Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
lokatz Senior Member • Posts: 1,389
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Hi Krebnickel, Your question is too multi-faceted to give a complete answer, and personal preferences play a huge role here. I'll therefore simply list where I personally see the pros in either solution. I own the D500/500PF combo, so I'm somewhat biased, but have (to a degree) been envying Sony owners for a long time. Let's please keep in mind that some of this inevitably remains speculation until extensive tests of the new Sony lens are available.

Sony advantages:

- MUCH higher resolution means you get to crop more while still keeping usable images. Alternatively, you have the option to make prints at much larger sizes.

- IBIS: In-body image stabilization performs very well on the a9. The Nikon 500 PF also stabilizes very well for an in-lens system, by IBIS has intrinsic advantages, as stabilization is generally easier to implement and works better the closer to the sensor you do it.

- Body functionality: the a9 features a number of functions not available on the D500, from Eye AF to the EVF to much more. Being able to see the image in the EVF as the camera will record it is a real boon.


Nikon advantages:

- Faster and more accurate AF. This is not by much, but even Sony's experience in making ML AF work well does not suffice to put them at par with Nikon's 153-point AF, according to several professional birders who reviewed both.

- More lightweight and better balanced. The heft of the Sony lens wipes out the body's small weight advantage. The combo is more than a pound heavier than the Nikon combo and much more front-heavy, making it harder to shoot hand-held for an extended time. I used to own the only slightly heavier (than the Sony) Nikon 200-500 and much prefer the balance the 500 PF offers.

- Image quality. The Sony lens is still an unknown, but for lenses, you generally get what you pay for and Sony's outstanding lenses so far have come at outstandingly high prices. On top of that, zooms almost never perform as well as primes do, so I find it very unlikely that the 200-600 will even get close to the 500 PF IQ-wise.


You said 'for birding'. Except for the resolution difference, that gives the Nikon advantages more weight in my personal assessment. But we all value different things. I'm sure other posters will add many other comparative aspects, such as shooting speed. To me, those do not matter enough to impact my take on the two combos.

 lokatz's gear list:lokatz's gear list
Panasonic ZS100 Nikon D700 Nikon D5100 Nikon D7500 Nikon D850 +21 more
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