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Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 1700 mm F4 lens

By dpreview staff on Oct 1, 2006 at 13:02 GMT

Photokina 2006: Carl Zeiss recently announced a totally unique 'monster lens', the built-to-order Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 1700 mm F4 lens. Designed to be used with a Hasselblad 6x6 medium format camera this monster lens weighs in at 256 KG (564 lb) and uses unique methods for handling focusing (because of the weight of each glass element). This lens becomes the largest telephoto lens for non-military use anywhere in the world. The price hasn't been disclosed (although we've heard rumours) nor has the private owner, although some of the text on the lens is in Arabic and it carries a 'State of Qatar' emblem.

Phil: For a sense of scale you can see this monster lens in photos from our Photokina 2006 show report, here and here.

Press Release:

ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 -
The World's Largest Telephoto Lens

Never before has the world of photography seen such a lens. The ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 was developed by Carl Zeiss for a customer with very high demands and a special interest in long distance wildlife photography. To achieve the highest possible image quality, the customer decided on the Hasselblad 203FE 6x6cm medium format camera and ZEISS lenses as the best combination for his special needs.

At a focal length of 1700mm and a speed of f/4, this project even challenged the manufacture of the optical glass. The delicate, special glass types required for this unique design had never been cast before in such huge dimensions. Some of the resulting lens blanks weighed more than 25 kg (55 lbs.) and were valued more than a luxury sedan! Turning these blanks into the finished lens elements added even more to their value.

The design of the ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 required new lens assembly techniques and quality assurance methods never before applied in photo lens production – even by Carl Zeiss’ normally high standards. The finished lens weighs a staggering 256 kg (564 lbs.), placing unique demands on the focusing mechanisms. To address this issue, Carl Zeiss developed a totally new way of operating a telephoto lens, including servo controlled aiming and focusing systems like those used in large telescopes and similar instruments for astronomical scientists.

Drawing from its expertise in developing and producing satellite and space optics, as well as ultra-high resolution microlithography lenses for semiconductor fabrication, Carl Zeiss was happy to accept this challenge.

The resulting Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 lens consists of 15 optical elements in 13 groups. It is the largest telephoto lens ever produced for civilian photographic purposes and a testament to the precision design and manufacturing capabilities at Carl Zeiss.

Photo: Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700: the largest tele lens for non-military applications across the globe.


Total comments: 8
By armandino (1 day ago)

I will google for HD bikini candids in Dubai now....

Oleg March
By Oleg March (7 months ago)

It should come with a free Hummer H1 as a tripod

Cameron R Hood
By Cameron R Hood (Jan 10, 2013)

I'm holding out for the f2.8 'Pro' version....

Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (11 months ago)

Since it has a large image circle for a 6x6 MF camera a focal reducer should give you 1224mm @ F2.8 on a full frame sensor.

Comment edited 60 seconds after posting
By Tesselator (Aug 28, 2012)

It weighs almost 280 kilograms. My tripod can cope! I have faith! Now just to find a camera bag I can fit it in so I can bring it up to the top of Mt. Fuji the next time I go!

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
By asad137 (Apr 24, 2012)

No, it doesn't have a tripod mount -- it's got locations for a yoke mount (see those two little cylinders sticking out the sides?

There is likely no commercial photography tripod that could suport the weight of this lens, as it is likely hundreds if not a thousand pounds. This is a lens meant to be used with a dedicated, custom-made mount, preferably including a large concrete pier into the ground.

By Miserere (Jan 25, 2012)

It doesn't have a tripod mount. Fail!

1 upvote
By dstotz (11 months ago)

No, but they make a REALLY BIG bean bag...

Total comments: 8