic. Consider Atlanta, a city I'm quite familiar with. Atlanta has many municipalities at the fringe of their city limits, and these municipalities are all too happy to give a new housing permit to an individual that works in Atlanta and wishes to live in their town. A prospective new citizen twenty years ago would be faced with an easy choice; live in Atlanta and pay higher prices affected by the value of land that those goods occupy, or buy a new house in a subdivision just outside of Atlanta that has much lower prices and more space in exchange for a relatively small sacrifice of time. If you're the amongst the relative few to make this choice, you benefit greatly from it. The problem is that many others will also make the choice, and in the end your exchange of time for money will become a disadvantage. The same distance takes three times as long to travel at 4:30pm than it does at 4:30am.

This is not beneficial to Atlanta itself either, because it negatively affects housing values as well as creates a large population of individuals who earn their income in Atlanta but spend their property taxes out of it. Invariably the end result is worse traffic for everyone as the metropolitan statistical area becomes less and less efficient with its space. Now Atlanta, through no fault of their own, suffers from the worst traffic in the USA outside of Southern California.

Examples of effective constraints to this end result are a) the Vail valley in Colorado, where the geographical boundaries on either side of the city are ardorous enough to discourage most from commuting b) Disneyworld in Orlando, who wisely purchased a much larger tract of land than they'd need-knowing that at the fringe of that tract would be poorly planned urban sprawl c) European cities in general, who are extremely reluctant to give new housing permits-which thus guarantees a compact city will stay just that.

You're certainly correct that prisoner's dilemma is currently changing the landscape of the retail industry forever. Quite rapidly, people are being accustomed to the less visceral feeling of online shopping in exchange for great availability and lower prices. So all retail shops that sell items that don't need local representation are as doomed as the station wagon was at the arrival of the minivan in 1984. The end result of this will be that people's expectations of localized service solutions will vanish. Then competition will ensue amongst the sellers that can compete on price to see who can provide the best service. This service costs money, so in the end there will still be at least two alternatives for the consumer: a firm based purely on price and a firm based on relatively low prices and with excellent service. There have always been customers loyal to both, and there always will be.

Germany effectively competes in the world market despite absurdly high labor costs. They're able to do this by manufacturing goods that depend more on unique traits rather than competing solely based on price. This is the model for an effective transistion of American labor-compete on other elements besides price and you will be effective in surviving. Compete solely on price and you must face the most desperate laborers head to head in a battle that will be lost until your desperation matches theirs.

But without the efficiency of such a system we would have chaos. You and I have vastly different definitions of "efficiency".

-- jarrod connerty (, March 04, 2002.


After checking with a local economist concerning your last post, I am told that if anywhere your theory could have evolved it would have evolved in the United States already, and while it may evolve to a degree, it will never be mainstream. Moreover, he tells me that efficiancy and and cheapness in price do not necessarily coincide. I like what some of the other folks have said. If there are people in this country who are offering good deals, then buy from them. If you live in a country other than the U.S and your local guy offers a great deal, buy from them. Kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (, March 04, 2002.


Once again, prisoner's dilemma isn't my theory, but rather a tried and true explanation to the actions of man done in the singular which profoundly affect the collective. I don't know which historical mind was the first to document this, but it wasn't me.

As a geographer I look to the spatial aspect of nearly everything, but I'm curious as to why it matters to you where the theory originated. Do you wish to discredit it due to its origin?

if anywhere your theory could have evolved it would have evolved in the United States already, and while it may evolve to a degree, it will never be mainstream.
I completely disagree. The way we buy a greeting card, for example, will not be changed by more cost-efficient methods. Same goes for fresh fish, flowers, gasoline or the other myriad of purchases that have great spatial advantages or requirements. But in the world of urban development, prisoner's dilemma is absolutely, positively the mainstream model for the unchecked evolution of a metropolitan statistical area. Instead of asking an economist, ask a geographer or urban planner. I just picked Atlanta to make the point, as this is perhaps the worst example of its impact.

In the last few years there has been a cyclical change in housing values in the USA, with a decades- long trend being reversed: People with high incomes are choosing to once again locate within the primary city's limits, generally tearing down an old small house and putting the largest possible house upon this piece of land that the law allows. In geography it has been termed "masionization," and it has occurred because the time sacrifice of living in the bedroom communities has finally outweighed the monetary savings.

-- jarrod connerty (, March 04, 2002.

"Once again, I do not say it is wrong to try and find the best price. What I do say is that those who do not buy locally should not complain about the disappearance of local services that have to close becasue they are not supported locally."

"Locally" in our area i non-existant. Not because they were not supported but because there is no market base large enough to support a basic photo store, much less a specialized large format one.

Yes, the few dealers within a few hundred miles can get what I want. They mail order it. If I have a question though, there are few in the stores who can answer them as pertaining to much LF gear. They can read the ad & sales info. So can I. They can then order it & we both wait for it to come in. I can order it and cut out the middleman and have it come directly to me rather than have another half day trip just to pick up the item when it comes in. The guarantee is the same... if it breaks I have to send it in for service. Same thing if I buy 'locally', it still gets sent back for service & I am still out the lens/whatever for the time it is getting serviced as the dealer I just supported by paying a higher price doesn't have loaner gear to cover LF needs. Why buy esoteric gear locally when you don't get supported? It makes no sense. As for patriotism & where you guy, what a load of bullshit. I bet you believe Richard Nixon was set up also. Patriotism has nothing to do with where you spend your money or where the product was made. If some really think it does, what LF cameras, lenses & film do you shoot? What tripod do you use? Where is your vehicle made?

Buy where you will as long as the gear works. And if you can get out of paying those damnable state taxes, more power to you.

-- Dan Smith (, March 05, 2002.

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