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

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BillW1204 Regular Member • Posts: 114
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

krebnickel wrote:

Thanks! I already have a few questions that I don’t think I’ll find in the manuals:

1) with this lens attached, is it OK to hold the camera from the camera or do I always have to support the lens so as to not damage the area where it attaches from strain? Ive found already that when I am playing with the camera settings I have both hands on the body of the camera...

2) related to that - for strap attachment - do I attach to the camera body, or with this 500PF should I be attaching to the lens mount (e.g., with the black rapid screw in attachment, or also I have peak design straps that have the little anchors you attach).

3) I’ve never used filters to protect a lens before - but I’ve also never had a lens this valuable. What are people’s thoughts on this? I’d rather not use one if not necessary as I’ve always found the hood is protective enough and I don’t want to put a cheap piece of glass over a very expensive one.....

Please let me know if I should be posting these questions elsewhere or at least on a separate thread.

THANKS!

1.  While very light for a 500 mm lens, the 500 mm PF lens is heavy enough that I try to support the lens when holding the camera (useful also to get more stability for shooting). I also try to pick up the combo by the lens.

2.  I replaced the lens foot with a RRS foot.  I attach my black rapid strap to the RRS foot.  There have been some reports of the Nikon foot loosening when the camera is carried by the Nikon foot.  I have not had that problem with the RRS foot.  For the same reasons set out in 1, I would not attach the black rapid strap to the camera body or to a camera quick release plate.

3.  The hood is pretty good.  But I often use a 95 mm Nikon clear filter.  Sea spray, dust blowing in the Patagonia wind, etc.  I suspect many would not generally use one.  Often a question that results in a lot of disagreement here.

BillW1204 Regular Member • Posts: 114
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

You might find Thom Hogan's ebook on the D500 a useful reference, especially on the D500's autofocus system, modes and settings. I know I did.

cosmicnode Veteran Member • Posts: 4,082
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

BillW1204 wrote:

You might find Thom Hogan's ebook on the D500 a useful reference, especially on the D500's autofocus system, modes and settings. I know I did.

Also worth looking at Steve Perry's Video's He has video's on Auto iso, your new lens and, this one about his E book on the Nikon af system  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLmrut6MVUs&t=14s

enjoy your new gear

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lokatz
lokatz Senior Member • Posts: 1,456
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

krebnickel wrote:

Thanks! I already have a few questions that I don’t think I’ll find in the manuals:

Congrats on your new gear!

I already damaged a D500 by not properly considering these aspects with the heavier 200-500, so I'm an expert here:

1) with this lens attached, is it OK to hold the camera from the camera or do I always have to support the lens so as to not damage the area where it attaches from strain? Ive found already that when I am playing with the camera settings I have both hands on the body of the camera...

I prefer to use both hands as much as possible, but with this comparatively lightweight lens, there should not be much risk in only holding the camera with one hand as long as you keep the lens pointed downward, I think.

2) related to that - for strap attachment - do I attach to the camera body, or with this 500PF should I be attaching to the lens mount (e.g., with the black rapid screw in attachment, or also I have peak design straps that have the little anchors you attach).

Always use the lens mount. The combo balances much better that way, and the lower camera weight puts less stress on the lens mount than the lens would.

3) I’ve never used filters to protect a lens before - but I’ve also never had a lens this valuable. What are people’s thoughts on this? I’d rather not use one if not necessary as I’ve always found the hood is protective enough and I don’t want to put a cheap piece of glass over a very expensive one.....

That's a discussion that is nearly as old as filters are, and you will find lots of supporters on both sides of the argument. Steve Perry, for example, argues that they do not add value (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0CLPTd6Bds). Personally, I'm in his camp: I had a broken filter once where I felt the shards might have damaged the (otherwise unimpressed) lens, and just like Steve, I'm of the opinion that the front element withstands a lot more bang that a UV filter anyway. My 500 PF goes unprotected.

What I DO use on it, though, is a neoprene camouflage cover, not so much because of the camouflage effect but because the neoprene protects the lens well. While birding in New Zealand early this year, I fell off an edge and probably would have seen some lens damage (in addition to my knee and elbow), were it not for the cover. (Well, the hood's lock-in-place part broke off, so I needed a new hood.)

Please let me know if I should be posting these questions elsewhere or at least on a separate thread.

THANKS!

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lokatz
lokatz Senior Member • Posts: 1,456
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

2. I replaced the lens foot with a RRS foot. I attach my black rapid strap to the RRS foot. There have been some reports of the Nikon foot loosening when the camera is carried by the Nikon foot.

