Working with new 500mm PF

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Chris Mak Senior Member • Posts: 2,459
Re: Working with new 500mm PF

ARClark wrote:

I own the 500 PF and 500 f4E and used to own a 500 f/4 afs-ii. The PF is an excellent lens, but when it comes to shooting with a TC, I consider the 500E to be in a different league, especially in less than ideal light. With a TC-14E iii, AF speed of the 500E barely slows; it’s sharp at 700mm @f/5.6; and Af focus points aren’t limited like with the 500 PF and TC @f/8. I also get better results for distance shooting with the 500E, and can shoot at lower ISOs for better feather detail.

I’m close in age to the OP, and like him, I typically shoot handheld with the 500 f/4. Despite the weight, the 500E and TC14 is my preferred combination for most bird photography.

When I shoot with the 500 PF, I generally find it more enjoyable to use without a TC. It’s capable of excellent results with a TC, but I often find the AF struggles at f/8 to be cumbersome, particularly in tricky light and lower contrast scenes.


Thanks for sharing your experience with both lenses.

My intention to give the 500mmf4E a go comes mostly from using the 500PF in bright daylight with the 1.4TC on for the more distant subjects. It tends do develop some "glow", "hazy outline" and loses a clear transition from into focus to out of focus and vica versa. A lot of words to say that I find the clarity and definition over longer distance in bright light with a 1.4TC on lacking. Perhaps I should add that my "reference" lens for this type of shooting is the Pentax DA560mm f5.6. I used that lens for five years before switching to Canon with the 7DII+400DOII because of the lacking AF capabilities of the Pentax, but I was confronted with the 400DOII's inability to shoot clear images in strong daylight (with a 1.4TC on) especially in spring bird migration time. I switched to Nikon when canon dropped development of the 7DIII, because of the D500 sensor and the 500PF.

Here is an example of the Pentax DA560mm on the 24mp K3 crop body with the 1.4TC on, so 784mm on 1.5x crop. I did nothing to the image, no clarity filters or complicated image treatment and only very light sharpening, to show how much detail the DA560 could capture in harsh bright spring daylight, shooting over water, with a 1.4TC on.

I reshot this sort of image with the 400DOII+1.4TC on in the same time of year at the same time of day in the same wheather at the same angle. It was mush, full of "jitters, haze and no clear zone of sharpness. And this 400DOII lens could be bitingly sharp and clear in "gentle" light with a 1.4TC on. It made me wonder if modern high end lenses are at all designed to be shot "out in the open", or whether they are fullly optimized for shooting at the golden hour, at dusk or at twilight. Again and again I have read the remarks that you should not shoot in full daylight, that no lens can produce a useable image in full bright daylight. Well the below image, with some minor tasteful editing can be hung upon my wall, and I have lots of beautiful images of songbirds or wading birds in bright spring daylight from the Pentax DA560.

Also notice the very clear transition through (into and out of) the sharpness zone. And this is without any editing and software trickery, and virtually no sharpening. So my question would be: can the Nikon 500mm f4E + 1.4TC achieve this type of rendering in what would be considered "impossible light" due to atmospheric distortions, air haze etc.

It has been quite a learning path for me, and I now debate whether I should give the 500mmf4E a chance, or simply re-purchase the Pentas DA560 with the coming new APS-C body and be done with it, and still use the 500PF for all the times I can use its strong sides, which are plenty.

I may go on a bit, but I would be happy if the Nikon 500f4E has the ability to shoot beautiful images with a 1.4TC when almost all lenses seem to give up, and their shooters also because of "atmospheric distortions". They (atmospheric distortions) sure do exist, and can truly ruin images, but I find that the term is often used to excuse lenses that simply shoot poorly in strong daylight when the distance is greater than 25m. The below image was at appr. 80m.

 Chris Mak's gear list:Chris Mak's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon Z7 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Nikon Z 50mm F1.8 +1 more
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