This new Canon telephoto lens costs more than the downpayment on your home

The Canon RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM lens on a grey background
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has launched the world's longest lens for mirrorless cameras, with its 1200mm super-telephoto looking like a dream companion for wildlife photographers with extremely deep pockets.

The RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM, which succeeds the legendary EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM, has been built for Canon's latest mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R3, and has was announced alongside the new RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM.

Both lenses are, understandably, pretty huge, although they're considerably smaller and lighter than their DSLR-based predecessors. The RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM tips the scales at 3.14kg and measures 432mm long, while the RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM actually isn't much bigger, measuring just over half a meter and weighing in at 3.34kg – that's only a fifth of the weight of the classic EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM.

Part of the reason for these relatively compact dimensions, for lenses with these focal lengths at least, is that both have similar designs to existing RF lenses (the RF 400mm and RF 600mm), only with some additional rear elements.

Their respective focal lengths of 800mm and 1200mm aren't even their maximum limits either, as both are compatible with Canon's RF 1.4x and RF 2x extenders. Use the latter on the RF 1200mm F8L IS USM, and you can photograph subjects from an incredible 400m away.

While both lenses will need a tripod to keep them steady in most situations, they do include built-in image stabilization to give you a helping hand. The RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM promises to provide 4.5 stops of compensation, while the RF 1200mm f/8L IS USM offers slightly less at four stops.

Canon's new lenses have been designed for professional sports, wildlife and news photographers, but even they might baulk at the price tags. Both lenses will be available from late May, with the RF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM costing $16,999 / £19,099 / AU$29,799 and the Canon RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM priced at $19,999 / £22,449 / AU$35,099.

Analysis: long shots in every sense

The Canon EF 1200mm lens on a tripod

(Image credit: Park Cameras)

Canon's new lenses are arguably as much a flag-waving exercise for its RF system as they are practical tools for professional photographers – particularly at these prices.

It's no coincidence that arch-rival Nikon announced its new Z 400mm f/2.8 super-telephoto lens last month, and most photographers would likely be better off buying an RF 400mm f/2.8 or RF 600mm f/4 lens with an RF 2x Extender, to get an 800mm or 1200mm reach for far less money.

That said, sports and wildlife photographers will undoubtedly be keen to rent and test-drive these new super-telephotos. This kind of lens is ideal for compressing backgrounds and removing distractions around your subject, and they'll no doubt work well with Canon's excellent AF system.

The RF 1200mm f/8 L IS USM is also more practical, and less niche, than its spiritual predecessor, the EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM. Canon initially only made two copies of that lens (which started life with an FD-mount), before it was converted for the EF mount.

Last year, one of the few examples of the EF 1200mm was sold in Germany for $580,000 / £417,000. So while Canon's new lenses are certainly niche, they do at least only cost the same as a car, rather than a super-yacht.

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 both TechRadar and 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.