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Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> Gear samples >> Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

This is by far my most used telephoto lens for a lot of reasons. It offers excellent focal length for bird photography, especially when coupled with the EF 1.4x II or III. Optically the lens is nothing short of fantastic even with the 1.4x TC. The IS works great and is certainly useful in low-light situations.

I find the lens to be light enough to hand-hold and hike around with. The size is also small enough to shoot from the car conveniently. I can usually drive around with the lens sitting in my lap so I can quickly point it out the window for grab shots when doing roadside birding. The size of the lens is also convenient for traveling by air. I feel much more comfortable travelling with the 500mm f/4 than I do with my 600mm f/4 or 400mm f/2.8.

The minimum focus distance I short enough to that the lens is great for small warblers and sparrows. Another nice feature is the three position focus limiter which means that you can restrict the focus not only to distant subjects (great for photographing flying birds) but also to close subjects which is great for photographing small birds as they forage at close range.

The AF stop buttons are near the end of the lens barrel. This makes them very handy since holding the lens to use the buttons also means that you have your hand under the weight at the end of the lens. Holding the lens this way helps to make the lens steady when shooting hand-held. When using the 500 I also find it useful to customize the AF stop buttons so that they toggle between Ai-servo and One Shot AF modes.

AF preset is another great function available on the 500mm f/4L IS USM. I typically use this feature when watching water features or hummingbird feeders. I can set the focus on a perch near the water feature or at the port on the hummingbird feeder. I can continue to photograph birds in the vicinity and when a bird approaches the feeder I can rotate the switch on the lens barrel and instantly the focus is right at the feeder were I had pre-set it.

Aside from the price of this lens there really is very little fault that I can find with it and considering how much use I have personally gotten from the lens even the price isnít so terrible.
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Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Townsend's Solitaire
Townsend's Solitaire
American Coot
American Coot
Black Phoebe
Black Phoebe
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Copper-rumped Hummingbird
Copper-rumped Hummingbird
Palm Tanager
Palm Tanager
Green Honeycreeper
Green Honeycreeper
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Kestrel
Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher
Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Southern Lapwing
Southern Lapwing
Barred Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Grasshopper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover
American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Black-bellied Plover
Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher
Least Grebe
Least Grebe
Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
Crested Caracara
Crested Caracara
Mottled Duck
Mottled Duck
American Wigeon
American Wigeon
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Harris's Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
House Wren
House Wren
Brown Creeper
Brown Creeper
LeConte's Sparrow
LeConte's Sparrow
Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe
Redhead
Redhead
Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron
White-tailed Kite
White-tailed Kite
Altamira Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill
Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker
Willet
Willet
Marbled Godwit
Marbled Godwit
Green-tailed Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee
Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher
Lark Bunting
Lark Bunting
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