Top 10 Outrageous Lenses

We’re taking humanity’s competitive streak, originating with the childhood preoccupation of “my tricycle is better than yours”, to a whole new and expensive level with our top 10 list of outrageous lenses. Anyone with a severe bout of lens envy will have an absolute field day dropping hints that the owner must be compensating for something...

To maintain the jovial (immature) spirit of this post, it's complete with oh-so geeky lens top trumps:

#10 Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 1-5x Macro Lens


Canon 65mm MP-E



Because 1:1 life-size magnification is a bit ordinary, Canon made the MP-E 65mm which allows you to magnify objects five times larger than life-size (relative to your sensor).

#9 Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 EX DG APO HSM Lens


Sigma 300-800mm


If foot zoom isn’t really for you then the Sigma 300-800mm lens is the solution! This super telephoto zoom provides you with an 8.2 – 3.1 degree picture angle. Bolt-on a 2x teleconverter and you have a manual focus 600-1600mm f11.

#8 Nikon 2000mm f11 Reflex Lens


Nikon 2000mm f11


A true behemoth that makes the other contenders look like travel lenses. The Nikon 2000mm f11 tips the scales at 17.5kg, which presumably can only be hand-held by Governor Schwarzenegger.

#7 Sigma 200-500mm f2.8 EX DG Telephoto Lens


Sigma 200-500mm


Kudos to Sigma who are pushing the boundaries of lens design and letting you see the results (just like Canon and Nikon used to). In the likely event that you’re mildly fatigued after carrying this 15.7kg beast just three paces, Sigma have been thoughtful and included motorised zoom & autofocus – powered with a dedicated battery. Perhaps they should consider including a camel or a donkey too...

N.B: Sigma will make you one of these for the price of a BMW; buy your 200-500mm f2.8 here!

#6 Canon 65mm f0.75 Lens


Canon 65mm fast aperture


A prime lens with a fixed aperture scores well on the eccentricity scale. If you really need to see in the dark this badly then eat your carrots! Alternatively we stock night vision equipment instead...

#5 Nikon 6mm f2.8 Fisheye Lens


Nikon 6mm Fisheye


The Nikon 6mm f2.8 is an extreme fisheye lens which covers an astonishing 220 degree picture angle. Owning a lens that can see behind itself must be fairly close to having eyes in the back of your head – parents take note!

#4 Canon 50mm f0.95 M-Mount Rangefinder Lens


Canon 50mm f0.95 Lens


This Canon rangefinder lens has an enthusiastic following of photographers who convert it to a Leica M mount. The extremely shallow depth of field produces absolutely stunning images; here are a few of our favourites on FlickR:

#3 Zeiss 1700mm f4 APO Sonnar T* Lens


Zeiss 1700mm f4 Lens


Built-to-order for a private owner in Qatar, the Zeiss 1700mm f4 weighs 256kg and is designed for use with a Hasselblad 6x6 medium format camera. What’s not entirely clear is what on earth you’d need this for...

#2 Canon EF 1200mm f5.6L USM Lens


Canon 1200mm f5.6L USM Lens


The world’s largest focal length SLR lens with autofocus is quite an accolade – and it belongs to Canon. The original list price was $89k. Ouch.

#1 Nikon 1200-1700mm f5.6-8.0 P ED IF Lens


Nikon 1200-1700mm Lens


The Nikon 1200-1700mm is just scary. It weighs 16kg, is 88cm long, and lets you take a picture of the broccoli in someone’s teeth from half a mile away. You must read this blog post from Reuters:

"Unleashing the beast" details how a Reuters photographer used the 1200-1700mm on an assignment...



Leica NOCTILUX 50mm f0.95 Lens


What's next on the horizon?

The Leica NOCTILUX-M 50mm f0.95 lens is the new kid on the block, dubbed "King of the Night". Priced at £6290 you could be forgiven for thinking Leica left a zero off the focal length, but the extremely shallow depth of field should be sensational!