500mm VR Owners: VR effective?

Started Mar 16, 2010 | Discussions thread
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DvD5
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500mm VR Owners: VR effective?
Mar 16, 2010

I've been having very spotty results with my 500mm VR on a D300s body. Many of the images seem to be quite soft in spite of using good long lens practices, and the tc17e-II is quite a bit worse. I always shoot with a Wimberley II Gimbal head on a Gitzo 3531LS base or using a bean bag from the car. After several rounds of focus fine-tune, I've finally decided to test the effect of VR.

Below are are some images that show VR to adversely affect the IQ of photos. I didn't cover the whole range of shutter speeds, but the worst results seem to be in the 100-250th sec. As you can see by the images below, VR=off gives consistently the best results followed by tripod mode and then normal mode. Even the one sample at 1/1000th sec shows VR=tripod to be somewhat worse than VR=off.

An excerpt from the Nikon manual says:

Set the vibration reduction mode switch to “TRIPOD“ to reduce camera shake
and image shake in the viewfinder while using a tripod. Very slight camera
shake may fail to activate the vibration reduction system. Conversely, the VR
system may cause camera shake in the lens. In this case, vibration reduction
should be turned off. When using a tripod with an untightened head or a
monopod, select NORMAL mode.

What are the experiences of other 500VR owners? Is this behavior typical, or should I send the lens to Nikon for a checkup?

500mm VR, no TC, 1/125th at f/4.5. Effect here is not too bad, but still noticable. VR=off left, VR=tripod center, VR=normal=right:

500mm VR, TC17e-II, 1/100th sec at f/6.7

500mm VR, no TC, 1/1000th sec at f/5.6. Look especially at the moss on the log. VR=off on left, VR=tripod on right

Don

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