In the past few days I’ve seen a few stories about a very special Canon lens, a 1200mm monster that weighs 36 pounds and costs 99 thousand dollars (that’s not a typo). It was interesting, but not something I would have necessarily mentioned here.
Then, today, came another story about a truly monster lens, a 220 pound, 5200mm specimen, made by Canon, that “is capable of taking photographs of objects 18 to 32 miles away.” No idea how much that one costs, but here’s a page with full details, including the note that two small telescopes are included to aid with focusing!
Anyway, back to the first lens. It was a special order item, produced from 1993 until 2005; there were “more than 12 and less than 20” units ever made. B&H has more details and some photos taken with this lens. It’s amazing how close something 2 miles away can seem when viewed through this amazing piece of glass.
To put things in perspective, my longest and heaviest lens is a Canon 100-400mm zoom that costs about 98,000 dollars less than the 1200mm. A typical point and shoot that advertises its telephoto capabilities is (35mm equiv) around 100 to 140mm. The mind boggles when considering 1200mm to 5200mm lenses; ignoring the logistics of such large lenses, they would sure make it easier to get those elusive bird close-ups!
Update: one key feature I wanted to mention is the close focus length. To take a photo with the 1200mm lens you must be at least 49 feet away from the subject; with the 5200mm lens the length of a football field is only 3/4 of the required distance!