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Canon breaks apart a super-telephoto lens to show why it costs $11,000

What is it that makes high-end camera lenses so expensive? Everything, really. From the research and development funds that go into perfecting the design, to the expensive optical elements and electronic components that keep the lens operating smoothly for years, oftentimes decades.

For the first time since its release, Canon has given us an inside look at one of its most impressive and expensive lenses, the $11,000 Canon EF 200–400mm f/4L IS. It comes in the form of a mesmerizing breakdown video (above), called “Deep Inside.”

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At only 95-seconds in length, the animated video showcases the five-figure lens from almost every angle and breaks down every component inside of it, from the front and rear optical elements to the robust autofocus mechanism that powers the super-zoom monster.

Canon 200-400mm 1

Using the disassembled image above as a reference, the Canon EF 200–400mm f/4L IS appears to be made up of roughly 115 individual components, a ridiculous number considering how many of them are optical elements that will perform poorly if mere micrometers out of place.

How the Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS looks like completely assembled

How the Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS looks like completely assembled.

Besides the impressive zoom and autofocus capabilities of this lens, another intricate component seen around the 42-second mark of the video is the built-in 1.4x teleconverter. On a full-frame camera, a flip of a switch can turn this 200–400mm lens into a 280–560mm lens. Of course, this increase in focal length comes at the cost of one stop of light, effectively making this lens an f/5.6 when using the teleconverter.

After watching this, our only hope now is that Canon will release a video like this for every one of their lenses.