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Z6/7 vs D500 vs D850

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Old Wednesday 10th April 2019, 23:54   #1
shrek48
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Z6/7 vs D500 vs D850

Hi all,
Any help thoughts would be appreciated...
What I need is faster AF as my eyes are not what they used to be so maybe looking to change my D7200 for one of the above mentioned.

I am not great at tech stuff so hence my post here looking for advice on which way to go.
Also any reviews on the new PF 500 prime please.
My Idea was to get something easier to hand hold and fast to focus like a D500 and a pf 500 prime. But as I am looking now the z range and the 850 look good too so I need to balance cost, what I want from mty set up against how much birding I do.
Thoughts please anybody!
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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 01:53   #2
marcsantacurz
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I've used the Z7, d850, and d500. I also have the 500PF.

Z7: It is not for action. It will take great portraits, but the tracking and AF is not up to moving birds. It also has a noticeably slower power-up from standby time that causes me to miss shots. It is not instant like the d500 or d850. And while its powering up, the viewfinder is black, unlike the DSLRs. It can take wonderful shots, especially with a 1.4x TC, because it focuses on the sensor not through a prism, so you don't need to futz with AF Fine-tune like on a DSLR. I'd wait for the next version, or maybe a software update to help the AF tracking.

d500: Excellent camera, excellent focusing and tracking. Shoots super fast. I have not used it with the 500 PF, but I expect it is wonderful. That would give you a 750mm f/5.6 equivalent and with reasonable cropping you should be very happy. You might need to futz with AF fine-tune a little, but if not using the TC, you might not need it. The autofocus points cover the full width of the viewfinder, but at f/5.6 you might be limited to fewer cross type.

d850: This is what I shoot now. I sold my d500. I like the ability to shoot full frame and I can still crop down to DX with acceptable megapixels. The AF is great and with the battery grip and EN-EL18 battery it shoots at 9 FPS and the battery lasts almost forever. But its a fair bit more weight and cost. If your main focus is birds or wildlife, the d500 is probably your best bet. I had owned the d750 and d500, one for landscape & portraits & such, and one for action & wildlife. I sold both and got the d850. It does both for me well enough.

The d850 and d500 with AF-S and AF-P lenses slower than f/4 will only have 45 cross type sensors in the middle. With a 1.4eIII plus an f/5.6 lens, you only get a total of 15 focus point (9 selectable) with 5 cross-type sensors, basically a cross in the middle of the viewfinder. I think the Z7 will use all its focus points with any speed lens or TC combo, but I'm not 100% positive on that.

I need to experiment with this more, but the reduction in focus points plus the loss of 3d tracking (any lens + TC combo over f/5.6 loses 3d tracking), the Tamron/Sigma 150-600 might end up still being a better lens than the 500PF + 1.4TC. The 150-600 will still have the 45 cross sensors (basically a column in the middle of the viewfinder).

500 PF: I have been shooting it with the 1.4xTC on the Z7 for perching birds. It's awesome. On the d850, it was not as awesome, but I've not spent the time to properly AF fine-tune it. I am not wild about the 500 f/5.6 and 750 f/8 minimum f-stops, but the weight reduction even from the Tamron 150-600 G2 is really noticeable.

I've been shooting great horned owls at sunset with it on the Z7. Pushing ISOs like 3,200 - 14,400 frequently. As I am not cropping much, it actually comes out pretty well. You can look at the last 2 shots in my gallery.

I will be shooting with the d850 + 500PF more this week.

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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 09:01   #3
shrek48
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Marc, thanks for that very interesting reply, lots of info and a great guide for me. I am a point and shoot man at perched birds rather than in flight, so knowing that and reading your reply I think really the D500 is probably best for me.
I did like the green display for focusing on the z6 I tried from a friend the other day which got me to thinking about all this stuff. As blurred shots are my nemesis, age, shake, ill health, eyes getting older all factors in the focus issues.
The other issue is this is just a hobby for me and I do not bird all that often but love it when I do so want a reasonable set up to give me the best chance of success.
I currently have a D7200 (6 months old) and a G1 150-600 Tamron and I am finding zooming in and out and focusing are losing me shots and frustrating me to hell and back, I want a slightly lighter faster camera set up so I can point and shoot also when on a tripod.

Your pics were awesome by the way, many thanks for the help so far.
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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 17:58   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shrek48 View Post
Marc, thanks for that very interesting reply, lots of info and a great guide for me. I am a point and shoot man at perched birds rather than in flight, so knowing that and reading your reply I think really the D500 is probably best for me.
I did like the green display for focusing on the z6 I tried from a friend the other day which got me to thinking about all this stuff. As blurred shots are my nemesis, age, shake, ill health, eyes getting older all factors in the focus issues.
The other issue is this is just a hobby for me and I do not bird all that often but love it when I do so want a reasonable set up to give me the best chance of success.
I currently have a D7200 (6 months old) and a G1 150-600 Tamron and I am finding zooming in and out and focusing are losing me shots and frustrating me to hell and back, I want a slightly lighter faster camera set up so I can point and shoot also when on a tripod.

Your pics were awesome by the way, many thanks for the help so far.
Thank you.

You might also think about the d7500. It is basically a d500 in the d7200 form factor. It also has the much easier to use U1/U2 settings rather than the cumbersome memory banks of the d500 and d850. The d7500 is the same sensor and processor as the d500. It shoots a tad bit slower at 8 FPS vs 10 FPS for the d500. It is also much lighter than the d500 (both in hand and in pocket). It does lose the aperture feeler, so it won't meter with old manual focus lenses, it only has 1 card slot.

