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  1. #1
    Frequent Member BrandonH's Avatar
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    Default Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    I am looking to buy a new telephoto lens for wildlife. If the price is taken out of the equation which is the better lens to purchase? The Nikon 500mm f4 or 600mm f4 and why?

  2. #2
    Frequent Member Jola's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    There are a lot of issues to consider.

    I prefer a 500 on DX, because it is lighter, and can be handheld. You can take it on a plane, whereas with the 600 it is more difficult.

    But if you go FX, get the 600.

    I use FX and DX, but the 500 is mostly on DX - it's great with a D300 !

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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    saw result with a 500 with a 1.4 convertor on a d300

    absolutely amazing image quality
    One of these days, i'll get the shot but until then, i will keep clicking

    Robin Hester

  4. #4
    Frequent Member Jola's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    This article played a big role in my decision to go for the 500 (note that I initially had a Canon 500/4L IS).

    I have since exchanged that for a Nikon 500/4VR, but the principles don't change, so read the article.

    And yes, the 500/4 + TC1.4X + D300 works really well. See here (1.4X) and here (1.7X).

  5. #5
    Frequent Member Peter Betts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Berkhead View Post
    I am looking to buy a new telephoto lens for wildlife. If the price is taken out of the equation which is the better lens to purchase? The Nikon 500mm f4 or 600mm f4 and why?
    I only use FX and from now on that is the only format I will use...At the moment I use the 200-400 and it is PLENTY...only put on a 1.4x once in the Kruger in the 2 weeks I was recently there just to get a shot of a leopard for record purposes. I would lovea big prime one day and as I have tennis elbow from this trip already hefting a Hedrus old LARGE beanbag and a 3.2 kg zoom around in the car ..may need an operation to sort out the problem!!!...the 500 is the way to go.....@ 3.8 kg...Hell in the old days on film I had a F3 and 600 f5.6 ED-IF manual focus and that was FX..Full frame and it was PLENTY...Now with a 1.4x on a 500 that will be 700 f5.6 on my FX D700...plenty = too much for 99.99% of what I shoot anywhere. Chris van Rooyen shoots with a 1.4x on a 500 VR on a FX D3 and he shoots tiny birds mainly. I saw the 600 VR at the Xpo and played with it for 3 days...IMPRESSIVE but at 5.2 kgs my poor elbow and it only focuses down to 5 metres!!! 5 metres is a long way for close in lion etc...far too far in fact. To me it is a surveilance lens the 600 VR or for the Paparazzi trying to get kaal pics of Charlize Theron on the beach or to stroke ego fragile folk who must have the biggest IMO. My 200-400 with 1.4 gives me 560 f5.6 and focuses to 2 metres = no brainer...Once I had got home and got over my buying lust for the 600 the only reason I could see in owning one would be to have people say...wow look at him he must be famous / rich and a seriously good photographer- I just need to take good pics thats all and have taught myself to get closer..I have just sold my mainstay in my arsenal the fab 70-200 f 2.8 and I missed it sorely in Kruger but I had to get even better and started using the incredibly sharp and useful 24-70 on close in lion...sure it was mainly at the 50-70 mm end.. 500 f4 focuses to 4 metres double the 200-400!!!! also too far for a lot of my stuff but based on price/close focus/less orthopeadic injuries the 500 VR is the one but if I wanted my ego stroked the 600 would be it ...why because there isnt an 800 f4 My Wildlife lens MAIN priority is to replace my sorely missed workhorse with the new 70-200 7 ED elemented f2.8 plus Nano once my position improves... gee I took lion into the sun with the Nano 24-70 and its the best invention next to ED glass that Nikon ever made...but if I win the lotto I will get a 500 as my ego doesnt need stroking and I like to get close to my lions

    Having said all that I met the nicest couple on ODP at Tzendze...Thinus and Rosa Van Schalkwyk from Piet Retief and the both have 1.3 x crop factor cameras Canon 1D MkIII plus you guessed it a matched pair of Canon 600 f4's...Maybe the Canon version is lighter?? I know Rosa would have probably wanted less fire power on her magnificent incoming leopard taken at Tzendze.. One thing is certain they dont need ego stroking but use their equipment for amonst other things ...long distance waterhole shooting which they have made into an art form...so there is a turn up for the books
    Last edited by Peter Betts; 24-08-2009 at 11:26 AM.
    Kruger Park 13 Nights Aug 2014 (Trip 110)
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    Operation 'Get a new Nikon Df Black Body Camera' is under way !!!

  6. #6
    Frequent Member Peter Veitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    With deference to Peter Betts who by and large shoots large mammals so his 200-400 is more than up to the job.

    When one starting shooting the smaller feathered things or has a trip into the Kgalagadi where everything is a long way away one does need a 500 or 600.

