Nikon 500/f4 Not Sharp at a distance?

Started Feb 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Nikon 500/f4 Not Sharp at a distance?
Feb 6, 2014

I have an odd thing occurring...

D300, Nikon 500/f4.  Also have a TC1.4X and TC-20E III 2X.  Gitzo 3540 with Manfrotto gimbal mount.

At "closer" distances everything has always been sharp with the 500. I can set up and photograph hummingbirds at 20 feet and things are fine.  I can photograph larger birds at 30-40 feet, again fine.  With the 1.4 on, I can shoot from 20-100 feet or so, and again, fine.

BUT, at SOME point farther away, things are not sharp.  I always presumed it was either my technique, or the D300 just wasn't getting the focus quite right when the subject was far away.  I have images with this combination that show a distance of 50 meters, and they're sharp.

I recently bought a D800, and put the 500/f4 on it.  Again, at 20 feet, 20 meters, even 30 meters, its very sharp, with or without the 1.4X.  But, shooting at a longer distance (unfortunately, I didn't keep any of the really bad images, so I'm not sure exactly how long), things are not sharp with the D800 either.

I"ll do more testing, but I just thought I'd see if this is a situation others have seen - sharp closers, less sharp as the distance to the subject gets long?

Nikon D300 Nikon D800
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