Space flights are expensive. No one will argue that point with each launch costing whatever government is footing the bill millions of dollars. The last Endeavour flight was a big deal so Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli had brought along some high-end camera gear from Nikon to take some epic photos of the Endeavour docked with the ISS. The photos were taken from a distance of about 600-feet from the ISS. I don't even want to think about how fast Nespoli and the ISS were hurtling around the planet when he was shooting the pics.
The camera used was the Nikon D3x and a 24-120mm lens. Each of the cameras sells for about $8,000. That is nothing for a space agency when the bill for the flight is millions. If you expected that the camera gear was left behind on, the ISS for other astronauts to use you would be wrong. Apparently, the standard practice on gear like this is to destroy it on the return trip.
The memory cards were pulled out of the camera and the hardware was left in the descent module to burn up in the atmosphere on reentry. This isn't the only camera that Nespoli let burn up either, he had a D2X as well that died in flaming glory. I guess space is just at that much of a premium that it couldn’t stay behind on the space station.