British? It’s cheaper to fly to NYC, buy an EOS R5 and fly back

.Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you could not have escaped the build-up to Canon’s newly revealed EOS R5 and R6 mirrorless cameras. (Given the current global pandemic, though, living under a rock may not be a bad policy to adopt). As soon as the release event went live on, retailers were quick to publish their own webpages. Those listings included detailed specs and, more importantly, the long-awaited price. Here in the UK, I immediately headed to Wex’s website to discover the R5 listed for pre-order at £4,199, while its little brother the R6 was £2,499.

As I went back to YouTube and continued to watch the live event though, I occasionally glanced over at the rapidly scrolling comments section, where one particular viewer’s comment caught my eye… the price in America. I quickly hurried to the B&H website, thinking that the comment poster must have it wrong but no, there it was for all to see; The R5 listed in the USA at $3,899. At current exchange rates that’s £3,096. Over a thousand pounds cheaper! ‘Ok, but what about sales tax?’ I hear some of you ask. For those who aren’t aware, sales tax (or VAT) is different for each State in America. Most retailers list prices on their websites without tax added. This is how each consumer can calculate the total cost according to their own state tax. However, with B&H being in New York, even if you add their sales tax (currently 8.75%), the price is still only $4,245/£3,371. (or you can avoid it by shipping to a tax friendly state, or us the B&H loophole credit card)

I was talking with my buddy Peter Treadway (his a fellow wedding photographer). This got us thinking then; is it conceivably possible to fly to New York, buy the camera from B&H, return home, and still have made a saving? Well, the simple answer to this is, yes. In practice though, it requires a little more research and effort. Getting any flight to any part of the world right now is not the easiest task. Just to give a full comparison, you’d need to include all the costs involved. If you’re determined enough though and willing to schlep halfway across the world and back in 36 hours, then here’s what I found:

Flights: Direct return from London Heathrow to New York Newark – £292. (Outbound: Departing Mon 28th Sep 2020 at 0805hrs – Arriving 1105 hours. Inbound: Departing Tuesday 29th Sep 2020 at 0830hrs – Arriving 2040hrs). All local times.

Travel: Airport to City: $30 return on NJ Transit. Around Manhattan: If it were me, I’d be walking everywhere to really experience the city. That said, B&H is about an hour’s walk from our hotel so for time efficiency lets factor in subway travel. Let’s say it takes six subway journeys at $2.75 a time. Total is  $16.50. (Also, don’t forget to take the free Staten Island ferry to get that iconic shot of Lady Liberty)

Food: You can’t go to New York and not try a Nathan’s Hot Dog and, well, we’ve had a long flight, so let’s say we go all out on a Chilli Cheese Dog combo meal: $7.49 Let’s not forget dinner though. As we’re trying to stick to a budget, we’ll settle for a meal from that famous Scottish takeaway, McDonald’s. A double quarter pounder with Cheese meal: $6.69

Sights: Ok, you’ve got your new camera and you want to test it out. While there are hundreds of interesting and free things you can shoot in NYC, let’s push the boat out and get a sunset ticket for the rooftop terrace of the Rockefeller Centre building: $48

Accommodation: One night at the Bowery Grand: £45 (Caveat – This is an extreme budget option. I actually stayed here when traveling back from Las Vegas via New York in 2017. The room is literally just big enough for a single bed and some space to climb on to it. Importantly though, it’s a single occupancy room, not a dorm, so your new prized possession should be safe by your side. Also, similar to our purpose here, I was purely using it as somewhere warm and secure to lay my head for a few hours before heading on to the airport for my early morning flight home, so it should suit us perfectly).

So with all that combined, we’re looking at a total outlay of £3,787. A saving of £412. If that still isn’t enough of a saving for you, whilst researching this article, I actually found the same price international flights, arriving in New York in the morning and departing again that evening, which would save you the cost of a hotel, the sunset rooftop ticket cost and potentially a meal, as you’d likely get fed on the flights.

On top of all of this, you’ve also had an amazing whirlwind photography tour of one of the greatest cities on earth. What’s not to love? With all of that said though, the legal minded amongst you may already be questioning this theoretical trip. That’s because, sticking to UK law, you must declare your new purchase upon return to the UK, where customs and import duty would be due, immediately rendering any saving null. Of course, you could always choose not to declare your camera and instead choose the green lane when exiting baggage reclaim, but that’s a risky option. It’s illegal and the penalties for smuggling goods into the country are severe. So, if you’re not keen on subjecting your body to a physically exhausting transatlantic round trip, or becoming a modern-day Long John Silver, what other option do you have?

Helpfully, B&H are well versed in international sales, to such an extent that they have a service to pay all customs and import taxes due, so you pay one fixed cost to them at checkout and you aren’t stung with an invoice through your letterbox before your camera is released by the courier. Using this method, I found that adding the Canon R5 to your cart, selecting shipping to the UK ($45.51) and getting B&H to pay all the taxes due ($788.90), you get a total price of $4,733.41 or £3,754 at current exchange rates, which is £33 cheaper than flying to the States and enjoying an overnight stay.

So ultimately you could save yourself all that hassle and just order it online, avoiding the crazy two-day bender across the Pond and back. But where’s the fun in that, ah?

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