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Archive 2016 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please
  
 
Chris_88
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Hi everybody, I posted a while ago asking for lenses for birding to with my D500. I've been very happy with both the camera and my 200-500. Having used Sony APSC bodies for birding in the past, the ISO performance of the D500 is mighty impressive. Never thought that I could go up to ISO 4000 and still get usable results out of an APSC body. Apart from the sometimes slow initial target acquisition, I like the 200-500 very much.

Alas, I'm living in a place where winter lasts quite a bit, so even with the D500's low-light performance I find myself wanting faster glass every now and then. Ideally, I would like a two lens combination for wildlife and birding (usually bigger birds like egrets, eagles or cranes, some ducks as well, but I'd like to see whether I can get some owl shots in this winter). Also, I'd like to carry both lenses at the same time (which eliminates a 500 prime AND 200-500 combo).

If I sold the 200-500 and some other glass, the best I probably could afford is the upcoming Sigma 500 4 and a 300 PF. Alternatively, I have been thinking of just adding a 300 PF to my 200-500. I'm just not sure, whether it's worth it, as it is "only one stop" and admittedly I have only used comparatively slow (f5.6) long lenses with my Sony and Nikon cameras. Any recommendations?



Oct 27, 2016 at 11:02 PM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Hello Chris...

I am a pretty avid wildlife photographer and shoot a mix of a mammals and birds. I am not into the smaller birds (warblers, vireos, etc...), as I prefer to shoot similar species as you... cranes, herons, owls, and grouse. In addition, I photograph a lot of mammals. Prior to my current lens set, I relied on the 200-400mm VR1. While this was a great lens when shot within 40M, it did see a bit temperamental when my subjects were a a distance. The problems were quite unpredictable... there were times when the lens was sharp at 100M and time when it wasn't. I chalked all of this up to atmospheric interference and user error.

During the summer I needed a lens that I could use while on a kayak. In addition, I will be heading to Vancouver Island next year to photograph whales, seals, etc.. on a workshop. This an 8 day trip, small groups w/ lots of work from a zodiac. Knowing that I'll need to do quite a bit of handheld work, I hoped the 200-500VR would be close to the performance of the 200-400mm lens. Long story... longer, well it turns out that the 200-500VR was amazing from the kayak.. so much so, that I suddenly was conflicted about my 200-400mm lens. While it is a stop faster, it is very heavy and bulky. In the end, I sold my 200-400VR and flipped the money into the Nikon 300mm f2.8 AFS-II. While this lens does not have VR, it is relatively light (the lightest 300 f2.8 since the manual focus days). It is optically the sharpest lens in my bag and pairs nicely with a 1.4x lens. When shooting flying subjects, the 300 f2.8 and D500 tracks better than I cold have expected. What's more, you can get these for about $2400 US in Ex+ condition... only $400 more than the PF lens which will not be as sharp.

So... I'm not sure this answers your question, but it is an option to consider. If your 200-500mm lens is good enough when you need 500mm, then you might consider keeping that and add a versatile, super sharp and relatively portable 300 f/2.8 to your kit.
cheers,
bruce



Oct 27, 2016 at 11:42 PM
Chris_88
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


OwlsEyes wrote:
Hello Chris...

I am a pretty avid wildlife photographer and shoot a mix of a mammals and birds. I am not into the smaller birds (warblers, vireos, etc...), as I prefer to shoot similar species as you... cranes, herons, owls, and grouse. In addition, I photograph a lot of mammals. Prior to my current lens set, I relied on the 200-400mm VR1. While this was a great lens when shot within 40M, it did see a bit temperamental when my subjects were a a distance. The problems were quite unpredictable... there were times when the lens was sharp at 100M
...Show more

Thanks, Bruce. I hadn't thought about earlier version of the 300 2.8, thinking they were even heavier than the vr ii. You're talking about this version, right? 2.56 kg sure sounds better than 2.9kg. Any ideas how long Nikon will service these older lenses?



