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Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF

  
 
billsnature
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I currently have Sony A1 and using 200-600. I am thinking about upgrading to a Sony 600 GM, but now seriously considering the alternative route of buying the Nikon Z8 and 600mm f6.3 at a fraction of the price, size and weight and maybe even both the 600 and 800 PF. Especially after the latest Z8 upgrade assuming the Megadap still works with new firmware.

I would expect the A1/ 600 GM to be better than Z8/600 f6.3 based on aperture alone but how much better? I am loving the concept of a lighter smaller lens for hiking and maybe even an 800 PF when required as opposed to 600 with TC, selling the A1 to fund it. I don't need 30 FPS and I don't shoot video.

I know there are many bird guys using both Nikon and Sony system, could you share your thoughts? Would you buy a 600 GM today or would you put your money in a Nikon system?

Thanks
Bill



Feb 17, 2024 at 10:48 AM
Vinnie_VdB
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I have the A9II with 200-600mm but went back to Nikon currently shooting with the Z8 & Z9 with the 600mm f/4 S TC, the 100-400mm, 180-600 tele zoom and soon the 600 f/6.3 S PF (end of the month).
Reason for the 600mm PF? Size and weight. The Z9 and 600mm f/4 will go on dedicated photo trips but the Z8 with the PF is just sweet for taking along in a smaller backpack on business travel.
We each have our reasons to go with a brand and their selection of bodies and lenses and the above works for me.

Furthermore, I am just not a fan myself of using a Sony lens on a Nikon body but love also the Sony 600mm f/4 GM that I took once on a trip to Africa.



Feb 17, 2024 at 11:16 AM
ChrisMak
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I can relate to your considerations, I had the Sony A1and 200-600G, and that was when the 800PF was available for pre-order (but not available), but the Z8 was not even rumored yet, and the 600PF not on any lens roadmap.

I decided on the 600GM, but now that the Z8, 800PF and 600PF are all real and available, I cannot deny that this would be my first choice if I had to start anew at this moment.

Of course I could not have known how well the Nikon lenses and Z8 turned out, but especially the 800PF and Z8 with the latest firmware are fantastic.

The 600GM is a superb lens, and works flawlessly on the A1, but unless f4-f5 or shooting hardcore BIF is really important, I would not know what the Sony set-up has over the Nikon set-up. Granted that f4-f5 and amazing BIF are no small feat though.

My only reservation on the 800PF are the many reports on sensitivity to atmospheric distortions.
I had terrible heat haze degradation with the Canon 400DOII and the 500PF and 200-600G were not really great there either, but the 600GM seems to be less susceptible. I do a lot of rather distant shooting, also in daytime, and that could be a significant step back withthe 800PF.
Otherwise, Nikon has superb IQ with arguably the best colors, although that is subjective.

Lastly, Sony not bringing any mid segment long primes is a limitation, Nikon is really innovating here.



Feb 17, 2024 at 11:16 AM
billsnature
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


ChrisMak wrote:
I can relate to your considerations, I had the Sony A1and 200-600G, and that was when the 800PF was available for pre-order (but not available), but the Z8 was not even rumored yet, and the 600PF not on any lens roadmap.

I decided on the 600GM, but now that the Z8, 800PF and 600PF are all real and available, I cannot deny that this would be my first choice if I had to start anew at this moment.

Of course I could not have known how well the Nikon lenses and Z8 turned out, but especially the 800PF and Z8 with the
...Show more

Thanks for your input. The heat haze is a question for me too.

If Sony made a 500mm f4 this would be an easy decision. Apparently 500mm f4 is out of vogue as no one is making one.



Feb 17, 2024 at 11:41 AM
Laslo Varadi
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I was in a similar situation as you. I have and will hold onto the A1 and 200-600 but a couple of months ago purchased a Z8 and 400f4.5 and 1.4tc . I found the 400f4.5 a bit short and decided to trade in some of my Sony lenses that I donít use much along with the Nikon 400f4.5 for the 600pf which I will pick up next week. I do like both Sony and Nikon cameras although for now find the Sony AF a little easier to navigate but that is not a show stopper since I have used many Nikon cameras in the past. I had the 500pf in the past with the D850, before I sold them off to switch to Sony and loved the 500pf. If Sony had that type of telephoto in their system I would not have bought back into Nikon. Oh well, now Iíve have two great cameras and a few less lenses that I very rarely use and donít need.


Feb 17, 2024 at 11:44 AM
Eric214
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


The 600PF is the deal sealer. Significantly lighter and sharper than the 200-600 Sony. Though the Z9 with bird subject detection leap frogged the A1 overall for bird AF. I would expect the Z8 is the same in this regard since the Z8 just got the bird subject detection.. The Z8 is also superior for video with eye tracking in video where the A1 does not have eye tracking in video.

