Why Are DSLRs So Expensive?

I bought a HDD Recorder for my TV the other day.  It cost me £260. It seems to have a million and one features and functions and I was quite blown away by what it could do. After browsing through the manual for a while then putting it down, I glanced over at my two DSLRs sitting there on the coffee table. It was hard to believe that, what I was looking at, constituted a market value of around £6000. Even the Nikon D610, classed as a consumer DSLR, cost £1400 and that’s before you put a lens on it. And what do they do? Take pictures.

I know that’s a bit of a simplistic answer (they also record video) but it begged the question, just why are they so expensive compared to some other consumer devices and P&S (Point & Shoot) cameras.

Well, here are the answers;

1.) Technology: There’s actually a mind-boggling amount of state-of-the-art technology packed inside a high-end Full-Frame DSLR. The Shutter, Auto Focus, Image Processing, and Metering systems to name a few will all be the result from years of technological research and development. Of course, fitting all this technology into a device that you can hold in the hand is not easy. The manufacturing process is highly specialised and usually conducted under laboratory conditions.

Want to see a Nikon D600 taken apart bit by bit and get an idea of the number of components used to build such a camera. Take a look at iFixit’s teardown here .

2.) Optics: The same goes for lenses. If you thought they were simple to make, take a look at the 80th Anniversary video of Nikkor Lenses by Nikon Imaging Corporation.

3.) Sensor & Image Quality: This is the piece of light sensitive silicon that records image data. It is, in itself, a highly specialised component responsible for producing the image. There are a number of factors that determine the quality of an image and, generally, the larger the sensor, the better the image quality will be. Full Frame image sensors are many times the size of the ones installed in compact cameras. They are, consequently, many times more expensive to manufacture.

4.) Control: A DSLR will offer a photographer complete control over how he/she takes a photograph. Photos can be took that would be impossible to create with a compact camera. The 440 page User Manual for the Nikon D800E soon gives you an idea of just how much control you do have.

5.) Build Quality: A pro quality DSLR will be built to withstand all sorts of rigours and extreme conditions. Their robustness is legendary with many tales of survival on the internet. Check this article out for one such story.

So, maybe £1400 for my D610 doesn’t seem so bad after all.