EF 500mm f4L IS II USM

introduced 2011


from Canon information February 2011

Canon launches a new super-telephoto lens for its leading EOS Digital SLR (DSLR) range – the EF 500mm F/4L IS II USM. Designed to meet the needs of the most demanding sports and wildlife photographers, the lens offers breakthrough performance, delivering consistently high-quality images and incredible mobility. The launch follows a development announcement in August 2010, and the display of a prototype at Photokina 2010 in Cologne, Germany.

Launching into Canon’s professional L-series, the model replace the widely-respected EF 500mm F/4L IS USM and is designed to achieve unparalleled levels of image quality. The lens includes the highest-quality optics and the latest Canon Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, while magnesium alloy constructions with titanium components make the lens significantly lighter and even more durable. The EF 500mm F/4L IS II USM offers an impressive reduction of 17% (680g) over its predessor.

New levels of performance

The lens features completely redesigned optics, with 16 elements in 12 groups. Canon has over 40 years of experience in the manufacturing of fluorite lens elements, and has utilised two high performance fluorite elements – delivering high resolution, high contrast shots rich in detail across the frame.

Optical elements feature Canon’s Super Spectra Coatings and a SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC), optimised to effectively reduce ghosting and flare. A water-repellent fluorine coating is also used on the surface of the front and rear elements, repelling dust and dirt for clearer shots, and keeping the front element free of marks by ensuring water droplets run off the lens quickly.

Enhanced IS, precise AF

The lens features Canon’s latest Image Stabilizer system, offering outstanding image quality during handheld shooting and allowing users to shoot at speeds up to four times slower than normally required. IS Mode 2 features new algorithms to improve performance when panning, and the new IS Mode 3 is also included, assisting users when switching between subjects by activating the IS unit only during exposure.

A constant f/4 aperture is given, allowing photographers to achieve excellent image quality in low light and capture clear, sharp shots of fast-moving subjects. The wide aperture also allows users to creatively isolate their subjects from the background, with a nine-blade circular iris creating beautiful background blur that instantly adds atmosphere to an image.

Rapid, quiet Auto Focus (AF) is provided by a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM). Photographers can also utilise full-time manual focusing functionality, which enables the fine-tuning of focus even when the AF system is activated, providing even greater control over image capture. Power Focus mode also assists users during video shooting, allowing the photographer to smoothly adjust focus during filming by twisting the focus recall ring.

Premium L-series design

The lens has been designed as part of Canon’s renowned elite L-series, combining exceptional-quality optics with stylish designs. It features a revised layout, with carefully-positioned controls that improve everyday operation. The AF stop buttons are now location-adjustable, improving ergonomics by allowing users to custom-select the position of the lens grip where the AF stop buttons are located.

Mechanical improvements include optional long or short foot tripod mounts suitable for monopods or tripods. An improved tripod collar rotational mechanism provides a smoother movement when turning the lens from portrait to landscape orientation, and a Kensington-type wire security lock has also been included, keeping the lens secure during location-based shoots. The robust design is also weatherproof, making the lens suitable for use in extreme conditions when paired with a weatherproof EOS body.



Lens mount EF
Image size
full frame
Vertical 245'
Horizontal 4
Construction (elements/groups) 16/12
Number of aperture blades: 9
Minimum aperture f32
Focusing range 3.7m to infinity
Maximum magnification 0.15x
Distance information provided
AF actuator Ring USM with full-time manual focus
Manual focusing available
Dust/moisture resistance yes
Filter diameter 52mm drop-in
Maximum diameter x length 146 x 383mm
Weight: 3190g

Magnification with Extension Tube EF12 II 0.18x to 0.03x
Magnification with Extension Tube EF25 II 0.22x to 0.06x

Extenders EF1.4x II and EF2x II compatible

Lens hood ET-138 (WII)
Soft case Lens Case 500B


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