Why do comparable video/camera lenses differ so much in price?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Everythingisnt, May 16, 2008.

  1. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #1
    Having spent alot of time working and helping out in video production, I've grown accustom to seeing professional-quality lenses costing anywhere from 20 to 60k ALONE - never mind the camera body. These lenses usually are equipped with an autofocus motor, manual focus ring etc., and have (approximate) focal lengths of abooout 28mm-200/300mm..

    My question is, when compared to, say, a high-end DSLR zoom lens, video lenses are still several times more expensive. In fact, the most expensive DSLR lens I've seen around is the ~$8000 Canon 600mm, whereas any standard Sony TV Xcam comes equipped with a $25,000 lens..


    Am I missing something here, or are video lenses somehow "better quality"? Thanks if anyone can help me out :).
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #2
    I bet they sell a lot more Nikon and Canon DSLR lenses then pro-quality video lenses. If you are going to build a lot of something you can set up a production line and reduce to number of man hours required to assemble it.

    Also, I've noticed it's not uncommon to use a manual focus Nikon mount lens on a 35mm motion picture camera. so it goes the other way too some times
     
  3. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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    #3
    Not quite sure about this myself, but perhaps it has something to do with how on a motion picture camera the subject must remain in focus as the lens zooms, whereas in still photography you can just refocus. Of course, this doesn't take into account prime lenses.

    My roommate is a film major, I can ask him.
     
  4. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I suspect it is a combination of factors:

    - Competition
    - What the market will bear
    - Economies of scale.
    - Quality control.
     
  5. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #5
    There was a 1,200mm Canon lens at B&H for $99,000 recently :)

    Also, some photographers who have Canon cameras use video lenses with the proper mount on their cameras for special projects.
     
  6. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #6
    :O 1,200mm?? Do you have a link so I could check this out?


    Also, while most Canon Video Cameras DO support their EOS lenses, they are definitely not the industry standard. I have yet to see any television or movie production using Canon cameras.. I'm not even sure that Canon makes movie-quality motion picture bodies..
     
  7. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #7
    They don't, not too many companies do. The simple answer to your questions is the glass has to resolve 3 sensors instead of one most of the time. They are also built to much higher standards than DSLR/35mm glass, and are highly specialized. Also, look at the format of the medium. SLRs record to a sensor that is 4/3 or 3/2 not 16/9.

    Video production is going to be far more expensive no matter what you compare because of what is at stake, and where the money is.

    To flip the script a bit, when you compare the highest rez digital film camera, the Red One (soon to be replaced by the Epoch :D can't wait) to the Hasselblad H3D, the H3D is a higher rez, and costs more. Even the parts for the Red One are a little cheaper than the H3D.

    Now of course, when you look at broadcast quality, it's a whole nother story.

    Lexar Card reader: $75 each
    HD/SD Deck: $5000 each

    Then there's converter boxes, capture cards, output, reproduction, the sweatest app for video editing in the world (Avid) which I forgotten how to use since FCP is kicking their butt on price. Professional, (not Panasonic HVX, Sony XDCAM video production is an ever changing money making market that is as highly competitive as any sport. And to be on top nothing else will work other than top notch gear.

    Hey, look at Nascar, each one of their hotrods costs in the millions.
     
  8. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #8
    Good points..

    Although it's really the pentaprism (which can cost upwards of $5,000 in its own right) which splits the light for each CCD, not really the lens..

    Although more and more broadcast/movie quality bodies are using CMOS now... (Thinks of new Genesis Cam. ;))..

    The Deck thing is a *bit* of an exaggeration.. I use a Sony HD deck that didn't run us over 2,000 :D.
     
  9. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #9
    Yeah, there are cheaper decks, but the ones I used to have access to, that were still SD and the one HD one that we did have, were $4,999 (US dollars).

    And it's not a pentaprism, which is in SLRs but they are prisms. And they are in the camera body, not the lens. At least in the cameras I have used.
     
  10. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #10
    You can look at a photo of the lens I mentioned, but B&H already sold it. It was a used lens, too.
    http://laughingsquid.com/99000-canon-1200mm-f56l-ef-usm-super-telephoto-lens/

    And photographers are using Nikon and other mounts with pentax, Zeis, and other old lenses attached to Canon cameras. I have been looking a lots of photos takes with such lenses, but focus must be accomplished manually.
     
  11. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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  12. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #12
    Oops, sorry, I mixed up the two.

    I meant to say it was in the body, which is why I didn't understand your comment about Video lenses needing to resolve color for 3 sensors (when it's the prism that does that..?)

    And yeah those canon 1,200mm lenses look pretty crazy, although I'm not really sure how many people actually use them :p.
     
  13. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #13
    No problem. I am not technician, so I had to check my facts and make sure I didn't post the wrong info.

    I forgot that Canon does make professional broadcast gear and lenses for for ENG cameras. I was a little off with the price of the deck it was only $2100.
     
  14. PkennethV macrumors 6502a

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    #14

    Sorry for sidetracking a little...
    but i just took a look at the link at it says the lens can be used for portraits...now how are you supposed to communicate with the model from that distance:rolleyes: (well ok, at minimum it can be 200mm). Pretty cool though.
     
  15. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #15
    Hmm, that price sounds about right for decks. Interesting to see pro canon Video gear though, never actually encountered one of those face to face.. Unfortunately the Canon Bodies still aren't industry standard, simply because their CCD technology is lagging behind the likes of Sony when it comes to Movie/Broadcast HD..

    And even now there's a fair amount of films being shot on 35mm film before being Telecined to digital (Spider-Man 2 for example)(I'm not sure what kind of lenses/bodies they use though).


    And PkennethV, walkie-talkies maybe? :p
     
  16. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #16
    These ones are lagging behind Sony?
    http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ProductCatIndexAct&fcategoryid=172
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

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    #17
    Radio to your assistant- at least for the high-end fashion photogs I've seen doing the 600mm telephoto look thing.
     
  18. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #18
    Those aren't MOVIE quality cameras.

    And yes, they're lagging behind sony and others.. Take for example the Genesis, a panavision movie-quality camera with THREE 12.4 MEGAPIXEL CCD's.. Or the Sony CineAlta (http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-F35/)..

    The Camera's you've mentioned are "prosumer" models... So they aren't really in the same league as these ones.

    As for their direct competition, the likes of the Sony Z1U or the new Sony XCam simply blows them away.

    Edit:and as a matter of fact, I have used the Canon Gl2.. It's a great little camera (It has optical image stabilization :)).
     
  19. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

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    #19
    The only times I have seen the Canon glass has been on the football fields or some basketball courts and are only used for broadcast, not too much mobile ENG.

    The Canon Prosumer stuff is okay, pretty much on par with the rest of the prosumer world, but the only body they have that is broadcast quality/feature rich is the XL-H1 or the new addition. The rest serve well for students and documentaries, but the final product will have to be up-rezed to get it on the HD screens.

    Sony and Panasonic make some of the best film quality bodies on the market, soon to be beaten by Red One and their 5K Epic and 3K Scarlet for under $3000. Sony has a movie studio and indie production house, so they will of course be pumping lots of money into their bodies and convincing shooters to pick up their stuff.
     
  20. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #20
    I learned something new today. What is a Red One's "Epic"?
     
  21. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #21
    I think you're referring to the 'red code' bodies, Skunk? (I'm not really sure)
     
  22. Grimace macrumors 68040

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    #22
    RED makes high end digital video cameras: 1-100fps, 5k video

    bada$$ to the extreme - and not as expensive as it could be! "Jumper" was shot with RED
     
  23. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

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    #23
    Sorry about that, and thanks Grimace. I meant that the company's name was Red, and they make the Epic (available 2009) the Red One (available now!) and the Scarlet (available 2009).

    As Grimace said they don't cost nearly as much as many film or broadcast cameras but have twice or more the resolution. I am pumped up for the Scarlet. I have been eyeing the Panasonic HVX or replacement (not for a few years of course) but now the Scarlet has twice the res at about half the price.
     
  24. Grimace macrumors 68040

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    #24
    Once these cameras get out into the wild, the video industry is going to get shaken up quite a bit. The other manufacturers are panicking right now at their loss of profit margins, or just inefficient/outdated manufacturing processes.
     
  25. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #25
    Ahh, I see. Those cameras do seem pretty awesome.

    Maybe I'll be seeing them in the next two years :).





    Ironically, though, despite the abundance of interesting and informative posts this thread has, we still are pretty much at square 1 about why video lenses cost so much :p.
     

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