Sigma 200-500mm f2.8 APO EX DG Telephoto Zoom
Weighing in at a hefty 34.6lbs and 726mm in length, this is not the easiest lens to carry around with you on holiday. As well as being meaty, the Sigma 200-500mm also wins some world firsts; it is the first large-aperture ultra telephoto lens to have an f/2.8 aperture at 500mm, and is the largest high-speed zoom lens available.
If you’re impressed by this and are looking for a lens that is excellent at tracking fast moving objects and you don’t mind parting with $32,000, this could be the lens for you!
Focal Length: 200-500mm
Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM Lens
At just a little heavier than the Sigma 200-500, the Canon EF 1200mm weighs in at 36.4lbs and also holds some records that are not to be sniffed at. This is the longest full auto focus lens in the world and is the world’s most powerful super telephoto zoom according to Canon. The lens is fully compatible with any EOS SLR and boasts silent auto focus thanks to its Ultrasonic Motor.
According to The Digital Picture, when the lens first came out it had an annual production volume of just two lenses due to the fact that it takes nearly a year to grow the fluorite crystals needed for the lens.
Unfortunately the Canon EF 1200mm is no longer in production. It is rumoured that there are anything from 20 to 100 of these lenses around today. Do you think you might want one? B&H have their hands on one. Just make sure you’re prepared to fork out around $120,000 for it!
Weight: approx 36.4lb/15.6kg
Focal Length: 1200mm
Canon 5200mm f14 SLR DSLR Telephoto Lens
This is the Godzilla of lenses. If you thought 36.4lbs was heavy, the Canon 5200mm weighs a massive 220lbs, and at 500mm wide, 60mm high and 1890mm deep, you won’t be lugging this lens around with you anywhere unless you have a forklift truck. The lens cap alone is the size of a trash can lid, so on the plus side it will be difficult to lose.
The minimum object distance of the lens is 120 meters (or 393ft) and exposure control is by way to build-in ND filters.
The lens is extremely rare and you won’t be able to pick it up in your local photography store. In fact the lens was seen on an eBay listing back in December 2009. The seller had this to say:
“This is a very rare 5200mm photographic lens – possibly one of only three ever built. THE largest and most powerful prime lens ever created for dedicated SLR use. Built in Japan it was purchased by a Chinese company and shipped to China where it has since had little use and is now for sale. The optics appear in perfection condition. It is my understanding that a customized SLR/DSLR/EF mount can be created/included by the team of optical engineers who presently look after the lens. Due to its large size, it may be better suited to astronomy applications. It takes two people to lift the lens. It could also be mounted on a customized truck or SUV. A large geared or motorized support head would be needed to get the most out of it. The magnification of this lens is truly staggering. If mounted to a Canon XL series video camera for example, a reach of 1000x optical (at least) would be possible (approx 37,500mm). The lens could also be mounted to HD and cine cameras.”
Focal Length: 5150mm
Price: eBay listing quoted $55,000
If this doesn’t knock your socks off, there is bigger still…
Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T*
The Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* is the world heavyweight champion of non-military telephoto lenses, and weighing 564lb you’d have to be a heavyweight champion yourself to lift it.
This massive lens was announced at Photokina in 2006 and was designed specifically for use with a Hasselblad 6×6 medium format camera. If this seems a little peculiar, this enormous lens was custom-built for someone who had a special interest in wildlife photography. The customer decided that the best combination for his needs were a Hasselblad camera with Zeiss lens. What was built became the biggest non-military telephoto lens in existence.
Although it is unequivocally the heaviest lens around, it arguably (and perhaps somewhat ironically) has one of the sleekest designs.
The price was not disclosed, but it’s safe to say that to purchase the Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* would cost you an arm and a leg, not to mention your house and your car. But you could at least rest assured that your lens is undoubtedly bigger than anyone else’s. For now.
Focal Length: 1700mm
Price: Your car, your house, your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.