Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM
Although the it didn't go to the same extreme as Carl Zeiss' monster lens, it's still one of the longest—and, at $80,000 (no discounts), one of the most expensive lenses ever made. Originally developed with an FD mount for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, five lenses were made available for newspaper, magazine and wire service coverage of the games. After that, the lenses were shipped back to Canon, Inc. in Japan, only to re-appear in the late 1980's with an EF mount.
Over the years, several new batches of the lens were manufactured but only in small quantities. Essentially the lenses were handmade, which certainly influenced the limited availability and the extreme retail price, but even more importantly, the fact that it took almost a full year to grow fluorite crystals large enough to create the lens elements also kept production numbers low and the price high.
During production, some of the EF 1200mm lenses were purchased by news and sports magazines as well as newspaper and wire services internationally and were used to capture images of Papal elections in Rome, the Olympics, major league baseball, the World Cup, Formula One motorsports, among other important events. Other copies of the lenses went to various governments (no surprise there) and law enforcement agencies. According to Canon, at least a couple of lenses were purchased by private photographers. If you were a member of Canon's CPS (Canon Professional Services) program, you might have had the chance to borrow one. If not, you're out of luck. Finding a used version is almost impossible and Canon stopped its extremely limited production several years ago.
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