Canon has announced the world’s longest mirrorless lens, the 1200mm super-telephoto, which appears to be a dream companion for wildlife photographers with rich budgets.
Both lenses are, naturally, rather large, although they’re far smaller and lighter than their DSLR-based counterparts. The RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM weighs 3.14kg and is 432mm long, while the RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM isn’t much larger, measuring little over half a meter and weighing 3.34kg – less than a quarter of the weight of the old EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM.
Part of the rationale for these relatively tiny dimensions, at least for lenses with these focal lengths, is that both are based on existing RF lenses (the RF 400mm and RF 600mm), with the exception of some extra back parts.
Both are compatible with Canon’s RF 1.4x and RF 2x extenders, thus their respective focal lengths of 800mm and 1200mm aren’t even their utmost limitations. When combined with the RF 1200mm F8L IS USM, you may photograph subjects from a distance of up to 400 meters.
While both lenses will require the use of a tripod in most scenarios, they do include built-in image stabilization to assist you. The RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM claims 4.5 stops of compensation, whilst the RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM guarantees four stops of compensation.
Professional sports, wildlife, and news photographers may appreciate Canon’s latest lenses, but even they may balk at the prices. The Canon RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM will be available in late May for $16,999 / £19,099 / AU$29,799, while the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM will be available for $19,999 / £22,449 / AU$35,099.
In every way, lengthy shots
Canon’s new lenses are more of a flag-waving exercise for their RF system than useful tools for professional photographers, especially at these prices.
It’s no accident that Nikon’s new Z 400mm f/2.8 super-telephoto lens was released last month, and most photographers would be better off buying an RF 400mm f/2.8 or RF 600mm f/4 lens with an RF 2x Extender to acquire an 800mm or 1200mm reach for a lot less money.
Sports and wildlife photographers, on the other hand, will definitely be eager to rent and try out these new super-telephoto lenses. This type of lens is great for compressing backdrops and reducing distractions from your subject, and it will undoubtedly function well with Canon’s outstanding autofocus technology.
The RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM is also more practical and less specialized than the EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM, which is its spiritual ancestor. Before it was changed for the EF mount, Canon only built two copies of that lens (which originally had an FD mount).
One of the rare instances of the EF 1200mm was sold for $580,000 / £417,000 in Germany last year. While Canon’s latest lenses are clearly unique, they are less expensive than a superyacht and cost less than a vehicle.