We get hands-on with the biggest interchangeable autofocus lens in the world, the Canon EF 1200mm L USM (includes video)


Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM Image Gallery

It’s said there are only around 20 in existence. Previous owners are rumoured to include governments and surveillance agencies. We just had one on our office roof.

The Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM super-telephoto lens weighs a whopping 16.5kg and dates back to 1993, when it was launched as the world’s largest interchangeable AF lens for SLRs.

With eight diaphragm blades and two special large-diameter artificial crystal fluorite lens elements, the lens has a closest focusing distance of 14m.

The staff at Brighton’s MPB Photographic have gotten their hands on one, and it could be yours if you have £99,000 going spare.

We, regrettably, don’t have £99,000 going spare, but the staff of MPB were still kind enough to lug the lens all the way up to our offices in London so we could try it out for ourselves.

After we’d taken a few shots with the Canon 1Ds Mark III and seen the distance of the lens for ourselves, we had a little fun with it.

First we attached an Olympus O-MD E-M5, the 2x crop sensor extending the angle of view to 2400mm equivalent. Then we had a go with a tiny Pentax Q, which extended the angle of view to 5600mm. Focusing, unfortunately, was pretty much impossible with either camera.

Our own Jon Devo even managed to handhold the 16.5kg whopper!



You can see our gallery of our time with the 1200mm monster lens here.

If you’re tempted, MPB’s listing for the lens is here. Let us know if you’re thinking of putting in an offer – after today’s experience we’re seriosuly considering having a whip-round.

For more preposterous optics, check out our look at the 6 most ridiculous lenses ever made (including the 1200mm!).

Save