Birding and wildlife lens for Nikon D500 - suggestions please

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Carol Darby Forum Member • Posts: 69
Birding and wildlife lens for Nikon D500 - suggestions please
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I am currently using a Sigma 50-500  with my D500. It is the newer version with optical stabilization. I have a generally good focus with well lit subjects with good contrast, including birds in flight. It does struggle a bit when the light is low.

My issue is that the images are not as crisp as I would like. I would call them in focus but they just look a little mushy. I often have a higher iso which of course introduces grain. Distant subjects are often quite soft. Post processing in Lightroom can add sharpness but will often add artifacts as well.

In 2 weeks time I am heading off on a 2 week birding trip. Later in the year I am doing my first trip to Alaska and bears and birds will be the main focus with the long lens (I have a D750 and wider lenses for the stunning landscapes). Coming all the way from Australia is quite an expense so I figure that I would be doing myself no favours to not have the best lens I can get but one that won't break the bank and isn't overly heavy.

In Africa I was lucky enough to get to use a 600mm F4 prime lens. The images were stunning. But that lens is way out of the ballpark re price and weight. Besides I would prefer to have a zoom. I have a friend who shoots Canon and has a 500mm F4. The images are fantastic. But often having the fixed focal length means she misses shots that I get. And it is easier for me to start wide when locating birds in flight and then to zoom in.

I see Nikon is just bringing out a 200-500 F4 with built in converter. It sounds a ripper but at more than $AU18,000 it is not even being considered.

I don't mind paying a decent price for the right lens. Ones being considered at the moment are the Tamron and Sigma (sport and contemporary) 150-600 and the Nikon 200-500 F5.6. Has anyone had experience with any of these lenses and are there any other options worth considering? I want to have a good gain from the 50-500 that I have otherwise I will just stay with what I have. I would have a budget of around $5000 but happy to go higher for the right lens. Not $18,000 though!!!

I hope I can get some good feedback to help me make the right choice.

Thanks Carol

 Carol Darby's gear list:Carol Darby's gear list
Nikon D750 Nikon D500 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
Nikon D500 Nikon D750
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