I am only aware of Steve Perry's 500 PF review where he reports having had this issue. He admits that the fastening screw on his lens was apparently not tightened when it happened, so all it took for the issue to happen was accidentally pressing the release.

To my knowledge, this could have happened with any of the available lens feet as they all employ similar mechanisms. As posters on this forum were quick to point out in response to Steve's video, you need to make sure the screw is tight.  Though I now use a Leofoto foot (because it is Arca Swiss compatible), there is nothing wrong with the Nikon foot as far as I can see.

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DAVID MANZE Veteran Member • Posts: 5,664
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Bill Ferris wrote:

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 saleble 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.

No reason to assume it isn't capable of the same ??.........

How many Bill Ferris's are there here? ..........

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Entropius Veteran Member • Posts: 4,361
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

I have the D500 and 500PF.

It's astoundingly good.

The D500 and A9 are roughly equal in pixel count, so it's reasonable to look at equivalent focal lengths and apertures.

The D500/500PF will get you 750mm at f/8.4 equivalent and 1050mm at f/12 equivalent (using a 1.4x TC), both quite sharp.

The A9/200-600 will get you 600mm at f/6.3.

We don't know how sharp the 200-600 will be at the long end. But when shooting birds you usually never have enough focal length. Unless you are confident that you'll very often want below 750mm equivalent, the D500 setup should be better.

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krebnickel
OP krebnickel Forum Member • Posts: 54
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600
1

A few of my first shots with the system in my back yard this AM!  Thanks again all for the advice...

Yum

Whoops!

Peek a boo

Hanging out

You lookin at me?

Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,336
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

DAVID MANZE wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

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 saleble 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.

No reason to assume it isn't capable of the same ??.........

How many Bill Ferris's are there here? ..........

Only one. I like to keep folks guessing

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n057 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,972
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

krebnickel wrote:

A few of my first shots with the system in my back yard this AM! Thanks again all for the advice...

Hanging out

Absolutely gorgeous!

You have quickly gotten the hang of it!

JC
Some cameras, some lenses, some computers

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rumple
rumple Senior Member • Posts: 1,165
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600
1

lokatz wrote:

[...]

- IBIS: In-body image stabilization performs very well on the a9. The Nikon 500 PF also stabilizes very well for an in-lens system, by IBIS has intrinsic advantages, as stabilization is generally easier to implement and works better the closer to the sensor you do it.

IBIS is less effective on telephotos. So the 200-600mm has in-lens stabilization to work in conjunction with IBIS.

http://sansmirror.com/articles/choosing-a-mirrorless-camer/image-stabilization.html

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lokatz
lokatz Senior Member • Posts: 1,456
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

rumple wrote:

lokatz wrote:

[...]

- IBIS: In-body image stabilization performs very well on the a9. The Nikon 500 PF also stabilizes very well for an in-lens system, by IBIS has intrinsic advantages, as stabilization is generally easier to implement and works better the closer to the sensor you do it.

IBIS is less effective on telephotos. So the 200-600mm has in-lens stabilization to work in conjunction with IBIS.

This statement is a bit misleading, I think.  A better way of saying it is this:

IBIS is equally effective on telephotos. Since the impact of image vibration grows proportionally with focal length, however, combining IBIS with in-lens stabilization offers the best VR results.  So the 200-600mm has in-lens stabilization to work in conjunction with IBIS.

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arniebook Senior Member • Posts: 1,151
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

krebnickel wrote:

Thanks! I already have a few questions that I don’t think I’ll find in the manuals:

1) with this lens attached, is it OK to hold the camera from the camera or do I always have to support the lens so as to not damage the area where it attaches from strain? Ive found already that when I am playing with the camera settings I have both hands on the body of the camera...

I have the 70-200 E FL which is about the same weight, and a bit longer.  I typically do not support the rig by holding only the camera except on rare occasions.  The rule of thumb here is "hold the unit which is heaviest".

2) related to that - for strap attachment - do I attach to the camera body, or with this 500PF should I be attaching to the lens mount (e.g., with the black rapid screw in attachment, or also I have peak design straps that have the little anchors you attach).

Same as above.  I really like a QR plate attached.  I modify it by milling or drilling a hole in the near end large enough for a carabiner to easily clip in and out.  That way my strap stays on even when on a monopod.  I also file the front end of the plate so it has a smooth, comfortable feel as I support it in my left hand.  Both my large lenses are done that way.  Picture later if you would like to see it ... gotta go shoot now!

Always be sure your releasable foot clamp screw is tight to avoid accidentally tripping the release.

