Is your DSLR a fake? Nikon issues a fresh counterfeit warning

Nikon fake detection

This is not the first time Nikon Europe has sent out a notice about fakes. We reported a counterfeit Nikon D800E story in December 2014, but it looks like crafty forgers have now extended the practice to other models in the Nikon range.

We're not talking about the silly plastic toy cameras with only vaguely convincing names you see in junk shops. This is a much more sophisticated operation where external body panels containing models names are swapped over. If you inadvertently buy one of these counterfeits, you're still getting a perfectly good Nikon DSLR – but a lesser model than the one you thought you were buying. The profit, for the forgers, lies in the price difference between the cheaper camera and the one it's pretending to be.

Models affected

It all started with the D800 and D800E. The D800E variant had the anti-aliasing effect removed and this added a modest but useful amount to the price – and the margin was enough to make it worthwhile for rogue traders to quickly swap a D800's body panel with one from the D800E.

But now Nikon has issued a fresh warning notice reporting fake D610s too. They're actually APS-C D7100 bodies – outwardly very similar – disguised as the full-frame D610.

More worryingly for pros, it seems forgers are pulling the same trick with the old Nikon D4, disguising it to look like the much newer and more desirable Nikon D4s.

How can you tell?

Nikon fake detection

The Nikon model is displayed on the LCD in playback mode, and the fakers can't fake that.

There is a very simple way to check a Nikon DSLR is what it says it is. All you have to do is display a saved image in playback mode and select the 'overview' mode – the model name will be displayed in the top right corner. The camera body can be modified, but the firmware can't lie.

This won't help if you're buying a camera unseen, of course.

Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.