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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
7 18884 Dec 29, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $8,999.75
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.83
7.17
10.0
5004II

Specifications:
Worthy successor to the lauded Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM, the new EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM super telephoto lens features completely redesigned Fluorite optics that deliver sharper images with less chromatic aberration and has a lighter weight thanks to magnesium and titanium construction elements. Because image stabilization technology in super telephoto lenses may inadvertently over-compensate and interfere with composing and framing distant or moving subjects, the EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM includes an advanced third Image Stabilization mode (Mode 3) that activates IS only when the shutter button is fully pressed. This allows users to pan fast-moving subjects and then activate IS only when it is precisely required. Additionally, all three IS modes give the equivalent effect of a shutter speed four stops faster, ideally positioning the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM for professional action photography, from sports to nature. The addition of the Power Focus mode enables smooth focus change when shooting video. Buttons and switches are redesigned for intuitive, deliberate operation, and dust and water sealing keeps the EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM functioning flawlessly in even the most challenging environments.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 500mm f/4.0
Lens Construction 16 elements in 12 groups (Including drop-in rear filter, Fluorite: G2 and G4, UD Lens: None)
Diagonal Angle of View 5
Focus Adjustment Inner focusing system, with focusing cam
Closest Focusing Distance 3.7m / 12.14 ft.
Filter Size 52mm Drop-In
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 5.7" x 15.1", approx. 112.5 oz. / 146 x 383mm, approx. 3190g


 


      
jrobichaud
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Registered: Feb 21, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 361
Review Date: Dec 29, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $9,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Noticeably sharper than my V1 and that is saying a lot!! Much better with converters than V1.
Cons:
None

The 500mm f4 IS has been my all time favorite super tele from canon for over a decade. The improvements in weight were more significant with the 400 and 600mm lenses, but that's because the 500mm was already close to ideal. For weight alone, the upgrade wasn't worth it, it's noticeably lighter, but the real reason to upgrade is optical performance. It really is better than the wonderful mk1, but with converters (III) it really kills the mk1. It's more manageable than the 600mm and 800mm, and with the 1.4III and a 70D it's got all the "reach" I need.

Dec 29, 2013
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kegressy
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Registered: Jan 15, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 12
Review Date: Aug 16, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $8,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lighter than the old version, easier to hand hold for BIF. Sharper than the old version.
Cons:
I did not like the lens foot, replaced it with a NatureScape.Net Lens Replacement Foot. (NSN CLF-456) which has lower profile and is lighter.

I owned the Mark I version of this lens for almost seven years.
My goal with the replacement was to have a lighter version of the same lens.
One and a half pounds lighter weight doesn't sound a lot but in fact when it comes to hand holding it is a lot.
I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a lighter big glass.


Aug 16, 2013
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lcd32bit
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Registered: Nov 9, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 290
Review Date: Nov 2, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $10,499.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely light weight (for a 500/4!), fast focusing with and without extenders, great image quality with and without extenders
Cons:
Price (of course), less balanced on a gimbal with a heavy body and extender due to lightness of front element

The age old question for Wildlife and Bird photographers is: "Should I get a 500mm f/4 or should I get a 600mm f/4?". Until the release of Canon's Series II superteles, the answer for most folks (by default) was "I really do need as much focal length as I can buy, but I simply can't carry the 600mm f/4 around, so I'll just get the 500mm f/4 and some extenders. Sigh." Now, the answer is not so clear-cut, as folks don't have weight as barrier-to-entry. 600mm seems to be pretty obvious a choice - but is it?

Let me first say that I also own the 600/4L IS II, and have owned the 500/4L IS I, and the 800/5.6L IS in the past, so I will do some comparisons.

Compared to the old 500, this lens is considerably lighter - while on paper *only* 18%, it really shows in handhold-ability and also in general usability/handling. Personally I also did not like the CA and fringing with the old 500 with extenders, which is no longer a problem with the v3 extenders and the v2 of the lens. Image quality is improved, though slightly, and the new 4-stop IS is quite impressive. If you can afford the new 500, AND you do a lot of handholding work, I'd highly recommend the new 500. But, if you do a lot of tripod work, I'd highly recommend the new 600 instead.

