Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms

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JohnNEX Contributing Member • Posts: 759
Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
24

Below is a table showing the prices of the various professional level zoom lenses for Sony FE, Canon and Nikon.

I've tried to do a fair comparison here, but there are some judgements involved.

First, I've tried to match up the lenses as best I can but of course they are not perfect matches. If I have not got the right match then let me know.  (yes, I know the 24-70mm f/4 zeiss is stretching the definition of 'pro zoom'!)

Second, it is tricky to compare the prices of lenses released in different years. I've included the current price on B+H photo (US dollars), as well as the price in 2016 US dollars by adjusting for inflation (CPI). This is obviously not a perfect method but it will provide an indicative guide.

There is some discussion after the table. The focus is on the Sony and Canon lenses. The Nikon lenses are just there for comparison.

So, on average the Canon lenses are around 7 per cent cheaper than the Sony lenses. I think that this difference is probably within a reasonable margin of error given the assumptions I've made.

Anyway, there is no evidence that the Canon lenses are 'much' cheaper than the Sony lenses of the same sort, as is sometimes claimed. At best, the equivalent Canon lenses are a 'bit' cheaper.

An important question is if the Sony GM lenses are materially different to the Canon lenses - Sony claims that these lenses have been designed to be used on future high resolution sensors. If that is true, and the Canon lenses will need to be updated once the 50 and 70 MP sensors become standard in professional cameras, then Canon prices will go up as well.

I don't know if that is the case or not. We will have to wait and see.

The issue for Sony is that they have not (yet) tried to compete on mid-price zooms, other than the kit lens, so the range seems expensive but we should not compare apples and oranges here.

If there is any interest, I'll do a comparison on primes sometime ...

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6500 Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +6 more
Magnar W
Magnar W Senior Member • Posts: 1,996
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
5

This is a good summary.

When going for a system, a few bucks more or less for the lenses that are needed, is rater uninteresting. Other aspects, like features, overall flexibility, weight and bulk, would be of more interest. And of cause the emotional part; if you like and trust the system, and think it has a bright future, since buying or expanding a camera system is long term planning.

Does small variation in price matter? I don't think do. Some are even buying into Leica systems.

armin304 Regular Member • Posts: 321
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
12

This table shows only part of the truth, third party lenses and the gigantic inventory of used lenses for canikon are completely missing. The availability of this big market for used lenses was one of the major points for me to go Nikon instead of KoMi or Pentax in 2004 and still is a major point to not go the Sony path further than the A7II with adapted lenses.

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Nikon D700 Samsung NX10 Samsung NX2000 Samsung NX30 Sony Alpha a7 II
OP JohnNEX Contributing Member • Posts: 759
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
4

armin304 wrote:

This table shows only part of the truth, third party lenses and the gigantic inventory of used lenses for canikon are completely missing.

Correct.

The table only shows a comparison of the prices of the 'latest' lenses.

Assuming that the later lens is better than the earlier lens, then it also shows the best lenses in each category, Canon vs Sony (although how the 24-70 Zeiss could be 'best' of anything is not an argument I am prepared to engage in).

Cue rebuttals of the kind, "well that's all well and good, but the 1973 version of the 109-137mm f/3.4-8.2 lens is far superior in character, colours and nano-contrast to the bland modern lenses, despite its lack of stabilisation, modern coatings and the fact that its was made of baked enamel by out-of-work Bosnian sewing machine technicians".

 JohnNEX's gear list:JohnNEX's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6500 Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +6 more
Jonathan Brady
Jonathan Brady Veteran Member • Posts: 5,560
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
1

I'd ditch the last column. There's no relevance to it.

I'd consider adding two other bits of data:

  1. Price difference between Canon and Sony (column).
  2. The price of Canon gear using Canonpricewatch.com and their "Street Price" (row) and then compare THAT to Sony's retail price (same column as 1 above). 

The first will make direct comparisons easier for those who hate mental arithmetic.

The second is relevant because LOTS of people are using that service to obtain the lowest price from Canon USA authorized dealers (its the way Canon retailers are getting around "MAP", aka: Minimum Advertised Price). It can make a pretty big difference, 10-15%, in the cost of gear with literally zero downside.

