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

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600
7

With respect, I wouldn't characterize the combos in the thread title as, "amateur." There's certainly no reason an amateur can't own and use these. However, both the D500 and A9 are professional bodies. In the hands of a competent photographer, the D500/200-500 can be used to make salable images. While the Sony 200-600 is, as yet, an unknown quantity, I see no reason to assume it isn't capable of the same.

With this in mind, I'll offer the following in the Nikon ecosystem:

  • Nikon D7500 + Nikkor 200-500mm: At current special pricing, this kit can be had for about $2,000 through B&H. Let's face it, reach is key for birding. A 500mm lens on an APS-C delivers an effective reach of 750mm. This is an excellent birding kit for the enthusiast.
  • Nikon D500 + Nikkor 200-500mm: At current special pricing, this kit can be had for about $2,800 through B&H. The D500 offers improved autofocus, a faster frame rate and a deeper buffer. It's also compatible with a battery grip, built more rugged and offered certain controls advantages.
  • Nikon D500 + Nikkor 500mm PF: At current special pricing, this kit can be had for about $5,100 through B&H. Given the build quality of the 500 PF, the improved autofocus performance and optical quality, this is justifiably characterized as a fully professional kit. It's priced as such.

The Sony A9 and 200-600 are available through the same retailer for about $5,600. The A9 is a full frame body so the zoom offers an effective reach of 600mm, compared to the Nikkor lens's effective 750mm reach on the Nikon APS-C bodies.

Frankly, if a person is just starting out in bird photography, is a relative newcomer to photography and not invested in a particular brand or system, I'd recommend the D7500 with the 200-500. That's certainly not an inexpensive kit for the enthusiast. Buying a used or refurbished lens could save a few hundred.

I would not recommend the Sony A9/200-600 kit for this segment. It's just too pricey for the average enthusiast. I might suggest the A6400 or A6500 with a Tamron 150-600 G2. If their budget has more room, the 200-600 might be a nice upgrade from the Tamron. Time and field testing will tell. Upgrading to the A9 would be a huge upgrade over either APS-C body.

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Bill Ferris Photography
Flagstaff, AZ
http://www.billferris.photoshelter.com

 Bill Ferris's gear list:Bill Ferris's gear list
Nikon D610 Fujifilm X-T20 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD +3 more
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