Nikon D500 and 200-500

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
OP melvinb Regular Member • Posts: 233
Re: Nikon D500 and 200-500

jeffnles1 wrote:

I have the 200-500 and a Sigma 100-400. I use them both quite a bit. I tend to use them differently. Here's a brief description:

I do mainly wildlife and nature photography (mammals, wildflowers, butterflies, frogs/turtles/snakes, landscapes, etc.). I don't like to set up a tripod and stand in one place for hours, I like to keep moving which means 90% of my photos are handheld and I carry my camera and lens(es) a lot. I usually have a telephoto lens attached to the camera and a wide angle and macro lens in a backpack (along with some extra charged batteries).

I tend to use the 200-500 a lot more in the winter when low light persists most of the day and we have a lot of gloomy overcast days. The little extra light transmission offered by the F5.6 helps some.

Fall and early winter is when the whitetail deer rut is happening around here and I like the extra reach of the 200-500 for that.

In spring / summer I tend to use the 100-400 more. During this season I'm just as likely to be shooting wildflowers, butterflies, bees as I am birds and other animals. The 100-400 is a lot lighter and the brighter days in summer make the F6.3 not much of a downside. Even those early morning / "golden hour" times tend to be brighter and less gloomy.

Image quality:

At the long end, I give a slight nod to the 200-500 when taking photos of subjects far away (think deer out in a field) of if you need to do some serious cropping. If the subject is closer or no serious cropping is needed, I see little real-world difference. Both of my lenses are sharp. I did use the Sigma Dock to fine tune the 100-400 however, +/- 2 or 3 was the most it needed at any of the settings and even that was me being OCD about some things. Out of the box with my D500 the lens was more than acceptably sharp out of the box.


100-400 wins without any further discussion.

Build quality / durability:

The 200-500 feels more robust but to be honest, if either lens took a tumble off the roof of my car and hit the concrete I don't think either would survive. As for day to day bumps and bruises from a wildlife photographer, both are sufficiently well built.

Hand holding:

Closely related to weight. 100-400 is more of a joy to handhold especially for extended sessions. However, I don't really have a problem with either. I'm an average size man and do not have "super human" upper body strength.


you specifically mentioned birds. I can't help you a lot there. I do photograph birds some but it's not a specialty of mine. If I'm at a local lake where I can get Osprey fishing I'll usually take the 200-500 for a little extra reach. Birds in flight are not subjects I focus on too much. I'll shoot at a few swallows when they are scooping insects off of a lake or a raptor flying overhead but I don't go out in search of them. I've had good shots with both lenses and, honestly, bad shots with both lenses. Photographer (me) is the biggest variable.


I am in the field with my camera 3-5 times every week year around. My equipment is well cared for but I have never been accused of babying my stuff, they are tools and made to be used. Both lenses have held up well and I use them both frequently. I use the 200-500 slightly more but over the course of a year shooting many thousands of photos the difference is maybe a few hundred photos favoring the 200-500.

Hope this helps.


This helps a lot!!  I don't photograph snakes.  If I did I would purchase the longest telephoto money could buy.

Many thanks.


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