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to Get a Nikon 18-200mm
It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links to get yours. I use these same places myself and pay the same prices you do.
WHERE TO GET IT TODAY
Yay, after over two years the Nikon 18-200mm VR is finally in stock!
Ritz has it in stock at $750 here.
Amazon has it in stock here. It's OK if Amazon is processing the order for a good 3rd party like Calumet, Cameta, Crutchfield, Adorama or J&R they are AOK, but be careful if Amazon is only offering it through indirect "marketplace" or "available from these sellers" offers. I've never heard of Complete Photo USA or Ace Digital Club so beware. This changes by the minute.
Adorama, Amazon and Ritz usually ship for free.
Otherwise, I personally back-ordered my own from Adorama here and Ritz here and waited two months to get the good price back in 2005. If you had followed my suggestion on this page back in November, 2005, you'd have received yours, as I did, in December 2005 for only $629.
WHY WAS THERE A PROBLEM?
I ordered mine over a year ago (November 1st, 2005) and had to wait two months.
They're a problem because demand exceeds supply.
This lens is a landmark. It's the first lens ever to be able to replace all my mid-wide through telephoto lenses, and do it well. It lets me leave behind a whole drawer of lenses which I never miss! Because it's such a landmark, everyone wants it, and they should. Heck, This lens alone is reason enough to convert to Nikon from another brand, since with every other camera company you still need to use two lenses to do what this one 18-200mm does. This 18-200mm is remarkable because it's sharp, focuses fast, and has VR to eliminate camera shake, and much more in one small package.
Sigma just announced an 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS to compete with this, but since it's only f/6.3 at the long end it potentially won't focus well, and my general experience with Sigma is that they are poorly built. I don't see that the Sigma lens is HSM, so I suspect it may be the old-style focusing which doesn't allow instant manual override like the Nikon, and worse, if the Sigma is traditional AF, it won't focus at all with the new Nikon D40. I'd get something like the Nikon 18-55mm today and wait for the Nikon 18-200mm if you can't get it today.
Nikon, like every company, has to make predictions of how many of anything they will sell. Based on those predictions, they order the parts with which they will make these products from their suppliers, who in turn have to order from their suppliers, and so on. Nikon also uses these estimates to place orders for the extremely expensive capital manufacturing equipment with which they make these lenses.
These all have about a 12 month lead time. If Nikon guesses incorrectly, it takes 12 months or more to get the entire supply and capital equipment chain up to speed to make more than they first estimated. In automobiles this lead time is three years!
In this case Nikon guessed (forecast) wrong. Very wrong. They had no idea how popular this lens would be. Digital is like this: it's a completely new market, so all the old estimates we've used to forecast demand have gone out the window. If Nikon guesses too high, they invest many millions of dollars in parts and equipment which go to waste. If they guess too low, no one can get the product, and people wind up defecting to other brands!
Worse, demand comes in spikes. Right now, we all want one of these. If Nikon ramped up to make as many as we need right now, as soon as we all got our lenses, Nikon would have dozens of manufacturing machines sitting idle. Therefore Nikon won't ramp up as fast as we'd like them, because Nikon knows all of us who buy one this year probably won't be buying another one in six months.
Unlike film days, where new lenses weren't that earth-shattering and initial peak demand didn't get that much over the long-term demand, with the 18-200mm VR we have everyone wanting one today, and Nikon can't and won't make them that fast.
Buying from Bottom Feeders
The problem was compounded by people who bought from hoarders on eBay.
Because people would pay $999 in 2007 for one in stock, versus $750 to order one and wait, there were bottom-feeders who buy them up at $750 and resell them just to make a few bucks for themselves while making things worse for the rest of us.
Because these bottom-feeders bought them up in bunches anyplace they could find them at a decent price, photographers are less likely to find them in stock, and if we did, we'll only find them in stock at places gouging the price.
These hoarders wouldn't buy them away from us if no one bought from the hoarders.
If you bought from these slackers on eBay or elsewhere you made the problem worse for all of us. Nikon doesn't have to honor any warranty if a lens is bought from other than an officially authorized Nikon dealer, even if it's unused with all the blank warranty cards and a copy of the receipt. The warrantees don't transfer when you buy it from someone, although I've never heard of a problem unless you buy a gray-market lens. USA lenses have a US preceding the engraved serial number, but you only can be sure you have a warranty if you buy from an officially authorized dealer and get the US warranty paperwork in the box. (This will vary by country.)
MSRP has always been $699 USD.
I'm sorry if you ignored me back in 2005 when I first suggested this lens. Back then no one knew how cool these were so they sold for only $670 and I only had to wait 2 months.
People regularly got gouged for $1,000 each in 2006 and 2007, before they became readily available in 2008.
Buy only from legitimate dealers authorized by Nikon, and pay only by credit card.
Scams are easy to spot because they ask for money orders, Western Union and bank transfers. See also my general Buying Advice page.
If you buy what looks like a new, unused product from an individual or unauthorized dealer, even if it comes sealed with an original receipt and blank warranty cards, Nikon probably doesn't have to honor any warranty.
Other places sell gray market gear, which usually has no warranty.
Read the fine print, but as I understand warranties, they are valid only to the original purchaser from an authorized dealer. You may or may not be able to sweet-talk Nikon into honoring it if you have a receipt from an unauthorized store or in the name of a stranger, but not always. See my Warranty page, towards the bottom, for details about authorized vs. unauthorized dealers and eBay.
Warning: The ads below come from a third party and I don't see them before they appear on your screen. See more at my Buying Advice page. Personally I get my goodies at Ritz, Amazon and Adorama as explained above.