Nikon 200-500mm lens review

To: 'Rick Nash' <>, "" <>
Subject: Nikon 200-500mm lens review
From: Paul Dodd <>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 12:50:35 +0000
That's an interesting point of view, Rick.

I would argue though, that a 300mm with a 1.4 on a full-frame body is
starting to get into the realm of super-telephotos - an effective focal
length of 420mm. Put that combination on a DX body like a D500 and you've
got 630mm - definitely a super-telephoto.

I agree that lugging a 600mm around the mallee and hoping to get images of a
Mallee Emu-wren is a tough gig, but I've actually found 500mm to be the
almost ideal focal length. It gives you enough distance from the bird that
you're not causing it stress, and with practice it is possible to home in
and focus reasonably quickly.

Where I find 500mm simply too long is when the bird or birds come very close
- and I encounter that situation often enough on pelagics. And for that
reason, amongst others, something like the 200-500mm is a very useful tool.

I have known several really top-notch bird photographers that use a 300mm
f/2.8 with either a 1.4 or 1.7TC as their standard rig, and have seen some
genuinely remarkable photographs from that combination. On the other hand I
know of at least one really top bird photographer that shoots with a 500mm
f/4 with a 1.4TC that is ALWAYS attached.

I guess each photographer finds the setup that best suits them and their

Paul Dodd
Docklands, Victoria

-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Rick Nash
Sent: Tuesday, 23 February 2016 10:05 PM
Subject: Nikon 200-500mm lens review

Interesting comments Graeme,

I have long thought that the longer focal length lenses, 500-600, are
totally unsuited for field photography, especially for the smaller
bush/mallee birds.
Sensor technology has improved so much in the last couple of years that
shorter focal length lenses really come into their own, especially combined
with reasonable teleconverters.

I have been using the older Nikon 300/F4 with a 1.4tc, no VR, for years now
and combined with the newer bodies ie D7200 crop or D810 full frame they
make a great, light, rig with outstanding results.

So combine the newer 300/F4 with a D500 body and I agree that you have close
to the ultimate birding field setup.

Of course the big prime telephotos have their place and are magnificent
lenses in their own right but in most field scenarios I don't believe they
are the right tool for the job.

Interested to hear other comments on this.

Regards Rick Nash

On 23/02/2016 6:15 PM, Graeme Chapman wrote:
> Hello Paul,
> Thank you for your useful comments regarding the new Nikkor 200-500 mm
> I agree wholeheartedly with everything you wrote.
> In recent times I have virtually replaced all my birding lenses and now
have what I consider is the ultimate combination - these lenses (and
cameras) are so good that I doubt very much whether I will ever have to buy
any more gear in my lifetime. The most important issue in future in future
will be being there. Two very, very important words.
> I traded in the latest version of the 80-400 on the new 200-500 and in a
word, brilliant, I can even handhold it the VR is so good and in my copy,
the autofocus is spot on at 500 mm.
> As you probably know from my website, I do a lot of photography of small
bush birds -  most of the Australian ones are there already. However, as you
noted, quickly homing in on a small subject with a 500 mm lens is not easy
- that fraction of a second dithering often means  getting the picture or
not. Enter the new Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF lens  - one of the best lenses Nikon
have ever made and some say equal in quality to their legendary 300 mm
> Last year we spent a lot of time on Eyre Peninsula chasing Blue-breasted
Fairy-Wrens. All that time, I used the 300 f/4 PF, often with a 1.4
extender, a very LIGHT and manoeuvrable combination. It even works well with
the 1.7x extender (= 510 mm).  I also had the big 500 f/4 lens with me, but
where did it remain? in its bag. I find that big lens too heavy to hand
hold, so it has to go on a tripod. If you are travelling in a car, often the
time it takes to set up on a tripod is crucial. The outcome of all this is
that I have put the 500 f/4 VR up for sale, mainly because the new 200-500
is so much easier to handle, and even hand hold.
> I should qualify my earlier statement - I do know of one item I'll buy as
soon as it becomes available and that is the newly announced D500 camera.
> And so it goes on. My wife Pam says to me " I hope you aren't thinking of
buying any more cameras"  - and for the moment, I agree.
> Cheers
> Graeme Chapman
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