Also, the used market doesn't just pertain to discontinued fear, it pertains to current gear as well. For instance, I bought the Canon 70-300L in pristine condition for $600 die to the market being flooded with them. I think Canon has produced 120 million+ EF lenses to date and while a huge chunk are discontinued, a huge chunk are current and go up for sale on the used market daily. Obviously, tracking those and comparing is cumbersome and somewhat irrelevant for several reasons, but it's worth keeping in mind.

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Sony Alpha a7R II Sony a9 Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 35mm F1.4 +4 more
dkeller Contributing Member • Posts: 832
Final Takeaway
10

This is an expensive hobby no matter what brand you use.

 dkeller's gear list:dkeller's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha a7 II
osv Veteran Member • Posts: 8,417
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
2

armin304 wrote:

This table shows only part of the truth, third party lenses and the gigantic inventory of used lenses for canikon are completely missing. The availability of this big market for used lenses was one of the major points for me to go Nikon instead of KoMi or Pentax in 2004 and still is a major point to not go the Sony path further than the A7II with adapted lenses.

your post only shows part of the truth, because you are limiting your photography to weaker glass and weaker sensors.

specifically, sony has four of the top-ten-sharpest lenses on dxo, and the a7rii has the best 35mm sensor on the market.

-- hide signature --

dan

osv Veteran Member • Posts: 8,417
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
2

Jonathan Brady wrote:

The second is relevant because LOTS of people are using that service to obtain the lowest price from Canon USA authorized dealers (its the way Canon retailers are getting around "MAP", aka: Minimum Advertised Price). It can make a pretty big difference, 10-15%, in the cost of gear with literally zero downside.

Also, the used market doesn't just pertain to discontinued fear, it pertains to current gear as well. For instance, I bought the Canon 70-300L in pristine condition for $600 die to the market being flooded with them. I think Canon has produced 120 million+ EF lenses to date and while a huge chunk are discontinued, a huge chunk are current and go up for sale on the used market daily. Obviously, tracking those and comparing is cumbersome and somewhat irrelevant for several reasons, but it's worth keeping in mind.

this thread just doesn't work, because it's based on the failed dslr mentality of proprietary lens mounts.

for example, most of those lenses that you've listed are usable on sony mirrorless, to one degree or another, so what you've said is just about as applicable to sony as it is to canon.

however, the opposite is not true, since you have canon camera bodies... you can't utilize some of the sharpest lenses in the world, at all.

you can't use nikon lenses, you can't use e-mount lenses, etc.

-- hide signature --

dan

circa2000 Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
1

Could you add Sigma and Tamron with Nikon and Canon mounts to the table? These are viable options for Canon and Nikon users, when looking for cheaper high quality lens.

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Sony RX100 Sony RX10 II Sony Alpha a7R II Sony FE 24-70mm F4 OSS Sony FE 70-200 F4 +1 more
(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,889
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms

Nikon lenses, in the last 8 years and 2-3 generations have seen some pretty large price increases, well beyond inflation.  This is Nikon attempting to maximize profits off existing customers since they aren't gaining many new ones.  The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a case in point, it's price over 3 gens has climbed considerably.  So much so that each new generation has actually caused the used prices of the older lenses to increase.

skookum8 Regular Member • Posts: 318
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms

OlyPent wrote:

Nikon lenses, in the last 8 years and 2-3 generations have seen some pretty large price increases, well beyond inflation. This is Nikon attempting to maximize profits off existing customers since they aren't gaining many new ones. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a case in point, it's price over 3 gens has climbed considerably. So much so that each new generation has actually caused the used prices of the older lenses to increase.

To that point, it's rather distressing to see how Nikon is not pricing their lenses competitively against Canon's.

OP JohnNEX Contributing Member • Posts: 759
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
1

OlyPent wrote:

Nikon lenses, in the last 8 years and 2-3 generations have seen some pretty large price increases, well beyond inflation. This is Nikon attempting to maximize profits off existing customers since they aren't gaining many new ones. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a case in point, it's price over 3 gens has climbed considerably. So much so that each new generation has actually caused the used prices of the older lenses to increase.

Read this .

The latest Nikon 70-200 is more expensive simply because it is better than the competition. Quite a lot better at some focal lengths. It is "currently the best 70-200 zoom on the planet"

There are always the older versions, which are cheaper (but not as good) to choose from.

 JohnNEX's gear list:JohnNEX's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6500 Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +6 more
(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 2,889
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms

skookum8 wrote:

OlyPent wrote:

Nikon lenses, in the last 8 years and 2-3 generations have seen some pretty large price increases, well beyond inflation. This is Nikon attempting to maximize profits off existing customers since they aren't gaining many new ones. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is a case in point, it's price over 3 gens has climbed considerably. So much so that each new generation has actually caused the used prices of the older lenses to increase.

