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​Under pressure, Canon cuts prices for 33 lenses

High-end lenses are a notch more attainable for Canon SLR users. Some lens prices were cut again after Canon trimmed prices last September.

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, one of Canon's most popular lenses for professionals and enthusiasts, is now $100 cheaper at $1,900.
The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, one of Canon's most popular lenses for professionals and enthusiasts, is now $100 cheaper at $1,900. Canon USA

Pining for that ultrawide zoom or supertelephoto for your Canon SLR camera? Good news: for the second time in less than a year, Canon has cut the prices of many high-end lenses.

A total of 33 lenses are now anywhere from $30 to $800 cheaper in the US -- though Canon's professional-oriented L-series lenses are still priced for people with serious budgets. Canon lowered some lens prices a second time after a September 2014 price cut.

Some examples of $100 price cuts: the mainstay EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM zoom lens is now $1,900; the acclaimed EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto zoom is now $2,100; and the new image-stabilized ultrawide zoom EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM is now $1,100.

Many photographers have moved beyond the SLR market that Canon still dominates. But single-lens reflex cameras remain popular with professionals and enthusiasts, despite their bulk and weight. It's these customers Canon is trying to keep loyal -- along with new ones in the video domain that represent new growth opportunities for Canon.

The Japanese camera maker announced the move Monday as this year's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show gets started. The show has become a focal point for the digital video industry, which for Canon is an increasingly important segment. Not only does it have new cameras to sell, like the EOS C300 Mark II and XC10 , but video production accountants tend not to flinch so much at spending thousands of dollars buying or renting lenses.

Explaining the price cut, the company offered this statement: "Canon frequently reviews lens pricing and at this time these price reductions were planned to help our customers expand their creative reach."

Canon is under pressure from several trends. For one thing, smartphones increasingly are satisfying the photography needs of the mainstream market. For another, Canon was late to the market for new enthusiast-oriented "mirrorless" compact cameras from Panasonic, Samsung, Fujifilm, Olympus and Sony. And rival Nikon continues to outperform Canon when it comes to core measurements of image quality for SLR cameras. For example, pitting two new midrange SLRs against each other, with Nikon's D7200 scored an 87 compared to just 70 for Canon's 7D Mark II on the DxOMark image sensor test.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, Canon's imaging division reported a revenue drop to 402 billion yen ($3.3 billion) from 416 billion yen ($3.5 billion) the year earlier.

The resulting financial pressure, along with some more favorable Japan-US exchange rates in recent years, seem to be benefiting photography pros and enthusiasts.

Among the cuts:

  • EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, down $150 to $1,250
  • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, down $100 to $1,600
  • EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM, down $100 to $1,550
  • EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, down $150 to $1,000
  • EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM, down $50 to $2,450
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, down $100 to $1,200
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM, down $100 to $1,350
  • EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM, down $100 to $2,000
  • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, down $50 to $900
  • EF 135mm f/2L USM, down $50 to $1,000
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM, down $30 to $750
  • EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, down $800 to $11,000
  • EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, down $100 to $1,350
  • EF 400mm f/2.8L IS ll USM, down $500 to $10,000
  • EF 500mm f/4L IS ll USM, down $500 to $9,000
  • TS-E 24mm f/3.5L ll, down $100 to $1,900

Canon also cut the price of its third-generation 1.4x and 2.0x telephoto adapters by $20 to $430. But Canon didn't cut prices for its two newest L-series lenses, the $3,000 EF 11-24mm f/4L USM and the $2,200 EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM.