Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
Dr Bob
OP Dr Bob Senior Member • Posts: 1,319
Re: Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

Catallaxy wrote:

I have the 600 VR and use it with both my D7100 and D700. I find that I use the 1.4x TC rarely with the D7100, but a fair amount with the D700. I use the 2x TC very rarely and only in great light.

It really depends on the wildlife/bird you are shooting. Some are smaller and more skittish than others. For eagles, For BIF, I find that the bare lens is best, just because it is hard to find the bird in the viewinder with the 1.4x TC and keep tracking it, especially with the D7100.

It is very helpful to learn stalking techniques and the use of a blind helps tremendously to get and stay closer to birds and wildlife.

The 600 VR is very big and heavy and you must use a very large and sturdy tripod. I use a gimbal as well. My 600 VR rig runs about 17-18 lbs in weight for the whole thing, and is awkward to move around quickly.

Catallaxy / Calson, thanks for your experiences. It's good to hear your first hand information. All the inputs received in this thread have helped greatly. To summarise where I am now, (if I ignore cost!!)

- the 600mm is the best choice if I am happy to restrict myself to a tripod (hence a big change to the way I usually shot birds - but that is not necessarily a bad thing!)

- the weight and 'bulkiness' of the 600mm plus support will however be restrictive (as above - Catallaxy) hence not as good for say BIF

- Is the 500mm (and with the 1.4 TC) a big enough improvement in reach and IQ over my current 80-400?

Cost could be an issue - if I bought a used 500mm VR (maybe £4K) then that is half the price of a new 600mm + new tripod - but I am more inclined to buy new at these prices.

Thanks again to all for responding. Keen to get a few more responses on the differences between the 80-400 and the 500mm.

 Dr Bob's gear list:Dr Bob's gear list
Nikon D800E Nikon D600 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G +1 more
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