Compared to the 800, the new 500L II is much, much, much lighter and smaller. Image quality is almost on par, and autofocus speed with the 1DX with and without extenders is on par. If you're using a 1D Mk IV, hunting speed is slower with the extender than the bare 800 - not a problem with the 1DX. Honestly though, I would consider the new 600 over the 800 if you're looking at alternatives to the new 500.

Compared to the new 600, this lens handles completely differently. It's considerably lighter, and smaller. When I drive around looking for stuff to shoot at the side of the road, the 500/4 II rests on my lap much better than the fat 600, and it's easier moving around the car with it. The 600's hood is just too massive. If you do handheld work, the 500 is a better option.

When buying, if not in a hurry, I would recommend waiting for Crutchfield's "double points" special, as you can get essentially 5% back on your purchase in gift cards. Combined with a 2% cash-back credit card, you just saved a good chunk for a 1Dx. (I am in no way affiliated with Crutchfield, just thought I'd point out a good deal.)


Nov 2, 2012
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odetoyinbo
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Registered: Dec 13, 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 1
Review Date: Aug 10, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $8,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazingly hand-holdable for its focal length, ridiculously sharp wide open, gorgeous colours, swift focus, tolerates my 1.4 extender with very little image degradation.
Cons:
Cost me an arm and a kidney (but that's the price of admission!)

I'd rented the original version of this lens a few times and had sought a decent second-hand copy to purchase before deciding to pull the trigger on the Mark II.
Right out of the box, I was just blown away by its lightness - I could tell right away that I would be using this one off a gimbal at every opportunity.

I happend to have taken delivery of it just before a trip to the Orlando area which meant that I could take it with me to Gatorland in Kissimee. Gatorland has a ton of impressive reptiles but my real interest was its even more impressive bird rookery where I was able to test the lens (on my 1Dx and 5D2) with and without the 1.4 converter.
In spite of the fact that I was using this lens for the first time and the 1Dx was on its first extended outing, my keeper rate for birds-in-flight was significantly higher that what I'd previously achieved with the 1D mk IV and the original 500 f/4. For perched birds, it was ridiculously easy to get sharply-focused shot after sharply-focused shot each with gorgeous colour and (when I asked for it) beautiful bokeh.

I'm starting to get more familiar with the various IS modes and I look forward honing my familiarity with the lens (and camera) before my planned November visit to Bosque del Apache in NM. Will update this review then.


Aug 10, 2012
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iammikie
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 426
Review Date: Jun 20, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The reason to buy this lens is the improved IS (4-stops for sure) and lower weight. I also think that it is better balanced for hand holding.
Cons:
Price is outrageous

I have owned several copies of the Version I 500 IS, but the weight savings and improved IS on Version II has given me the ability to handhold this lens for longer periods of time and with a higher keeper rate. If you always use a tripod, the improvements will not be as meaningful.

Jun 20, 2012
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big country
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Registered: Nov 27, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 3566
Review Date: Jun 9, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Weight Reduction making it even easier for transport, crazy sharp lens. Continued Canon engineering of a masterpiece.
Cons:
It's a bit pricey. AF slows down quite a bit with 2.0x iii tele. More so than the 800mm and 1.4x iii.

All of you who are planning on using the 1dx and double stacking 1.4x teleconverters, it's a very very jittery combo. I'd just hang onto a 1d IV.

more to come later.


Jun 9, 2012
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PetKal
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Registered: Sep 6, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 24095
Review Date: Jun 4, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything of importance is good.
Cons:
The tripod mount foot is too massive and it is placed too far to the front of the lens.

Nice lens.

Jun 4, 2012
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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
7 18884 Dec 29, 2013
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $8,999.75
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.83
7.17
10.0
5004II