Why is the 42.5 F/1.2 $1600 when the Fuji 56mm F/1.2 is only $1000?

Started Mar 2, 2014 | Discussions thread
Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 40,756

BeaverTerror wrote:

I'm a long time M43 user and have been with the format pretty much since the beginning. I'm a bicycle tourist and mountaineer. I dumped my Nikon gear for M43 because weight is an important consideration for my uses. Over the years I've taken tens of thousands of photographs with a number of M43 bodies and lenses.

I had been waiting for the 42.5 F/1.2 lens ever since it was announced over a year ago. I looked forward to having a large aperture portrait lens for taking top-down photos of climbers from above. I expected the lens to be expensive, but $1600 is absurd. M43 lenses have always been expensive for what they are. I understand that Canon and Nikon have larger economies of scale which enables them to sell lenses at cheaper prices, and perhaps the design/production/distribution overhead is much more significant than the weight of glass needed to cover larger format sensors. I'm also happy to pay a premium as an early adopter of a new system. There is an argument to be made about paying a price for miniaturization, a weak argument I think, because we're not talking about expensive nano scale manufacturing of silicone circuitry, we are talking about grinding a lens of 40mm diameter as opposed to 60mm diameter: hardly ground breaking technology.

Be that as it may, I would have been happy to pay $1200 for the 42.5mm lens. This $1600 price had me do some research though: the new Fuji XT-1 has finally improved on Fuji's focus performance to the point where this is no longer a consideration for my uses. The Fuji 56mm F/1.2 lens, equivalent in field of view to the Panasonic 42.5mm and identical in aperture, is only $1000. M43 is a more mature system than Fuji's X-mount, so there is no argument for high early adoption cost. The Fuji lens also has to cover a larger APS-C image circle. The Fuji lens is 20 grams lighter and 60% cheaper than the Panasonic lens! The Panasonic lens is stabilized whereas the Fuji lens is not, but as even the cheapest kit lenses sold these days have image stabilization, I fail to see how this is worth a 60% price increase. The Fuji lens won't hit the market for another couple of months, but early reports indicate it is a well built, sharp lens.

I'm due for a body upgrade. The Fuji XT-1 is $100 cheaper than the Olympus EM-1, body only. The Fuji again does not have image stabilization, but is a larger sensor camera and claws back some advantage here. Fuji's APS-C sensor is 60% larger in area than a M43 sensor and gathers that amount of additional light at the same aperture, resulting in a corresponding noise advantage. Indeed, this is reflected in the studio comparisons available. This is not enough to make up for the 3 stops of stabilization on the EM-1 though.

Let's summarize the numbers:

Olympus EM-1 with 42.5mm F/1.2 lens: 497g + 425g = 922g $1400 + $1600 = $3000

Fujifilm XT-1 with 56mm F/1.2 lens: 440g + 405g = 845g $1300 + $1000 = $2300

In the years since the introduction of the X-mount, Fuji has produced a sensible range of large aperture primes in the wide, normal, and protrait lengths. Fuji will release a constant F/4, 15-36mm full frame equivalent ultra-wide zoom this spring. Fuji has a super-tele zoom planned for 2015, but with its larger sensor, it will never rival the Panasonic 100-300mm in size and weight.

I'm contemplating keeping the 100-300mm and one M43 body, selling all my other M43 gear, and moving to Fuji. Can anyone offer a compelling reason for why I shouldn't switch?

...because some one, or a team of people, working at Panasonic and Fuji felt that their asking prices would maximize profit.  Why they chose different prices could be for any number of reasons based on any number of considerations.

Ideally, we would like to think that the Panasonic 42.5 / 1.2 is a significantly superior lens to the Fuji 56 / 1.2, and that's why it costs more.  On the other hand, perhaps Fuji is selling their lens even at a loss to try to draw more people into their system.

The bottom line is that we don't, and won't, know.

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