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Buying video and photography equipment from overseas websites has never been easier and their are many overseas suppliers that offer good quality products at a fraction of the price of South African retailers. People are often scared to buy from these websites as they are based in the U.S.A and the prospects of their gear going missing along the way and chances of having issues with customs rings alarm bells in their minds and they say “I’m just going to buy them from a local supplier. It’s not worth the risk”. But when local suppliers charge on average 30%-50% more and your film/photo will be delivered safely to your doorstep directly from B&H PHOTO VIDEO and AMAZON with just the click of a button then it makes little sense why not to buy from them.
The two biggest online sites for buying photography are B&H PHOTO VIDEO and AMAZON. Both are reputable suppliers with an incredible inventory of gear to choose from. If there is anything that you need you will be surprised not to find in on one of these two websites.
B&H PHOTO VIDEO is your best source of technical information and product details as the website is really an encyclopedia of all the possible Video/Audio gear in the world. B&H PHOTO VIDEO even has tutorials and product review videos to help you decide on the gear that suits you best. There is an option to compare gear as well as see which gear is the most popular or best rated. The customers’ reviews on this website are extremely helpful in guiding you to make good decisions. Other customers provide their real points of view of what it is like to work with the camera or gear item they have bought. Thus providing you with realistic expectations of what the camera or gear you decide to buy will be like to work with when it arrives.
AMAZON also is a great option to buy gear online and there are many advantages to this website. I always compare prices from these two suppliers and although 99% of the time the prices on these websites is exactly the same, sometimes you can find some great deals on Amazon, where batteries and SD cards are included when you buy your camera for example. You can sometimes safe a few hundred dollars with these package deals. The other great thing about AMAZON is that they have a lot more gear and bits and bobs that B&H PHOTO VIDEO might not have. B&H PHOTO VIDEO has the best and easiest selection of gear on the net but you might need very specific item or spare part. Amazon is often great for finding bits and bobs to make film life easier. The other advantage to AMAZON is their huge selection of camera bags, great outdoor clothing and camping gear. In South Africa, most of us filmmakers are outdoors and wildlife enthusiasts and the amount of awesome outdoor gear you can find on AMAZON is incredible. I often spend entire evenings just browsing the gear and imagining what I could use it. This website is a great source of information and products especially for wildlife filmmakers.
Let’s be honest here, The South African Postal services isn’t the most reliable form of delivery and if you choose to send your expensive photo/video gear so that it arrives at the Post Office, there is a huge risk of it not arriving or arriving incomplete or broken. The only way I would recommend importing photography or film gear into South Africa is via a reliable courier Service such as FedEx or UPS. These courier services provide you with peace of mind that your film gear will arrive safely and you won’t have to wait 6-12 weeks for it to arrive.The other safe way to ship items to South Africa from the US is with MYUS.COM. This great website offers competitive pricing and is sometimes the only way to ship certain products to South Africa as certain items on B&H PHOTO VIDEO and AMAZON are often not eligible for international shipping. In these cases you can simply sign up to MYUS.COM and they will provide you with a P.O. Box in the United States where you will be able to send it to from B&H PHOTO VIDEO and AMAZON, often free of charge, and then just pay for the shipping from MYUS.COM´s depot to your doorstep in South Africa. They courier your package to directly to you and it should arrive in about 4-5 days. So in a nutshell, always pick the most expensive delivery option as it is safer and far more reliable. It’s not worth losing your gear because you paid a few dollars less. Always remember to make sure the https://www.paypal.com/za/home you choose is the address you will be at from 8am-6pm during the week as this is the time that will receive your order. This might be different to your billing address.
Payments on these websites is fairly straight forward and simple. Payments on B&H PHOTO VIDEO and AMAZON are secure and reliable. B&H PHOTO VIDEO does accept payments via PayPal but Amazon does not. Payments via credit card or debit on B&H PHOTO VIDEO usually go through immediately whereas Amazon payments take time and will only be made from your account once the item starts shipping from the AMAZON warehouse.
A common problem with overseas purchases from your South African Bank account is that your Bank will block the transaction as they might suspect it to be fraud. If your purchase cannot be made, you will usually receive a message on the website requesting you to revise your payment methods. Make sure that on your online banking app or account that your daily limits for international online purchases is higher than the total amount you are trying to spend and adjust it accordingly. If the payment still cannot be made, then contact your bank’s fraud department and they will let you know why the transaction was unable to take place, they can also put you through to their online banking help desk to assist you through the process.
If you chose to import your camera/film gear with UPS or FedEx, then the customs process will be a lot faster and you will most likely have to pay 15-25% of the price you paid for the product in the US. You can call SARS and they will explain to you how to deposit the money into their account so you can pay for the import duties and V.A.T.. This is never a fun part of buying gear from overseas and but their is no way of getting around it.
Once your gear arrives at your house there the long wait will be over and the joy of opening big cardboard boxes will make you feel like a kid on Christmas day. A strong word of caution when opening boxes and dancing around your living room as this will cause everyone else in your household to thing you have gone bad and maybe just a small bit jealous. Play it cool and go do your UNBOXING VICTORY DANCE afterwards when you safely out of sight of everyone!