To that point, it's rather distressing to see how Nikon is not pricing their lenses competitively against Canon's.

I'm kind of impressed with Canon, some of their lens offerings are reasonably priced and very high performance.  For me, where I in the market, it would be an inducement to buy their stuff.

Jonathan Brady
Jonathan Brady Veteran Member • Posts: 5,560
A better comparison...
2

JohnNEX wrote:

So, on average the Canon lenses are around 7 per cent cheaper than the Sony lenses. I think that this difference is probably within a reasonable margin of error given the assumptions I've made.

Anyway, there is no evidence that the Canon lenses are 'much' cheaper than the Sony lenses of the same sort, as is sometimes claimed. At best, the equivalent Canon lenses are a 'bit' cheaper.

I re-worked your table and got rid of the Nikon data. I also looked up the prices of the Canon lenses listed on canonpricewatch.com and added that data. For those who don't know, here are the details behind CPW, as briefly as I can explain it...

A few years ago, Canon started enforcing MAP pricing (MAP = Minimum Advertised Price). Canon USA policy states that the equipment their AUTHORIZED DEALERS sell can NOT be advertised below a certain price. That price is usually the one reflected on Canon's own website. HOWEVER, these AUTHORIZED DEALERS are welcome to actually sell the equipment for whatever they want. For instance, if the MAP is $1,000, the dealer must advertise it for $1,000 but they can sell it to you for 37 cents if they really want to.

Gordon, the guy who runs CPW, decided to get in touch with several Canon USA authorized retailers to ask what their minimum price is for various items. Once he obtains that price, he advertises it on his website without using the name of the retailer. Therefore, the retailer is NOT in violation of MAP as they didn't advertise anything and their name was not associated with the advertisement. So, it's all legit.

I've used the CPW Street Price half a dozen times and every purchase has been flawless and the sellers have been THE biggest names in the business. I've received a normal invoice from these sellers - same as I would had I ordered directly from their website or by picking up the phone and calling them.

Here is John's table, reworked, with B&H pricing just as he posted it, but with the CPW pricing also added.

As you can see, when factoring in CPW, Canon lenses are almost 25% cheaper than Sony's similar lenses. And if you factor out the 16-35 f/2.8 lenses and the 70-300 lenses (are "G" and "L" lenses comparable?), the price difference is even larger.

CPW also offers deals on camera bodies and flashes as well.

 Jonathan Brady's gear list:Jonathan Brady's gear list
Sony Alpha a7R II Sony a9 Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 35mm F1.4 +4 more
BBQue Senior Member • Posts: 4,857
Re: Final Takeaway
2

dkeller wrote:

This is an expensive hobby no matter what brand you use.

Not really - cause you can sell lenses with minor loss. Let's say you buy a $2000 lens and sell it for $1600 two years later, that would be $200 per year or less than $1 per day for your hobby.

How does this compare to other hobbies?

BBQue Senior Member • Posts: 4,857
Re: A better comparison...
1

Jonathan Brady wrote:

JohnNEX wrote:

So, on average the Canon lenses are around 7 per cent cheaper than the Sony lenses. I think that this difference is probably within a reasonable margin of error given the assumptions I've made.

Anyway, there is no evidence that the Canon lenses are 'much' cheaper than the Sony lenses of the same sort, as is sometimes claimed. At best, the equivalent Canon lenses are a 'bit' cheaper.

I re-worked your table and got rid of the Nikon data. I also looked up the prices of the Canon lenses listed on canonpricewatch.com and added that data. For those who don't know, here are the details behind CPW, as briefly as I can explain it...

A few years ago, Canon started enforcing MAP pricing (MAP = Minimum Advertised Price). Canon USA policy states that the equipment their AUTHORIZED DEALERS sell can NOT be advertised below a certain price. That price is usually the one reflected on Canon's own website. HOWEVER, these AUTHORIZED DEALERS are welcome to actually sell the equipment for whatever they want. For instance, if the MAP is $1,000, the dealer must advertise it for $1,000 but they can sell it to you for 37 cents if they really want to.

