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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

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86 207271 Apr 24, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
97% of reviewers $5,514.13
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.91
8.75
9.9
ef500mmf_4_1_

Specifications:
Next-generation super telephoto L-series lens with an Image Stabilizer, it's one of the world's best lenses for wildlife and nature photography. The optical system is newly designed with a maximum aperture of f/4. One fluorite element and two UD-glass elements effectively correct aberrations resulting in sharp and excellent delineation.


 


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dkwp
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Registered: Mar 22, 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 25, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Super fast, accurate, hand heldible, sharp wide open
Cons:
non

Not sure if my previous review has gone through, but here goes again.
If it was not for this lens I probably would have defected to Nikon by now.
This lens is sharp, fast, light enough to do handheld photography. All I need is an upgrade to the 5d to join up with it -I returned two 1d mk111's.
I can not recommend this lens any higher.

Check my site for images taken with this lens. www.dkwildlifeimages.com


Mar 25, 2008
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dkwp
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Registered: Mar 22, 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super fast, tough and durable, reliable, very sharp at all apertures
Cons:
Absalutely nothing

I have had this lens for about two years now and I can not recomment it more. I have developed long lens technique and I only do handheld photography. Previously I use to lug my tripod around and missed countless great wildlife shots. One day I forgot to take my tripod on a cloudy day and managed to get great handheld shots at ISO 400 and and shutterspeeds as low as 300.
This lens is the reason I have not jumped ship to Nikon.
If you want to see some samples check out my website: www.dkwildlifeimages.com. 90% of these photos were taken handheld.


Mar 22, 2008
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edelsolar
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Registered: Aug 16, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 13
Review Date: Mar 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Awesome image quality, portable, can be used hand held.
Cons:
I can not afford two of them. :-)

Quite difficult for me to make the investment at first. After a year of using this lens, I am glad I purchased this lens. I debated between the 500mm and 600mm. The portability issue, coupled with the fact the 600mm is not a lens I can hand hold, made me decide for the 500mm. Easy to hand hold, portable, great bokeh, can take a 2X with good technique.

Other than the 300mm 2.8 IS, this is about the sharpest lens I have used.


Mar 21, 2008
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Nickerjo
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Registered: May 28, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 133
Review Date: Feb 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb resolution and bokeh.
Cons:
None - after my first test shot I was hooked.

Can't add much - Just a great piece of glass. My largest prior was the 400 f5.6 L. I have been really impressed with the quality of the L series, but this one blows the others away.

It is just a coincidence, but the lens was delivered today (2/20/2008) and this evening there is a total lunar eclipse.
So between 10:01 pm est and 11:30 I'll be "shooting he moon".

I spent over a year researching lenses - and for my subjects (Wildlife and Surfing - no pun intended) this seemed to be the best choice.


Feb 20, 2008
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VandalMan
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Registered: Nov 19, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 20, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Took myself and the 500 to Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago and managed to obtain a lot of keepers of elk and buffalo, along with some great landscape and birds. I was very pleased with the 500. Last weekend I did a stint at a high school football game in the rain. I managed to get some nice photos but the 500 is almost too powerful for that kind of shooting. A 400 would have been perfect in that venue.
Cons:
None



Nov 20, 2007
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ragebot
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Registered: Mar 1, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1187
Review Date: Nov 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This lens lives up to its billing.
Cons:
Every one regrets not getting it sooner

I had been shooting with a 400/5.6 (which is still a favorite for BIF) and a Sigmonster (which has the best kill zone of any lens I know of; and great IQ to boot).

Not sure why, but when the 500 arrived I thought it would be bigger. Still it is not a hand holdable lens for me. Maybe I dont have the same definition of hand holding as some other folks. But to me hand holding means not just lugging a hunk of metal around. You have to be able to get the subject in the FOV and keep it in the FOV.

I use the RRS monopod head theory, e.g. a Bogen 3232 on the top of the monopod. I also use a rather long plate to mount it so the lens and camera is not front heavy. This allows me lots of rest time when I am not shooting. And when I carry the whole mess I can sorta fold up the monopod underneath the lens so it is not so bulky and carry the lens by the foot.

I also use it on a gimbal head and there does seem to be an increase in IQ unless I am shooting at say 1/2000 or above.

I wont boor you with link to my pix, cuz there are plenty of other links to images that are probably better than mine.

What I will say is the IQ I get frequently shocks me. The bokeh is always great. And post processing is less than with any of my other lens.

One reason I got this lens was I had had such good results with extension tubes on my 400/5.6. I feel safe saying this lens is now my favorite macro lens. The working distance is great and I get butterfly shots that others drool over.

Like I said the only regret I have about this lens is that I did not get it sooner. Sure it costs a bunch, is no fun to carry around, and there is a learning curve.

