A used unit of Canon’s EF 1200mm F5.6 L USM lens is set to come up for sale at an auction in Germany slated for 6th October. At 0.8m (2′ 7″) and weighing a massive 16.5kg (36lbs), the lens offered the world’s longest focal length for an interchangeable SLR lens with autofocus when it was introduced in July 1993, and to the best of my knowledge, that record still holds true.
The lens is extremely rare, and not only for its original 9.8M Yen/$90,000 price tag but also because it took so long to build—it is said only two were made per year and there are believed to be only a dozen or so in total. Each example was built to order, and extremely large artificial fluorite crystals had to be grown to make two of the lens’s elements.
Amazingly for a lens of its size, it uses only 13 elements in 10 groups, but with the forward part of the barrel measuring 228mm (9″) across, those front five elements, which include a biconvex single element in crystal fluorite, are impressively large. Fortunately, the filters go in a back of the lens, and you only need 48mm sized gels.
I’ve actually used this lens on safari and can confirm it is something quite special. Well, when I say ‘used’ I mean I attached my camera to the back of it, looked through it, aimed at something and took a couple of pictures. I wasn’t allowed to move it to where I wanted it though.
B&H had an example in its used stock in 2015 that it listed for $180,000, but it isn’t certain if there’s a guide price for this newly turned-up model as the catalogue has yet to be published. It will go on sale at Wetzlar Camera Auctions on October 9th according to the company’s Facebook page. If you buy it, let us know.