The camera industry is in the throes of a digital photography revolution. But a new version of Nikon's 300mm telephoto lens announced this week, a $5,900 model intended for professionals, shows at least some parts of the photography market are constant even as the rest is overhauled.
Digital photography is profoundly different from the film era for many reasons. Here are some: new image sensors can enable photography in conditions too dark for film. The same camera can shoot video and still shots. Cameras can record not just when you took a photo, but where you took it. It's easy to publish photos globally on the Internet or to alter them significantly with software. And steadily increasing computing power lets cameras do everything from detect smiling faces to correct lens shortcomings.
And yet islands of stability remain. The high-end lens, with its complex optical engineering and premium pricing, is one of them.
Many SLR users don't venture beyond the kit lens that comes with their camera--an 18-55mm zoom that's reasonable for indoor shooting and basic tourist photography. Those who want to photograph the kids' soccer matches can step up with a telephoto zoom--usually one reaching to 200mm or 250mm and costing a few hundred dollars.
So why all the extra price for a bit more focal length to reach 300mm? … Read more