One sad truth about the photo industry is that there’s a ton of counterfeit products floating around, and unless you buy directly from a reputable source, it can be difficult to know for sure whether you’re getting the real thing. Last month we posted on how up to 1/3 of memory cards labeled “SanDisk” are actually counterfeit. Over on Nikon’s website, there’s a support page that shows photographs of counterfeit Nikon accessories next to genuine ones, with many of them almost indistinguishable from each other. Some of the counterfeit products are so real-looking that the only difference is a slightly different screw, or a slightly brighter logo.
For example, check out these two chargers:
The one on the left (with the brighter lettering) is counterfeit.
While a photographer may not be very affected by using certain counterfeit accessories (e.g. a remote shutter release), others, such as batteries or chargers, can actually be dangerous to use:
Counterfeit accessories may not be equipped with safety mechanisms such as the protection device. When these counterfeit products are used or charged, the cameras performance may be sacrificed, or the products may be the cause of fire or explosion due to the generation of extreme heat or leakage. In the worst case, the camera may be damaged or people could be burned or otherwise injured. Therefore, from both a performance standpoint and a safety standpoint, only the use of genuine Nikon accessories, equipped with safety mechanisms including the protection device, with your Nikon digital camera is recommended. [#]
Needless to say, when buying gear from iffy sources (e.g. eBay), be sure to be extra cautious!