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$20k 1200mm and $17k 800mm lenses announced by Canon

Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM and Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM
(Image credit: Canon)

After a series of leaks, the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM and Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lenses have been officially announced – and these two new "big whites" come with big price tags to match, with the 800mm clocking in at $16,999 / £19,099.99 / AU$$29,799 and the 1200mm at $20,000 / £22,449.99 / $35,099.

The new L-series lenses complement the much more affordable f/11 super-telephotos that the manufacturer launched in 2020 – the Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM (opens in new tab) and Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM (opens in new tab)

• Read more: Best Canon RF lenses (opens in new tab)

As Canon points out, the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM is "the world’s longest AF focal length lens for mirrorless cameras" and "the longest focal length on the market that isn’t a telescope". 

It is also "the smallest lens of its size ever released", being 13kgs lighter and 30cm shorter than the Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM, weighing in at a comparatively light 3.34kg. It also boasts up to 4 stops of image stabilization, which will no doubt be amplified when used with stabilized bodies like the Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab), Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab).

The Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM can't make the industry beating size boasts as its longer sibling, but is nonetheless Canon’s shortest and lightest ever 800mm L-series lens at just over 3.1kg.

However, the 800mm f/5.6 does achieve a class-leading focusing distance of just 2.6m ("less than half the distance of other 800mm f/5.6 lenses", according to Canon), while the 1200mm can focus to 4.3m.

Both optics feature a 9-blade aperture and a host of Canon's top tier lens coatings, including ASC (Air Sphere Coating) to minimize ghosting and flare, particle-repellent fluorine, along with the highly reflective white infrared heat shield coating on the lens bodies that offers UV weather resistance and heat reduction.

As is standard for L lenses they are, of course, fully weather sealed, with drip and dustproof structure employed for the mounting, switch and focus rings. Both also possess complex optical formulas featuring Fluorite, UD (ultra-low dispersion) and Super UD elements, to achieve maximum resolution and correction of chromatic aberration. 

Big, powerful lenses require big, powerful components to shift all those heavy lens elements around. So the lenses feature Ring USM Drive, Dual Power Drive, high-speed CPU and optimized AF algorithms for quick, quiet autofocus performance – marrying with the animal AF modes on the R3, R5 and R6.

Obviously with their enormous price tags, the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM and Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM lenses aren't aimed at common or garden photographers; rather, they're aimed at sport and wildlife pros, along with the news gathering and surveillance industries. If you have deep pockets, you can pick up both lenses from late May 2022.

Pre-order the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM at Adorama (US) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM at B&H (US)
(opens in new tab)Pre-order the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM at Park Cameras (UK) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM at Wex (UK) (opens in new tab)

Pre-order the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM at Adorama (US) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM at B&H (US) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM at Park Cameras (UK) (opens in new tab)
Pre-order the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM at Wex (UK) (opens in new tab)

Read more: 

Best Canon telephoto lenses
(opens in new tab)Best telephoto lenses (opens in new tab)
Best Canon lenses (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.