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Old Thursday 15th September 2016, 12:30   #1
Chosun Juan
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Question Which Super Telephoto ??

Better photos needed! Super telephoto Prime on the horizon?

Serious thread. Seriously long post. Seriously impossible dilemmas. Help much appreciated. A lot of this will ultimately come down to trying various options, but I am really looking for your first hand experience and methods from those using the big fast Primes - 300/400 2.8's, 500/600 4's, even the 800 5.6, with and without all manner of TC's .....

Budget is not a factor, but value for money, results, usability, and enjoyment is. Time is something that cannot be replaced.

Not wed to systems or formats or methods, but do more freehand portraits and BIF shots, though need to move to better methods of support, and remote triggering etc on occasion.

The dilemma will be that I enjoy the walkabout experience and do lots of that, but also stake out some fixed locations - some easy to get to, some needing SAS levels of stealth and fitness and preferably a team of porters! Some where the current length is suitable, some where it is woefully inadequate.

General focal length runs ~ 800 - 1200mm, 35mm eq. , though in some instances where it is impossible to get closer (across gorges/escarpments/ islands/wrecks etc) when shooting at ~125m - 150m+ (~4 - 500ft) , the subject currently only fills the single central focal square ..... so I could easily stand to be at 3x or more of my current max reach .....

Into Nikon for 1 other lens (Tokina 12-28mm f4) , and would probably stick with that if changing camps.

Currently shooting a Nikon D7100 and Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 as a walkabout set up using a Black Rapid Sling attached via the tripod foot. I mostly shoot in 1.3x crop to give me extra reach, and cut down on file sizes of extraneous sky etc (gives me max ~1150mm 35mm eq. with 15.4MP) - it also gives an extra 1fps.

I like the portability - I really like walking around, and can carry this literally all day long. I like the low (2.7kg all up) weight/cost, and ease of transportation. I like the zoom versatility. Extended length of the lens @600mm is 338mm long + another 100mm for the hood which is always attached. Balance point is about ~170mm from the back of the bare lens.

I don't like the miserly buffer of the D7100, and even the 7fps top speed is limiting for a wide variety of different wing positions. The lens is not razor sharp wide open at 600mm, though reasonable results can be had if distances are close - I try to stop down to f8 where possible. Check my gallery for examples, though I have a lot sharper stuff to process and upload. The f6.3 widest aperture is a limitation even with our great light out here. This slows AF particularly as afternoon goes on, and especially when golden hour arrives. Lots of times I'm shooting too slow, with too high an ISO. I find the size of the D7100 just a bit dinky for a proper hand filling grip. I reckon iq is okay up to about ISO400, with some flukey stuff beyond that ....

A friend has the Canon 300 2.8 II + 2×TC III on a 7D II. I know I can handle this handheld and as a walk around rig. It is sharper and faster than my setup. However, Nikon in its infinite heel dragging wisdom hasn't seen fit to enlighten it's 300 2.8 yet, so I won't go for it's own porker. I have briefly tried the old (heavy 4.6kg) 400 2.8 with converters on a D800 - I found it so heavy handheld that I was flat out holding the focus point on the distant subject birds - mostly just firing away as the point wobbled past them. On this basis, I have serious doubts about handling the 800 5.6.

I know that a Pro DX body + Supertele Prime (+TC's) won't solve the ISO issues - I'm often at ISO 2500 when @ f8, and the loss of detail means nothing more than record shots. However for the same reason as the 800 5.6 and being chronically reach limited at important times - initially I'm not thinking FX.

I am thinking of an upgrade to the long awaited D500, so the first lot of questions concern that:-
1. Am I just wasting time and money sticking a 5 or 600 f4 on this in terms of image quality?
2. Will the 10fps give me all the wing positions I need, or will nothing less than 14fps+ do?
3. I like the 1.3x in-camera crop, it gives me a border to frame by, and if I set up a button to switch, then gives me something of a rudimentary ability to zoom back out. I also think the extra 1.5x crop with video (35mm eq. = 2.25×) may work in my favour too.
4. Is there an App or something for an Android smartphone (Samsung Note 3 or above) to remotely trigger the shutter?
5. Can it AF with the Centre Point beyond f8? (ie. f9.5 say?) Any difference between Stills and Video in regard to this?
6. From what I have seen on dpreview with their image quality tool, it looks like the D500 is outgunned for iq by the 7D II ? (at least on my HD res phone screen) - this would seem contrary to reports, with the D7200 sensor widely regarded as leading that class, and the D500 certainly no worse, and maybe just edging it above ISO 1600. I have read that the D500 even outdoes the D5 up to ISO2000. What do folks using them reckon, D500 or 7D II ? https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/ima...35729514554169

Now down to the lens choices .... the equations:-
500mm f4, + w/ 1.4× , 1.7× , or 2× TC's
400mm f2.8 w/ 2× TC
600mm f4, +w/ 2× TC

Does anyone stack 2 TC'S together on the 400 or 600?

