Nikon 400 f2.8G or 500mm f4G - best choice for wildlife?

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 13,003
"Ditto" on the 500 f/5.6 PF.

Lance B wrote:

masterm82 wrote:

Hello all

I have been using a 300mm f2.8G VR2 for my wildlife photography With a D500, but want something with a little bit more reach.

I often try to get as close as possible to subjects without causing any disturbances but find the 300mm is great when I am able to get near enough for a detailed image, but not always.
I do sometimes use the 1.4tc mk2 but ideally I would like to be able to shoot and not rely on converters.

for information I shoot a lot of owls, mammals, deer and occasionally smaller rodents such as mice etc.

What do you think would be the best of these two for wildlife?
P.S. it would be the G versions of these as I can’t afford the FL models.

I had the 500 f4G and the 300 f2.8G VRII at the same time and they were a good pairing, albiet a heavy pairing when taking both! I now have the 400 f2.8E FL VR and sold both the 300 f2.8G VRII and the 500 f4. I use all 3 TC's with the 400 f2.8E FL VR with exemplary results. I also have the 500 f5.6 PF as well.

Out of the two lenses you are thinking of, I would go for the 500 f4G due to the weight. The 500 f4G it is much lighter than the 400 f2.8G but more importantly, it is much better balanced than the 400 f2.8G as the weight is mainly at the front . The 400 f2.8G is very front heavy and unwieldy due to this but this making handheld use a little difficult. The balance was corrected when they made the 400 f2.8E FL VR, which I have.

The 500 f4G is not the sharpest of the long teles but will still give you great results. I think the main issue when I was using it was that it was on older Nikon bodies and the AF was not as precise or accurate as the newer Nikon DSLR's like the D500 and D850. When you nail focus it is a great lens but on the older bodies nailing focus was a little more difficult.

Just to put another spanner in the decision,

I would highly recommend the 500 f5.6 PF.


What a terrific lens (even with a 1.4TC)!

I already had the 500 f/4G VR when I bought the 500 PF and thought that I would keep it for when I needed better IQ or low light performance.

But the D5 that I subsequently bought partially helped compensate for the f/5.6 vs f/4, and the 500PF image quality appeared to be just a touch less than its big brother 500 f/4GVR.

After a few months of using the 500PF I sold my 500f/4G VR (to finance the D5)

I had been thinking about getting the improved optics (and lighter weight!) of either the 400 f/2.8E Fl or the 500 f/4E Fl.

But although I gain something with those lenses, I am getting by pretty well with just the 500PF.

And getting the 400 and 500 E Fl lenses pretty much wipes out any pretense of fiscal restraint on my part, especially being just a hobbyist.

Maybe if I could find a good deal on a used E Fl super tele I might be tempted.

As Oscar Wilde said:

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

Best Regards,


I use this in preference to my 400 f2.8E FL VR simply because of weight and ease of use when hand holding, which is how I use these lenses 99% of the time. I hardly ever use my 400 f2.8E FL VR anymore to the point I may end up selling it even though it is arguably the sharpest lens Nikon makes.

 RBFresno's gear list:RBFresno's gear list
Nikon D2H Nikon D4 Nikon D5 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +17 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow