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Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-...
  
 
Lance B
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


The best birding lens is the one that suits you and your budget. That can be a 300, 400, 500, 600 or 800 and use TC's with any or all of them. There is not really a "one size fits all" approach. It depends on a number of factors:
1) The *range* of birds and animals you shoot. You may shoot primarily big birds or small birds or the whole gamut.
2) How close you can get to them. You may shoot small birds but can still get close to them and thus only need a shorter focal length. However, you may shoot big birds but have to shoot from a long way off and require a very long lens!
3) What you are able to carry and fit in your backpack - you may need to carry other lenses thus your primary bird lens may have to fit in a bag with other lenses and thus cannot be too big or heavy. Here a shorter lens with TC's is a help.
4) How big a lens you can easily handhold for any length of time if you primarily handhold.
5) You may want a f2.8 lens for great OOF rendering at that aperture, for low light ability and to be able to use all TC's for more versatility.
6) How much you can afford to get the best compromise of all of the above.

For me, it was the 400 f2.8E FL VR as it ticked all the boxes that were relevant to *my* requirements.



Oct 08, 2017 at 07:23 AM
Photozack81
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


Lance B wrote:
The best birding lens is the one that suits you and your budget. That can be a 300, 400, 500, 600 or 800 and use TC's with any or all of them. There is not really a "one size fits all" approach. It depends on a number of factors:
1) The *range* of birds and animals you shoot. You may shoot primarily big birds or small birds or the whole gamut.
2) How close you can get to them. You may shoot small birds but can still get close to them and thus only need a shorter focal length. However, you
...Show more

And I don't have that sort of a budget, so I opted for a used (and quite ugly) 400 f/2.8 G VR. Got it for basically half what a new one goes for. Still a big bag of money, but palatable in a buy once cry once sort of way.



Oct 08, 2017 at 07:57 AM
Lance B
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??



Photozack81 wrote:
And I don't have that sort of a budget, so I opted for a used (and quite ugly) 400 f/2.8 G VR. Got it for basically half what a new one goes for. Still a big bag of money, but palatable in a buy once cry once sort of way.

😊 Number 6 is your compromise. However, I would not call the 400 f2.8G VR all that much of a compromise as it is a gem of a lens.


Edited on Oct 08, 2017 at 10:44 PM · View previous versions



Oct 08, 2017 at 08:37 AM
joefoo
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


gdsf2 wrote:
I would never suggest anybody plan on handholding the 400mm G, the 500mm G, and certainly not the 600mm G. Could you, sure. Will it be fun, not for me, and I am a big guy. Sturdy tripod and gimbal head are your friends when using any super telephoto lens.

I have lots of fun hand holding the 500 E. It's good, light and cheap. It also plays very well with the 1.4, although I prefer the bokeh with the bare lens. The best TC is "get closer". All part of the fun.



Oct 08, 2017 at 08:51 AM
Vinnie_VdB
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


I do not have the D850 just yet but have both the G (for sale) and E version of the 500mm. it is indeed the eternal dilemma what tele to choose: 400/f2.8 -- 500/f4 -- 600/f4
If I was fortunate enough to live near a wildlife area would it be for sure the 600mm as I could use a car for transportation.
Now, I go 2-3 times to South Africa on a safari so I have just my one backpack to carry my stuff and my Boris can handle with easy 3 bodies, my 500mm, 70-200, 105 macro and 16-35.

I was a few months ago in a hide sitting with on one side with a Nikon shooter having the 400mm/f2.8 and the other side a Canon shooter with the latest Canon 200-400mm
I could not see a diference in IQ between the 400 and 500mm but for me, I was happy to have been there with my 500mm to get that extra 100mm reach but remains such a close call between the 400-500-600 that I have to refer to the post of Lance having the 6 questions to be asked.

What is my dream lens? A Nikon that uses the idea of Canon to have a 200-400mm/f4 with build-in 1.4TC. The glass is of course FL and the latest electronics



Oct 08, 2017 at 09:19 AM
Pixphatic
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


I agree to the fact that reach-wise, it remains a very close call between the 400,500 & 600mm tele lenses. The 400f2.8 leads with OOF rendition and sharpness ( to an extent). Even the price consideration becomes secondary. BUT the primary importance is the weight and thus the 'hand-holdability' issue.

As most of the others also pointed out the fact that ultimately, it all depends on individual's style and capability in handling these lenses.

