What is this... thing?! And what's so special about it?
Basically it is so expensive because it is a professional lens for HDTV broadcast video with 100x zoom from 9.3mm out to 930mm (1860mm with a 2x extender) with an f-stop range from 1.7 to 9.4.
It is very hard to compare the specifications of this lens with lenses made for still photography.
From the first page in a search on Google: http://www.canon.com/bctv/products/digi100af.html
- Extremely high focusing accuracy in full HDTV specifications
- Ability to focus from a completely de-focused status without hunting
- Ability to focus on a high speed moving object
- Size and position of the AF frame (target area) in the camera
- VF can be changed from the Focus Demand FDJ-P31/P41. (The size of the AF Frame can be changed in 3 steps)
- Two operation modes (Full Time AF / Part Time AF) of the Auto Focus system is the answer to a professional camera operator’s various demands.
- Ultra High Zoom ratio 100x
- Ultra Telephoto 1860mm with 2x Ext
- X-Elements & Power Optical System
- Optical Shift Image Stabilaizer
- CAFS (Constant Angle Focusing System)
Generally, cinema lenses (such as this) are much more expensive because the focus needs to remain constant when zooming. This is why the Cinema EOS lenses run in the $24k to $75k range. This is a higher end lens than the Cinema EOS lenses designed for production studio video use on really high end professional cameras and is a very versatile lens, thus very complex. (Long range of focal lengths while maintaining fixed focus during zoom.) Additionally, this lense provides the feature described as:
CAFS (Constant Angle Focusing System): 32-bit CPU calculates and controls the zoom when focusing to counteract breathing (phenomena where picture size/ angle of view changes when focusing) and has zero zoom effect.
which means that it can also account for the change in zoom when adjusting focus.