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08-02-2014, 06:52 AM   #1
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So, why are new pentax lenses so expensive?

I've got a pretty full range of A and FA lenses, so I'm not exactly in the market for anything (except this newly announced 28-45...), but I am a bit curious. The lenses seem about 40-50% (or more...) higher priced than would seem like appropriate to me. The most expensive lens I ever had was the CZ 16-35 f 2.8 for Sony FF---a big lens, lots of glass, really excellent, and not one that was probably made in a huge quantity. But some of these Pentax lenses are more than 2x- 2.5x as expensive. So what accounts for the price difference---I don't think the glass is any better or more exotic, nor the build quality better. Is it truly down to economies of scale---considering that not a lot of those 16-35's were made?

Does anyone know what the legacy A and FA lenses cost originally?

08-02-2014, 07:56 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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Here is a B&H Photo Pentax 645 lens price list from around 1995-1997:

Phil.
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08-02-2014, 07:57 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
So, why are new pentax lenses so expensive?
Fair question to ask.
I think the 645D line is one of the only serious moneymakers for the Pentax brand. Pricey, niche market, low volume, high margin, fairly unique product. The lenses are "so" expensive because they got you locked into a unique platform and the quality is "really excellent" so what can you do?

M
08-02-2014, 08:01 AM   #4
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I think the biggest contributor the high prices we are seeing today comes from the increased cost of product development. The engineering team is working harder with more sophisticated tools to squeeze out every possible ounce of resolution. A development team will include engineers from a wide variety of disciplines : electrical engineering for the internal electronics, mechanical engineering for the packaging, manufacturing engineering to build the lens, optical engineering to design the glass, etc. The list is not small and everyone has to collect a salary. We haven't even touched upon other costs like marketing, sales, margins, back room overhead to keep the lights and HVAC on, etc. Materials are advancing too. The plastics, glass, and metal that make up the lens are lighter, stronger, and better made for the most part. Let's also not forget the cost of pollution control. Every manufacturing process will have some waste that needs to be controlled whether it's simple scrap shavings or some kind of exhaust fume. Add inflation to everything and you're up to today's prices.

I would also argue that supply and demand plays a big role here too. Lenses are generally not commodity items like milk and bread. A company like Pentax or Sigma can only produce what they know will move off of shelves or retailers will lose money which means the manufacturer will eventually lose money too.

Some of the lower priced lenses like the DA 35mm are actually based off of previously developed designs from the past. Those lenses just need an update so to speak and that effort is significantly less than developing a brand new modern lens design.'

Those are just some of my thoughts ...

08-02-2014, 09:11 AM   #5
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Ever increasingly production cost and small market are the key I think. Smaller market require higher margin to be sustainable and it's a market without a lot of competition currently. Also if the product becomes successful in pro market, those numbers certainly don't mean as much to that audience than individuals.
08-02-2014, 09:12 AM   #6
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The cost of any manufactured good is a function of the cost of the capital equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, the time cost of money, and profit. We know that the time cost of money is low, and we know Pentax's profits are not huge. Production labor is what it is, and hasn't changed much over time. There may be quite a bit of engineering labor costs, but my guess is that pales in comparison to other costs. Engineering is typically <7% of total cost for a highly engineered product.

New capital equipment is expensive right now across the board, and energy is sky high. Capital equipment cost can appear to be low if the volume is high, but on 645, that isn't the case. My guess is it's mostly the cost of capital equipment and energy driving this.
08-02-2014, 01:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Here is a B&H Photo Pentax 645 lens price list from around 1995-1997:

Phil.
Awesome, Phil! Where did you find that? I did several searches and came up goose eggs.

And fascinating. Based on this price list, FA lenses have gone down in price since 1995 (adjusted for inflation) ! The 45-85, for instance, by about $300.00.
08-02-2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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Digital sensors are more demanding of optics than film and as a result, better aberration control is necessary. To do this, special glass is required with some of the elements. These exotic glasses are expensive and sold by weight. The use of high density glass is a necessity and much fewer elements can be made from a kilo of this than more normal glasses. So glass cost is part of the reason for the price increase.

08-02-2014, 02:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Awesome, Phil! Where did you find that? I did several searches and came up goose eggs.

