Superb glass, still a good option

Started 2 months ago | User reviews thread
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JHern Regular Member • Posts: 115
Superb glass, still a good option

I bought a copy of this lens from an elderly man who said he had only used it once, basically in new condition after years of pristine dry storage. Mine is the light grey special edition that was only produced in limited quantities for a few lenses. The new condition of the lens mitigated my concerns about buying an older lens with an internal focusing motor that is no longer replaceable, since I expect to get many years out of this fresh unused motor...and even after it burns out, this will make a superb manual focus lens.

The lens is 4.8 kg, reasonable for a 600mm f/4. The newest E-FL version of the lens is 1 kg lighter and has VR, however, these differences are not enough for me to justify the ~4X difference in cost for an equivalent condition lens since I will anyways only use this mounted on a heavy-duty tripod and gimbal (maybe occasionally I'll try a monopod, but only if necessary).

The lens is optically perfect at 36 MP full frame, it can out-resolve my D810. Micro-contrast is amazing, it plucks out sharp details even from within shadows. This is the second 600mm f/4 lens formula designed by Nikon with 10 elements in 7 groups (3 ED). I have been test shooting this with high contrast scenes and I haven't noticed any CA whatsoever. I will probably be shooting this more often at lower resolutions on bigger pro bodies, and this lens will be even more perfect (if that is even possible).

Good lens support is crucial, and replacing the big gangly foot provided by Nikon is absolutely necessary. I swapped mine for a Kirk foot that has a nice ridge to help keep the lens from sliding out of my hand while carrying it.

The hood comes in 2 sections, and it is fussy to mount and unmount. I ordered an Aquatech softhood to use instead, which will be more gentle on the lens and also provides some padding/protection, and this can also be wrapped around the lens body while carried in the bag.

I've shot several hundred images and still working on dialing in the perfect AF fine tune calibration. It is more challenging with this lens than previous big lenses I've calibrated, owing to the very narrow depth of field when shot at f/4. Initially the lens was back-focusing slightly, and I'm fine tuned around -7 on the D810 at the moment (it is close, but not yet satisfied that it is perfect).

It does not take the newest TC-14E iii teleconverter, but is contemporaneous with the TC-14E ii...I don't know how well it performs with the latter, but I intend to find out. At the moment I have the TC-17E ii and I intend to try it out soon...1020mm f/6.8 equivalent, sounds like fun! As usual with TCs, I can imagine that I'll probably have to stop down to f/8 or f/9 to achieve the best results, but I'm very much looking forward to trying this on a sunny day to see for myself.

The images this lens produces are amazing. But you already knew that. 600/4 Nikkors are legendary for a reason.

 JHern's gear list:JHern's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon D3S Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF Nikon AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D +25 more
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4D ED-IF II
Telephoto prime lens • Nikon F (FX) • 2133
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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4D ED-IF II Nikon D810
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