So for me the Nikon is a better option and dems da reasons




Feb 17, 2024 at 12:05 PM
lukemeup
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


You could also just get the new 300 GM and permanently weld TC2.0 to it. That will cost ~$1.8K more than 600PF, the AF might not be as fast with a TC and maybe it will be able to match the IQ of the bare Nikon lens (but I somehow doubt it). But at least you won't have to run 2 systems & the weight will be comparable.


Feb 17, 2024 at 05:15 PM
billsnature
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


A 300mm or 400mm with 2X TC will not work for me!!!! I tried that back in DSLR days and that is a no go.


Feb 17, 2024 at 05:48 PM
Eric214
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


billsnature wrote:
A 300mm or 400mm with 2X TC will not work for me!!!! I tried that back in DSLR days and that is a no go.


I agree, I would never ever buy a lens to have a 2x TC permanently attached. There is no chance that lens with and very little chance without the 2x TC will have the IQ of the 600PF Nikon. It almost matches the 400TC, 600TC and 800PF



Feb 17, 2024 at 06:05 PM
groob
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


This comment might not be worth much, but here goes. Every review Iíve seen of the 600mm f/6.3 is absolutely effusive in its praise. The lens is, apparently, *razor* sharp, and the AF is plenty fast.

So, I donít think thereíll be an appreciable difference in raw sharpness. Iím sure there will be better subject isolation with the Sony 600mm f/4. But if your backgrounds are generally distant, or youíre not overly particular about it, that might not matter much.

As to the autofocus, I shoot a Z9 and 600mm FL E. All I can say is that the AF is miraculously good. While I canít do a direct comparison between the Z9 and the A1, itís hard to imagine any system could be materially better.



Feb 17, 2024 at 09:14 PM
 


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ChrisMak
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


billsnature wrote:
A 300mm or 400mm with 2X TC will not work for me!!!! I tried that back in DSLR days and that is a no go.


I thought about the 300GM as well with both converters, as a lightweight addition to the 600GM, but like you decided against it.
I noticed a yellowish color cast in all samples I have seen from the 300GM with 2xTC, in particular when compared to the 200-600G and 600GM in identical circumstances. I downloaded some raw files, and it is not as much a white balance issue, as it is a characteristic of this combo. Perhaps if you like the tone you can live with it, but the 600GM and 200-600G are much more natural in color tone.
I perhaps would have tried it for the sharpness alone, but it is just not a good solution.

The only solution I see with regards to a lightweight long prime for e-mount, is the Sigma 500/5.6 that will be announced next week:

https://youtu.be/7QGGPWRluEA

Initial rumors are positive that it is going to be a high end lens with very fast and accurate auto focus. This lens would be the equivalent to the 500PF/600PF with the same size front element and light gathering. Limitation will be that it has no TC options, but I don't tend to put a TC on a f5.6 lens anyhow, with a high resolution body, cropping is just as good.

If I would have to choose between the Sony 600GM and the Nikon 600PF as my only or main lens, I would choose the 600GM any time. f6.3 at 600mm is too limiting regarding light gathering and background separation. I tend to close the Sony down to f5 when subjects are not at larger distance, but not any further, as I start to see the lack of background separation at f5.6 onwards.
The only Nikon lens that I would consider if I had to choose one main lens, is the 800PF. It is the full frame equivalent of the 500PF on the D500 that I used for a few years, and I never felt it was too long. I wish Nikon had made the 600PF more in line with the 800PF by giving it a f5.6 aperture, which is really borderline with regards to light gathering and subject isolation, but the 800PF would be perfect.
For further out subject though, the 600GM wide open at f4 is unbeatable, very detailed with super precise AF, and as I said, relatively resistent to atmospheric issues (within limits of course).


Edited on Feb 18, 2024 at 07:02 AM · View previous versions



Feb 18, 2024 at 06:22 AM
suteetat
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I don't know if certain lens will handle heat haze any better than the other since it is a physical condition.
Certainly when I went to shoot snow leopard last month and we spent 2 whole days shooting snow leopard at large distance. During the morning and early afternoon, everybody, be it Nikon, Sony, Canon, Fuji or Olympus shooters all complained of heat haze and by 4PM, everybody got the pictures that they like with no heat haze problem.
People may notice heat haze more with 800PF because they may be tempted to shoot at longer distance.
In my experience, I have not noticed any significance lost of acuity due to heat haze if I shoot 800PF at a typical distance that I would use 600mm or 600mm+TC1.4 for small birds. I shoot 800PF often side by side with a friend that uses A1 and 600GM and everytime I had heat haze problem, she would have it as well.

Edited on Feb 18, 2024 at 06:55 AM · View previous versions



Feb 18, 2024 at 06:26 AM
ChrisMak
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


suteetat wrote:
I don't know if certain will handle heat haze any better than the other since it is a physical condition.
Certainly when I went to shoot snow leopard last month and we spent 2 whole days shooting snow leopard at large distance. During the morning and early afternoon, everybody, be it Nikon, Sony, Canon, Fuji or Olympus shooters all complained of heat haze and by 4PM, everybody got the pictures that they like with no heat haze problem.
People may notice heat haze more with 800PF because they may be tempted to shoot at longer distance.
In my experience, I have
...Show more

You will no doubt be right, as science dictates.
If you have extreme atmospheric distortions, you can put you camera gear away.
It is not so much susceptibility to extreme heat haze that I would worry about with the 800PF.

But it is not a matter of having 100% atmospheric distortion or 0% atmospheric distortion.
If you shoot in daytime in spring during a sunny day, you only have an hour or perhaps two in the morning and an hour in the evening where there is 0% atmospheric distortions.
I have used quite a few lenses at various moments in daytime on the isles that I visit during spring and autumn migration.

Not all lenses are equal in handling atmospherics, and the lens performance in this area can be a limitation when facing mild atmospheric distortion, not only ragarding sharpness but also regarding bokeh.
If you refuse to shoot at all during daytime and only shoot at dusk and dawn or in golden light, then this is a non-issue of course.

I have not used the 800PF, so I cannot form an opninion, but there have been many times that the topic has been raised with regards to this lens, as far as I know not only when shooting distant subjects, so it would be a worry when having it as my main lens.



Feb 18, 2024 at 06:40 AM
suteetat
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


ChrisMak wrote:
You will no doubt be right, as science dictates.
If you have extreme atmospheric distortions, you can put you camera gear away.
It is not so much susceptibility to extreme heat haze that I would worry about with the 800PF.

But it is not a matter of having 100% atmospheric distortion or 0% atmospheric distortion.
If you shoot in daytime in spring, you only have an hour or perhaps two in the morning and an hour in the evening where there is 0% atmospheric distortions.
I have used quite a few lenses at various moments in daytime on the isles that I visit during spring
...Show more

The only thing I can think of is that 800PF is only a bit sharper than 600/4e FL with TCx1.4 or 400/2.8S TC + TCx2 It is not as sharp as bare 600/4, 500/4 or 400/2.8. 800/5.6eFL is quite a bit sharper than 800PF and it is not hard to see (according to sample at photographylife). It is possible I suppose that if you have a bit of atmospheric disturbance, the loss in acuity might be more obvious with 800PF. But as I said, a few times that I had heat haze problem (to the point where picture was not usable), my friend with A1 and 600GM +/- TC would have the same problem as well. In the past 2 years, I only had bad heat haze problem may be only 2-3 times though so I don't have a lot of experience to go by either.





Feb 18, 2024 at 07:01 AM
ChrisMak
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


suteetat wrote:
The only thing I can think of is that 800PF is only a bit sharper than 600/4e FL with TCx1.4 or 400/2.8S TC + TCx2 It is not as sharp as bare 600/4, 500/4 or 400/2.8. 800/5.6eFL is quite a bit sharper than 800PF and it is not hard to see (according to sample at photographylife). It is possible I suppose that if you have a bit of atmospheric disturbance, the loss in acuity might be more obvious with 800PF. But as I said, a few times that I had heat haze problem (to the point where picture was not
...Show more

It is good to be informed and have an awareness of the science behind the workings of a camera or lens, but there is no substitute for using gear in circumstances particular to your use cases.
I made the odd mistake before.

If I were to seriously consider a switch to Nikon myself, I would first buy a Z8 with 800PF, use it for a full year and only then, if it were to work out well, sell my Sony gear.
It is much more costly when trading your gear in, and finding out the new set-up is not what you need. Because of the high cost involved with this type of gear, it is much more obvious to do a trade in but it can turn out very costly.



Feb 18, 2024 at 07:11 AM
suteetat
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


ChrisMak wrote:
It is good to be informed and have an awareness of the science behind the workings of a camera or lens, but there is no substitute for using gear in circumstances particular to your use cases.
I made the odd mistake before.

If I were to seriously consider a switch to Nikon myself, I would first buy a Z8 with 800PF, use it for a full year and only then, if it were to work out well, sell my Sony gear.
It is much more costly when trading your gear in, and finding out the new set-up is not what you need.
...Show more

If I am starting from scratch and money is not a factor, I think I would start with Z8 and 600/4s TC for single lens set up.
As much as I like 800PF, I am not sure that I would be ok with having it as the only supertele.
The good news is that 180-600 or 100-400 would fill the gap nicely without breaking bank.

Otherwise, 400/2.8S TC and 800PF is an excellent combination and take care of everything that I need very well.
400/4.5 or 600PF can substitute 400/2.8S quite well also depending on what you are shooting.

Going Sony or Nikon is a tough choice and there is really no one right answer. I gave up on Sony after using it along side Nikon for several years but many friends also left Nikon and never looked back.

As long as Nikon does what I need it to do well enough, I am not sure if I would switch to Sony and vice versa. Rather than changing brand, I rather spend the money on more trips





Feb 18, 2024 at 07:29 AM
binary visions
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


I've seen two comments in here about specific lenses being affected by heat haze.

Since heat haze is a physical property of the atmosphere, I always thought that it was something which affected all lenses equally. I mean, sure, poorly resolving lenses will be affected by this issue, but they aren't prey to heat haze specifically and more that anything which reduces the IQ of the image will be more noticeable if the IQ wasn't great to start with.

Anyone have any links or anything I could read up on, or can provide additional information? I tried Googling but my first few search attempts were mostly met with, "this is what heat haze is and why it affects telephoto lenses."



Feb 18, 2024 at 07:44 AM
billsnature
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


ChrisMak wrote:
It is good to be informed and have an awareness of the science behind the workings of a camera or lens, but there is no substitute for using gear in circumstances particular to your use cases.
I made the odd mistake before.

If I were to seriously consider a switch to Nikon myself, I would first buy a Z8 with 800PF, use it for a full year and only then, if it were to work out well, sell my Sony gear.
It is much more costly when trading your gear in, and finding out the new set-up is not what you need.
...Show more

I think that where I am ending up is close to this recommendation. I think I will try Z8 (kit) with 600PF and 1.4X TC and Megadap. I don't plan to leave Sony, but may run a split kit. Based on performance of Z8 and 600 PF I will either sell my A1 and buy 800PF or I will break down and buy the 600mm GM.

A 3.5 Lb 11'' 600mm is just too tempting to not try. I am hoping that this combo focuses better than the 500PF did on Z50/D500, which I think is a reasonable expectation based on Z8 reviews.



Feb 18, 2024 at 07:58 AM
OwlsEyes
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


My good friend just did a full update of his camera gear. He moved from a complete F-mount kit that included the 600 f4 AFSII, 200-400VR, 70-200 FLE, 24-70 f2.8 VR, and 14-24 f2.8. The only lens he kept was his 14-28 f2.8 because it see little use, and updating it made very little sense.
He replaced his gear with a pair of Z8's, 600 f6.3PF, 100-400S, and 24-120. He's been shooting a lot with the 600PF and is consistently blown away by how sharp the lens is. He describes it as "mind-numbing and miraculous." He's been a tripod shooter his whole life, but this lens now frees him to be spontaneous. At have 68, he wanted to lighten the load and have a kit that would meet his needs into the future.
In contrast, I off loaded my 400 f4.5 and 800PF and replaced it with the 400 f2.8S TC. The lens is surprisingly hand-holdable and takes an additional 1.4x (to reach 780mm @ f5.6) well. Using DXO PureRaw, I get the same quality I got out of my 800PF lens. My kit is heavier, but I found 600 and 800mm to be too restrictive to me. The built in TC gives me options with the best possible sharpness and AF speed. I also use the 180-600 and 24-120. The 180-600 has been more than sharp enough, but I would consider trading it for the 100-400 to save some weight and space in the bag.
Nikon's gear is good, but so is Sony's. I don't think I'd abandon a Sony A1 unless there is something you feel you are absolutely missing because you are using Sony gear. I'll 2nd ChrisMak and suggest you wait and see what Sigma is about to unveil.
cheers,
bruce



Feb 18, 2024 at 08:06 AM
ChrisMak
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Nikon Z8 with 600 PF vs Sony A1 200-600 or 600 GM for Birds and BIF


binary visions wrote:
I've seen two comments in here about specific lenses being affected by heat haze.

Since heat haze is a physical property of the atmosphere, I always thought that it was something which affected all lenses equally. I mean, sure, poorly resolving lenses will be affected by this issue, but they aren't prey to heat haze specifically and more that anything which reduces the IQ of the image will be more noticeable if the IQ wasn't great to start with.

Anyone have any links or anything I could read up on, or can provide additional information? I tried Googling but my
...Show more

I doubt that there is any scientific support for assuming that lenses are unequally affected by heat haze.
I have been battling this issue with long lenses in spring daytime, and have given it the neccessary thougth.
What I assume myself, is that a lens with very high baseline contrast and clarity due to design and coatings, develops less diffusion of the image, which also results in less disruption of the auto focus.

The degradation of the image when having mild amounts of atmospheric distortions is not only down to the image degradation alone, but also inaccurate focus due to AF degradation. So you get an image affected with an overall haze that is also slightly misfocussed, resulting in a messy image.
I can only say that in overall use in similar circumstances, some lenses loose more contrast and clarity (having less to begin with) and have their auto focus breaking down more seriously then others.



Feb 18, 2024 at 08:22 AM
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