Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF600mm f/4L IS II USM review – Giants in the range

By David Newton - Monday May 27 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Image quality performance | Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF600mm f/4L IS II USM versus competition | Conclusion

Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM


An overall score of 25 may seem like this lens falls short of excellence; however this is partly down to the nature of super-telephoto lenses compared to shorter telephoto lenses like an 85mm. In reality, this is a fantastic score. A sharpness score of 19-P-Mpix relative to the 22megapixels of the EOS 5D Mark III shows the lens is resolving incredibly well and crucially, there is less than 5% variation from centre to edge between f/4 and f/5.6 and less than 3% variation from f/5.6 to f/32.


Even wide open at f/4, the sharpness is completely even across the frame.

The transmission score is similarly impressive, showing little light loss and at 0%, there is no distortion at all. Equally, the chromatic aberration is so well controlled that you would not expect to see any in final image.

Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM


Like the 500mm lens, the 600mm is an exceptionally good performer, managing an almost identical set of scores, except for the fractionally high sharpness score (20P-Mpix vs 19P-MPix) and fractionally lower, though just as imperceptible, Chromatic Aberration score (3µm vs 5µm). Equally, the sharpness across the frame is just as even, with hardly any drop off from the centre to the edge at all apertures.