Remedy against GAS? Shooting with a vintage EF 500 mm f/4.5 L USM

justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
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Well, we all are more or less driven by GAS: should I have the latest camera or lens? But sometimes I hesitate and reconsider my addiction for the latest stuff. This happens every time when I think I should upgrade my vintage, now 23 years old EF 500 mm f/4.5 L USM (built in 1995). It survived sand storms, fell from a tripod on a rock etc., it looks battered, but it still works 100 % reliably. It has no IS (in fact, it has a built-in passive mass inertia IS ;)), its first generation USM drive is a bit slow, wide open the image edges get a little bit soft (but f = 5 is fine) and with a 2x TC my cameras switch off their phase AF... But every time I have it in my hands, I still love it, and I know exactly what this lens can achieve and where its limits are - after many years its like an extension of my body. I shoot it more the 80 % free hand, because then I am best in catching birds in flight. For this technique this lens is not too heavy with 3 kg (my old back is still fine) and its more slender form factor compared with a modern EF 500 mm f/4 is just perfect for my hand.

For this Atlantic puffin I used it in combo with a 7D2. I think it is more important that you really know your gear than having always the latest stuff.
Papageientaucher Flug Staple Island.JPG
 

Maximilian

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Hi justaCanonuser!

Thank you for sharing this story and the nice pic with us.
And a nice idea of (re-)inventing the IS (= inertia stabilizer) *lol

I think it is more important that you really know your gear than having always the latest stuff.
100% agree with this.
New (better) gear makes it esier most of the times. But if you do it wrong from the start, no high end gear in the world will help. ;)
 
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degos

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Mar 20, 2015
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For this Atlantic puffin I used it in combo with a 7D2. I think it is more important that you really know your gear than having always the latest stuff.

Says the guy shooting with a 7D2, still Canon's latest prosumer sports/action body and retailing today for £1200, more than the price at which it launched here in the UK.

I'm actually the contrary; I'm happy to invest in new lenses but bodies are well out of date; 1DS3 and 7D.

Well done with your old 500mm, but features like IS and spot-focus were really worth it to me. No Canon body can help shoot at 1/10th like a Mark II stabilised big white can.
 
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justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
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Says the guy shooting with a 7D2, still Canon's latest prosumer sports/action body and retailing today for £1200, more than the price at which it launched here in the UK.

I'm actually the contrary; I'm happy to invest in new lenses but bodies are well out of date; 1DS3 and 7D.

Well done with your old 500mm, but features like IS and spot-focus were really worth it to me. No Canon body can help shoot at 1/10th like a Mark II stabilised big white can.

:) you're right and wrong. In fact, compared with the money you have to invest in a new EF 500 mm a 7D2 is low budget. For me, today's digital cameras are (unfortunately) short-lived products, but a good lens is a keeper for a while, sometimes more than 20 years.

In fact, IS is in particular good for video, because already a little bit of wind blowing into the long lens hood starts to shake it e.g. on a Wimberley on tripod. For stills I don't miss IS much, because I shoot mainly birds, and most of them vibrate literally from life. I also have a Tamron 150-600 mm G2 as a light travel gear, it has a very good IS (VR), but I don't need to rely too much on it.

Thanks for your nice comment. Maybe I should add that this is not a lucky keeper within thousands of failed shots, I get quite a decent in-focus hit rate when I get adapted during shooting, despite it is such an old lens.
 

Del Paso

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Aug 9, 2018
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Your picture of a puffin literally illustrates the difference between a tech-freak and a talented photographer.
Excellent lens, but even better photographer!
 
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justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
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great story! you should post a picture of the good old 500mm lens!

I've got a couple 40 plus year old Takumars that I just love using, the image quality is beyond amazing....not perfect, but amazing!

