Canon leak reveals monster telephoto lenses to take the battle to Nikon

The Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM on a blue background
(Image credit: Canon)

We've been expecting Canon to release its longest super-telephoto RF lenses for a while now, and a fresh leak suggests that pro wildlife photographers won't be waiting much longer.

A new leaked image, picked up by Photo Rumors (below), has seemingly given the Canon RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM and RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM their first public appearances. The image also contains a date, 24/2, which suggests that both lenses could be fully launched on February 24.

The two lenses will offer the longest focal lengths in the RF system, alongside the smaller RF 600mm f/11 and 800mm f/11 lenses from last year and the more high-end RF 600mm f/4L IS USM. Both of the new lenses are likely to be based on their EF predecessors for Canon's DSLRs, which are now discontinued.

A leaked image of the Canon RF 800mm and 1200mm lenses

(Image credit: Photo Rumors)

This means the lenses are, as the leaked image suggests, going to be very weighty and expensive beasts for pros. The old EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM, for example, weighed in at 4.5kg and cost $12,200 / £13,549.

The extremely niche RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM, meanwhile, could be even pricier, though it should be smaller and considerably more affordable than the f/5.6 1200mm version that Canon made for the EF mount. That lens weighed in at 16.5kg and, due to its rarity, commanded six-figure price tags.

Canon's natural successors to those lenses should be a little more sensible, and it looks like we'll find out for sure in the next couple of days – possibly during the CP+ 2022 show in Japan.

Analysis: A high-end battle for the mirrorless crown

The Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM lens on a balcony

The very rare Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM in one of its few public appearances. (Image credit: Future)

Canon's new super-telephoto lenses may not be high on the average photographer's shopping list, but they are an interesting barometer of the camera giant's battle with its traditional rival, Nikon.

Nikon recently announced the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S lens for wildlife snappers, which costs a cool $13,999 / £13,499 / AU$22,999. And it's expected to follow that up soon with 600mm and 800mm super-telephoto primes.

It looks like Canon will beat it to the punch with its RF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM, though, and also hit the 1200mm mark in this battle of focal length one-upmanship. 

For most people, a 600mm lens with a 2x teleconverter would make more practical sense, but these kinds of extreme lenses aren't just about practicality. They're also a technological flex to pro photographers, and amateurs further down, of the mirrorless lens designs that are now possible, and of the relative health of each company's mirrorless systems.

Still, at least we'll get to see some spectacular wildlife photography on the way, like Nikon recently displayed for its Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S launch.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.