As a creative artist, I am always looking for new perspectives as a way to improve my work, and usually, when I see something fascinating, an orchestra plays inside me; I crave to try something new. However, not all cravings can be satisfied, simply because they are way too extravagant and unaffordable. Here is a fascinating list of some lenses you might have never came across before.
1. Nikkor 6mm f/2.8 Fisheye
I am a wide angle and fisheye fan, so I couldn't pass across something this cool and bizarre. It is unbelievable, but it does exist. Introduced in 1972 and originally developed for scientific and surveillance purposes, the Nikkor 6mm f/2.8 was the widest lens in the world with its enviable 220-degree viewing angle. This means it can literally see behind itself. However, the lens has been discontinued, but if you're curious, you might find it on eBay sometimes. Check out more on this lens here.
2. Carl Zeiss 50mm Planar f/0.7
The Carl Zeiss 50mm Planar f/0.7 was created specifically for NASA to view the dark side of the moon. A total of 10 lenses were released. Director Stanley Kubrick had two of these lenses modified to mount onto his Mitchell BNC camera and famously used them to film scenes in the 1975 movie "Barry Lyndon," using only the dim light of candles.
An interesting fact is that the Germany-based equipment company P+S Technik has announced that they have successfully modified a PS-Cam X35 HD camera to have a BNC-R lens mount that can handle Kubrick’s f/0.7 lenses.
Price: $23 million
3. Canon 5200mm f/14
The minimum focusing distance of this gigantic lens is 393 ft (120 m), and it weighs 220 lb (100 kg) without its stand. Canon's promotional flyer states:
What’s even more fascinating is that if used with a DSLR with a crop factor, the lens is effectively a 8320mm lens.
This is the only ultra-telephoto lens in the world capable of taking photographs of objects 18 to 32 miles away (30 km to 52 km away). Having a focal length of 5200mm, the Canon Mirror Lens 5200mm can obtain one hundred times as large an object image as that of a 50mm lens.
4. Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 1700mm
Carl Zeiss announced and exhibited a remarkable custom-built 1700mm f/4 medium format telephoto lens weighing 1,243 lbs (564 kg) at the 2006 Photokina show. It was made for a customer with very high demands in long-distance wildlife photography. According to DPReview, the lens utilizes 15 optical elements in 13 groups, with some of the lens blanks weighing more than 55 lbs (25 kg) each, which makes it the largest telephoto lens for non-military applications in the world.
Price: over $100,000
5. Leica 1600mm f/5.6 Telephoto
Another extraordinary custom-made lens comes from the most prestigious producer of optics in the world, Leica. It was bought by A Qatari Sheikh for an amount in excess of US $2 million. Yes, you read that right: 2 million. It is one of a kind. Unfortunately, there is neither much technical information online or any images taken by it to showcase. The little I could find is that the lens is approximately 1.2 m long (1.55 m with the lens hood attached), has a maximum lens barrel diameter of about 42 cm, and weighs no less than 132 lbs (60 kg). With a focal length of 1600mm, it covers a diagonal angle of view of merely 1.5 degrees. The lens should be compatible with Leica's 1.4x and 2x APO-teleconverters.
6. Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L
Another legendary item from Canon, the beautiful Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L was born in 1984 and first used at the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. According to Canon, this is the longest lens in the world with full autofocus capability. It weighs around 36 pounds, is nearly 3 feet long, and is compatible with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and 2X III teleconverters to give even more dramatic results. According to B&H:
Canon made this lens available by special order only. A $10,000 deposit was required with the order, and manufacturing would only start when several lenses were put on order. Sports Illustrated magazine purchased two 1200mm lenses in the 1990s.
7. Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 APO EX DG
I was shocked to see B&H actually sells this item at the moment; I believed all the things on this list were either discontinued or only available on upon special request to the manufacturer. This is the first 500mm lens with a maximum aperture value of f/2.8! What else do you need? I bet someone who dreams of it won't even notice its significant weight of 34.8 lbs (15.8 kg) and more than 2.36-foot (72-centimeter) length.
8. Rokinon 650-1300mm f/8-16
The affordable yet striking Rokinon 650-1300mm f/8-16 might not be the best choice for low-light situations, but its price tag makes it an amazing option for enthusiasts looking to take their first steps in this telephoto range on a budget. And the miracles don't end on this: the available 2x teleconverter makes it possible to effectively double the focal length of the lens, allowing the photographer to get much closer to the action.
9. Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8
Another affordable babe, the Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 haunts me at night. It's a perfect piece to create a variety of images with one lens. Its 180-degree field of view means it's not an everyday use lens, but when used intelligently, it can give some unforgettable results.
10. Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH
This 50mm lens must be a dream of any photographer. Considering that having f/1.2 or f/1.4 is great for a prime lens, it's even better that Leica went further and created the Noctilux-M, capable of transmitting crazy amounts of light.