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Go long: Nikon 1,200mm f/11 lens from 1974 shows up on eBay

nikon 1200mm lens 1974 rare
Nikon makes some pretty great lenses today, but nothing that quite compares to this 1,200mm f/11 telephoto behemoth from 1974 that recently popped up on eBay. For reference, it’s 200mm longer than the ex-NASA lens that we all drooled over just last week, which was of a similar vintage. According to the seller, it’s just one of 359 such lenses that were ever made, and it can be yours for $5,750 (plus $200 shipping because, apparently, this thing weighs a ton).

That’s a small price to pay for a lens that is guaranteed to provide maximum shock and awe power at your kid’s next soccer game, or turn you into the most annoying wedding guest ever. Presumably, it could also be used to befuddle TSA agents, although we don’t recommend it. Of course, you’d have to make it to the security checkpoint without an airline attendant forcing you to check whatever humongous bag you found to put the lens in.


As detailed on DPReview, the lens makes use of a separate AU-1 focusing motor that attaches externally to power the focusing system. It also features a rotating tripod collar, which should come as no surprise, as nobody in their right mind is going to hand-hold this thing. The integrated lens hood will certainly come in handy, but the 122mm screw-in filters will likely be hard to come by.

You may be thinking that a maximum aperture of f/11 isn’t exactly useful, but this is a massive lens. Even making it one stop brighter would have significantly increased the size and weight. Furthermore, at 1,200mm, having sufficient depth of field to keep things in focus is going to be tough. That’s why the lens stops all the way down to f/64, Ansel Adams style.

Okay, in reality, the useful applications of such a lens probably range from few to zero. As an interesting piece of photographic history, however, it will likely find a good home with a collector.

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