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CanonEF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
 
5.0

(based on 22 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (21)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (18)
  • Strong construction (16)
  • Lightweight (13)
  • Durable (12)
  • Nice bokeh (12)

Cons

  • Heavy (3)
  • Pricey / poor value (3)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (22)
  • Sports/action (11)
  • Wildlife (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Semi-pro photographer (12), Photo enthusiast (7), Pro photographer (3)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (20)

Reviewed by 22 customers

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

You get what you pay for

By Canadian Chris

from Ottawa, Canada

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Poor in Low Light
  • Slow Focus

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

I spent a great deal of time researching this purchase. The dealbreaker between the 500mm and the 600mm was the size. You can get the 500mm into a Pelican carry-on case in standard overhead bins on airplanes, but the 600mm is too big. It would have to go into checked baggage. Yikes. The 500mm has been vastly reviewed, and its really good to read the comparisons out there. In the end the 600mm has 44% more pixels on target, which is reason enough to go with the 600mm. However, check the video on YouTube that compares the 500mm to the 600mm, and the size of the 600mm and the special pack needed to carry it is jaw dropping. All things that come to bear when carrying and travelling over distances. Anyways, I went with the 500mm, which has reasonably but not blazing fast acquisition on the target for autofocus. I use this primarily for birding and wildlife, and if you use good technique--support, tripod, shutter release--you get good results. I would not suggest despite whatever anyone tells you, that you can handhold this. I'm well over 6', I carried a the company heavy automatic rifle in the infantry, and I would not want to spend a day carrying and hand holding this and expect tack-sharp results. I carry it attached very securely to a Really Right Stuff gimbal, which has a lens strap as a safety. This gumbal on a RRS tripod is carried over my shoulder and in this manner I can go all day, whcih being relatively quick to shoot as opportunities arrive. So, the sharpness I get from this lens is acceptable. I've looked long and hard for a lens that would give me pin feather detail on fall warblers. You can waste money on low-cost surrogates, but really, if you spend the 10K this lens costs, you get amazing, and I mean amazing, optics, performance and ruggedness.I gave 4 instead of 5 stars because in low (and I mean really low) light I find the auto focus searches too much and that in lower light, detail can be soft. Overall, I'm glad I got it. I've had more published pictures as a result of having this lens. It really is a case of you get what you pay for, and this is worth paying for.

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Exceeds Expectations

By Hookem

from Baytown, Texas, USA

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Lightweight
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Ridiculously Expensive

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

Finally bit the bullet and bought this incredible lens. Outstanding IQ and very fast focus. I love everything about it but the price, which I thought was ridiculous. I wish Canon had furnished the lens with a tripod foot that would balance on a Wimberly mount when I use the 1.4x. I bought the RRS replacement to address this issue. Great lens!

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great Lens

By Krazy Kajun

from Ladys Island, SC

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Easily Interchangeable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Sports/Action
  • Wildlife Photos

Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

Nature Photography
Tack sharp focus
Must use some type of support wioth the 2.0 extender

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Astonishing quality

By KermittheHermit

from Madison, WI

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Lightweight
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

    This is truly a great lens. Together with the 5DMIII and 1.4x TE III, I am already getting good results for wild bird photography despite the fact that I still have a lot to learn about long lens technique and working with gimbal heads. Results are sharp wide open: stopping down doesn't appear to be necessary unless more depth of field is needed. Bokeh, AF speed, weight and construction quality leave nothing to be desired. While there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the stock foot, I will be swapping it out for an Arca-Swiss compatible model. A dream lens that will outlast me!

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Still Great Quality with Improvements

    By newphoto

    from Tulsa, OK

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Lightweight
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Rugged
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Sports/Action
      • Wildlife Photos

      Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

      I am a wildlife photographer and had used the old version 500 since it came out in 1999. I replaced the old one with the version II a couple of months ago, along with a 1.4X III. How does it compare to the old 500? It is equal to the excellent sharpness of the old version, but the IS is much improved - quieter, faster, and the new Mode 3 I use all the time. More importantly for me, the new version is a almost 1.5 LBs lighter. It works great with the 1.4 extender as well and the autofocus is plenty fast enough for flying birds. This lens is close to the epitomy for modern day lens crafters.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Finally Got it!

      By Liz

      from Ohio

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output
      • Durable
      • Fast / accurate auto-focus
      • Lightweight
      • Rugged
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Landscape/Scenery
        • Sports/Action
        • Wildlife Photos

        Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

        I am a wildlife photographer and most of you who will look at this review know what I mean when I say that you can never get close enough to your subject. Even with this lens plus an extender you can often not be as close as you would like but it is so sharp, so lightweight that it is worth every penny. I am very pleased with it and expect it to be in my arsenal for a very long time. I highly recommend it. The only very small and not awful problem is that it is hard to balance on my tripod with a Wimberly head. Not enough to cause me to value it at anything less than 5 stars.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        May be worth the Money

        By Ty

        from Macon, Ga

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easily Interchangeable
        • Lightweight
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Sports/Action
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

          I shoot birds and was reluctant to sell my old 500mm IS which is the best toy I have ever owned. However, time has rendered my shoulders less sturdy than they once were. Many critics have said the 500II is not worth the difference, but the lens is noticeable lighter and should extend your ability to use it if your body is starting to talk back. The performance is what you would expect.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Canon 500mm

          By Spurwink

          from Maine

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Lightweight

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

            Used for wildlife. This lens is lighter and seems more balanced than the previous 500mm. It is easily hand holdable for BIF. There are no cons but for the $$$.

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            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Sell everything to get this lens

            By dgardenman

            from Stamford, Ct

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Lightweight

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

              My first big lens. A long awaited addition to my kit and worth every penny. Maybe quite a few pennies.
              The sharpness is dangerous, the weight is handleable for this 63 year old. A tripod is still nice to have around. Autofocus is very good with my 7D.
              Who ever knew f4 could be so wonderful.
              The birds will have no privacy now.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Awesome lens!

              By Mule

              from AZ

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Durable
              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Lightweight
              • Rugged
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

              • Expensive
              • Little Bit Back Heavy

              Best Uses

              • Sports/Action
              • Video
              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

              Lightweight, great IS, easy to use and great image quality! Owned the prior version and this one is definitely more user friendly and easier to pack around.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Great quality investment!

              By Ricky

              from Arkansas

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Consistent Output
              • Durable
              • Easily Interchangeable
              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Improved Quality
              • Lightweight
              • Nice Bokeh
              • Rugged
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Video
                • Wildlife Photos

                Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                I have taken thousands of wildlife shots with the lens already and it exceeded my expectations. I immediately noticed better images than other lenses I have used. The weight reduction has made it possible for me to hand hold especially with the improved stabilization. I would recommend purchasing the BH DOC8 lens cap to replace the factory lens cap as it is easier to remove and replace and better protects the lens.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                It is a great lens!

                By Photo mad man

                from NJ

                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Consistent Output
                • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                • Nice Bokeh
                • Strong Construction

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                  Its major usage is for birds and other wild life. It renders super image quality.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  wonderful wildlife lens

                  By dianneordi

                  from Atlanta, GA

                  About Me Photo Enthusiast

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Sports/Action
                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                    I've been using this lens for a couple weeks now, and have been able to get some super sharp photos of birds and animals. For best results, I've had to rely on shutter speeds between 1/500 and 1/1000 second when shooting handheld. Slower speeds with tripod or braced also give good results.

                    With lens and camera, everthing weighs around 10 lbs, which does get heavy after a while, but is to be expected with this large a lens. I was able to walk around Zoo Atlanta for 5 hours taking handheld photos without any problem.

                    I've tried using the Canon 2X converter with decent (but not great) results.

                    The "lens cap" is a bit clumsy, but for the most part I use the sun hood in the field and leave the lens cap in the car.

                    Comes with a very rugged case.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Amazing Lens!

                    By TomJ

                    from north Texas

                    About Me Pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Durable
                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Nice Bokeh
                    • Rugged
                    • Strong Construction
                    • Superb Optic

                    Cons

                    • Expensive

                    Best Uses

                    • Bird photography
                    • Sports/Action
                    • Wildlife Photos

                    Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                    Everything you have probably already heard about this lens is true. It's lighter than the previous version, the latest image stabilization is fantastic, the image quality is stellar, and you pretty much have the best optic of this focal length on the planet when you purchase this lens. Yes, the cost is a killer, but if you are serious about certain kinds of photography (I photograph birds) then there really are not many choices when it comes to great birding lenses. This is one of them. It should last a long time and if current trends are any indication, you may end up being able to sell it for close to what you paid for it years down the road. So look at it as in investment.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Great Lens for birding, worth the money

                    By gone again

                    from cincinnati, Ohio

                    About Me Photo Enthusiast

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                    • Lightweight
                    • Nice Bokeh
                    • Strong Construction

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Sports/Action
                      • Wildlife Photos

                      Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                      fast focus, pictures are tack sharp, best if used with a 1x4 convertor.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Fit and Finish are exceptional

                      By AndyG

                      from Fort Collins, CO

                      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                      Pros

                      • Durable
                      • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                      • Nice Bokeh
                      • Rugged

