See Portraits Shot With Leica’s $2 Million 1600mm f/5.6 Lens

Three-panel image showing a man in a business setting unloading a large, tube-shaped object from a trolley, displaying its front view, and inspecting its inner part.

Leica is no stranger to expensive cameras and lenses. For example, last October, a Leica 0-series camera from 1923 sold at auction for about $3.7 million. However, not all Leica equipment worth millions is anywhere near that old. Enter the Leica Apo-Telyt-R 1600mm f/5.6 super-telephoto (or super-super-telephoto) prime lens worth $2 million.

“Worth” might be the wrong term, as the lens is unique and not for sale. Leica custom-built the massive telephoto lens in 2006 for Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani, the former Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage in Qatar, for just over $2 million. The prince, a well-known photography enthusiast, died in 2014 in the United Kingdom at just 48 years old.

The Sheikh created the Al-Thani Awards in 2000, which remains the biggest photography competition in the Middle East. He also founded a wildlife preserve in Qatar to help protect and breed rare birds and other animals native to the Arab world.

Unsurprisingly, Al-Thani wanted the super-telephoto lens to photograph wildlife, such as desert falcons. The lens is so large and heavy that the Sheikh reportedly had a 4×4 SUV built specially to enable easier use of it in the field.

The lens weighs about 60 kilograms (132 pounds), or 30 Nikkor Z ‘Noct’ lenses. The behemoth Leica lens is 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) long without its lens hood and a staggering 1.55 meters (5.1 feet) with the giant hood attached.

While the Sheik’s lens is a unique copy, Leica did make prototype versions, one of which resides at Leica’s flagship store and showroom in Wetzlar, Germany.

As spotted by Sony Alpha Rumors, some lucky photographers have even gotten to try the lens for themselves, including Kristian Dowling.

Earlier this year, Marwan, editor-in-chief of the analog photography magazine Silvergrain Classics also got to give the lens a spin. A portrait photographer nearly needs a megaphone or walkie-talkies to make the lens work.

Before anyone bothers heading to the bank to empty their coffers — and it would have to be a very large box of money — the prototype 1600mm lens is not for sale. People will have to settle for the garish green Sig-Zilla to get their back-breaking lens fix.

Image credits: Featured image created using screenshots from Kristian Dowling’s YouTube video