Why Are Camera Lenses so Expensive? – The Killer 5

August 12, 2021
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OK, so why are camera lenses so expensive?

why are camera lenses so expensive

Fair question…

The truth is that camera lenses are expensive because they need to be made to a very high quality to achieve crystal clear, in-focus images. Lenses are intricately crafted with precision glass optics and metal housings to produce clear, sharp photographs.

A camera lens is one of the most important and expensive components of a camera. It’s responsible for capturing an image from the scene in front of it and bringing it into focus.

Camera lenses can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on their quality, size, and features such as zoom capabilities or tilt-shift capabilities.

Manufacturers need to make sure that all these features work well together so that the photographer can take the best possible pictures without having to worry about anything else on their camera going wrong.

So there are FIVE key factors that make lenses really expensive – Here they are.

Precision Glass Manufacturing

Lenses have perfectly shaped pieces of curved glass. To shape this glass, expensive, precise machinery is required to cut, polish, and buff them into the exact shape required. This machinery makes it possible for lenses to be manufactured with tremendous precision. This does, however; have the effect of making lenses expensive as they are specialized and the machines are very costly.

Elements and Groups

Not all lenses have the same number of glass elements within them.

‘Elements’ are the individual glass lenses within a lens, while ‘groups’ are either a series of lenses or two or more lenses fixed together. While it might seem like having more elements and groups would make a lens clearer, that’s not actually true.

There is no definitive answer to whether more or fewer elements and groups will increase the quality of the lens, but you can be sure that the more there are, the more expensive it is for the manufacturer to produce.

The Mechanics

The mechanics inside of the lens allows movement of the internal glass toward or away from one another and the image sensor. Not only that, certain glass elements within the lens are responsible for making different things come into focus at different distances.

They are rings on the outside of the camera lenses. For either Zoom or Focus. Those rings turn gears that are inside the camera lens which in turn move the glass back and forth. All of this is tightly packed inside these lenses.

Autofocus

While this feature could be described as one of the mechanical features of a lens, it does warrant its own mention here. The quality of autofocus (including the mechanical and computational ability – ie. the reactive speed of the lens) is a huge contributor to the manufacturer’s cost in producing a lens and therefore causes the price to increase with quality.

This technology, which is packed inside this lens, enables it to move back and forth, in tiny fractions of an inch, without actually physically touching the rings.

Aperture Blades

The next item on the list is the lens’ aperture blades.

These are thin blades made of different kinds of materials that are packed tightly together and simultaneously. All of them have closed down or open up to allow less or more light into the camera. These blades have been opened or closed form the funky shapes and circles in the background of some images – also known as bokeh.

And then to add to these three factors. There are other things, like image stabilization, and build quality, For each of the things that I mentioned above, you can also get better quality versions. Such as better quality glass, Better quality focus technology, basically the price increases as build quality increases. So there you have it. These are the basic elements that make lenses really expensive.

How to know if you’re getting a good deal on a lens

When trying to get the best deal on a lens, it is important to know the difference between lens costs and other factors that may drive up the price.

A good way to get a feel for what a lens should cost is by looking at what other lenses in your price range are going for. The best way to find this information is by checking out sites like Consumer Reports or PCMag.

So why are camera lenses so expensive?

Basically, it all comes back to quality. You really do get what you pay for with a few minor exceptions.

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