    I would personally own the Canon 500 f4, which combined with a 1.4 tc serves me well. I would agree that if you are to shoot full format and not cropped format, the 600 is more appropriate.
    The more you practice, the luckier you get! (Gary Player)

  7. #7
    john deakin
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    I think you will find Chris van Rooyen now uses a 600 VR on a D3.

    Small animals at a distance and avian 600 the way to go. Larger animals/birds closer to you 500. Why egos have to mentioned I really don't know, there is a time and place for all lenses, from ultra wide angle to 600 + converters when shooting wildlife and avian, its just a matter of using the right tool for the job.

    I shoot FX and bought a 500 to go with the 200-400 as the 600 was not available at the time, I would now choose a 600 if I had the choice again.

    John

  8. #8
    Frequent Member Geurt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Quote Originally Posted by john deakin View Post
    ....... Why egos have to mentioned I really don't know.....
    Aaah well JD, just Mr Betts not making sense from his own ramblings anyway. I bet you that whenever his ship arrives, then he'd sing a totally different song.

    Quote Originally Posted by john deakin
    there is a time and place for all lenses, from ultra wide angle to 600 + converters when shooting wildlife and avian, its just a matter of using the right tool for the job.....
    Now THAT is really sensible.
    Geurt
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    "I am a Christian. In God I trust and believe, His Son's way I follow and the Holy Spirit leads me."

  9. #9
    Frequent Member Mark Dumbleton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Im a Canon shooter, but the pricipal is the same.
    I had a 500mm and mainly did bird photography on a 1.3 crop camera. I felt I was constantly using the 1.4x convertor on the 500 to get closer and still I was cropping alot of images. I then sold my 500 for a 600 and to say im very happy is an understatement. The difference is well worth the extra money. For Bird Photography, the 600 is the way to go IMO.

    Weight is a slight issue but doesn bother me at all. The results from the extra reach is well worth it.
    Mark Dumbleton

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  10. #10
    Frequent Member Peter Betts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    For little Mk's out of a hide etc....600 all the way but Nikon suggests in their pro brochure issued at the announcement of these 3 primes that the 500 is better for cross country trips ie safari vehicles etc whereas the 600 is for static hide shooting...Giants Castle etc.
    The picture Chris van Rooyen used of Nikon kit in his photography article must be someone else's then in the latest edition of Africa Birding with his Carmines Beeaters on the cover. The lens there is a 500 VR with a 1.4x... and I thought that it must be his...

    I didnrt mention that in my F3 days I also had a 300 f2.8 in addition to the 600 f5.6 and thinking about it last night the 300 was the lens on my camera 95% of the time in KTP sure usually witha 1.4 x convertor and very often when I used the 600 the subject was too far anyway and a 2000 f11 would have been useless also. It just made shot selection more exact and less shots ina 2-3 week stay in KTP....its like my hunting days...if the Kudu was more than 150 metres with my 7x57 then I passed the shot up and admired the animal...but I could have got a 300 Hiroshima Weatherby Magnum and blasted away at everything up to 400 metres but I suppose like hunting I am a walk and stalk photographer getting close with shorter lenses...I was initially dreading it but in the end I had great fun in Kruger using my 24-70..better IQ anyway..less atmosphere to shoot through...just a habit and a throwback from my hunting days
    Kruger Park 13 Nights Aug 2014 (Trip 110)
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    Operation 'Get a new Nikon Df Black Body Camera' is under way !!!

  11. #11
    john deakin
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Peter, if you go to CVR's latest images here on ODP you will see what lens he now uses in the exif supplied.

    You have your shooting style and preferences, let others have theirs without your continual critisism of their shooting styles which just happen to differ from yours. As I said before, use the lens for the job to get your desired effect whatever that may be, we are all different in what we want to capture in our images.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    I went for the 600mm and have sometimes wanted it to be longer but never shorter. The 1.4 converter works well on the lens. With regard to minimum focussing distance I use an extention tube, it is a bit of a hassle and you lose light, but it works a treat. The 500mm lenses tend to weigh less but I prefer the 100mm of reach. In any case, unless you up the ISO drastically, the lens should be supported. I must admit that it is difficult to carry the lens in the field. There are several lenses in both the Canon and Nikon ranges that fill the gap below 500mm very well and they are slightly cheaper. Something that is not taken into account is the effect of the presence of the photographer on the animal/bird and its behaviour while being photographed. A longer reach allows the photographer to be further away and have less influence on the animal/bird's behaviour. We should all try to be non-intrusive photographers.

  13. #13
    Frequent Member Peter Betts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Looking at the Cvr article and the pic of the 500 I see Albert Froneman took the pic so it must be his as it was a joint article...Albert = 500 and Chris = 600..both brilliant lenses but my Med Aid is only hospital Plan and doesnt cover Biokenetics or Physio which I sorely needed after lugging a piddly 200-400 anda heavy Hedrus beanbag around the car..jeepers with a 600 I would be in deep physical trouble but folks like Luc Hosten and Rosa etc use the big F4 glass like a 105 macro! Maybe when I am big and strong and ripped 6 pack I will get a big prime...yeah that 600 was impressive at the expo and being human I will probably enjoy the joe public chirps in Kruger if I had one
    Kruger Park 13 Nights Aug 2014 (Trip 110)
    4 nights Safari Tent Lower Sabie , 9 nights Tent Tamboti Tented Camp



    Operation 'Get a new Nikon Df Black Body Camera' is under way !!!

  14. #14
    Frequent Member Jola's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Personally, I like the 500/4VR with a D300, mainly for portability, but I also use it with a TC1.4X when I need more reach. I think that I will always use DX for the smaller stuff, although a D700x with a 10Mp DX crop would also do it.

    If funds were unlimited (and if Nikon made it !), I would like to have something like Canon's 800/5.6L, in addition to the 500/4, not instead off.

    I now have a D300s, so it will be interesting to do some movie clips with the 500/4VR (+ TC1.4X).

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    For a long lens on FX, 500 is a little short. Sold my 500 for a 600 and am happy I did.

    The way I see it is that the revolution in "bird photography" came with the Canon 1DMII with a 500 lens. Effective focal lenght of this combo is 650mm. Or with 1.4 = 910mm. That is more or less what you get using a 600 on FX.

    But if birds are not your thing, 500 have advantages in different genre's. There is no 1 lens that is best at all.

    Chris van Rooyen and Albert Froneman's equipment is owned by their business. They have a 600 and 500 (and a trukload of other lenses too).

    On DX a 600 naked also gives better results than 500+1.4 IMHO. AF is just better without TC's.

  16. #16
    Frequent Member Larry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    While we are comparing the size of our lenses...

    Has anybody tried the Sigma 200-500 f2.8?(400-1000 f5.6)

    Looks interesting on paper, but don't know of anybody who has actually even seen one.
    Larry

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    I wouldn't have to control my anger if people learned how to control their stupid.

  17. #17
    Frequent Member jaykay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry View Post
    While we are comparing the size of our lenses...

    Has anybody tried the Sigma 200-500 f2.8?(400-1000 f5.6)

    Looks interesting on paper, but don't know of anybody who has actually even seen one.
    It is used by the yeti and bigfoot to photograph humans in their natural habitat. Hence the green camo colour.

    NIKON
    D200, D3, D4, D7100 NIKKOR DX 18-70, 18-200VR, 35 f/1.8 NIKKOR FX 14-24, 24-120 f/4, 50 f/1.8, 70-300VR, AF-S 80-400VR, 500VR FUJIFILM X100s SIGMA 50-500 OS

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    @Larry
    You have probably seen this photo before doing the rounds via email. If not, scroll down. I was amazed when I first saw a photo of it mounted on a camera...
    http://www.juzaphoto.com/eng/biography.htm

  19. #19
    Frequent Member Larry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Holy &%$#.....

    I thought hand holding my Bigma was a lot of work.

    Oh well, back to the gym!
    Larry

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    I wouldn't have to control my anger if people learned how to control their stupid.

  20. #20
    Frequent Member Peter Betts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nikon 500mm vs 600mm

    Nota matter of critisizing other people's shooting style...in fact I am fascinated by the variety of rigs and the effects created by various lens/camera combos and more so by the individuals flare using those combos...If I could go out today and buy a D3 and 600 VR there is no way I would come close to getting wave shots like Luc or Zebra fighting like Rosa. My shooting style is primarily influenced by funding and a far second by my natural ability in calming animals and thus letting them accept me right into their space...It doesnt matter if it is a lion or someone's viscious Rottweiler...my dog training experience from defence force days to this day and a lifetime guiding allow me to connect. I was truly sad going into Kruger without my ultra sharp and trusty workhorse the 70-200 and had to take my 24-70 instead. this lens was only used for people and weddings and landscapes but I would not have been able to shoot one handed at walking lions as I steered with the other hand and I finally said hello to the brute 200-400 and we are quite good friends now apart from its inability to go below 200 which I continually need for the situations I get myself in....so no critisism at all as they say if the cap fits.... but even if it does ...dont fret
    If my ship comes in then I will geta 600 for sure and then you will see some interesting pics but I will have to back off toa far 5 metres to focus...I hate being aloof from my subject but then maybe I would be able to get more Sunbirds and Batis birds in camp
    Kruger Park 13 Nights Aug 2014 (Trip 110)
    4 nights Safari Tent Lower Sabie , 9 nights Tent Tamboti Tented Camp



    Operation 'Get a new Nikon Df Black Body Camera' is under way !!!

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