Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+

Started Jun 29, 2013 | Discussions thread
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dhogaza Regular Member • Posts: 343
Re: Getting to the 500mm range without spending $10K+

bhollis wrote:

dprsok wrote:

Canon 300mm F/2.8L II + 2x III


Based on everything I've read, this does seem to be the best sub $10K option. Unfortunately, it's still quite expensive at over $7,500.

If the OP really wants 500, and even better, use of a 1.4x extender that maintains AF on all Canon bodies, a used 500/4 IS MK I can be even cheaper.  KEH has an EX+ one available for $6400, offers a two-week return, and six month warranty (I am in the midst of testing their return policy, or perhaps warranty, because if they can fix the particular telephoto I bought from them which crapped out after 10 days, I'd love ot have it - I'll write up my experience when we're done.  Due to be delivered to their return department on Monday).  This gets you up to 700/5.6 - 500 and beyond for well under $10K.

You can get it cheaper from private parties.

Another possibility is the old non-IS EF 500/4.5 L.  It's a very good lens.  Not as good as the current MK IIs, of course (nothing is, duh!), but a relative bargain (KEH has one for $3300).  Bonus is that this lens weighs about 6 lbs, very light for a 500.  Downside is you lose AF with a Canon 1.4x (why did they make it an f4.5 lens?  Because it's an old FD design, pre-EOS AF, so the AF/5.6 limitation wasn't a consideration, remounted for the EOS line - the original EF 300/2.8 was also a remounted FD 300/2.8) but you can get bodies to AF  with it with aftermarket 1.4xs.  Despite its age, it is part of the first generation telephotos from Canon to incorporate a calcium fluorite element, it's painted a comforting "L" supertelephoto white, and has the kind of build quality you expect from a Canon big white.

While the lack of IS is a downside (but check the price), its light weight makes it easily manageable on a monopod.  I ran into one out in the field at Malheur NWR a month ago, and the owner is very satified with it.  Bob Atkins of has owned and used one for years and is also very happy with it.

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