But on the plus side you will get shots with this lens you would miss with anything else. And it is also a real babe magnet.


Nov 18, 2007
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toomas
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Registered: Oct 7, 2004
Location: Estonia
Posts: 3
Review Date: Nov 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, weather proof, not too heavy
Cons:
None

My best lens so far. Excellent color rendition and sharpness with both the 1.4 and 2x extenders. Fast and accurate. Gets a little heavy when carrying it for longer distances, but a good backpack will help you out there. Upgraded from EF 300 2.8, a great lens too, and never looked back!

Some sample images with the 1.4 II TC and 1D MIII:

http://toomasili.com/?pid=239&lang=eng
http://toomasili.com/?pid=202&lang=eng
http://toomasili.com/?pid=164&lang=eng
http://toomasili.com/?pid=219&lang=eng
http://toomasili.com/?pid=25&lang=eng
http://toomasili.com/?pid=23&lang=eng


Nov 13, 2007
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suzy l
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Registered: Oct 31, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Oct 31, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: my money maker
Cons:
not one

this one is payin for my kids college wort every dime

Oct 31, 2007
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Adrian Foster
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Registered: Oct 4, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, Wide Aperture
Cons:
Weight

I've recently bought this lens, moving on from a Bigma 50-500mm.

I was getting frustrated with my bird photography as only occasionally was I getting the IQ that I wanted from the Bigma. It did me good, in a way, because I must have eliminated most of my bad habits in attempting to squeeze the last bit of IQ out.

Atttaching the Canon 500mm to my camera (20D) and then looking at the results was a relief to say the least. At last my pictures look like I had always wanted. It wasn't my technique at fault, I really had reached the Bigma's limits.

In short, the Canon is superb! It seems to take well to teleconverters. The one thing which has caught me by surprise is the lack of depth of field close up at F4. I have some pics where the bird's shoulder is in focus but the eye is just slightly out. An example of the depth of field can be seen along the barbed wire on the Flycatcher pic below. The bird was about 20 feet away.

The only downside is the weight and bulk. I always used to attach the Bigma to my Manfrotto 055/128RC and walk around with the tripod over my shoulder, birding as I went. Now it's like having a very heavy and delicate hod of bricks up there so I only use that carrying technique for short distances. I can see that it is going to have a significant effect on my birding style. I have a Lowepro Pro Trekker AW 2 which, with 20D+500mm, Sigma 70-300, Canon 18-55, Teleconverters plus a few other small accessories in it weighs in at 18Kg/40lb with my tripod attached. I'm a big lad, but this is no trivial weight to be carrying around.

Overall though, the Canon is going to revitalise my photography. I can see that the problems are now going to be in my technique and fieldcraft. I can't blame my gear any more!

Very highly recommended.

Adrian


Here are a few early-day examples (I'm still waiting for some decent light)
Spotted Flycatcher (20ft with Sigma EX DG 1.4X)
http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l72/mistyduck/Spotted-Flycatcher-1.jpg
Curlew (Distant, with Canon 2X)
http://i93.photobucket.com/albums/l72/mistyduck/curlew-14.jpg


Oct 4, 2007
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Julius
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Registered: Jan 26, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 918
Review Date: Jul 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Outstanding sharpness, relatively light weight which makes it even hand holdable ocasionally for a short period of time, excellent built quality and very fast autofocus.
Cons:
None

What can I say, this lens is as sharp as it can be even wide open. The only difference between f/stops used is the depth of field otherwise it is razor sharp already at wide open. Combined with the 1.4X teleconverter does not loose any sharpness and even with the 2X it is very sharp.
No wonder this is the birdshooters and sportshooters favorite lens.
It is as good as it gets!


Jul 4, 2007
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Astrogeek
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Registered: Aug 11, 2006
Location: N/A
Posts: 13
Review Date: May 31, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, autofocus speed, sharpness
Cons:
None that really matter

What a wonderful lens! I have had this lens for about a month and am really impressed with almost every aspect. This is a great lens for nature photography, especially for animals that are not easy to approach. I usually use this with a Canon 1.4x Teleconverter II and the sharpness holds up very nicely.

While heavy, it is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I have lugged it attached to a tripod over my shoulder recently on a 2 mile roundtrip hike and it was an o.k. experience, but something I won't probably do on a regular basis.

It is not point-and-shoot hand holdable (at least not for me), but I can get some decent shots if I support my left hand against my body or on my knee when crouched. I think the IS helps make any type of hand holding possible, but a monpod or tripod is required for more keeper shots. I use a Manfrotto 682B monopod with a Manfrotto 3232 tilt head and this set-up handles the weight of the lens/camera (30D) easily. I use a Gitzo 3530LSV tripod with a RRS BH-55 ballhead and a Wimberley Sidekick for a really stable tripod set-up.

