Camera Warranties and Repairs

This article addresses the current situation for warranty and repair of Z System products. For those of you who had a legacy film SLR or DSLR, things are different than you may remember. 


In the US, both Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses bought new from an official source (see below) are warranted for one year only. Refurbished product is warranted for 90 days only. If any “extended warranty” or “protection coverage” is offered, it’s through the selling party (or the third party they are getting it from) only. 

Electrical and mechanical failures under warranty are basically what is covered by Nikon. Drops, water ingress, and physical abuse damage is not covered under warranty. Nor is shipping to Nikon. Third party warranties may cover drops and other user-caused issues, but typically have an up-front cost associated with them.

So what’s an “official source”? In the US (and pretty much all Nikon territories) there’s an official distributor of product. For American’s that’s NikonUSA. Nikon corporate ships units to the subsidiary (NikonUSA), who ships to authorized dealers, and those dealers sell to you. Any Z camera or lens that went through that official chain should have a serialized paper slip in the box that outlines the warranty. 

The serial number on the paper should match the serial number of the product you received. Read the first paragraph carefully, as it outlines the territory in which that warranty is made. For example, here in the US the first paragraph starts: “Valid in the continental United States...” and continues with a list of other places in which it is valid. 

“Gray market” refers to products that were intended for one region, but which are then exported by someone to another region. NikonUSA will not repair, let alone perform warranty repair, on a gray market product. If the warranty slip is missing from your box or has a different “Valid in…” description, you probably have a gray market import. 

All of the above brings up a few questions people have:

  • Who’s an authorized dealer? Nikon’s Authorized dealer list for the US.
  • What if I move to another country? You’ll need the warranty slip and a serialized invoice from the place you bought the camera. You’ll probably have to prove that you’ve moved to the new country, too. Nikon isn’t trying to punish you here, they’re trying to make sure you didn’t just travel overseas, buy a product, and then try to get it repaired by the wrong responsible subsidiary.
  • Will I need the warranty slip? You might. If Nikon has any questions about origin, they’re going to ask for it and perhaps also a serialized invoice (serial number on invoice matches camera) from the dealer you bought it from.
  • What if the serial number doesn’t match? That sometimes happens when dealers pull bodies out to demonstrate and put them back in the wrong box. You should talk to the place you bought the camera/lens from. 


For the US, only equipment officially imported and sold to dealers via NikonUSA is eligible for repair at NikonUSA. Again, all such gear these days comes with a warranty slip with the serial number on it that states the warranty is “Valid in the continental United States…” and other locales. That and your invoice are technically needed to get repair, though if you registered your gear on purchase that sometimes will be not necessary to provide. 

It used to be that serial numbers were a good indicator of “official import.” That is no longer true, though camera bodies do still get regional serial numbering that is indicative (but not confirming) of where they were to be sold. In the US, the serial numbers tend to start with 30 for bodies, but lenses are now often started with 20 (which used to be for the Japanese region).

Repairs at NikonUSA are done in tiered Prix Fixe levels. The more the camera has to be disassembled, the higher the price will be (thus, image sensor type repairs can be expensive, while fixing external controls or grips is typically far less expensive). It’s generally not the replacement parts that determine the ultimate cost, but the time required to do the repair.

One thing that catches people by surprise is that any camera or lens NikonUSA repairs must be brought up to manufacturing plant levels during the repair, and the product will be warranted for another 90 days after repair. You can’t have NikonUSA repair your lens mount and have them ignore other issues: they will insist on bringing the camera up to the level it was when it left the manufacturing plant (with some allowance for brassing and common wear and tear marks; but even there Nikon’s likely to “make it like new"). 

This practice of bringing products up to manufacturing standards tends to engender the “but I only sent the camera in for a viewfinder fix, why are they charging me for a new shutter?” type responses from customers. Let me put another way: NikonUSA doesn’t do partial repairs. They will insist that they repair everything they find wrong, or they will simply return the product to you un-repaired. 

If a camera or lens has been submersed, consider it totaled. NikonUSA will not repair any product with visible signs of water ingress, even in ones that are supposedly weather sealed, and even ones that still seem to function. Internal water damage—which can also occur in high humidity environs—is easy to detect. The minute Nikon detects it, they will consider the product unrepairable because one visible problem suggests that other components may have been impacted, as well. In essence, Nikon would have to tear down the entire camera and do a part by part test before rebuilding it, which isn’t financially feasible.

The above brings up some more questions people have:

  • What if I disagree with Nikon’s repair assessment? Nikon doesn’t perform the actual repair until you’ve authorized their estimate, so what happens is that you’ll get your product back if you decline their repair assessment.
  • Can I get a product repaired elsewhere? A question for which there’s not one specific answer. In a number of cases, the answer is probably no, because the parts or repair tools aren’t available to third-party repair organizations. In some simpler cases, the answer may be yes. It would all depend upon which parts, if any, are needed, and whether there would be realignment or adjustment issues that require special tools. 
  • Can I repair it myself? Maybe. This would be dependent upon the severity of the problem, the amount of disassembly needed coupled with your expertise at that, along with whether the parts are available. Some parts, particularly for cameras or lenses that have been in production for awhile, are available via sources such as eBay. And some repairs require only modest disassembly. However, note that many screws you might need to access are under the faux leather coverings, which means you may also need new grip material that you have to glue back down.
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