Oct 28, 2016 at 12:34 AM
jmjuhl
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


For walking around and being mobile it is hard to beat the 300 PF but mine lives with the 1.4x converter attached to it leaving it a f/5.6 so it doesn't get you any more light and you lose the flexibility of the zoom if you like that now.

How is your current 200-500 for focal length for what you shoot?

Even a 500 f/4 from Sigma or Nikon will only gain you a stop and you lose that if you add a 1.4 converter.

The f/2.8's will get you there but you will end up with converters as well to get you back to the focal length you are used to with the 200-500.



Oct 28, 2016 at 12:50 AM
Chris_88
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


jmjuhl wrote:
For walking around and being mobile it is hard to beat the 300 PF but mine lives with the 1.4x converter attached to it leaving it a f/5.6 so it doesn't get you any more light and you lose the flexibility of the zoom if you like that now.

How is your current 200-500 for focal length for what you shoot?

Even a 500 f/4 from Sigma or Nikon will only gain you a stop and you lose that if you add a 1.4 converter.

The f/2.8's will get you there but you will end up with converters as well to get you
...Show more

Thanks, I'm OK with the long end of the 200-500mm on an APSC camera, occasionally I wouldn't mind having 700mm at my disposal, though.

Let's say I could live with a slightly shorter FL for the faster lens, if I decided to keep the 200-500mm.



Oct 28, 2016 at 12:55 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Chris_88 wrote:
Thanks, Bruce. I hadn't thought about earlier version of the 300 2.8, thinking they were even heavier than the vr ii. You're talking about this version, right? 2.56 kg sure sounds better than 2.9kg. Any ideas how long Nikon will service these older lenses?


No, that is version one. Version 2 has a magnesium body... it is handholdable and works well on a sidekick-style gimbal. Here is a link to the lens: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/images1/300mm-f28-afs-ii/D3S_1633-side-1200.jpg

I love the lens... I shot it side-by-side with my 200-500VR during a 2-day shoot of migrating greater sandhill cranes. While I was pleased by the images from my 200-500, the 300mm f/2.8 did much better during the pre-sunrise and post-sunset conditions.



Oct 28, 2016 at 01:00 AM
Chris_88
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


OwlsEyes wrote:
No, that is version one. Version 2 has a magnesium body... it is handholdable and works well on a sidekick-style gimbal. Here is a link to the lens: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/images1/300mm-f28-afs-ii/D3S_1633-side-1200.jpg

I love the lens... I shot it side-by-side with my 200-500VR during a 2-day shoot of migrating greater sandhill cranes. While I was pleased by the images from my 200-500, the 300mm f/2.8 did much better during the pre-sunrise and post-sunset conditions.


I don't like sending traffic to KR's site, but he has a good comparison of all the 300 2.8 models here. Just to confirm, the lens you're using, Bruce, is the lightest AF version (fifth from the top in Rockwell's table of AF 300 2.8's), right?



Oct 28, 2016 at 02:56 AM
morris
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


jmjuhl wrote:
For walking around and being mobile it is hard to beat the 300 PF but mine lives with the 1.4x converter attached to it leaving it a f/5.6 so it doesn't get you any more light and you lose the flexibility of the zoom if you like that now.

How is your current 200-500 for focal length for what you shoot?

Even a 500 f/4 from Sigma or Nikon will only gain you a stop and you lose that if you add a 1.4 converter.

The f/2.8's will get you there but you will end up with converters as well to get you
...Show more

Well said, take advantage of the high ISO and use a tripod with slow shutter speeds.