I don't know how I would go hand holding these, I'm thinking the 500 at 3.1kg might be doable (how is this for length and balance point?), but am unsure about the 600 at 3.8kg ..... what are the balance points as measured from the rear of the lens? In terms of focal lengths, the bare 600 would be very similar to my max reach now (900 - 1170mm) - though I wonder if I could handle it's weight and physically long length walking around. The last thing I want is for the rig to sit in the cupboard because it's too beastly.

I'm very interested to know - how do folks that have one of these 3 setups use them?
*Transport
*Walking around /moving
*How is the balance to handhold?
*How do they 'point' for BIF?
*What length of time at a stretch (seconds or minutes)?
*How long a day is typical - does fatigue rapidly set in?
*How far do you normally venture?
*Handheld, Braced, Sling, Monopod, Tripod?
*What % of the time are these Pro lenses the answer, or do duds feature prominently because of the unwieldliness?
*What shutter speeds/apertures/ISO's are you shooting at?

Can anyone link some MTF charts with converters on?

Any other comments, advice? All genuine input gratefully accepted. Many thanks


Chosun
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Old Thursday 15th September 2016, 20:07   #2
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Have you checked this site?

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R....aspx?Lens=278

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...s-Reviews.aspx

You can compare lenses here.
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Old Friday 16th September 2016, 06:06   #3
Chosun Juan
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Thanks for the reply Binoseeker! That site is useful for the Canon stuff, though less so for Nikon - I couldn't get the links to the D5 review to work, and the new FL lenses are not on the comparison tool.

I'm still very interested in those that are actually using the Super Primes (especially the 400/2.8 and the 600/4) either on FX or DX, and how they go about it. There must be plenty of folks on here shooting those rigs. Any answers to the questions below would be great

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Now down to the lens choices .... the equations:-
500mm f4, + w/ 1.4× , 1.7× , or 2× TC's
400mm f2.8 w/ 2× TC
600mm f4, +w/ 2× TC

Does anyone stack 2 TC'S together on the 400 or 600?

I don't know how I would go hand holding these, I'm thinking the 500 at 3.1kg might be doable (how is this for length and balance point?), but am unsure about the 600 at 3.8kg ..... what are the balance points as measured from the rear of the lens? In terms of focal lengths, the bare 600 would be very similar to my max reach now (900 - 1170mm) - though I wonder if I could handle it's weight and physically long length walking around. The last thing I want is for the rig to sit in the cupboard because it's too beastly.

I'm very interested to know - how do folks that have one of these 3 setups use them?
*Transport
*Walking around /moving
*How is the balance to handhold?
*How do they 'point' for BIF?
*What length of time at a stretch (seconds or minutes)?
*How long a day is typical - does fatigue rapidly set in?
*How far do you normally venture?
*Handheld, Braced, Sling, Monopod, Tripod?
*What % of the time are these Pro lenses the answer, or do duds feature prominently because of the unwieldliness?
*What shutter speeds/apertures/ISO's are you shooting at?

Can anyone link some MTF charts with converters on?

Any other comments, advice? All genuine input gratefully accepted. Many thanks
Also, are there long distance solutions from left field to use as an adjunct?, like using a 1" format camera or smaller? (Nikon, Sony, Pentax, etc)? that can be adapted to AF? I'm thinking for rare use on inaccessible long distance nest and roost sites on a solid tripod ....

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Old Sunday 18th September 2016, 21:33   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
2. Will the 10fps give me all the wing positions I need, or will nothing less than 14fps+ do?
[...]
Chosun
Thomas Stirr has written an interesting article titled "Rhythmic Motion and Frame Rate" arguing that the Nikon V2's usual speed of 15 fps often isn't best to get all the wing positions. So he tried 30fps and 60fps, with excellent results.
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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 08:56   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HermitIbis View Post
Thomas Stirr has written an interesting article titled "Rhythmic Motion and Frame Rate" arguing that the Nikon V2's usual speed of 15 fps often isn't best to get all the wing positions. So he tried 30fps and 60fps, with excellent results.
Thanks thats interesting reading
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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 16:38   #6
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I have the Nikon 500 f4 (G version). I can confirm it's a very versatile piece of kit. I'm no giant and I can use it handheld BUT, it is better on a tripod. Pretty good with a 1.4x. Okay with 1.7x in excellent light. I would not recommend the 2x (version iii) if your support system is rock solid and your technique likewise.

