September 20, 2014, 12:21:37 PM

Author Topic: Speculation: Year of the Lens  (Read 3321 times)

scottburgess

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Speculation: Year of the Lens
« on: February 28, 2014, 09:08:18 PM »
Lots of lenses on sale at B&H.  Perhaps the rumors of new lenses are true, and we're in for a surprise or two this year as Canon and Nikon respond to the surge of quality third party designs.

So what strategy does everyone thing Canon would employ, and which would you prefer: a) mark ii versions of L lenses that are reasonably competitive with the new Sigmas and Zeiss glass, with a bit higher price point than current releases, or b) a whole new SL line ("Super Luxury") that beats the pants off of the competition, but at prices closer to the Otus?

Or perhaps you think Canon could do both?

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Speculation: Year of the Lens
« on: February 28, 2014, 09:08:18 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2014, 02:59:26 PM »
Lots of lenses are on sale, because they are not selling.  The story is the same across all brands of cameras and lenses.  If you are a business with a lot of inventory but little sales, then you do what it takes to move it.
 
On the other hand, why would a company spend huge sums of money for lenses that won't sell.  There will always be some new lenses, just to meet competition, or company goals which might go beyond worrying about short term profits.  Canon seems to be plunging into Cinema in a big way, and you have to pay to play.

dgatwood

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2014, 07:29:15 PM »

On the flip side, I suspect lots of folks aren't buying lenses because so many lenses are old designs with old focus motors and old glass technology.  Now that folks have seen what's possible with newer lens tech, they're reticent to spend thousands of dollars on lenses that were designed way back when most folks were still using film.  :)

Don Haines

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2014, 08:23:55 PM »
And off brand, Tamron has a HUGE backlog for the 150-600.... for them, it really is "the year of the lens"

If you build it they will come :)
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jdramirez

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2014, 08:50:47 PM »
It took a ton of consideration when I bought the 70-200 is mkii... and that was two grand.  I can't see a future where I pay 4 grand for a lens.

Would I consider paying a premium for a lens that is in the top of its class, but I think two grand is where that willingness starts to  die out.
Upgrade  path.->means the former was sold for the latter.

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scottburgess

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2014, 11:37:41 PM »
And off brand, Tamron has a HUGE backlog for the 150-600.... for them, it really is "the year of the lens"

If you build it they will come :)

If you build that well enough they will take up astrophotography!  (No, really: my wife wants an AstroTrac and we don't even have a lens that long.)

I would not be surprised if demand for the Zeiss Otus 55 and new Sigma 50 f/1.4 are strong, too.  While purchases of hobbyist photo gear look like they're down, I think folks are also being picky about what they do spend on.  Older lenses aren't generating buzz like the new ones are.  Customers appear to be watching for significant performance improvements rather than incremental ones.  Canon and Nikon are facing unexpectedly strong lens competition on their own cameras.  While they have substantial market share, nothing looks secure. 

At this point, Sigma could really turn heads with a 500mm f/4 that beats the Canon model at half the price (if they can do it--I doubt they have the long focal length technologies mastered).

I am encouraged by these developments.  The tighter competition might push several manufacturers toward fresh products and product lines.  Profit margins may tighten on mid-focal length lenses, and that could lead to more luxury products as everyone chases profits.

At this point I tend to wonder if Canon must respond soon, otherwise some Canon hobbyists could come to think of Canon as not really superior to the other lens makers.  If they push out some top contenders this year, folks might be willing to take a wait-and-see on a particular focal length rather than purchase immediately from the competition when something clearly better comes out. 

Of course, part of the reason I posted this was to throw these thoughts out here and see what better ones everyone else came up with.   :)


ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 09:26:04 AM »
I do not think it's necessary to create a new nomenclature "Super Deluxe" for new high-performance lenses. Lenses "L" already fascinate photographers, but some of them need updating to be competitive with the new Zeiss and Sigma. Is there a reason to Zeiss not put autofocus in lens Otus. The accuracy of measurement and mechanism (lens and camera) for the resolution capability of Otus puts a level of requirement similar to the big whites costing $12,000. If Otus 55mm had AF, and it cost over $6.000 will sell even less than now. Nothing prevents Canon make lenses "Super Premium", but it is a niche market that may not have return of profit.

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 09:26:04 AM »

scottburgess

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 02:50:24 PM »
I do not think it's necessary to create a new nomenclature "Super Deluxe" for new high-performance lenses. Lenses "L" already fascinate photographers, but some of them need updating to be competitive with the new Zeiss and Sigma. Is there a reason to Zeiss not put autofocus in lens Otus. The accuracy of measurement and mechanism (lens and camera) for the resolution capability of Otus puts a level of requirement similar to the big whites costing $12,000. If Otus 55mm had AF, and it cost over $6.000 will sell even less than now. Nothing prevents Canon make lenses "Super Premium", but it is a niche market that may not have return of profit.

I'm not convinced that putting autofocus in a lens with the quality of the Otus is an expensive proposition.  Sigma may already have done exactly that at a much lower price.  Many Zeiss lenses carry the chips to communicate AF/AE information to advanced bodies, but the maker has consistently avoided autofocus motors.  This may be due to many reasons (eg: patent concerns, target market, research costs, elimination of too many promising lens designs, ...).  Further, I think it is the lens polishing tolerances that drive most of the cost difference.  In other words, this appears to me to be a strategic decision, not something particular to this lens.

