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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 03 Oct 2007 (Wednesday) 22:04
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Lense technology/price question

 
GM_of_OLC
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Oct 03, 2007 22:04 |  #1

I know that camera lenses have a pretty high resale value, and that a good lens now is a good lens 10 years from now,
But does lens technology evolve?
I'm not talking about autofocus, but things like the aperture.
Will an f/1.4 lens always be as expensive as it is now?
Or can some sort of new technology come along that would make it "easier" to make low aperture lenses?


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Ronald ­ S. ­ Jr.
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Oct 03, 2007 22:07 |  #2

Lenses will always cost as much as people are willing to pay. The laws of optics won't be changing anytime soon, I don't think. I think that if it weren't for "older models" of lenses, newer lenses would be far more expensive. People would pay it, too.


Mac users swear by their computers. PC users swear at theirs.

  
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Vertigo1
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Oct 04, 2007 02:37 |  #3

Until someone manages to work out how to bend light without glass, I can't see lens technology "evolving" much in the near future.


Canon 5D3/6D | EF 16-35 f/4L IS | EF 24-70 f/2.8L II | EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II | EF 35 f/1.4L II | EF 50 f/1.4

  
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Riff ­ Raff
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Oct 04, 2007 02:42 as a reply to  @ Vertigo1's post |  #4

http://www.smartalix.c​om/liquidlens.html (external link)


Shawn McHorse - Shawn.McHorse.com (external link) / AustinRocky.org (external link)
DSLR: 5D Mark III Compact: S100 Flash: 580EX II Bag: Tamrac Rally 5
Lenses: 16-35mm f/2.8L II, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS,
50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8

  
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vic6string
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Oct 04, 2007 09:27 |  #5

Where have you been living for the last few decades? Technology always evolves, and if you can't tell that from last 10-20 years, you must be living in a cave in Tibet somewhere.

My first computer had a 20 megabyte hard drive that was the size of a hardcover copy of "War and Peace" and it was the highest tech at the time. I paid $800 for that drive. Now I walk around with a 4 gigabyte drive that is half the size of a popsicle stick in my pocket that I bought for 35 bucks.

For all we know, a decade from now DSLRs with their big clunky lenses will be a thing of the past. We might all be shooting pics with our nanotechnology enhanced artificial intelligence point and shoots that get perfect representations, equivalent to the human eye. We might be talking about gigapixels (which is already a reality) and changing depth of field in post processing.

Just worry about today's technology today. Forget what is coming next, and forget about resale value. You want it? you can afford it? go get it!


Rebel XTi, 430ex, Tammy 28-75, nifty fifty, kit lens, tons of reading, not enough practice, and two gorgeous subjects (my kiddies)

  
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KCMO ­ Al
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Oct 04, 2007 10:09 |  #6

Sorry, Vic, but your examples are apples to oranges. Lens technology really has not changed much in the last century. Lenses are essentially formulae with names like Tessar, Planar, Triplet, etc. Improvements in glass have added special glass to correct for chromatic aberration, astigmatism, etc., but the way they are put together hasn't changed much at all. I don't rule out the possibility for some dramatic breakthrough in the future, I'm old enough to know that we don't know everything, but I doubt that much is out there in this subject.
I'm still using Summicrons, Summiluxes and Elmars from the 60s that perform as well as "modern" lenses. You just have to twist them a bit more.


Film: Leica M-4, Elan 7E, Rolleiflex 2.8f, Pentax 645 -- Digital: Canon Pro-1, EOS 5D Mk III
EOS Lenses: Sigma 24-70 f2.8 EX - Canon EF 17-40 f4.0L - Canon EF 24-105 f4.0L - Canon EF 35 f1.4L USM - Canon EF100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM - Canon EF100 f2.8 Macro - Other stuff: MR 14EX - 430EX - 580EXII - ST-E2 - TC1.4x - TC-80N3

  
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vic6string
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Oct 04, 2007 10:45 |  #7

Just because they haven't changed much, doesn't mean they won't change. And let's not underestimate the other part of the equation: the camera. Better sensors and processors can and will change lenses.

If they can make a smaller sensor that has more dynamic range and less noise, they won't need those huge red-ringed lenses we all love. Do you think it is impossible to see an apsc (or even smaller) sensor with a multiple digic processor turning out pics with 14 stop dynamic range and clean ISO 25600? Sounds ridiculous now, but it wasn't too long ago that we were saying that digital cameras would max out at like 3MP.

