Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
NikonManSoCal Regular Member • Posts: 205
Re: Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

I have not read any of the threads, but I have experience with both the Nikon 600 and the Nikon 500 lenses.  First of all you will always want more reach no matter what lens you have.  I had an older model of the 600 which weighed over 12 lbs and it got to be a bear to carry very far so I went to the Nikon 500mm f4.0 vr lens mostly because it is less weight.  There is about 2 1/2 lbs difference between the new 600 and the new 500 lenses and yes this make a heck of a difference.  I have a hard time hand handing the 500 (8.5 lbs. of lens) steady enough for good shots, always shot from my Gitzo tripod with a gimbal head.

Both lenses work good with the tc 1.4EII and the tc 1.7EII.  The tc 1.7EII does need better lighting than the tc 1.4EII to get excellent focus.  The 500 with the tc 1.4EII attached has very quick focus acquisition and the image is degraded very little.  The tc 1.7EII does not acquire focus as fast and degrades the image more than with the tc 1.4EII

For me the heavier 600mm lens is a much harder lens to pack with a tripod and gimbal head than the 500.  A majority of birders use the 500 for this reason over the 600.

Here's a couple recent shots taken with my d4 + Nikon 500 f4.0 vr lens and tc 1.4EII.



red breasted sap sucker

great blue heron

I concur with the weight issue - I found the 600, while obviously fantastic, is just too much weight to schlep around when birding, especially with the gitzo/wimberly combo. If you are in a static position (blind or shoreline) it's manageable - being mobile is another story. I ended up with the 500/tc 14 combo.

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