By the way, the Nikon porker as you call it (300 f2.8) is a stunning lens and works fine with all converters (obviously with some degradation of image quality). I can carry this around all day but, I understand a replacement is in the works.

Best wishes
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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 17:02   #7
Chosun Juan
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Arrow

Quote:
Originally Posted by HermitIbis View Post
Thomas Stirr has written an interesting article titled "Rhythmic Motion and Frame Rate" arguing that the Nikon V2's usual speed of 15 fps often isn't best to get all the wing positions. So he tried 30fps and 60fps, with excellent results.
Thanks Hermit, that's a very useful practical demonstration, and the type of thing I was looking for A friend's 7D II shows quite a few different wing positions on most birds that I don't usually get. As Thomas showed, it's all about the frequency of wing beats vs fps .... If one is a neat (integer) multiple of the other, then it just results in lots of periodic duplication, so perhaps 10fps will work out better than 14 or 15 fps often.


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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 17:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Blues View Post
I have the Nikon 500 f4 (G version). I can confirm it's a very versatile piece of kit. I'm no giant and I can use it handheld BUT, it is better on a tripod. Pretty good with a 1.4x. Okay with 1.7x in excellent light. I would not recommend the 2x (version iii) if your support system is rock solid and your technique likewise.

By the way, the Nikon porker as you call it (300 f2.8) is a stunning lens and works fine with all converters (obviously with some degradation of image quality). I can carry this around all day but, I understand a replacement is in the works.

Best wishes
Many thanks for the input Colin, much appreciated, and exactly what I am looking for That's encouraging as the 500G is about the weight of the 400/2.8 and 600/4 FL's. Does the 500 w/1.7×TC give you 850/6.3 or is the maximum open aperture slightly more than that? I think the 500 FL makes the most sense weight wise, but I'm starting to really think for me it would be too many other compromises (mfd, and reach). I have been crunching numbers, and reading reports, and I think I'm starting to lean more toward the 400+1.7×TC for 680/4.8, or the 600/4 .....

Btw Colin, I only described the 300/2.8 as a 'porker' since it is about half a kg heavier than the Canon equivalent. It has been due an upgrade with FL glass, and coming for ages, yet I still haven't heard any concrete timelines. There are also newer rumours of Diffractive Optics 400/4 'PF' , and even a Canon 600/4 DO, yet nothing concrete for those either .....

The 400/2.8 gives me the option of a blazingly fast lens for shooting at wildlife parks etc, much closer mfd, and with TC's a handy step up. It would be more reach limited if I ever went FX though. I would like to hear more about AF speed with the 1.7x though, particularly on the D500 (or D7200) and iq, and importantly handling and methods. The mfd of this lens is appealing, but then it is ultimately reach limited compared to the 600/4. I have seen tests where the big 800/5.6 'smokes' the 400/2.8+2×TC for iq .... and the oft quoted wisdom is not to purchase big lens and then permanently use TC's to get to your desired focal length .....

The native 600/4, I would shoot with bare quite often, but the large mfd does concern me .... pretty much little 'geewhizzits' dictate terms when you happen across them, and Murphys Law would have it that if I opted for the 600 they'd make their way to my feet! I also wonder about the 'pointability' for BIF and whether it's realistic to hand hold this lens. Plenty of folk in the gallerys say shooting is tripod based, but I don't think too many brace, use a sling, or monopod ??? I would really like to hear the "how" of this lens' usage .....

Also, does anyone stack TC's, and will f9.5 report as f8 and thus still AF on the centre point ?

I would probably shoot nearly as many birds/flowers opportunistically on my way to spots, as I would specifically targeting once I get there .... I would like to hear feedback of anyone shooting one of the big 3, and hear exactly how they go about it /move about with it ???? ......

TIA


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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 17:56   #9
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In practical terms I do not use any of those beasts that you mention. I write to tell about someone I saw while in Ecuador. He used a big tripod, a sigma 300-800 and a second smaller lens, and flash on most forest shots, and carried two cameras. The important thing is that his big lens took up an entire backpack, while the rest took up a second. Therefore, for your expected use, will the setup you consider be portable enough?

Secondly, for the most extreme reaches you would like to have, I do not think anything can beat a digiscoping setup. These most definitely suffer in other says, but do consider that as a complement to your current setup.

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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 18:16   #10
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Thanks Niels , yes that is the big concern. I'm hoping to pick up some tips /novel solutions /encouragement from those that have been wrestling with the dilemma in practice ..... it is meant to be enjoyable after all.