Morris



Oct 28, 2016 at 03:03 AM
suteetat
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


As much as I like the 200-500 for flexibility and IQ especially considering its cost, I have been using it less and less now. When weight and size is not an issue, I prefer to bring my 500/4 FL which is basically 1 kg more but much sharper and despite F4 vs F5.6, I felt that I get quite a bit more than 1 stop difference in transmission ( I have not formally compare yet but it seems that iso remains quite a bit lower than 1 stop when using auto iso). When weight matter, 300/4 PF +/- TC gives similar sharpness (with TC) but nicer bokeh, I feel. I basically use 200-500 when I feel that I really need the flexibility of the zoom.


Oct 28, 2016 at 03:20 AM
coastalconn
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


I will add my vote for the 300 F2.8 AF-S II non VR as well. I picked up a mint one 2 months ago for 2K that was just serviced by Nikon with a new AF-S motor and other electrics. If you search my flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/coastalconn/ for "300 f2.8 AF-S II" it will pull up about 80 samples with the lens, mostly with the D500 and some with the D800. Optics are phenomenal and I have been using it more than my 500 F4 lately. I think it is actually a touch sharper with the 1.4x than my 500 is naked, plus it is 3 pounds lighter. I'm mostly shooting moving birds, so the lack of VR is problem for me...


Oct 28, 2016 at 03:48 AM
 

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Chris_88
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


coastalconn wrote:
I will add my vote for the 300 F2.8 AF-S II non VR as well. I picked up a mint one 2 months ago for 2K that was just serviced by Nikon with a new AF-S motor and other electrics. If you search my flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/coastalconn/ for "300 f2.8 AF-S II" it will pull up about 80 samples with the lens, mostly with the D500 and some with the D800. Optics are phenomenal and I have been using it more than my 500 F4 lately. I think it is actually a touch sharper with the 1.4x than my 500
...Show more

Thanks, Kristofer, big fan of your work.

I guess, I really have to start looking around for used 300 2.8 AF-S version 2's. The advantage of the 300 2.8 would be versatility of giving me 300 2.8 and 420 4, while for more reach I could continue using my 200-500mm.



Oct 28, 2016 at 04:12 AM
Chris_88
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


morris wrote:
Well said, take advantage of the high ISO and use a tripod with slow shutter speeds.

Morris


Thanks, Morris. My problem is that even at ISO 4000 and f5.6, the shutter speed would drop to well under 1/200. The VR on the 200-500mm is excellent, so that in itself is not an issue, if the bird decides to sit still. If it doesn't, and in my case, it didn't, motion blur creeps in real quick.

suteetat wrote:
As much as I like the 200-500 for flexibility and IQ especially considering its cost, I have been using it less and less now. When weight and size is not an issue, I prefer to bring my 500/4 FL which is basically 1 kg more but much sharper and despite F4 vs F5.6, I felt that I get quite a bit more than 1 stop difference in transmission ( I have not formally compare yet but it seems that iso remains quite a bit lower than 1 stop when using auto iso). When weight matter, 300/4 PF +/- TC gives
...Show more

Thanks. I had the chance to try out the 500 FL in a showroom once. I wish I could afford one. Must be an excellent combo when paired wit the D500.



Oct 28, 2016 at 04:18 AM
Chris_88
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


A mint condition 300 2.8 AF-S II goes for as much as a slightly banged up 300 2.8 VR II over here. What's one to do ?


Oct 28, 2016 at 04:33 AM
suteetat
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


If cost is about the same, Personally, I would pick VR over no VR for the price of 400 g
I wonder, now that we have 400,500,600, 800 and 70-200mm with FL, 300/2.8 FL (and hopefully 200/2 FL) should happen sometimes in the near future.



Oct 28, 2016 at 07:21 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Chris_88 wrote:
I don't like sending traffic to KR's site, but he has a good comparison of all the 300 2.8 models here. Just to confirm, the lens you're using, Bruce, is the lightest AF version (fifth from the top in Rockwell's table of AF 300 2.8's), right?


Yes, that is the one... it looks like the newer VR lenses but narrower at the neck where there is not VR dial. It also retains the aperture ring, though this is something I never use any longer.



