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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM

5004II
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.