Why are lenses so expensive? (serious question)

Started Mar 14, 2010 | Discussions thread
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biggles267
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Why are lenses so expensive? (serious question)
Mar 14, 2010

Hi, as an IT person I find the cost of camera lenses puzzling and frustrating. I understand that there is significant R&D and expert knowledge involved, but that is true for computer products and many other types of products sold too. I understand that there must be some reasonable cost involved to make the lenses and do QA. But ditto that is true in other fields as well.

Lenses are just made from glass, metal and plastic, it's not like there are rare materials involved or anything. They must be made by machines, not by hand.

So why are they so expensive? I can buy an entire laptop or desktop system for less than an L lens, or even a low-end laptop for the same price as a standard Canon macro lens. Consider all the expertise, materials and complexity involved in a laptop. Electronics are relatively cheap these days because of mass production, which I assume applies to lens production as well. Not only can I buy an entire computer for the same price as one lens, but I continually get better and better computers for the same price, as years go by. So today I can buy a computer a good bit better than one I could buy for the same price last year. I don't see this happening with lenses. Why not?

So I'm not trying to cause an argument. I'm relatively new to DSLR's. But I want to buy new lenses but simply can't afford the cost, and I don't understand why they should cost that much in the first place. Why aren't good cheap lenses available to photographers all over the world - there is a big enough market if they would make them more affordable.

Any ideas?

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