Here's my old 500 mm club.
13220655_1778055955763017_4208218248959844837_o.jpg


How about an image of your old Takuma? I love to shoot with more or less vintage glass and cameras, too (I am no collector, I really use them). Here's a quick selection of some of them (had those images already):
16463752_1916601008575177_998343092284457627_o.jpg
12273697_1715332675368679_6130219320289919504_o.jpg
13173282_1771264096442203_8035393802436986467_o.jpg
 
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Dec 25, 2020
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I think it is more important that you really know your gear than having always the latest stuff
Sorry for bumping this old thread but I feel that I just have to say that justaCanonuser is spot on. A couple of years ago I never thought that I would ever own a 500 prime but as of November last year, the f4.5 big white presented it self before me for the price of $1200. I knew that I could not afford to sit this one out so I struck the deal and boy is it a BEAUTY! Battered and scuffed to the teeth but with crystal clear optics, it fits my $800 1DX like a glove ;D

I used to be one of those who thought that newest of the new was what mattered to succeed, until I bought my old battered 7D and understood that an old Ferrari still beats the hell out of a new Fiat ;) As said before in this thread, new gear is ofcourse great, but comes with unimaginable price tags. Old shitty stuff can still keep up as long as you really know what you are doing :)

Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @700mm • 1/800 • f/9 • ISO 500
105554_IMGL5268_1DX-2.jpg




Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @500mm • 1/1600 • f/6.3 • ISO 100. Heavely cropped.
IMGL9692-2.jpg
 

AlanF

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Sorry for bumping this old thread but I feel that I just have to say that justaCanonuser is spot on. A couple of years ago I never thought that I would ever own a 500 prime but as of November last year, the f4.5 big white presented it self before me for the price of $1200. I knew that I could not afford to sit this one out so I struck the deal and boy is it a BEAUTY! Battered and scuffed to the teeth but with crystal clear optics, it fits my $800 1DX like a glove ;D

I used to be one of those who thought that newest of the new was what mattered to succeed, until I bought my old battered 7D and understood that an old Ferrari still beats the hell out of a new Fiat ;) As said before in this thread, new gear is ofcourse great, but comes with unimaginable price tags. Old shitty stuff can still keep up as long as you really know what you are doing :)

Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @700mm • 1/800 • f/9 • ISO 500
View attachment 198771



Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @500mm • 1/1600 • f/6.3 • ISO 100. Heavely cropped.
View attachment 198772
Nice shots. Can you afford an old Ferrari?
 

justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
841
692
Frankfurt, Germany
Sorry for bumping this old thread but I feel that I just have to say that justaCanonuser is spot on. A couple of years ago I never thought that I would ever own a 500 prime but as of November last year, the f4.5 big white presented it self before me for the price of $1200. I knew that I could not afford to sit this one out so I struck the deal and boy is it a BEAUTY! Battered and scuffed to the teeth but with crystal clear optics, it fits my $800 1DX like a glove ;D

I used to be one of those who thought that newest of the new was what mattered to succeed, until I bought my old battered 7D and understood that an old Ferrari still beats the hell out of a new Fiat ;) As said before in this thread, new gear is ofcourse great, but comes with unimaginable price tags. Old shitty stuff can still keep up as long as you really know what you are doing :)

Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @700mm • 1/800 • f/9 • ISO 500
View attachment 198771



Canon EOS 1D X • Canon EF 500mm f/4.5L USM @500mm • 1/1600 • f/6.3 • ISO 100. Heavely cropped.
View attachment 198772
Nice shots! The 1D-X seems to work well with the old lens. Btw I should dig out my old gannet images from Heligoland and Norway...
 

justaCanonuser

Grab your camera, go out and shoot!
Feb 12, 2014
841
692
Frankfurt, Germany
Zwergseeschwalbe mit Fisch 2 Beadnell 17-06-2019.JPG

Funny, a revived old thread! Here is my update: my battered old 500mm F4.5 still works flawlessly, it's amazing. I post a quite rare little tern that I managed to catch after it surfaced with a little fish, I shot that image in Northumberland in 2019. Camera used here: 7D II. C'mon, Canon, I want a fast, rugged R7 crop camera with about 24 MP!
 
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