The only real problems with buying a imported (gray market) lens is that you lose the 5 year extended warranty that comes with the USA versions. Also if you ever need repair you need to send it to B&H or find an independent Nikon authorized repair center to that will take it.
So the question is...
Can you live with a shorter (1 year) warranty?
Is getting the lens in time for your trip important enough to sacrifice the 5 year warranty?
I have a 300mm f4 and the AF-S motor failed after about 18 months, this is rare, but it cost me $450 (£300) to repair. In the UK it's only 1 year warranty. I was upset at the time, but for my wildlife work it's a peach of lens and works well with the 1.4TC.
I bought a gray market gray colored 300 f4 afs. I bought it for less that $1000 new in 2007. Had to have the motor replaced a couple of years ago. Nikon NY service center repaired it. It was not under warrantee, and I paid the full bill. I am about even now. I believe I bought it from B&H. I say go for it. Absolute best lens in my collection. Great for wildlife with the TC14E II or for butterflies without. Close focusing.
I wouldn't worry about it. One of my bodies (D300) and two of my lenses (Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S and 300/4 AF-S) are Nikon USA refurbs and have worked flawlessly since 2008. They had the shorter warranty as well. If you buy used there is no warranty whatsoever. A new gray market lens gets you that 1 year warranty. Seems like a good compromise.
Mon 24-Dec-12 08:45 AM | edited Mon 24-Dec-12 08:46 AM by William Rounds
I also bought a gray market 300mm AFS f4 and had to have the AF motor replaced a couple of years later. This would seem to be a not uncommon occurrence with this lens, if judging by the previous posts has any statistical value. There is more than one of us.
I don't live in the USA, but if I did I think I would opt for the 5 year guarantee if available. I should add that since getting the AF motor replaced it works flawlessly and takes great photos.
>I also bought a gray market 300mm AFS f4 and had to have the >AF motor replaced a couple of years later. This would seem to >be a not uncommon occurrence with this lens, if judging by the >previous posts has any statistical value. There is more than >one of us.
To put that in context - over 40,000 AF-S 300mm f/4D Nikkors have been sold
I have two grey market lenses. Admittedly, they are small AFD primes, but they have worked flawlessly for over 10 years. If memory serves, I saved 10-20% on each. I would not hesitate to buy grey for a prime lens if the price was right. Lately, though, I have not seen the savings on grey lenses that existed 10 years ago.
A question: for you guys who have experienced AFS failure on your 300 f4's,...are you using these lenses everyday? Are they undergoing professional use? I am also considering this lens, and this is the first I've heard of premature AFS failure.