Birding with the 500mm f4/P

Started Jan 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
Flat view
JLR9 Regular Member • Posts: 452
Birding with the 500mm f4/P

Hi all,

coming up to retirement I wanted a prime lens set up but could not afford the 500mm f4 VR so bought the 500mm f4/P for £1500. Maybe not the best idea as no doubt others would have pointed to the Sigma 500mm f4.5, having had Sigmas in the past I have had one where the HSM packed up so it put me off.

Focusing became an issue as I am just not quick enough, so I bought a Nikon TC16A to give me partial autofocus (over a narrow range), a gimbal head was needed for my set up with a D2x so I bought the Manfrotto 393 for £139 as I could not afford the Wimberley at around £400. I already had a Slik Pro 700 DX which proved solid enough to take the set up without me having to go the Gitzo route, at around £100 this is quite a bargain if a little heavy.

To give quick focus within defined focus zones I made a follow focus from an old tripod handle and two U bolt brackets I had, zip tied together. This works well as I can quickly move to several zones of focus without stretching around the 393. I am considering buying a D7000 to give me better ISO quality as the D2x struggles over ISO 640, also I would have better cropping facility with a few more MP. There is, of course, a simple mod to the TC to retain autofocus with the D7000.

A storm jacket at £60 seemed steep so I bought a folding camp stool for £10 and used the canvas bag it came in to cover the camera and lens, just needed to cut a rectangular hole for the lens foot and access to the focus ring. Fits a treat plus I get a matching fold up chair!

Finally, for off camera flash, I bought an aluminium shelf bracket from a hardware store, cut it down and used the existing holes in the 393 to screw it to, added a cold shoe from an old Ricoh and bought an off camera flash cord for £9 (which works well compared to £56 for a genuine Nikon one). A Kirk flash extender works well but at the expense of everything flying off when the flash goes off, not recommended if in a hide with others!

The set up is heavy and I ended up with a bruised shoulder where the tripod column dug in, I solved that with a short piece of roll bar tubing.

The combo works well, the TC16A compromises by having to stop down but I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for me, others may shudder at the thought of adding a TC.
Hope some may find a little of interest,

regards, John

-- hide signature --

'A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.' - Ansel Adams

 JLR9's gear list:JLR9's gear list
Canon PowerShot SD400 Sigma DP1 Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm XF1 Nikon D2X +21 more
Nikon D2X Nikon D7000
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
(unknown member)
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow