If you don’t buy a lot of camera gear, you might not have noticed it too much. If you hang out in the online forums a lot you’ve probably heard people whining about it. And if you have bought gear lately, you might have noticed things are very, very different. You probably expected the lens you wanted had increased in price (although you might not have realized how much it had gone up until you looked). You might have been a bit surprised to find out how much it had gone up, and that NOBODY was offering a discount over list price. Chances are good that you even found the lens was out of stock at your favorite store. And most other stores.
A good explanation of the lens shortages and price hikes in the market from Roger Cicala of LensRentals.com, who needs to buy a lot of lenses all the time.
This was particularly helpful to know, as a general guide to how long I might need to wait before the lens I want becomes generally available again:
For those who don’t know, a lens assembly line is set up to produce one certain lens. After x number of copies are produced the line is taken down and reset to manufacture a different lens. Not a quick process. I heard from an uncertain source a few years ago that Canon had 6 assembly lines total.
This article was written in May, but nothing seems to have significantly changed since then.