The latest Canon EF 500mm and 600mm EF f/4L IS II USM lenses are launched. Here's What Digital Camera's overview of the latest Canon 500mm and 600mm versions...

Canon launches EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lenses. As we reported back in August 2010 from Photokina in Cologne, these two lenses have now finally been announced in full with a full set of spec details available.

The Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM are ideal for the most demanding sports and wildlife photographers, each offering a fixed focal length and impressive wide f/4.0 aperture.

Replacing the current 500mm and 600mm L-series lenses, the latest releases provide the most up to date Canon Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, and utilise a magnesium alloy construction with titanium components to make each lens significantly more lightweight than each predecessor (the original 500mm weighs 3,870g, while the new 500mm f/4L IS II USM weighs in at 3,190g; whereas the original 600mm weighs 5,360g, while the new 600mm f/4L IS II USM weighs in at 3,960g).

Both lenses feature entirely redesigned optics, with 16 elements arranged in 12 groups for both models. Canon’s fluorite lens elements – two of feature in each lens – boast very low dispersion of light in order to counter aberration that standard optical glass fails to eliminate. Both the 500mm and 600mm lenses sport Canon’s Super Spectra Coatings as well as a SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC) to reduce both ghosting and flare. A water-repellent fluorine coating is also used on the surface of the front and rear elements in order to repel dust, dirt and moisture for clearer shots, even in the worst of weather.

The Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM and Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM both feature the latest Canon Image Stabilizer system that offers up to four stops of stability. IS Mode 2 features new algorithms to improve panning performance, while the new IS Mode 3 adds the ability to switch between subjects by activating the IS unit only during exposure.

Autofocus is near-silent thanks to a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) and a full-time manual focusing functionality enables MF to over-ride AF in order to fine-tuning focusing by hand. Power Focus mode also assists users during video shooting, allowing smooth adjustment focus during capture by twisting the focus recall ring.

Further improvements see both lenses include optional long or short foot tripod mounts, an improved tripod collar rotational mechanism for smoother movement when shifting from portrait to landscape orientation, as well as a Kensington-type wire security lock to keep each lens secure during location-based shoots.

Of course these high-spec lenses don’t come cheap, but then you more than get what you pay for: in the UK the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens will retail for £8999 (10,799 Euro) including VAT, while the Canon 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens will set you back £11,299 (13549 Euro) including VAT.