That’s why Leica Camera AG, the world-renown German camera and lens manufacturer, was happy to design and build the Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:5.6/1,600mm lens exclusively for Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani of Qatar—for a cool $2,064,500. He has many deep oil wells.
The Sheikh is reportedly one of the world’s most devoted photography enthusiasts and he would have to be to fork over this kind of cash for one lens. Of course, one must have an equally outrageous carrying case for such a lens, so the Sheikh custom-ordered a Mercedes four-wheel drive vehicle to transport it and provide support. No doubt, he has a photography crew to erect it and security team to protect it. Presumably, the Mercedes also acts as a “tripod” because it’s unlikely the Sheikh is shooting this monster handheld.
As you might imagine, Leica hasn’t provided any photography publications, reviewers or Web sites with a copy to examine. In fact, the only copy is the prototype and that is on display at the Leica factory showroom in Solms, Germany.
Whatever technical specifications are known about this lens are only those Leica have been willing to share. the Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:5.6/1,600mm lens is built with a bayonet mount, making it compatible with Leica’s R-series of manual focus SLR cameras. You’d think for that price, it could be attached to any high quality camera body, and include autofocus!
The lens is 3 feet, 11¼ inches in length (1.2m), or a total of 5 feet, 1 1/32 inches (1.55m) when the lens hood is attached. No wonder the Sheikh needs the Mercedes and a support crew: this lens weighs 132 lbs., 4.4 oz. (60kg). The maximum diameter of the lens is 16-35/64 inches (42cm). Did Leica make some custom filters for it too?
More ridiculous yet, the Sheikh is able to use Leica’s 1.4x and 2x APO-teleconverters with this lens increasing its focal length to 1:8/2,240mm or 1:11/3,200mm, depending on which teleconverter the Sheikh has in his pocket or equipment vest.
Another technology Leica built into this lens is apochromatic glass elements, which reduces chromatic aberration. (It better or he’ll be sending it back to the factory!)
Although this lens is reportedly the world’s most expensive, another lens of an equally gargantuan size was also built for someone in Qatar. The Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 1,700mm f/4 supposedly works with a Hasselblad 203FE 6x6cm medium-format camera, which is in the neighborhood of $4,000 used. The Zeiss lens, at 564 lbs. (256kg), is considerably heavier than the Leica. Whoever bought the Zeiss lens must be transporting it in a Hummer or some kind of ultra heavy-duty military vehicle purchased from the U.S. government.
No photos shot with the Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:5.6/1,600mm lens are known to have been published or released to the media. You’d think the Sheikh would at least share a few pictures of the family vacation!!
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