Is That a Lens in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Trying to Spot the Aliens?

So the other day, one of my Engadget-entrenched Canon buddies sent along a blurb about a new lens from Sigma. This pup is a 200-500mm f/2.8 lens, really seeming to be built for wildlife shots, although I’d guess it’d do well for sports shooting too. There’s also a teleconverter to take it to 400-1000mm at f/5.6. This little dude weighs in at a svelte 35 pounds, and can be had for a cool $25,000. It’s a beast. It also seems to be sporting a green paint job, which frankly, I kinda dig.

One of the threads talking about the Sigma lens started a shooting match of bigger, better, faster, more (again, apologies to 4 Non Blondes).

One of the posters to the Sigma thread pointed at the grandaddy of all Canon lenses (sorta; more on that later). That’s a 1200mm f/5.6L. It comes with its own tripod, and weighs in at a mere 36 pounds. It’s cost? Only $99,000 from B&H. This lens is so legendary that it has its own Wikipedia page, spouting specs, info about the lens including who owns some of ’em. It’s that rare.

Another lens mentioned in the Sigma thread was an unusual Canon 800mm f/3.8 lens. Supposedly this thing was rare, rare. Weighing about 32 pounds, the only reference someone made to it was an eBay sale about two years ago, selling for just about $4500. It looks like there’s more info here, along with mention of a 2000mm f/11 lens, and a mention of the next monster on the list.

Next up, a really unusual Canon lens…. 5200mm f/14. I have no idea about pricing (although there’s a reference to someone selling one for about $23k), or even when this lens was built, but the document referencing it indicates that it’s also got a tripod supplied with it, and it only weighs 220 pounds without the trike. The closest the thing will focus is about 360 feet, and supposedly can shoot in the 18 to 32 mile range. It even has sighting scopes to train the lens on the target. Now that’s a lens.

Or so I thought.

Carl Zeiss AG also has a big lens. I mean big. It’s a 1700mm f/4 lens. Big. I mean, really big. It weighs over 500 pounds, and the folks at Zeiss claim it was designed for long distance wildlife photography. Duh! I sorta get the impression this was a one-off lens for someone with a Hasselblad 6×6 they were just dying to use for nosehair examination of beasties on the plain. Can you imagine having a lens that big custom-made?

So, as you sleep tonight, and vision of gray lenses dance in your head, remember that there are bigger, more lumbering lenses out there. They can’t dance, and they can’t hardly be carried. But man, do I bet they can shoot! 🙂