3) I’ve never used filters to protect a lens before - but I’ve also never had a lens this valuable. What are people’s thoughts on this? I’d rather not use one if not necessary as I’ve always found the hood is protective enough and I don’t want to put a cheap piece of glass over a very expensive one.....

I personally alway protect the front element with a good clear filter.

Please let me know if I should be posting these questions elsewhere or at least on a separate thread.

THANKS!

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,336
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600
1

Entropius wrote:

I have the D500 and 500PF.

It's astoundingly good.

The D500 and A9 are roughly equal in pixel count, so it's reasonable to look at equivalent focal lengths and apertures.

The D500/500PF will get you 750mm at f/8.4 equivalent and 1050mm at f/12 equivalent (using a 1.4x TC), both quite sharp.

For exposure, the D500 with a 500 PF (or 200-500), wide open, is f/5.6. Full stop. There is no equivalence conversion for exposure.

The above-quoted text may be in reference to a depth of field equivalence. For wildlife and bird photography, that factor is often irrelevant. The quality of the background is more influenced by the photographer than the gear. A good photographer is selective about backgrounds. If the D500/500 PF combo is at f/5.6 and the A9/200-600 combo is at f/6.3 with good photographers shooting both, I would not expect to see any significant depth of field advantage or penalty in the images coming off either system.

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Bill Ferris Photography
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Entropius Veteran Member • Posts: 4,361
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Bill Ferris wrote:

Entropius wrote:

I have the D500 and 500PF.

It's astoundingly good.

The D500 and A9 are roughly equal in pixel count, so it's reasonable to look at equivalent focal lengths and apertures.

The D500/500PF will get you 750mm at f/8.4 equivalent and 1050mm at f/12 equivalent (using a 1.4x TC), both quite sharp.

For exposure, the D500 with a 500 PF (or 200-500), wide open, is f/5.6. Full stop. There is no equivalence conversion for exposure.

The above-quoted text may be in reference to a depth of field equivalence. For wildlife and bird photography, that factor is often irrelevant. The quality of the background is more influenced by the photographer than the gear. A good photographer is selective about backgrounds. If the D500/500 PF combo is at f/5.6 and the A9/200-600 combo is at f/6.3 with good photographers shooting both, I would not expect to see any significant depth of field advantage or penalty in the images coming off either system.

The math also holds for the equivalent amount of light gathered (which determines the signal to noise ratio in everything but the deep blacks). On modern sensors the quantum efficiency is about the same, so the noise level is almost completely determined by the total number of photons gathered, which is proportional to the total aperture area. I wasn't thinking about dof (which as you point out isn't that big of a deal), but about signal to noise ratio (which matters a great deal for action/low light).

Another way to look at this is the following: for instance a 500mm on DX will capture the same image area as a 750mm on FX. If both lenses were f5.6, both cameras will be set to the same ISO, which means that both sensors will be receiving the same amount of light per unit area. But the FX sensor has greater area, and what determines signal to noise ratio is the (inverse square root of the) total number of photons collected. (This is just a fancy mathematical way of saying that FX sensors are less noisy at any given ISO.)

But a 750 f/8.4 on FX gathers the same amount of light as a 500 f/5.6 on DX, and thus gives the same signal to noise ratio at a given shutter speed. It will do so at a higher ISO (since the sensor is getting less light per area).

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DAVID MANZE Veteran Member • Posts: 5,664
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Bill Ferris wrote:

DAVID MANZE wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

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 saleable 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.

No reason to assume it isn't capable of the same ??.........

How many Bill Ferris's are there here? ..........

Only one. I like to keep folks guessing

Guessing from perplexity !

Derision at sunset .......... recommendation at sunrise!

What a difference a good nights sleep makes

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,336
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

DAVID MANZE wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

DAVID MANZE wrote:

Bill Ferris wrote:

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 saleable 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.

No reason to assume it isn't capable of the same ??.........

How many Bill Ferris's are there here? ..........

Only one. I like to keep folks guessing

Guessing from perplexity !

Derision at sunset .......... recommendation at sunrise!

What a difference a good nights sleep makes

An ability to be objective and see gear for what it is; not what we want it to be.

A great photographer makes great photos with good equipment. A bad photographer makes bad photos with great equipment. The 200-600 seems a good consumer lens. It's no game changer - there is no rational scenario in which Nikon photographers switch to Sony for this lens - but a good photographer should be able to make good photos with it.

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Fsi Regular Member • Posts: 423
Re: Ideal Amateur Birding Setup - D500/500PF vs new combo: A9/200-600

Bill Ferris wrote:

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.

Agreed

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