The digiscoping setup maybe an option as a specialized nest observation and recording tool. Certainly, the Sony RX10 III and Nikon J5 1" sensors seem to punch above their weight - perhaps someone is somehow employing them? A lot of this has been spurred on after witnessing Peregrine mating (photo in my gallery), and capturing the exact moment of death in a case of siblicide (will post that in a couple of weeks) ....

Though with the male working OT to feed mama and the brood, lots of good BIF opportunity at that time too.

Thanks. Keep the input coming folks


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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 18:23   #11
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Chosun, I think the math gives you 850/6.8 for 500 with 1.7x (my viewfinder says 6.7). You would want to stop down to f8 IMHO. If you can only buy 1 lens, I think the 500 is a great all rounder but for reach the 600 obviously wins.

If you check out Photography Life on the web, Nasim Mansurov did a nice article on TC. Robert Anderson on the same site used to handhold the old 600 and now does like wise with the 800. He is one great photographer.

all the Nikon Telephotos are stellar.

Good luck

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Old Monday 19th September 2016, 19:07   #12
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Colin, thanks, I appreciate your replies

I don't seem to be able to access any of the Photography Life website over the last several days for some reason, but have seen some handy comparisons there previously.

There are some reviews out there,
https://www.truetoad.com/Reviews/Art...D-VR-FL-Review
https://www.truetoad.com/Reviews/Art...ikon-400mm-f28
Etc.

But what I really would like to hear is how folks in practice, get around with their set up, use it, and rate it's handling, and do they find enough time actually shooting (as opposed to transporting /setting up), and how is the portability /access to more rugged /distant locations, or does the heft gradually limit them?


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Old Saturday 8th October 2016, 13:03   #13
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500mm f4 P

Hi, I used a Nikkor 500mm f 4 P manual focus lens for over ten years.It was brilliant on digital bodies,quite easy to handhold and having the chip built in worked fine with all Nikon metering.If you are comfortable with manual focus its a great lens that works fine on teleconverters,the used prices are pretty reasonable too.
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Old Monday 14th November 2016, 05:45   #14
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My most used lens/camera combo is the 600 F4 II with 2X on the Canon 1DX2. I carry this around on a black rapid strap and shoot hand held most of the time. This works really well for me. The new 1DX2 has enhanced focusing abilities so I can use all points if I want on this f8 setup. I recently tried this with Short-eared Owls in flight and it worked amazingly well. Because of the mass this is not the best for faster smaller flying birds.

My default ISO is 1600 and I no noticed almost no noise even when cropping a fair bit. For birds in flight my preferred shutter speed is 1/2500 or 1/3200. I can handhold this combo down the about 1/200 or so but they will certainly no all be sharp both from my own wobble and birds jitteriness.

I don't like to walk more than about 4 miles with this setup over 1 shoulder. I'm usually fine for 4-6 hours at a time with this setup. I also typically carry a second camera on my chest with a cotton carrier with the 100-400 zoom. This gives me extreme versatilities but it comes at a cost of taking a lot of effort. I don't expect my setup would work for many folks. Having a strength sport background is certainly a plus.

I do think the lighter weight 500mm f4 is workable handheld for a lot of folks. In the Nikon setup I would thinking the D500 with 500mm f4 and the 1.4 extender would be an outstanding setup.

Here's an example of one of my recent Short-ears with this 1200mm setup: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5760/3...43cc3d46_o.jpgShort-eared Owl by SeattleBirdMan, on Flickr
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Old Saturday 24th December 2016, 23:18   #15
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I use an old manual Nikon 600/4 AIS lens with 1.4x TC on either Canon 1Ds Mk2 or Canon 70D. I bought the lens used for about 1/4 the price it would have cost for the new equivalent lens about 15 years ago. Perfectly good glass but the aperture felt loose/worn out. Tack sharp wide open and still going strong today, although the aperture ring still feels loose!

I used to go on short (5 or 6km) hikes with it, but together with all the other kit (Gitzo 1325 tripod, full size Wimberly gimbal head, a couple of other lenses, etc), it's not a lightweight setup, and I'm not sure I'd want to go anything other than a very short distance over relatively flat terrain with it now that I'm no longer quite as young/fit as I used to be. Staying within a few feet of the car is much more appealing for me now.

I remember seeing some impressive (very usable) shots taken with the Canon 500/4 L using 2 or 3 stacked 2x TCs 10+ years back. That may be worth looking into if you want extreme reach without having to spend extreme amounts of money.