The photo market is bifurcating, like many markets.  Worldwide the wealthy are increasingly more wealthy, while the rest at best maintain buying power and at worst lose some.  The wealthier end of the spectrum tend to seek higher quality and better perceived value.  It can make very good sense to create products targeting them even if the prices are high because so are the profit margins.  Compare a Gucci handbag to one from Ross's, for example.  Sure the Gucci is a niche market, but Gucci makes a lot of money.

Of course, with worldwide lens sales totaling about 57 million units in the last two years, I'm not sure I would call this a niche market.  [These numbers exclude Zeiss and some other manufacturers who don't belong to CIPA.]

This also explains why Canon is moving out of the low cost camera market, but into security cameras.  Canon targets expanding markets with higher profit margins.  I can even imagine the distant day when Canon will no longer make consumer cameras and lenses at all because the market is too mature for them.

scottburgess

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 04:15:10 PM »
On the other hand, why would a company spend huge sums of money for lenses that won't sell.  There will always be some new lenses, just to meet competition, or company goals which might go beyond worrying about short term profits.  Canon seems to be plunging into Cinema in a big way, and you have to pay to play.
One reason is to generate profits by creating excitement and interest around the brand.  Proper pricing should ensure sufficient profits on the particular lenses.  With plenty of 20 year old lens designs, Canon isn't generating oodles of excitement (the 200-400L is a nice exception).  Look at the interest in the Zeiss Otus and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lenses on these forums.  That does a lot to promote those brands and product lines, and increase sales on their other products.  And Sigma and Zeiss will probably profit nicely on these particular lenses by setting the prices high.

While lens profits/units took a dip in 2013, the long-term growth trend is very strong (I posted camera/lens data under the topic "An Era of Mergers" in Third Party Manufacturers).  As long as we aren't seeing a major trend reversal, I expect more product releases and more competition.  I also expect more luxury products.  One argument for a trend reversal: the younger generation may not be as interested in cameras as stand-alone products.  One argument against a trend reversal: stale product lines of the largest players has impacted camera and lens sales.  Data from other consumer products would influence my evaluation of the latter argument--perhaps consumers elected to spend more money on necessities or other hobbies, for example.  Or perhaps secondary products like GoPro, GigaPan, quadcopters, and StackShot are slurping up noticeable hobby cash from photo markets.  My current conclusion is that I have insufficient data to evaluate the trend.  But I welcome any data folks here can add.

Canon has often been a wait-and-see player.  Folks here criticized their slow-'n-easy strategy on the EOS M, for example, but ultimately Canon concluded that small mirrorless cameras were not strategically good because of small pixel sizes and low profit margins.  In that instance, slow-'n-easy probably paid off as they didn't create a lot of products they now would be winding down.

I don't think Canon actually has anything competitive with these nifty-fifties in the pipeline yet.  I do think they might consider a new lens branding, like Sigma has, to recapture interest in their premium products but I doubt we'll see a move before 2015.  That is purely speculative, as Canon could simply update a bunch of the L line instead (and I do think their L lenses could be at higher price points).  I'm just trying to wrap my head around the question beforehand, then I'll watch to see what really happens.


Dylan777

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 09:18:45 PM »
It took a ton of consideration when I bought the 70-200 is mkii... and that was two grand.  I can't see a future where I pay 4 grand for a lens.

Would I consider paying a premium for a lens that is in the top of its class, but I think two grand is where that willingness starts to  die out.
I said that when I first got into photography.  Then I need more reach for indoor swimming...300mm f2.8 IS II - 400mm f2.8 IS II become necessary ;)

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sanj

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 02:15:36 AM »
Lots of lenses are on sale, because they are not selling. The story is the same across all brands of cameras and lenses.  If you are a business with a lot of inventory but little sales, then you do what it takes to move it.
 
On the other hand, why would a company spend huge sums of money for lenses that won't sell.  There will always be some new lenses, just to meet competition, or company goals which might go beyond worrying about short term profits.  Canon seems to be plunging into Cinema in a big way, and you have to pay to play.

Hmmm. Really? Does Canon not offer rebates every year?

adhocphotographer

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2014, 03:38:01 AM »
It took a ton of consideration when I bought the 70-200 is mkii... and that was two grand.  I can't see a future where I pay 4 grand for a lens.

Would I consider paying a premium for a lens that is in the top of its class, but I think two grand is where that willingness starts to  die out.

I was in the same boat...  but now i'm considering a 300 f/2.8...  situations and priorities change.  I am fortunate to be in a good financial situation, so it is plausible...  several years a go when i finished my PhD and didn't have to pennies to rub together, buying the 55-250 was a monumental decision! Never say never!  I am also looking at it as an investment. I can always sell it if i come into hard times.

Saying that, i've still got to save up for it and then pluck up the courage to buy a lens instead of a used car (or 3 new Royal Enfield motorbikes)...  :)
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Sabaki

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2014, 05:52:53 AM »
A question that comes to my mind in this, The Year of the Lens, is what becomes of the L designation if Canon cannot surpass the quality of the third party brands out there?

Zeiss apart, Canon's versions of lens standards like a 50mm, 24-105 etc, should really be better performers that what Tamron and Sigma are releasing.

Although not really quantafiable by any measured standard, L series lenses are the pinnacle of Canon glass. So what now if 3rd party manufacturers outperform them?

Just a thought and apologies for any incorrect assumptions :)
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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2014, 05:52:53 AM »

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2014, 06:33:37 AM »
Zeiss apart, Canon's versions of lens standards like a 50mm, 24-105 etc, should really be better performers that what Tamron and Sigma are releasing.

how old are these lenses... how old are the lenses you compare them too?   ::)


tron

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 07:21:21 AM »
If you build it they will come :)
+1000

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Re: Speculation: Year of the Lens
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 07:21:21 AM »