And fascinating. Based on this price list, FA lenses have gone down in price since 1995 (adjusted for inflation) ! The 45-85, for instance, by about $300.00.
I found this PDF file that I could download from B&H, listing all medium format equipment they were selling at that time. (Mid to late 90’s)

I’ve had it for a couple years now, here is the link.

www.bhphotovideo.com/.../SourceBookProPhoto/Section01MediumFormat. pdf‎

I’m having problems opening the link now, so hopefully it works for you. I have the pdf if you can't open it, PM me and I can email you.

Phil.
08-02-2014, 02:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
I've got a pretty full range of A and FA lenses, so I'm not exactly in the market for anything (except this newly announced 28-45...), but I am a bit curious. The lenses seem about 40-50% (or more...) higher priced than would seem like appropriate to me. The most expensive lens I ever had was the CZ 16-35 f 2.8 for Sony FF---a big lens, lots of glass, really excellent, and not one that was probably made in a huge quantity. But some of these Pentax lenses are more than 2x- 2.5x as expensive. So what accounts for the price difference---I don't think the glass is any better or more exotic, nor the build quality better. Is it truly down to economies of scale---considering that not a lot of those 16-35's were made?

Does anyone know what the legacy A and FA lenses cost originally?
Pentax needs to make their money somewhere, and margins on pro products can be huge sources of income. The newer lenses are without question superior to the old ones in terms of both optics (nano coating, optimized for digital, etc.) and build quality (weather sealing, quick shift, in-lens AF), even though the practical difference in image quality may not be that big. Still, the newer lenses could easily be sold for half the price and Pentax would still be making a profit, but if people are willing to pay what they cost (which they are), then there's your answer

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08-02-2014, 03:00 PM   #11
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Manufacturers know that pros can usually tax deduct the cost of financing their gear...
08-02-2014, 03:06 PM   #12
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Sony 16-35, ƒ2.8 $1898 at B&H.
Sigma 18-35 ƒ1.8 $900
Somehow that doesn't seem cheap to me...
A 645 lens has to create a larger image circle...which is going to mean more glass.

At Heny's
Pentax 645 25mm.... ƒ4 $5k
Haasleblad 24mm ƒ4.8 $7.5k


Hassleblad 35 mm ƒ4 $5k
Pentax 35mm $2k

Sony FE 35mm ƒ 2.8, $800 (FF)
Pentax 35mm ƒ2.4 $200 (FF)
Pentax 35 ƒ2.8 macro $750

I'm looking for what you describe... but I'm not seeing it.

Last edited by normhead; 08-02-2014 at 03:42 PM.
08-02-2014, 03:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Sony 16-35, ƒ2.8 $1898 at B&H.
Somehow that doesn't seem cheap to me...
A 645 lens has to create a larger image circle...which is going to mean more glass.

At Heny's
Pentax 645 25mm.... ƒ4 $5k
Haasleblad 24mm ƒ4.8 $7.5k


Hassleblad 35 mm ƒ4 $5k
Pentax 35mm $2k

Sony FE 35mm ƒ 2.8, $800 (FF)
Pentax 35mm ƒ2.4 $200 (FF)
Pentax 35 ƒ2.8 macro $750

I'm looking for what you describe... but I'm not seeing it.
normhead,

Maybe what OP means is the price of all these new DFA lenses (25mm and 90mm) and those soon to be announce zooms compare to the available & affordable FA lenses on the market right now.

To OP - even though I agree with you of the hi-price DFA lenses but actually they are in-line with the other MF lenses of those Hasselblads & Phase One/Schneider.

Have you ever check the price of Zeiss Otus 50mm for FF 35mm camera ?
08-02-2014, 05:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by harumo Quote
normhead,

Maybe what OP means is the price of all these new DFA lenses (25mm and 90mm) and those soon to be announce zooms compare to the available & affordable FA lenses on the market right now.

To OP - even though I agree with you of the hi-price DFA lenses but actually they are in-line with the other MF lenses of those Hasselblads & Phase One/Schneider.

Have you ever check the price of Zeiss Otus 50mm for FF 35mm camera ?
Heck... who knows what he means?
08-02-2014, 05:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
Here is a B&H Photo Pentax 645 lens price list from around 1995-1997:

Phil.
Thanks for the post. The 600mm was 5k in 1994; I can see why Pentax discontinued the lens, they would have to charge 15k nowadays.
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