Gordon, the guy who runs CPW, decided to get in touch with several Canon USA authorized retailers to ask what their minimum price is for various items. Once he obtains that price, he advertises it on his website without using the name of the retailer. Therefore, the retailer is NOT in violation of MAP as they didn't advertise anything and their name was not associated with the advertisement. So, it's all legit.

I've used the CPW Street Price half a dozen times and every purchase has been flawless and the sellers have been THE biggest names in the business. I've received a normal invoice from these sellers - same as I would had I ordered directly from their website or by picking up the phone and calling them.

Here is John's table, reworked, with B&H pricing just as he posted it, but with the CPW pricing also added.

As you can see, when factoring in CPW, Canon lenses are almost 25% cheaper than Sony's similar lenses. And if you factor out the 16-35 f/2.8 lenses and the 70-300 lenses (are "G" and "L" lenses comparable?), the price difference is even larger.

CPW also offers deals on camera bodies and flashes as well.

That's a good trick. Another good trick is to simply buy your lenses from overseas sellers, usually Hongkong or Tokyo. Then the Sony lens prices will come down too sometimes

skookum8 Regular Member • Posts: 318
Re: A better comparison...
2

I find the omission of Nikon the major flaw with your reworked table and prefer the original one.  Particularly since with Nikon and Sony they can be compared in the context of similar underlying sensors.

dkeller Contributing Member • Posts: 832
Re: Final Takeaway

The only reason to sell it would be to buy a different one.

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Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha a7 II
Sunshine7913 Regular Member • Posts: 402
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms

Sony lenses basically support high megapixel sensor and they perform better than Canon and Nikon except for 24-70mm F2.8 ii.

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Sony Alpha a7R II Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
TN Args
TN Args Veteran Member • Posts: 5,069
Re: Comparison of Canon, Nikon and Sony FE prices - pro zooms
1

JohnNEX wrote:

Below is a table showing the prices of the various professional level zoom lenses for Sony FE, Canon and Nikon.

I've tried to do a fair comparison here, but there are some judgements involved.

First, I've tried to match up the lenses as best I can but of course they are not perfect matches. If I have not got the right match then let me know. (yes, I know the 24-70mm f/4 zeiss is stretching the definition of 'pro zoom'!)

Second, it is tricky to compare the prices of lenses released in different years. I've included the current price on B+H photo (US dollars), as well as the price in 2016 US dollars by adjusting for inflation (CPI). This is obviously not a perfect method but it will provide an indicative guide.

There is some discussion after the table. The focus is on the Sony and Canon lenses. The Nikon lenses are just there for comparison.

So, on average the Canon lenses are around 7 per cent cheaper than the Sony lenses. I think that this difference is probably within a reasonable margin of error given the assumptions I've made.

Anyway, there is no evidence that the Canon lenses are 'much' cheaper than the Sony lenses of the same sort, as is sometimes claimed. At best, the equivalent Canon lenses are a 'bit' cheaper.

An important question is if the Sony GM lenses are materially different to the Canon lenses - Sony claims that these lenses have been designed to be used on future high resolution sensors. If that is true, and the Canon lenses will need to be updated once the 50 and 70 MP sensors become standard in professional cameras, then Canon prices will go up as well.

I don't know if that is the case or not. We will have to wait and see.

The issue for Sony is that they have not (yet) tried to compete on mid-price zooms, other than the kit lens, so the range seems expensive but we should not compare apples and oranges here.

If there is any interest, I'll do a comparison on primes sometime ...

Thanks for posting a really useful thread.

I like your table MUCH better than the humorously-misnamed 'better comparison' table. The inclusion of the year is ESSENTIAL, because like you say, newer lenses tend to be better lenses, and I kind of like your use of inflation as a proxy for the rate of improvement in lenses -- it's more cute than precise, but generating a true measure of lens improvement over time is more trouble than it's worth, for this exercise at least. A Sony GM lens, for instance probably beats any Canon released before 2015, so if buyers are getting a better lens for a bit more money, it's fully justified.

I also think the inclusion of Nikon is essential, as having a third brand helps to answer whether Sony is expensive or Canon is cheap, and I would add the Nikon 80-400mm in the 100-400 group.

In the end I think same-quality equivalent lenses from Sony should cost more because Canon has economies of scale on their side, so I don't see a 10-20% higher Sony price as evidence of high pricing by Sony. In fact the opposite: I see an equal price from Canon as evidence of Canon ripping buyers off.

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Sigma dp0 Quattro Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH +7 more
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