Mother of All Telephotos

That's the Canon 1200/5.6L USM telephoto lens that can take a clear photo of an object a mile away. Oh, and at the price of $99,000, no wonder photographers call it the mother of all telephotos:

The Canon 1200/5.6L USM (priced at $99,000... and if you live out of state we don't need to charge you tax!) has been built on a special-order basis since 1993, and the ‘official word’ is there are "more than twelve, less than twenty" of them in existence. With a price tag equivalent to a pair of his-and-her sports coupes, they were produced at the rate of about 2-per-year and a delivery time of about 18 months. National Geographic magazine, Sports Illustrated, Canon Professional Services, and a few well-heeled enthusiasts are counted among the fortunate few who own these unique optics. A box of donuts says the Feds probably have a few squirreled away somewhere, but this is something we can neither confirm nor deny. What you get for your money is a monster lens with an angle of view of about 2° on a full-frame 35 mm camera.

Link - via The Presurfer

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'cause Canon ain't always the best!
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Even a fisheye lens at the opposite end of the superwide to super tele spectrum lets you take a clear picture of an object a mile away, even something really far away like the Moon. This article reminds me of the silly question I get often using any larger lens; "How far can you see with that lens?"

The fact is, that big-ass Canon lens isn't very powerful compared to a cheap telescope. The reason this Canon lens huge is its light-gathering power, not its telephoto power. This lens isn't especially powerful (1200mm on 35mm is only a modest 24 power - you can get binoculars and spotting scopes and cheap telescopes with more magnification) it's that it's bright. It's the f/5.6 aperture that makes this lens so big. You can buy a 1000mm f/11 mirror lens that will get you 20X magification on 35mm for about $500. That lens is only 8" long and weighs under 4 lbs. You could easily mount an SLR camera to a modest telescope and get over 3000mm tele - but you'd have very little light to make your exposures.

This bigass expensive lens is neat, it's just neat for reasons few folks will appreciate.
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