The Most Expensive Digital Cameras (in Production)


The New Year, despite its name, is a familiar time for us all.  We are tidying up from the December holidays, returning all the gifts we never asked for and would never use, decompressing from Forced Family and Friend Fun and attempting to get the budget and waistline back in order.  Every year it is the same thing.  January 1st is no exception.  You make grand resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, stop harassing the neighbor's dog, floss more often (read: start flossing), learn a new language, appreciate art more or to simply start taking out the trash on the right day.  But eventually you realize all those resolutions were a pipe dream and you honestly never had any intentions of letting Mrs. Haverty's  poodle bark without consequences.  Let's add to that list of pipe dreams: buy the world's most expensive camera. 

There are cameras, and then there are cameras.  After looking at the world's most expensive cameras, it almost feels wrong to call anything else by the same name.  We're not talking about the insanely high-priced $978,903.60 Daguerreotype Giroux.  We're talking usable, professional, up-to-date digital camera masterpieces that will blow you away. 


Hasselblad H4D-60   $41,995


Who needs a house, a college education or medical insurance when you can have a Hasselblad?  Released in 2009, the H4D-60 is what some might call "pricey".  While the Hasselblad website won't give out prices on any of their equipment or even in their product brochures, reports online estimate this bad boy ranging from $41,995 to $43,000.  Either way you price it, it is over $40,000 and that is some serious cash money.  The name alludes to a few features that make this camera worth so much.  Stemming from the company's point of pride, the H System cameras, this one boasts a 60 megapixel medium format sensor. Sixty.  Sixty!!!  Add to that the fact that they launched this camera with the new True Focus technology and the new Phocus 2.0 imaging software, this camera is in its own class of technology.  

Designed, created and built for professionals, the new True Focus technology works hand-in-hand with Hasselblad's Absolute Position Lock processor making the photographic process more streamlined and less cumbersome for the user.  So many new cameras have the tendency to make photography more about the camera and less about the end result.   The H4D-60 brings the photograph back into focus.  But wait!  There's MORE!!  Not only will the $40,000+ you shell out get you the camera of your wildest dreams, you get to become a member of the elite Hasselblad Owners Club.  It is essentially the "Who's Who?" of professional photography, giving you access to potential clients, opportunity for new business exposure and SMS updates on new Hasselblad products.  With a package like that, what's stopping you?


Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III   $6,999


In a slightly more realistic ballpark, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III (body only) is the most expensive Canon you can buy from their site.  For grins and giggles, let's put the most expensive lens Canon offers online and see what our total is: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III body ($6,999) + EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM ($11,999) = $18, 998.  And just when you thought you could afford the camera, your dreams vanished with the addition of the lens.  However, because Canon loves you and appreciates your business, the EF lens mount on the Mark III means you have a wide range of 50 lenses to choose from (excluding EF-S lenses), making this the most expensive, versatile camera on the Canon market.  The camera itself is the size of a medium sized Japanese apartment coming in at 6.1 inches wide and 6.3 inches tall.  That alone means you need the biggest tripod available to help you hold it once you attach your massive super telephoto lens to it (most expensive tripod down below).  In terms of how great the camera really is, the Mark III houses the brand new 21.1 megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor.  And in what seemed like a dare to the Canon creators, it also has a 45-point AF system.  All the new features, settings and doodads your camera loving mind can handle are no match for the dedicated Delete button.  Regardless of how good the camera is, it is still possible to take a terrible shot.


Leica M9 Titanium  $29,000


What is called the "world's most compact full-format digital camera system" by the manufacturer, the Leica M9 will normally run you $7,999.99 for just the body.  But because we are making totally impractical, fantastical New Year's resolutions here, let's check out the limited edition, far more expensive Titanium M9 designed by Walter de'Silva.  De'Silva is the head designer for Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti among others, making this camera quite literally the Lamborghini of digital cameras.  If you care to know how it actually functions as a camera, you can read about the M9 on the Leica website.  But since you probably only care about why this edition costs $29,000 instead of a measly eight grand, read this from the manufacturer's website: "The LEICA M9 'Titanium' is constructed exclusively with premium quality materials. For instance, all visible metal elements of the camera body are made from solid titanium, a particularly light but extremely strong and durable metal that can only be manufactured with special tools. In addition, the exposed surfaces are also treated with a hard coating applied by a specialist company in Switzerland. Scratch-resistant, sapphire-crystal glass is employed as a protective cover for the camera monitor and further enhances the exclusive and rugged character of the camera. The camera's trim, which uses leather typically reserved for the interiors of Audi's premium automobiles, fits perfectly with the body's titanium surface and provides outstanding grip. The grip characteristics are additionally enhanced by a specially designed and embossed diamond pattern."  Now how sapphire-crystal glass enhances the rugged character of anything I'm not sure, but this camera is as sleek and sexy as $29,000 gets. 


Nikon D3X   $7,999.95



Slightly cheaper than the Leica M9 (by only five cents), the Nikon D3X is Nikon's answer to all things dSLR.  The insane 24.5-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor alone makes it worth the money, but let's go further.  It has the revered Nikon EXPEED image processor, continuous shooting capabilities at 5 frames per second at full FX-format resolution, 100% viewfinder coverage, a ridiculous 51-point AF system, tough alloy construction, two CF card slots and a battery that can take up to 4,400 images on a single charge.  This camera does everything except make banana pancakes on a Sunday morning.  In all honesty, if you are going to throw thousands of dollars at a camera, this is the most reasonable choice.  It does everything a camera needs to do in order to make your life as a photographer as successful as possible.  Just as the Canon Mark III, the Nikon D3X deprives you of a lens.  And just like we did for the Canon, let's build the world's most expensive Nikon: D3X ($7,999.95) + AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED VR ($10,299.95) = $18299.90.  Lucky for you, Nikon uses Nikkor lenses which could easily be called some of the most dependable, professional lenses on the market.  Not all of them run you the cost a down payment on a house either. 


The World Most' Expensive Accessories


A camera that costs tens of thousands of dollars deserves the best accessories possible.  Assuming you'll be using your expensive camera, you need a way to carry it around.  Billingham is an English-born company that has specialized in camera bags since 1977.  They are tough, rugged and innovative.  The Billingham 550 (seen here) was the first soft camera bag ever made in Britain.  They are spacious inside and out.  If you do happen to have a lens that is larger than the bag, they do make some bags that are able to hold a full size lens.  Oh so sexy, these bags can be used everyday ensuring you appear to be ever the professional for just $570.


Since the world's most expensive cameras combined with the world's most expensive lenses are some of the world's heaviest, a beefy tripod is a good way to ensure it won't ever come tumbling down.  Like your bank account.  According to, the Gitzo Giant Tripod is the most expensive at $1,299.90.  Gitzo claims that it is the world's strongest and most accurate tripod.  Made of Carbon Fiber and weighing in just at 7.5 lbs, the Gitzo Giant Tripod is versatile, durable and really expensive.   

Maggie OBriant
Maggie O'Briant  Personal Blog Flickr

Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree.  She is currently a freelance writer and photographer.    She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby.