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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

 
Lens Reviews / Canon Lenses i Not yet tested
500mm $8,999
average price
image of Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
(From Canon lens literature) 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.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM User Reviews

10.0/10 average of 9 reviews Build Quality 9.9/10 Image Quality 10.0/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Image quality, image quality, image quality!
    Weight, but then I suppose that is to be expected.

    I had always dreamed of owning a big white one day, well that day came and what a lens it turned out to be. Fantastic image quality, even with the 1.4 converter it produces stunning images.
    I have printed out A4 sized prints which were cropped from the original somewhat and they are truly stunning.
    It needs a good support, so a decent tripod and gimbal head or a big beanbag.

    reviewed November 27th, 2010 (purchased for $7,500)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (82 reviews)
    The "Pro" is, even if you're not a "Pro" you sure look like one!
    You may what a hire a body guard to protect this lens...yes the lens, not you!

    I don't own this lens unfortunantely, but Michel Roy does. He's a fabulous northern nature photographer. Check out these sample photos taken with 1D Mark II:

    Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS Lens Photo Samples

    -Lex

    reviewed February 12th, 2008 (purchased for $5,500)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Reach/weight is best, Sharp, versatile
    No way you go unnoticed

    There is only one thing wrong with this lens. You cannot go unnoticed. Especially if you mount the lens hood. Thank goodness, contrast and flare control are excellent even without the hood.

    I was decided to get a 300/2.8 as a means to get to 600mm for birds, small animals and sports. A used 500/4 in mint condition came my way and I grabbed it for ~$1,000 than it normally goes used in such condition.

    The lens is barely usable handheld. I have made day trips with it and made several shots handheld but was finding myself reaching for support most of the time.

    The lens excells with a monopod. Even a lightweight one like the Manfrotto 676B is fine.

    It takes the Canon 1.4x very well. Only some loss of contrast in some occasions, that could very well be caused by me not using the hood all the time.

    It also takes the Kenko 2xTC extremely well. AF is not lost on a 350D/XT and AF speed is not any worse than with the bare lens. I need to stack two 2xTCs to reach a level when image is so-so.

    IS works fine with the lens and although rated at only 2 stops (compared with 4 in the newest lenses) it does it's job well, especially on a tripod.

    Build quality (both of the lens and the carry case) are beyond criticism. It is a solid lens that will take good pictures and won't fail you. Again, only issue is how well you react on comments from bystanders, especially in public places. Best thing to do with this lens is take a walk in the woods.

    reviewed November 27th, 2007 (purchased for $3,500)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharp, fast focus, weather seals
    cost , focus - see comment

    Mainly shoot youth sports with a Canon Mark II. Always shoot off mono-pod, will occasionally pickup mono-pod and shoot handheld. Why pick the 500mm? Both the 400 f2.8 and 600mm f4 cost and weigh much more than the 500mm. The 500 gives a little more reach than the 400, not quite as far as the 600. For outdoor sports (soccer, baseball, softball) this gives great isolation of the player. If you shoot all day (7am to 5pm) the extra couple of pounds will make a difference by the end of the day. For low light (Friday night football) have a 300mm f2.8, for indoor (volleyball, basketball, hockey) the 300 is more versatile than the 400
    In low light, ISO >1250 shutter <250 at F4, can detect slower focusing compared to the 300 f.28 even using just the center focus point. A low battery will also slow focusing down.
    Superlatives are needed to describe the picture quality, regularly make sharp detailed 13”x19” prints. Have used the 1.4 extender with good results. Example: Girls softball shooting from the outside the fence (250 ft?) towards home, frames the batter, catcher and umpire.
    Horror Story. The weather seals do work. Camera was on, and had slid to the back of a small power boat. Imagine my concern as another boat approached ours and I watched a WAVE come over the side of our boat onto my camera.
    Highly recommended.

    reviewed November 21st, 2006
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Near Perfect Image quality
    Price and weight

    I made the mistake of saying OK when a friend said for me to hook up to his 500 and shoot a few frames of a Pine Martin when we were in Yellowstone this January. When I saw the results I knew that I would have to have my own.

    Yes, it is expensive and heavy. But if you are serious about wildlife photography, and shoot dangerous or shy or small animals (birds, bears,or other predators) there is no finer all around lens. I own a 400 f5.6L and a 100-400 LIS and have used the 600f4Lis. All of these are fine lenses capable of producing professional quality images, but the quality of the 500 is definitly superior to the 400's, and the lens is much lighter and easier to deploy than the 600.
    I continue to be amazed by the image quality, and the IS is head and shoulders above that on the 100-400. When I review images I almost never have to cull an image for being soft. I am not a proponent of handholding a telephoto, but have gotten great images with this lens in a few cases when I didn't have time to mount to the tripod, although it is too heavy to handhold for more that a few shots. It is very usable with teleconvertors. I use the 1.4 frequently, and while the images suffer slightly, they are still excellent. With the 2X you can reach out and get the shot that you could otherwise not get with good results, especially if you stop down a stop or two.
    The only real negative to this lens is the cost. If you can't afford the 500, the 400 f5.6L image quality is very close at a fraction of the price.

    reviewed March 28th, 2006 (purchased for $5,400)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Sharp, Fast, Furious
    Bring a Crane

    The 300 prime is sharper, barely, but this thing is just awesome.

    Dont think your are goind to walk around with it and not notice though, the 400 is even heavier or course, but it's BIG.

    Fantastic lens, ultra sharp, as good as the 600 and you can double to 1000 and still get phenomenal results.

    I have rented 6 times and would buy it if I didnt have other bills to pay.

    reviewed December 30th, 2005
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    If you need both reach and speed, this is your best bet!
    None, if you're a Pro or Un-Married.

    When matched up with Canon's EOS 1DMkII it is fantastic! Effective 650mm reach and both the AF / IS gives 1st class performance. Used with a Wimberley gimbal-head and you have total control for active mammals or birds in flight. I used to lift weights (a lot) so I wouldn’t disqualify the heavier 600mm f/4 L IS just on weight, but the 500mm is obviously shorter, easier to handle, and I’d swear superior optics. My only complaint is despondent look in my friend’s eyes when I say NO, about lending it.

    reviewed November 1st, 2005 (purchased for $5,200)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    sharpness, fast AF, work well eith EF1,4x..
    Weight, cost??

    I bought this lens about four years ago and I still love it...

    The pivtures almost nails you in the eye, straight from the camera...

    Works well for many motives, birds, landscape, flowers, animal,, you name it!

    Wiht the 1,4x converter you have a VERY versible lesconfig..

    No problem to log around when trevelling. Yes if you compare wiht shorter lenses these are bulky but if you need a lens of this calibre you need it. No more to say about that.

    I dont know how many hours the IS has been active, no problem so far..

    I have had the EF 300 2,8L in my possesion and I miss the feeling in the focusing ring. I also miss the "three gear modes" for the focusing.. None of the new IS:lenses have this nice funktion!!!!!

    Bought in Sweden..

    Recommend it more than any other lens I have owned.

    reviewed October 25th, 2005
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Simply one of the best performers in telephoto you can get. Bullet proof AF, Sharpness, IS, Build quality
    none really

    Ok I bought this lens 3 months ago and I I used it for lot's of stuff now. ( Sports, animals, landscape)

    I love this lens. Yes it's Pricy and heavy, but that's kind of normal for this big telephoto.

    I can also say that it performces very well with the Canon 1.4 Converter.

    It's a fantastic lens and I can only recomend it.

    reviewed October 20th, 2005 (purchased for $5,000)