Recommend: Yes / Rating: 10/10
Pros: Sharp, Fast AF, Great Contrast, Best SuperTele to actually hike with
Cons: IS is a little old, It's a little heavier than I'd like and is pretty spendy.
I used to feel that my 135 F2 L was my sharpest and best lens, and I'm starting to think that the 500 beats it. It's more likely to have atmospheric effects affect the image than the 135 but that's just physics... With a clear day it looks like you walked up a lot closer and took the shot with the 135.
I handhold it just fine and for walking around prefer to use it without a monopod. When light gets low or I'm setting up in one spot I'll break out the tripod with gimble style mount and it's so much better than a monopod when shutter speeds get low anyways.
I thought I would only use it for birds and wildlife but it's actually becoming a favorite for some landscape shots as well... When you see a nice scene but it's off in the distance or across a valley, the 500 really brings it in and you can get angles that hiking closer would lose. The isolation and flatness it can bring has a very nice style for some images.
The only think you'll regret is not buying it sooner and that you feel the need to use it all the time since you spent so much on it. :)
© Russell Tammany, Exphose Photo