Friday, January 30, 2009

Gear talk: Lens prices spike,
Sigma to issue 10-20mm f/2.8 lens

After several weeks of watching the price of a new Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens drop from $990 to as low as $860 at late last year, I saw the price spike up dramatically last week -- to the upper $900s -- then incrementally upward since. Today I saw the price had hurdled the four-figure mark -- $1,030.

I've been watching this lens because it's been described as having Canon L series (pro) quality optics and that the only L series features it lacks are the distinguished red ring and the magnesium alloy body (it's plastic), trade-offs I could live with easily given the right price on the lens!

The price spike seems to indicate that Canon is matching a more definitive move by its chief competitor. The other day, Adam Freedman, an acquaintance in a LinkedIn photography equipment group, said the owner of Ace Photo, his
local authorized Nikon USA dealer, told him that Nikon USA is increasing dealer costs on lenses by 20% come the first of February.

I'm not exactly sure of gear manufacturers' logic in all these price increases in this slumping economy ... unless it's a response to the depressed US dollar.

Meanwhile, Freedman said it looks like Sigma Corp. is preparing to release a new 10-20mm f/2.8 lens for Nikon and Canon cropped-sensors camera bodies. This seems to be a response to last year's release, by Tokina, of an 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, which has received pretty good reviews.

Also, Sigma reportedly is adding Optical Stabilization (OS) to its 70-300mm telephoto lens. Rumored not far behind, Freedman said, is a new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS lens that will be for both full-frame and cropped sensor single-lens reflex cameras. It would seem that this lens is to give shooters a more affordable option to Canon's vaunted and pricey ($1,600) 70-200mm f/2.8 L series telephoto lens, as Sigma and all third-party lens makers usually sell for attractively less than the Big Two. But Sigma will have to do a top-notch job with its version of the 70-200, however; the optics of Canon's are sweet ... and will be hard to beat unless the Sigma price is so much lower that a wallet-watching buyer simply would not be able to resist.

This is all in addition to Sigma's already announced 24-70mm f/2.8 hyper-sonic motor (HSM) lens.

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