I honestly believe that in the not-too-distant future, we will be taking pics with cameras that are every bit as good as the best current DSLRs but are P&S sized. We will all be looking back and laughing at the idea that we used to go out with these 5 pound monsters with backpacks full of lenses and tripods just to take a few "tiny" 10mb pics that we still needed to post process.


Rebel XTi, 430ex, Tammy 28-75, nifty fifty, kit lens, tons of reading, not enough practice, and two gorgeous subjects (my kiddies)

  
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Vertigo1
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Oct 04, 2007 11:01 |  #8

vic6string wrote in post #4062828 (external link)
I honestly believe that in the not-too-distant future, we will be taking pics with cameras that are every bit as good as the best current DSLRs but are P&S sized. We will all be looking back and laughing at the idea that we used to go out with these 5 pound monsters with backpacks full of lenses and tripods just to take a few "tiny" 10mb pics that we still needed to post process.

Whilst I've no doubt technology will improve things to some degree, I have no faith that the above will happen.

Unless someone comes up with a fundamentally new way of doing the optics, we're still going to need large lenses with a lot of precision-manufactured, expensive glass to produce the images we need. I just can't see how a small P&S camera with a single non-interchangable lens is going to compete with the current range of SLR lenses without a major, major breakthrough in optics. Since the optics of lenses and telescopes hasn't changed much in centuries, I see no reason why it should suddenly change in the near future.

It's like the wheel - yes you can refine it but the basic principle remains the same. There's only so much you can do to it and ancient ones still work pretty damned well :)


Canon 5D3/6D | EF 16-35 f/4L IS | EF 24-70 f/2.8L II | EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II | EF 35 f/1.4L II | EF 50 f/1.4

  
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Mark_Cohran
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Oct 04, 2007 11:02 |  #9

Well, I've worked in high technology (Nuclear Engineering and Semiconductor Manufacturing) all of my adult life and while it's quite true that technology has made significant strides in the last three decades, ultimately the laws of physics do apply. Changing camera technology doesn't change lens technology and the physics of how light bends and the relationships of depth of field, chromatic aberrations, linear distortions and other limitations of lens design. The OP was specifically asking about the evolution of lenses, and while I think there can be some improvements in the mechanical and electrical design aspects (better AF, more information fed from the lens back to the camera), I think those changes will be gradual and not a significant factor in reducing the cost of fast glass.

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Lidor7
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Oct 04, 2007 15:28 as a reply to  @ Mark_Cohran's post |  #10

I think something to consider would be the manufacturing costs of producing quality glass. While the laws of physics may not change and lens technology may be slow to evolve, it's possible a new technique for creating quality glass cheaply may be created. Example: Ford came up with the assembly line for cars, making them considerably cheaper.

Or perhaps SLRs will become so mainstream that they will start producing lens in a mass enough quantity to reduce cost per lens. Or maybe Canon will introduce yet another new mount, making all EF lens obsolete.

Don't forget about technologies like Diffractive Optics. It makes lens shorter. I don't know the specifics, but if a technology like DO make lens require less glass (I'm not saying it does, since I'm not that familiar with DO) it would make sense that it would make lens cost less (assuming the new technology is reasonably cost-effective).

And once again, saying this without any concrete knowledge of lens work, why don't they just open the aperture opening larger for lens? In some cases I understand it's a physical size limitation, but in other cases I hear it might be because the quality of the image suffers greatly. But with improved optics, a wider aperture might be more acceptable.

What if they discover a new material to make lens out of? It doesn't always have to be glass. There's fluorite as we all know. I hear they even have plastic lens, which may sound low quality, but who knows 10 years from now.

---

And I'd have to agree with vic6string. If technology continues to advance by creating sensors that have more megapixels, better dynamic range, and high ISOs, and creating lens that are high quality, better resolution, etc, then there may not be any need for SLRs. It's probably going to be true that larger lens and larger sensors will always have better quality and less noise, but there's a saturation point at which people don't care or simply cannot tell the difference, in which case 99% of the time the point and shoot will do just fine.

An example of this is video. At a certain FPS our eyes simply cannot tell the difference between faster frame rates. However, there may be specialized needs for high speed video cameras to catch things in slow motion. That's an example of that 1% case that you would need something more.

