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

A Owens wrote:

From a quick look at your gallery I would say you are already doing very well with your 80-400; you have some very nice images already there.

You are right that the 600mm is bigger and heavier than the 500mm and needs a tripod, beanbag or groundpod and handholding is not an option. How well you manage the weight and size depends on your level of fitness, strength and how far you need to schlep the thing around.

I use the 600mm AF-S with a D800e. This is the pre-VR lens and a lot heavier than the VR version. I am far from the first blush of youth and not very tall but keep fit and strong and I do not find the weight and size a huge issue. I can carry it for a few kms and can use it on a beanbag at ground level for shorebirds etc. I have found comfortable ways of carrying and supporting the thing. That said, I am sure that the 500mm is a lot more comfortable but I would not want to be without the extra focal length. I am a resolution junkie and even 600mm never seems enough!

I feel that the 800e and the 600mm play very well together. The sensor/lens combo works very well as does the AF. The first few photos in the gallery below are from the 600mm/800e combo. I also have some on Google+ if you want to see more samples from this combo.

Good luck with your decision!

Larry, Nikonman and Alistair, thanks for the input. This first hand experience is exactly what I need to hear. From the responses in this thread it seems like circa 2/3rds are favouring the 500mm and 1/3rd for the 600mm. I am definitely going to decide in the next 2 days. I may need a coin to spin - portability or reach?

....and Alistair, your Dottrel shots are fantastic. I saw them when you posted them a few weeks back and that was the trigger to go for a bigger lens. Superb!

 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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