Why are Photography Lenses so Expensive?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

It’s no secret that camera lenses are expensive, but why?

Many different factors go into the cost of a camera lens. Where one might cost $100, another one that looks identical to the naked eye may cost upwards of $1,000.

You might notice the quality difference by touch, but the true difference lies within.

The first step to understanding the price tag you’re facing is to understand the different types of lenses available. Although there are dozens of lens types, four main categories usually stand out.

The Different Types of Photography Lenses

Standard Lenses

The angle of the standard lens is similar to that of the human eye, so the pictures taken with these are very natural. They have a mid-range focal length of about 50mm.

Landscapes and portraits come out beautifully using a standard lens.

Macro Lenses

Designed for close-up photography, the macro lens is perfect for photography of insects, plants, and animals.

Construction of these lenses is much different from that of a standard lens, leading to a much higher price tag.

They’re perfect for the photographer who wants to create eye-catching photos that get really up close and personal.

cheap photography lens

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses are one of the more expensive types of lenses, but they are well worth it.

This heavy variety is capable of taking crisp and clear pictures at a long distance.

Photographers typically use these lenses for snapping pictures when they can’t get near the subject of the photo.

From wildlife pictures to sporting events, they are perfect for a variety of photography needs.

Fisheye Lenses

Fisheye lenses, also known as wide-angle lenses, are another more expensive lens that packs a lot of punch.

The short focal length of these lenses are perfect for capturing photos in a cramped space where the object would not normally fit into a camera’s field of view.

They are ideal for photographing action sports, but photographers often use them for capturing landscapes as well.

The Factors of Photography Lens Costs

With the different types in mind, you can better understand why one lens might cost more than another.

Since there are dozens for different types of photography, a lot goes into making them just right.

Below are just a few factors that can affect their cost.

photography lenses

The Quality of Materials

If you’ve ever held a different camera lens in each hand, you’ve probably noticed a difference in the weight and feel of them. This has to do with the quality of materials used in making them.

A good one will consist of high quality lens glass, lightweight metals, top-of-the-market lens coatings, and professionally calibrates lens elements.

The best lens for photography consists of only the highest quality materials and workmanship, though this also makes the price tag shoot up.

Prime Lenses vs. Zoom Lenses

Advances in technology continue to enhance lenses and change the amount of elements inside, but prime lenses still cost less than zoom lenses.

If you buy a prime lens, you’re getting an object that consists of fewer moving parts, in turn requiring less calibration.

With this in mind, prime lenses often provide a similar photo as a zoom lens at a much lower cost.


If you plan to photograph outdoors, weatherproofing is a necessary lens addition that also adds to the price.

These photography lenses have protective coating and seals that allow you to use them in harsh weather conditions without harming the lens itself.

These special seals prevent water, dirt, and sand from breaking through and causing irreparable damage to it or the camera.


The aperture of the lens is a huge factor in the price. A larger aperture leads to a faster lens, along with a higher price tag.

This is due to the extra glass that’s used to create the larger aperture, along with additional manufacturing costs.

A few other factors that come in to play when it comes to the cost of a camera lens include the size of the lens, image stabilization, and the quality of the autofocus motor inside. The type of glass varies for each lens as well, each coming with a different cost.

photography lenses

Photography Lenses Conclusion

Camera lenses may look simple from the outside, but they consist of many different pieces that determine how much you’re going to pay.

It’s important to decide what type of photos you wish to take and how serious you want to be with your photography. This will tell you if you need a more expensive lens or if you can opt for a smaller, less intricate one.

Brands like Canon and Nikon make great lenses that are also affordable, perfect for anyone who want to take photos as a hobby.

If you wish to turn your photography into a career, on the other hand, you might be looking at a more costly lens.

It never hurts to start with a cheaper lens until you can work your way up to a more expensive one.

Do you own any photography lenses? Which lenses would you recommend?


Leave A Reply