Of all the exotic primes today, the 500mmf4E FL remains the lightest,and even with 1.4X TC (although initially I kept that option out), and easiest to handhold. It balances between the reach and weight in the best way.

Many members have brought in the D500 into this discussion, BUT I doubt in low-light conditions, it can match the higher ISO images of the D850. Having the same AF module of the D500/D5, AF-wise D850 would NOT be a let-down IMHO.
So taking out the advantage of the exceptional OOF effect of the 400f2.8, the 500mm f4 E FL combined with D850 should be one of the best combos even in low-light.

Yes I am sort of obsessed with 'hand-holdability factor' of the lens and 'cropability factor' of the FX camera body, as 99% times I use it hand-held ( other than maybe in a slow moving boat). 80% of the times, the light is 'less than perfect'. 95% times, I crop only 15-20% data ultimately remains, else cropped away. Even if the D500 generates exquisite files, but I expect BETTER low-light files from the D850.

I will be using the D850 ( friend's) with 200-500 in my upcoming desert-birds trip. Side by side with D7200 and D500 ( another friend's). Will have a better idea by then. Especially in the low-light conditions of dawn and dusk.Would miss the 500mm f4 E FL however, as none of us have it.

Thanks for your feed-back.




Oct 08, 2017 at 11:55 AM
 

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Pixphatic
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


joefoo wrote:
I have lots of fun hand holding the 500 E. It's good, light and cheap. It also plays very well with the 1.4, although I prefer the bokeh with the bare lens. The best TC is "get closer". All part of the fun.


Agree .. other than joefoo wrote:
cheap
....



Oct 08, 2017 at 12:16 PM
Gary Irwin
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


It's a slow weekend for birding so thought I'd "pen" a few more thoughts on my experiences with long glass for birding over the years.

When I got into birding a decade ago I went through the usual mistakes, going from (don't laugh!) 70-300VR, 300/4 w/TC and finally took a bigger plunge with a 200-400VR1. They were all mistakes. What I learned is that while zooms are sometimes convenient, reach was more important. I also learned (or already knew) that I hated being restricted to a tripod. After a couple of years of frustration I decided to write the cheque for a big prime.

I chose the 500VR because at 8.5 lbs I felt it was the biggest prime I could hand hold. It took a while to learn it's quirks. Firstly, it was not a very sharp lens at distance...better than the 200-400VR to be sure, but not nearly as good as others. Fortunately I didn't use it for distance work. As for TC's, I found the TC20EIII performed poorly in most circumstances on the 500VR, but interestingly the TC17EII worked reasonably well on my low-resolution D3/D300 bodies yielding a decent 850mm. Unfortunately the TC17EII didn't work so well with later higher resolution bodies (D800) and I had to restrict TC use to the TC14EIII ever since.

During my long tenure-ship with Nikon, I took two six-month excursions into Canonland. The fIrst was with a 1DMK4 w/800L as I was intrigued by the apparent capabilities of the 1DMK4 and the reputation of the 800L. I won't go into the issues with the 1DMK4, but suffice to say it wasn't really all that much superior to my D300, and sensor wise it was worse. As for the 800L, I found that 10 lbs was too much for me to easily hand hold, a constant f5.6 was too limiting in the less-than-ideal lighting around here, and the 3m MFD was too long more often than I'd thought. The 800L really requires a tripod most of the time.

My second foray into Canonland was to try the 7DII and 500 IS II (this was before Nikon had released the D500 & 500E). That was a more interesting experience. Without getting into details, my biggest take-way was the pleasure of handling a relatively light weight package (relative to my 500VR+D800 at the time) that still had lots of "punch". I even tried it with the Canon 2xTC (1600mm equivalent!!!) hand held in good light with mind-blowingly-good results. Why Nikon can't seem make a good 2xTC I'll never know.

But I never left Nikon because I've always found their cameras provided the best blend of sensor performance and features, and their lenses (san's TC's) were mostly adequate to the task, falling just short of Canon's offerings until Nikon released their "E" series lenses. So when Nikon finally updated their 400/500/600/800 to the E series I instantly knew the 600E would be my choice -- just light enough to hand hold, super sharp, fast enough at f4 and could take the TC14EIII with little to no image degradation. So now my main birding setup for the foreseeable future is the D850 & 600E.