I've often wished for a few hundred more mm than the 600mm but not really sure how practical that would be. I doubt I'd want to carry anything larger than a 600/4 any serious distance.
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Old Sunday 25th December 2016, 10:07   #16
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It is possible to choose Nikon and other lenses to compare too:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=0&APIComp=0
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Old Sunday 6th August 2017, 17:07   #17
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Thanks to Geoff, BodyResults, Leo, and Binoseeker again, as well as everyone who has replied previously - your input is greatly appreciated

Frustratingly, I was so busy that I missed last season, and might not get much time this year either On top of that I've injured my good! shoulder, so it will be 3-6 months before I can seriously contemplate lugging around and hand holding beastly setups .....
Oz Bird Fair is on in November so hopefully I can get to try out lots of new rigs then (who knows, the lighter 300 f2.8 FL might even be out by then - hoping ...... :)

Based on feedback, and whatever else I can get my hands on to read/try, and the great amount of constant thought I seem to give the subject, I'm beginning to think that my dilemma has no, one, single solution.

Best case the 600f4 with 2x TC on the D500 in video mode (2.25x crop) gives me 2700mm 35mm equivalent. Looking at the ~150m distances involved I could even stand to go 50-100% above this ~5000mm !!. As this would of necessity be manual focus and time delay triggering on a tripod, with mirror locked up, I am even wondering about the feasibility of getting clear shots of high movement behaviour like a mother feeding chick's etc ......

I'm thinking two rigs are in order - some sort of digiscope or Astroscope setup with at D500, or even larger crop factor body (such as an MFT, 1", or even high quality smartphone) for the mega distance stuff, and then another one that consists of as much walk around reach as I can handle (at the moment 1kg of camera body + 2.7kg of lens and TC ..... though it is encouraging that some of you walk around with big FF cameras + 600f4's ! :)

Thus, I have held off getting a D500 body just yet, and the arrival of the new FF D850 makes this even more confusing ..... http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=348601

There are some fascinating lens options on the horizon, such as the Canon 600 f4 DO:-
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=317888

I can only hope that Nikon comes out with something to compete, and soon! and/or lightens up their big primes further, as Canon is working on. Who knows - perhaps Nikon will surprise us with these in concert with a new high performance FF mirrorless system. Certainly no-one (not even Sony) has implemented large sensor mirrorless yet to take advantage of reductions possible in the lens form factor with a suitable body/mount design. Such weight and size reduction gains could be further magnified by using curved sensors - but I'll do my head in if I allow such far off considerations to enter the equation too !!!



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Old Sunday 6th August 2017, 19:25   #18
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CJ: If you really want to do extreme tele-photography, why not get a Nikon 800/5.6 FL. You get the 1.25x TC for free when you buy one!
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Old Wednesday 9th August 2017, 15:26   #19
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Vespo, all,

The 800/5.6 is certainly an awesome lens with a killer MTF chart! Good review and analysis here: https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-800mm-f5-6-vr though at a minimum of 4.6kg it's going to be a strictly dedicated setup, and the concern is that even then reach will not be enough .....

I'm not sure I want to drop ~20K on such a narrow focus setup that is still compromised. The 1200/5.6 Canon is definitely out of the question!

The problem is the distances involved ~120-150m. We do get some nice "seeing" at times, but it's the magnification needed, and the lack of light for a lot of the time. Full frame high ISO performance is really required, otherwise I'm limited to under an hour in the morning and late arvo - and that's just on angles and needs the clouds to cooperate.

I said initially that it's a seriously impossible dilemma, and it pretty much is ...... ~4-5000mm (or 80-100x) is a tough ask, I suppose about 3500mm (~70x) would be serviceable, but with the advent of the D850 (provided it does 10fps), I think I'm more headed for 2 rigs ....

I'm sure in half a dozen years I'll have a 150MP+ Full Frame mirrorless capable of 8K video, and, with an 800mm diffractive optics lens with the whole lot under 3.2kg (7lb) - 3.6kg (8lb) ....

Until then, I'm left with current real world options, and unable to carry any more weight than that as a walk around, for at least 6 months, which means about 1200mm equivalent which is where I'm at now ....

Best reach with slightly heavier options are:
D500 + 600f4 +2×TC = 2340mm eq/f8 for photos, 2700mm eq/f8 for video

My friend uses full manual, mirror locked up, and delayed time release shutter on a very solid carbon fibre tripod with his Canon rig for maximum clarity ......... how would the Nikon setup I mentioned be best used in practice for long distance shots? Anyone doing this?


Chosun

Last edited by Chosun Juan : Wednesday 9th August 2017 at 23:03.
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