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

jsr4522 wrote:

Dr Bob,

I first purchased the 600mm and found it to be too much to haul any distance from the car so I then purchased the 500mm. Most of my shots are now with the 500mm because I will / can walk closer to my subjects and can shoot it handheld rather than try to shoot from afar on a tripod with the 600mm, which is a greater pain to lug around position and set up quickly. Quality also improved because I am getting closer to the subject and relying less on cropping. If you are shooting all day, even hiking a short distance with the 600mm will wear you down faster. The 500mm plus TC works great for me on the D7100 and D4 for BIF - both handheld and from a tripod. No issue with shooting higher iso and cropping on the D4. D7100 does have more noise, but can be managed in post. Plus its a lot easier to travel with 500mm than the 600mm.

Also if you are going for small birds and are going to be walking about and need to set up quick the 500mm is much easier to manage, plus you can likely walk in closer and shoot handheld if you like. The 500 also balances much easier than the 600 on a tripod/gimbal. The 600 will be very front heavy on both the D600/610/D800 and you will want a battery grip to help balance it. Actually selling the 600mm to cover the upcoming cost of a D4s or my new 800mm, which has relegated the 500mm to walkabout lens.


Thanks for all the responses to this thread. I would like to thank everyone personally for their views but I dont want to clog the list up. I have read EVERY post multiple times and tried to read what hasn't been said (if you know what I mean). Once again a big thankyou! Really good to see this forum working well.

I think the responses, where a preference from users was declared, gave about a 2/3rds majority for the 500mm F4. I think though the above post from jsr4522, sums up my predicament exactly (and apologies for the others earlier in the thread that said the same). I just dont think I can give up the portability and BIF ability for the superior reach of the 600mm.

I took the plunge and ordered the 500mm yesterday which should arrive today. There were no 'used' 500 or 600mm lenses available in the UK, and not many new ones! The used lenses that have come on the market in the last month have all sold within a week or two so obviously a good secondhand market.

I'll post some pics once I work out how to use it.

 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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