Oct 28, 2016 at 10:44 AM
Chris_88
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


OwlsEyes wrote:
Yes, that is the one... it looks like the newer VR lenses but narrower at the neck where there is not VR dial. It also retains the aperture ring, though this is something I never use any longer.


Thanks, Bruce. That's the one I saw in mint condition before. The question is whether it's worth as much as a slightly banged up 300 VR II.



Oct 28, 2016 at 11:16 AM
coastalconn
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Thanks for the kind words. Of your profile is correct, there is one on eBay in Japan for 2300, I have no idea what the exchange rate looks like though... If price is the same, the VR makes more sense, but I think it is about 1 lb heavier which is noticeable when I shot with one and defeats the purpose of what you are looking for.. Honestly not sure how much you would shoot the 200-500 if you got the 300 f2.8 though...

Chris_88 wrote:
A mint condition 300 2.8 AF-S II goes for as much as a slightly banged up 300 2.8 VR II over here. What's one to do ?




Oct 28, 2016 at 11:44 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


Chris_88 wrote:
Thanks, Bruce. That's the one I saw in mint condition before. The question is whether it's worth as much as a slightly banged up 300 VR II.


I had to make the same choice, as I could get a VR1 for about $300 more as well. Because I carry a lot of gear (2 long lenses, 2 bodies, 16-35mm f/4, converter and 105 micro) on regional and international flights, mass was an important factor for me. Having owned the larger/heavier 200-400VR and dragging that to Costa Rica twice, Iceland, and across the US, I discovered that I relied on my tripod 95% of the time. Sure the VR was helpful during the 5% time I used it, but I would have rather saved the strain and stress on my back.

I went for light and compact and chose the older lens... I guess this decision has to be made on a case-by-case basis. At this point, I have no regrets... but who knows how I'll feel 6months from now.



Oct 28, 2016 at 11:58 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


coastalconn wrote:
.. Honestly not sure how much you would shoot the 200-500 if you got the 300 f2.8 though...



This was my concern as well, but with two bodies I have found that I differentiate my photography based on the situation. I shoot from water (kayak, canoes) near rookeries and the 200-500VR is perfect for this. When I'm looking for the best optical quality or need to use a gimbal, I use my 300mm f/2.8.




Oct 28, 2016 at 12:13 PM
Chris_88
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Two Long Lens Setup for D500: Recommendations Please


coastalconn wrote:
Thanks for the kind words. Of your profile is correct, there is one on eBay in Japan for 2300, I have no idea what the exchange rate looks like though... If price is the same, the VR makes more sense, but I think it is about 1 lb heavier which is noticeable when I shot with one and defeats the purpose of what you are looking for.. Honestly not sure how much you would shoot the 200-500 if you got the 300 f2.8 though...



Thanks, Kristofer. I was surprised at how low the price was, but further down in the auction details the seller describes how the hood cannot be used or something like that. I have 1-2 camera stores that I've been using for a decade. They are more expensive, but they offer very good service, even on used items, if needed.

Still have to think about which version a bit longer, but the lower weight of the old lens would be welcome, since I primarily shoot handheld.

OwlsEyes wrote:
I had to make the same choice, as I could get a VR1 for about $300 more as well. Because I carry a lot of gear (2 long lenses, 2 bodies, 16-35mm f/4, converter and 105 micro) on regional and international flights, mass was an important factor for me. Having owned the larger/heavier 200-400VR and dragging that to Costa Rica twice, Iceland, and across the US, I discovered that I relied on my tripod 95% of the time. Sure the VR was helpful during the 5% time I used it, but I would have rather saved the strain and stress
...Show more

Thanks, Bruce. I usually shoot handheld and hence the lower weight of the older version would be a big plus for me. Does the 1.4 TC III work with the old lens or are there limitations concerning TC usage? I'd only use the 1.4x TC, and my 200-500 for anything beyond 300mm/420mm.



Oct 28, 2016 at 12:39 PM
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