The ultimate mammal watching lens: Nikon 500 mm F5.6 PF ED VR

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Charles Hood
    Charles Hood 5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your work. As a Nikon shooter, I do covet this lens. (For now, the 300 version is very good as well, and I have published hundreds of pictures, using it.) According to Nikon Rumors website, a recent wait for delivery from B&H in New York was 11 months from time of order to delivery. Yet a dealer in Arizona, Tucson Camera Repair, was able to fill my brother’s order in under 2 weeks (in part because somebody ahead of him in line backed out). Back when Nikon’s latest flash unit had just been released, Tucson Camera had the flash in stock when the big guys did not. It seems Nikon tries to distribute the hard-to-get stuff somewhat equally, to give the smaller shops a chance to stay in business. Besides figuring out how to pay for a lens like this, another great moral dilemma is how to say the company name. Does the word “Nikon” have a long “i” (rhyming with night, as in the not-day part of 24 hours) or does it sound more like the British slang word to steal something, “knick”? / Charles Hood, California

  2. Profile photo of Lennartv
    Lennartv 5 months ago

    Thanks for the review, always interesting to read. I’m a Canon shooter myself (used to be Nikon, but Canon had, at the time, better low cost options and better autofocus) so I’ve not really been keeping track of all Nikon has to offer. In general I would think for a mammalwatcher a lens with the best weight/quality ratio is preferable so I can understand if you would pick a light fixed 500mm lens.

    Personally I also like to have the zooming option because I also want to be able to take good pictures of large mammals that are close by. However, I agree that the zooming function is often (always?) unnecessary if you just go for ID shots. Another thing I would consider for a lens is how close to an object it can still focus, this might come in handy for smaller mammals but mostly if you’re also interested in insects and herps and don’t want to carry along a macro lens. I guess for mammalwatchers that want to travel light it’s always a search for that one lens that is the best for most things.

    I’ve been very happy with my Canon 100-400 II, because it’s got the abovementioned things. Also a thing to consider is if you are able to take a picture with one hand with the lens, I just saw that my lens is actually a bit heavier than yours so that should be allright for you! Would be a challenge to do that with a big f4 lens I think.

    The last important thing to consider would be the Image Stabilization, this can be hard to judge as there is not really an easy to check number like f2.8 or f4 for example. With the 100-400 I’m able to shoot handheld 1/60 and still have sharp shots.

    In the end I guess it’s also a matter of what you find important. And when you’ve finally picked your lens you can start thinking about a body… (tip: go for fullframe if you can).

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