But I have never forgotten the potency and sheer pleasure of handling the 7DII+500IS II combo, and based on that experience I can see why the majority of birding enthusiasts would likely consider the "best all-round" Nikon birding/wildlife setup to include the 500E, TC14EIII and their DX or FX body of choice.



Oct 08, 2017 at 02:00 PM
RoyC
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


Pixphatic wrote:
I agree to the fact that reach-wise, it remains a very close call between the 400,500 & 600mm tele lenses. The 400f2.8 leads with OOF rendition and sharpness ( to an extent). Even the price consideration becomes secondary. BUT the primary importance is the weight and thus the 'hand-holdability' issue.

As most of the others also pointed out the fact that ultimately, it all depends on individual's style and capability in handling these lenses.

Of all the exotic primes today, the 500mmf4E FL remains the lightest,and even with 1.4X TC (although initially I kept that option out), and easiest to
...Show more

For part of a day when testing the D850 and D500 set them to:
Focus only
AFC
AF-On Only
Out of focus release disabled

See if with the new AF system you think you are loosing anything by forcing Focus before it fires. You should be pleased.



Oct 08, 2017 at 02:13 PM
arbitrage
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


Pixphatic wrote:
Many members have brought in the D500 into this discussion, BUT I doubt in low-light conditions, it can match the higher ISO images of the D850.

Yes I am sort of obsessed with 'hand-holdability factor' of the lens and 'cropability factor' of the FX camera body, as 99% times I use it hand-held ( other than maybe in a slow moving boat). 80% of the times, the light is 'less than perfect'. 95% times, I crop only 15-20% data ultimately remains, else cropped away Even if the D500 generates exquisite files, but I expect BETTER low-light files from
...Show more

If I'm reading this right and you are cropping and only left with 15-20% of the pixels, then the comparisons I've seen and Bill Claff's data show that the D500 and D850 will essentially be left with identical IQ at any ISO. The data actually shows the D500 to be 1/3 stop better than the D850 at pixel level but lets just call it equal.

Basically anytime you have to crop a D850 file down further than the DX area you aren't any better off for IQ than a D500. You need to have the lenses and/or subjects to use more than the DX frame of the D850 to realize the value of its sensor.

It basically comes down to figuring out how often your type of photography will use more than the DX area of the sensor on the D850 to see if it is really worth the cost and large file management.

The good thing is that you will get to try out the different bodies (even if not with the 500E) and compare for yourself. I'd try a few controlled tests where you mount the 200-500 to a tripod and switch between D500 and D850 for a target that is smaller than the D500's frame. Then compare those two images after your preferred crop. You can try at different ISO also. I don't think you will see any benefit from the D850 in that scenario.



Oct 08, 2017 at 04:26 PM
OwlsEyes
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Would the Nikon D850 & 500mm f4E FL be the best bird-photography combo..??


Lance B wrote:
The best birding lens is the one that suits you and your budget. That can be a 300, 400, 500, 600 or 800 and use TC's with any or all of them. There is not really a "one size fits all" approach. It depends on a number of factors:
1) The *range* of birds and animals you shoot. You may shoot primarily big birds or small birds or the whole gamut.
2) How close you can get to them. You may shoot small birds but can still get close to them and thus only need a shorter focal length. However, you
...Show more

I love this response for Lance's honesty and realistic approach to real people who have limited budgets.
If budget and hand-holdability is a real concern, then the D500 w/ a 300mm f/2.8 VR (I or II) w/ 1.4x and 2x converters will provide just about anyone with the mix of focal length and quality that can suit a variety of situations. Shoot it on a tripod with a 2x @f/8 and fill flash, and you will be hard-pressed to see the difference between this and a 600mm f/4... if the shot is interesting and well composed, the gear often becomes secondary.

Want to shoot "run and gun style?" leave the converters in the bag and you can handhold the 300 f2.8 w/ the aid of good VR.

I use a 200-400 on my D500 and accept the optical foibles, but nobody ever... ever... says, "man, that would be better if it was sharper." This tells me that the real quality of an image is more related to subject and composition than anything. else.

Now, if money were no object... I'd choose a D5 and 400mm f/2.8 FLE + 1.4x, and have a D500 in the bag for when I need more pixels on my bird. The 400mm FLE is just light enough to handhold when that is your only option.

cheers,
bruce



Oct 08, 2017 at 05:58 PM
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