Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
Eric88Nikon Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: Birding with a 500mm F4 or 600mm F4

Hi Dr Bob,
Just to share with you my thoughts and what I experienced on this topic:

I started shooting birds with the 300F4 and then realized it was too short for small birds that were hard to approach, so I asked myself the same question: 500mm or 600mm ?

I thought about hand holding and weight issues of the lens and ended up buying the 500mm.... While it was a very good lens combi with the tc1.4 (never tried the tc1.7, but have been advised to stay away from friends), I find myself yearning for the longer reach. What they say is true "In birding, you can never have enough of focal length."

Another birding bird who started with the 500mm and moved on to the 600mm convinced me to change too. What really made the difference was:

  1. I didn't find myself hand holding the lens often, not very good at handing the weight of the 500mm even if I wanted too. So this will be less of an issue if I switched to the 600mm
  2. The reach of the 600mm made it easier to focus as the subject is bigger now.
  3. In messy backgrounds, the 600mm does a much better job in isolating the background and making the shot more pleasant (no major difference in rendering of the background if it is all clean)

there are however 2 caveats to this:

  1. the 500mm focuses closer and this means something when the bird starts to get super friendly and wanders towards you. At times like these, birders using 600mm can sometimes find that they have too much glass and simply can't take the shot if there is no room to back up...
  2. the weight might become an issue when a lot of walking is involved.

Ultimately, it will be a tough call for most people deciding between the two. It would definitely be great if you can get friends to let you shoot with both for a week or two, then it should be much easier to come to a conclusion.

Best of luck on your purchase and can't wait to see your bird pictures from your new lens!

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