Lens longevity

I’m an ignoramus when it comes to technical issues but I’m wondering about the pricing of electronic goods, lenses in particular. In the old days when you bought a good lens, you paid through the nose, as you do today, but at least you had assurance that that you would most likely have the use of the lens for your life-time.

Now when you cut off your limbs and give them to the retailer in exchange for a piece of glass, it will only be usable as long as the electrics last, and there’s no telling how long that will be. I would love to know how long these things are designed to last, but I’m sure that the average will be considerably less than the lifetime typically enjoyed by  pre-electric lenses.

What brought these thoughts on is that  a friend has had a Canon 24-105mm lens for a couple of years and it recently stopped working. He was quoted more than half of the dollar price for new lens, to have it fixed. In another case, practically our whole camera club used to shoot Canons and many of us owned their 17-85mm lens. Ever single one of us, and several other people we know, have had that lens fail, and had to pay plenty to get it fixed.

I was a pretty early adopter of Canon autofocus in my home town of Durban, South Africa. I bought three lenses in the early 1990s and one in 2003, when I switched to digital. Only one of those, a  35-135mm, is still working.

I don’t know whether lenses have come down in price much in real terms, but they should have. Do electronic lenses offer the same value for money as the  lenses in the past did? If the manufacturers offered parts at cost, as a service, maybe…


Leave a Comment