The lens cover is a bit of overkill because the leather portion covers the entire lens hood. I would be o.k. with just having this only about and inch or so tall so that it just fits over the end of the lens hood.

The case does a good job of protecting the lens, but it would have been nice for some extra space to carry a camera body and perhaps a TC.

As others have commented about this lens, my only regret is that I did not buy this sooner.

Some recent shots taken with this lens and the 1.4x TC II:
http://www.pbase.com/pegsam/image/79713306
http://www.pbase.com/pegsam/image/79707097
http://www.pbase.com/pegsam/image/79658072


May 31, 2007
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SaSiSidi
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Registered: Sep 4, 2006
Location: Greece
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, endurance, image quality, ability to take TCs, fast auto focus
Cons:
weight, size, balance on a tripod

I bought this lens used, instead of a 300/2,8L IS new. I was planning to use the 300 with a 2xTC to make a 600mm reach. But the lens I found in it's condition and price was impossible to pass.

For birds in flight, small birds and close shots of animals, this is the lens to use.

I use it with a 350D, which can be considered a sacrilidge, but the lens performs fantastic, focuses very fast and very accurately and seems to be able to take 2 2xTCs without any significant (for my eyes) loss of image quality.

I can use it hand-held, for limited time. Especially if sitting, I can support it with the left hand and support my left elbow in by chest. This seems to work. But for prolonged sessions in sports, a tripod is a big help. Makes the effort go away and the fun get in.


May 15, 2007
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dugalpic
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Registered: Jul 30, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 6
Review Date: Apr 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality is superb right down to the tripod foot (carry handle). Can be used handheld thanks to the superb (IS) image stabilisation. Auto focus very quick and accurate (even with 1.4 conv). Crisp sharp images especially when Wimberley and Gitzo mounted.
Cons:
Not one single negative comment (not even the price)!



Apr 11, 2007
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George Chew
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Registered: Sep 2, 2005
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 11
Review Date: Mar 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Its so sharp, it hurts. Hardly need post sharpening. Though heavy, but still manageable. Super fast focusing. IS helps a great deal for large long lens.
Cons:
Expensive.

Greetings,
Just a few shots, I'm convinced this is among the best super telephoto lenses available. It maybe heavy, but, with a monopod, it is still very mobile. No wonder many photographers prefer this to the 600mm F4L. With IS, shot can be taken at about 1/100s with excellent results. Coupled with 1.4x TC, IQ is still excellent. This is the minimum length for birds photography. In short, there is no rival to this lens. Enjoy...


Mar 30, 2007
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Paul Tessier
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Registered: Dec 27, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 134
Review Date: Mar 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, build, and coming from a 600 I find the weight a definite pro. Also it takes the 1.4x very well and the 2x shots aren't to shabby.
Cons:
I prefer the older "focus by wire" manual focus. The slow speed setting was perfect for manual touch ups. It is much more difficult with this lens.

My first supertele was the 500 4.5. That is a great lens but that .5 on the apature made the extender use difficult. I am now coming from a 600 non IS. It seems the 1d 1.3 crop is going to be around a while longer so I've decided to switch back to the 500 for portability. The one thing I miss is the older "focus by wire" manual focus but, other than that I am very impressed with this lens.

Mar 26, 2007
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kris miners
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Registered: Dec 2, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 109
Review Date: Feb 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good IS, Not too heavy. Not had it long enough to point out all the pros and cons.
Cons:
Well I will state the obviouse. It is a heavy lens but not too heavy. Im a big guy and it won't matter who you are or how strong you are, when your using it all day with the other gear it will make you ache a little. I don't like white lenses but thats just me being very picky. Of course the price is hefty although I got a great deal. You will need an expensive tripod to go with this lens. I use a Gitzo 1548 and wimberly head, not cheap at 1300 but it works well!!!

What can I say? Its a lovely lens very sharp. Not had it long enough to go into great details. Is it worth the price? Yes and no. I have seen other lenses that can match it at times for 70% less in cost but under the right conditions im sure this white beast will outgun all others. Why did I not go for the 600mm? Its heavier (Very hard to get a bag for, this one fits in a Lowepro pro trekker AWII) also the weight of the 600mm put me off, if I want to go on a plane it may push over the limit. The 500mm can be hand held with good results too. People say the 500mm is second to the 600mm for small birds but I can say this. I have owned an 800mm too and the 500mm got me more and better shots, why? Well, you can move it for a start and stalk your target, the 600mm is too big for that IMO. Brush up on your fieldcraft and you will obtain better shots with the 500mm than any other lens if you want those great wildlife shots (Its also a good macro lens!).

Feb 4, 2007
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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
86 207271 Apr 24, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
97% of reviewers $5,514.13
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.91
8.75
9.9
ef500mmf_4_1_


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