                      Cons

                      • Heavy
                      • Is Drifts

                      Best Uses

                      • Bird photography
                      • Wildlife Photos

                      Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                      I have rented the 500mm f/4 version I and owned a 100-400mm for many years before finally breaking down and buying the 500mm f/4 II. Of course it's tack sharp and a pleasure to use. Here's some additional comments to add to the other reviews:
                      * Bokeh is very good. Much, much better than the 100-400, which often produces double-blades of grass for slightly-out-of-focus distances.
                      * The fit and finish are really good and much better than the 500mm version I.
                      * The lens hood weighs nothing and slides on and off easily.
                      * The lens cap is much smaller and much nicer than the strange thing they shipped with the original 500mm.
                      * The knob to loosen the lens collar so you can rotate between portrait and landscape is easy to use and rotating the lens feels like your dealing with a fine piece of precision machinery. Delightful.
                      * The Image Stabilization drifts more than I would have expected in Mode 1. Sitting on a tripod the lens wanders less than my 100-400, but I don't think you'll be taking any 1/30 or longer pictures with it. Otherwise the IS works well. 4 stops? I don't think so. Good IS? Yes.
                      * The case is AWESOME! It is rugged, has spaces for the 1.4X and 2X TCs, has 2 handles and feet on 3 sides so you can carry it 2 different ways and store it any way you want.
                      * There are several accessories I recommend: A Think-tank Airport Accelerator case for easier travel in the car with the lens attached to the camera, a Wimberly mount for your tripod, the Canon 1.4X TC III, the 52mm drop-in circular polarizer for shooting birds on water and a Really Right Stuff Arca-Swiss replacement foot. I also own the Canon 2X teleconverter but don't find it that useful. Air turbulence and tripod shake (I use a Gitzo series 3) are such that you'll rarely get more resolution than with the 1.4X TC.
                      * While lighter than its predecessor, this lens is still heavy. I've done a little hand-holding but practically this just isn't a desirable way to use this lens. Don't plan on hand-holding.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (1 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Nice weight

                      By Elston

                      from Port Angeles, WA

                      About Me Photo Enthusiast

                      Pros

                      • Consistent Output
                      • Durable
                      • Rugged
                      • Strong Construction

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Wildlife Photos

                        Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                        Very happy with this lens as I already had a 500mm lens. This one is light enough to hand hold alhough I try to use the tripod. Fast focus.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (11 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Lighter!! (wallet and lens!)

                        By yipDog

                        from Mesa, AZ

                        About Me Pro Photographer

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Consistent Output
                        • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                        • Lightweight
                        • Nice Bokeh
                        • Rugged

                        Cons

                        • Expensive

                        Best Uses

                        • Aviation
                        • Sports/Action
                        • Wildlife Photos

                        Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                        If I could give this 10 stars I would. I finally was in a position to purchase a super tele and tried the old 500 f4 IS. Problem is the used price is creeping up as nobody want to get rid of them. So I bit the bullet knowing this lens is one I will be buried with.
                        The weight savings is amazing. I handhold all day with no real issues. And the IS mode 3 is incredible. Putting the 1.4x Extender III makes very little difference IQ-wise. Focusing with the extender occasionally hunts or doesn't want to even try but that is when the focus is so far out it cant even decide or when the subject/background doesn't have enough contrast.
                        Pull the extender off and it may be the fastest focusing lens I have. That's saying something as I also have the 24-70 2.8L USM II and 70-200 f2.8L USMII. It's more like my 50 f1.4!!
                        Being able to shoot wide open is a joy. Low light isn't a problem to get crisp images.
                        If you are in need of a super tele, and have the means...this is THE lens to get.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Amazingly sharp, a marked upgrade

                        By birder from Davis and San Jose, CA

                        from San Jose, CA

                        About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Consistent Output
                        • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                        • Lightweight
                        • Strong Construction

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Birds
                          • Wildlife Photos

                          Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                          The new 500 f/4 EF IS II USM is a marked upgrade on the version 1 of this lens, which I owned. It is noticibly lighter to hold and feels well balanced. It is sharper in the corners than the old version, and the image stabilization is noticibly better to me. Shooting birds as small objects in the field of view the focus also seems better to me, faster and more accurate. With a professional series body the mount on the lens is too far back on the lens and a foot such as that offered by Really Right Stuff works better to balance the rig on a gimbal head. The case is a monster and built like a tank. The new lens hood is an improvement but does not fit over a Lens Coat. This my favorite birds lens ever.

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

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                          (12 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          5.0

                          Everything I Expected and More !

                          By Laura

                          from Bay Shore, NY

                          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Consistent Output
                          • Durable
                          • Easily Interchangeable
                          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                          • Lightweight
                          • Nice Bokeh
                          • Strong Construction

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Sports/Action
                            • Wildlife Photos

                            Comments about Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens:

                            Simply put, this is THE lens for bird / wildlife photography. As a petite female, I previously shied away from the "Big Glass" due to the weight issues. Canon has taken that excuse away. This lens is more than manageable, and the results are just awesome. The controls are intuitive and easily accessible. Sharpness is incredibly consistent and I'm delighted at the quickness of the Autofocus. It easily is the sharpest and fastest of any of the lenses I currently own.I've actually captured images of some shy subjects previously impossible without the working distance of this lens! I can't think of any Con, except that I want to use it ALL the time !

                            • Was this a gift?:
                            • Yes

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