The only real limitation I can see is that lightwaves are of a certain length and past a certain point we have to deal with the effects of diffraction. But hey, who knows, maybe we'll create a lens that decreases the length of a lightwave to exceed even that limitation.




  
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Quad
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Oct 04, 2007 17:17 |  #11

vic6string wrote in post #4062443 (external link)
My first computer had a 20 megabyte hard drive that was the size of a hardcover copy of "War and Peace" and it was the highest tech at the time. I paid $800 for that drive.

Oh man I once bought a hard drive for $1500 all of 150 megabytes .15gb you know real small.


Optical tech has not changed is any way that I would say is radical for a hundred years or so. Zooms have gotten better and more complex designs are possible than 1890 but every once in a while a manufacturer will decide to change the lens mount and make a whole collection of glass effectively obsolete. That is a bigger worry if you want to worry about something. The good news is you tend to be able to afford things easier as you age so you can buy that new glass.

Some companies try not to do that. 1950's leica M mounts work on the M8 but they do cost a bit up front and there are no guarantees they will work in 3 years for the FF M9 (speculation) although it is likely.




  
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vic6string
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Oct 04, 2007 17:37 |  #12

What I was trying to get across is that even if lens technology does not change, everything around the lens can change substantially. Imagine a 4/3 rds system sensor (what Olympus and a few others are using... the 2X crop factor...essentially half the size of a FF) that can take clean pics at insane ISO (like 25600) and has double the dynamic range of today's sensors. You can make much smaller (hence much cheaper) lenses for it.

And there is no telling how modern technology affects the building process of lenses. Just look at lenses like the Tamron 28-75, which is already a few years old. It is an optically fantastic lens, and full frame to boot, and still under $400. And now Canon has made a 4 stop IS that can be added to lenses for appearantly next to nothing (the new kit lens with IS for less than $100 more than the current kit lens)


Rebel XTi, 430ex, Tammy 28-75, nifty fifty, kit lens, tons of reading, not enough practice, and two gorgeous subjects (my kiddies)

  
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rkkwan
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Oct 04, 2007 22:48 as a reply to  @ vic6string's post |  #13

First, to answer the OP, yes, a 1.4 lens will still be expensive 10 years from now.

Anyways, for other lenses, it depends on lots of stuff. Here are my experience for lenses I've kept for around 10 years:

- Tamron 28-200. I bought the original "super zoom" in 1993, I think, to go with my Elan. My first EOS lens. All the magazines say how good it is, blah blah blah. I think I paid $400. I had a very hard time just to give it away this year.

- 50/1.8II. Bought it around 1994 for about $60. You know the rest.

- 28-80 non-USM kit lens. Bought it for under $100 in 1999 or so. It's mostly a paper weight now.

- 75-300 original, non-USM. Gave it away for postage cost.

- 22-55 USM. This is an interesting one. I think I bought it for about $200 when it came out. It's no great performer, but it's rare and it's the cheapest ultra-wide (well, at least wider than 28mm) for film and FF. I sold it for over $100 few months ago.

So, I have one lens that retained full value, one that retained half, and 3 that has zero value. Right now, I have better lens that I think will retain value better, but who knows. Maybe Canon will go all full-frame and my 17-55 will become a paper weight. [No, I don't think so.]

But those buying say a Sigma 18-200OS or Tamron 18-250 now really shouldn't expect them to have any value in 10 years.


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forno
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Oct 04, 2007 23:46 |  #14

One point that has been missed here is manufacturing technology.

This may evolve and make the manufacturing process cheaper, and therefore the lens cheaper.

But as has been said already, the physics of the lens wont be changing any time soon


Canon 350D -EF-S 10-22 l EF-S 17-55 l EF 50 f/1.8 l EF 70-200 2.8 IS l 430EX l
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Lidor7
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Oct 09, 2007 18:30 as a reply to  @ forno's post |  #15

I found an interesting article that covers generally how lens work and are created. The last paragraph makes mention of "liquid" lens which make use of "abnormally dispersive" liquids by trapping it between glass, making the quanity of glass required less, thus making lens cheaper.

I don't know how accurate or even old the article is, but here's the link: http://www.enotes.com …-encyclopedia/camera-lens (external link)




  
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