High End​​ APS-C Sony E Mount Lenses Are Missing For A Good Reason

Whenever I see fans complain about anything, I try to look at things from the brand’s position. Game of Thrones fans lashed out at the writers for what they consider the worst season. Somehow I feel the fans are madder at a show that’s ending, rather than at a weak performance in the writers’ department. But that’s just my opinion.

The same can be said about Sony fans who criticize the company for not making high-end APS-C lenses. Technically they have every reason to be upset with Sony. But they have to look at the current photography landscape to understand why Sony doesn’t push for higher quality lenses. And why Fujifilm does.

What products generate the highest revenue?

Sony launched the mirrorless range back in 2010. The products were built for amateurs and enthusiasts who considered buying a DSLR. Sony had a professional full frame range (the A Mount cameras) that really didn’t cut the mustard. For Sony to have a chance against Nikon and Canon, it needed to be viewed as a breakthrough company. This is where the first full frame mirrorless cameras caught the attention of many photographers. Some even switched – the best example I can think of is Jason Lanier.

If pros start using your cameras, you better prepare some good lenses for them. Sony started with the f/2.8 trinity and expanded with the 24-105 f/4 all-rounder, an affordable 100-400 GM and the not so affordable 400 f/2.8 GM.

These are the lenses that deliver the required revenue to keep the ball rolling. Ignoring a hungry full frame market just to please a few enthusiasts is suicidal.

It is why Canon has suffered these last years: they pointlessly expanded the entry-level DSLRs, while crippling their full frame offerings, for fear they might cannibalize their more professional video cameras (C100, C200, etc.).

But what about Fujifilm? Sony is constantly compared with Fuji’s excellent APS-C lens line-up. It’s only normal the fans want similar lenses, so why is Fuji investing in good APS-C lenses? Simply put – the revenue. Fujifilm doesn’t have a full frame line-up, and its medium format cameras are just a niche. APS-C is their bread and butter.

How is the camera market doing?

In a couple of words: not good. If you look at sales, you’ll see them plummeting each quarter. To better understand the scale of the problem, here’s a lovely chart:

Chart taken from CIPA

With the market shrinking, companies have to carefully invest in products that will generate revenue and profit. That’s why Canon and Nikon have finally jumped in the mirrorless market with serious full frame cameras and lenses. The market may be shrinking, but it can still be profitable if companies act fast. Sony did that over 5 years ago with their A7 cameras. Time will tell if Canon and Nikon are too late to the party.

All in all, I believe Sony would build a high-quality APS-C lens line-up to compete with Fuji. Under the current market circumstances though, that is highly unlikely. Still, I’d like to be proven wrong by Sony.

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