The Great Canon Rip-off – Sky High New Lens Prices!

EDITORIAL

Lens Price If you are a full frame Canon user like me I sure it won’t have escaped you that Canon have recently released a plethora of new highly desirable new L lenses. These include an EF 70-300 f/4.5-6.6 L IS zoom, an EF 8-15 mm f/4 L fisheye zoom lens, an EF 300mm f/2.8 IS Mark-II lens, and an EF 400 mm f/2.6 IS mark-II lens, not to mention version III of their 1.4x and 2x extenders. Plus new mark-II versions of the 500mm f/4 and 600 mm f/4 lenses are also in the pipeline. That’s quite a lot of new glass. But have you seen the prices!

I’m sure that a few of these lenses may have been on your wish list as well as mine, but when I saw the prices I must admit I was simply gob smacked!

Lets take the extenders for a start. The current version II of these sell at about £260-£270 within the UK, but the suggested retail prices of the new versions are £549.99. That’s a price increase of around 107%. Sure there may be some improved optics, but a price increase of that much…wow.! They are going to have to be really, really good.

EF300mm-f2-8L Lens Next I’d like to mention the EF 300 mm f/2.8 IS USM lens. This is a lens I’ve have coveted ever since I had the chance to borrow one for a brief time at one of my kids school sports days. It’s a simply fabulous lens, receives 10/10 reviews and is generally regarded as one of the best pieces of glass in Canon’s current line-up. One wonders just how this could be improved? It’s also a lens that really seems to perform with the 1.4x and 2.0x extenders so would be ideal for wildlife photography too. Ever since that sports day I’ve paid close attention to the price of this lens, which was around £2,500 and just too much to fork out back then. To my horror the price of this shot up to around £3500 plus in January 2010 with Canon citing falling exchange rates (more on that below) necessitating an across the board increase in lens prices. To be honest the lens then became just a pipe dream.

The new version II of this lens is priced at a staggering £7,499.99 which is a inordinately large sum for a 300 mm lens no matter how good it may be. This is an increase of over £4000 on the previous model. How on earth can Canon possibly justify such an increase no matter how good the lens performs?

According to Canon the new 300mm f/2.5 mark-II has a the new IS version II, is a lot lighter due to new titanium components, and has 16 lens elements with high performance fluorite elements. However, the current 300mm f/2.8 has 17 elements, weighs only 150 grams more, and is practically the same size at only 4mm shorter. They look practically identical. IS-II is supposed to give quicker stabilisation and a up to 4-stops, but on spec. the new lens is going to have to have some sort of mind boggling, blistering, optical performance to be able to justify such a hike in price.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to the price of the EF 300mm f/2.8 IS mark-I. Normally you’d expect a lens to come down in price when superseded, but version-I is so good you may see existing supplies being snapped up quickly as many will view the mark-II as simply unaffordable.

The Yen Exchange Rate debacle

At the end of January 2010 the retail price of Canon lenses increased by an average of 30-40% across the board within the UK, with Canon citing the strengthening Yen against the British pound necessitating the price hikes. Well lets just have a look at that shall we. image At the beginning of 2009 you’d get around 130 Yen to your pound, but from January through till August the value of the Yen to the British pound actually fell reaching almost 157 yen to the pound. This meant Canon were actually earning more Yen for their British sales within that period. Were prices reduced in the UK? No they remained pretty much the same. During the later part of 2009 the exchange rate stabilised at around 147 yen to the pound which continued through to the start of 2010.image

At the end of January 2010 the rate fell to from 147 to around 133 and Canon duly increase their prices. The pound has continued to fall steadily against the Yen throughout 2010 but even by September this year the average rate is 130 Yen to the pound. That’s exactly the same as it was in January 2009. Yet why are the same Canon lenses still 30-40% more dearer than 21 months ago?

Summary

I see little evidence from exchange rates for justification of such a huge increase in retail prices from Canon earlier this year and I also feel that the new lenses prices seem simply extortionate. To the serious amateur like myself, and no doubt millions others, Canon is simply pricing us out of the market and items such as these will be left merely for the super rich and high earning professionals. There’s no doubting Canons expertise, research and technology is absolutely top notch, but to see new models being priced at twice the price of the previous one smacks of greed and could alienate a large portion of it’s previously expanding customer base. It’s a real shame to see this happening as there is, without any doubt, a boom in photography and many more photographers are aspiring to acquire better quality glass. It seems to do this Canon will require a substantially larger slice of your hard earned dosh from now on.

I guess I for one, will have to keep buying the lottery tickets and hope!

One comment


  • Doug Chinnery

    I would love to see (in addition to your suggestions with which I concur);
    1. ISO going very low ISO4 would be nice to do long exposures without ND filters
    2. I would like an eyepiece cover like the 1dsmk's 2 and 3 – the rubber thing they put on the strap is a joke.
    3. an even bigger rear screen
    4. Change the ISO with a wheel, not a menu item
    5. Built in remote flash trigger
    6. I would like to be able to see the counter for bulb exposures on the rear screen – when on a tripod in the dark I can't see it on the top LCD
    7. I would like the top and rear LCD's to be illuminated during shooting as an option in very low light
    8. Why are we limited to a 30 second automatic exposure – surely it is just a firmware upgrade to enable us to dial in an exposure of any length?
    9. It would be great if the histogram was displayed dynamically during long exposures so the screen shows the histogram 'developing' as the image is being made – then we could close the shutter just before the histogram hits the right edge of the graph.
    10. stopping now as this list is getting long and could get very long indeed – like giving the camera the ability to switch on infrared shooting…

    September 27, 2010

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