I have the G2 Tamron and it is a wonderful lens given enough light. I have not compared it to the G1, but my understanding is it's a good upgrade.

If size and weight are an issue, I think a good solution is the d7500 + 500PF or 300PF (with 1.4x TC). Or the Z6 with those lenses. The Z6 will take great pictures of perched birds, plus you get all the "live view" focusing features in the EVF like focus peaking and zoomed in views. The Z series does ok for things in motion, but just not as good as the d7500/d500/d850 would. If you shoot action, you would notice it, but if you don't do that much it might not be the determining factor for you.

Your current kit is d7200 (765g) + Tammy 150-600g1 (1900g) = 2665g. The d7500 (714g) + 500mm PF (1463g) = 2177g. Half a kilo is not a joke, that's a serious savings. With the 300mm it's 714g + 754g = 1468g, and if you ad the 1.4x TC (190g), it's 1658g. A Z6 w/ 300mm + 1.4TC is 1619g. Those are over 1kg lighter, almost 1/2 the weight of your current kit, but you do lose some reach (900mm current kit vs 750mm with 500mm vs 630mm with 300mm+TC). You will get better IQ with the newer sensors, especially at higher ISO, so you could crop a bit more. You can figure out the other combinations.

The d500 is 860g (146g heavier than d7500). The d850 is 1005g (291g heavier). The Z6 is the lightest of the lot at 675g (39g lighter than d7500).

On the Z6 (probably a better choice than the Z7 for you), you do get focus peaking like on other mirrorless, which can make fine-tuning the focus easier. You also get focus peaking through the EVF. When shooting a burst at 12 FPS on the Z6, it will lock exposure between shots unlike the DSLRs. You only get 5.5 FPS with auto exposure and auto focus.

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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 05:44   #5
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Thanks again Marc, great info, great reading. ;ots to think about.
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 06:09   #6
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I don't think you need faster focusing than the D7200 delivers for perched birds,it even does well for birds in flight.I used a D7200 with the Nikon 200-500 lens and never had any focusing issues.....perhaps you should look at lens rarther than camera performance before you spend your money.....maybe the Tamrons focusing isn't up to much?
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 07:00   #7
Chosun Juan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil G. View Post
I don't think you need faster focusing than the D7200 delivers for perched birds,it even does well for birds in flight.I used a D7200 with the Nikon 200-500 lens and never had any focusing issues.....perhaps you should look at lens rarther than camera performance before you spend your money.....maybe the Tamrons focusing isn't up to much?
Ditto. I don't think the D7500 will really improve any significant amount on that in practice.

The D7200 focuses pretty well in good light with the Tammy 150-600 G2 (can be a bit slow to rack through the entire range from mfd to infinity - but the range limiters help here). Apparently faster than the Nikon 200-500 f5.6.

I have even read recently that the PF500 takes it's time racking on the D500. Short of an f2.8 lens on a D5 though, that's likely to be as good as it gets.

Out of the Z6/7 and the D500 and D850, the D500 would be the pick for AF. I was put off going for the D850, since it doesn't quite reach D500 AF levels of speed or accuracy from what I have read, and even though I like the ergonomics of the larger D500 body, by the time you add the battery grip to the D850 (to get 9fps) it comes out at something like D5 weight anyway which is more than I want to deal with ....




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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 15:06   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil G. View Post
I don't think you need faster focusing than the D7200 delivers for perched birds,it even does well for birds in flight.I used a D7200 with the Nikon 200-500 lens and never had any focusing issues.....perhaps you should look at lens rarther than camera performance before you spend your money.....maybe the Tamrons focusing isn't up to much?
I agree with the comments here that the D7200 is capable of very good focusing, even for birds in flight (BIF). I use mine with a Tamron 100-400 lens and I find it a nice combination which works well, is versatile and is relatively easy to handhold.
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Old Sunday 14th April 2019, 05:18   #9
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Thanks all, I have found my 150-600 has an issue and is now in for repair, so what I thought was me or the camera turns out it was neither, it is the lens. Sp I will try again when it is back from repair, somehow the connecting ring had worked loose, bloody odd as I never remove it from the camera body ......
Will look for a nice used prime lens I think and keep the 7200 for now.
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Old Sunday 14th April 2019, 06:52   #10
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Thanks all, I have found my 150-600 has an issue and is now in for repair, so what I thought was me or the camera turns out it was neither, it is the lens. Sp I will try again when it is back from repair, somehow the connecting ring had worked loose, bloody odd as I never remove it from the camera body ......
Will look for a nice used prime lens I think and keep the 7200 for now.
Just my 2c, but I would tend to stick with the D7200 body for now (there may be a D500S in about 18 months) - no other APS-C touches it for low ISO resolution. I shoot mine in 1.3x crop mode to eek out an extra fps.

The G1 Tammy is a little behind the G2 (which is on par with the Nikon 200-500 IQ-wise - which is to say excellent, though with perhaps a bit snappier AF). The Sigma Sports are bricks, as is any 300mm f2.8 Nikon prime.

If you want better IQ and AF than the Tammy G2 then the only option at this point in time is the new Nikon PF 500 f5.6 (I have been waiting for the 600 version, but I'm starting to wonder ... !) , unless you are prepared to break both your back and your bank !




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Old Sunday 14th April 2019, 15:52   #11
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Originally Posted by shrek48 View Post
... I am a point and shoot man at perched birds rather than in flight, ...
... As blurred shots are my nemesis, age, shake, ill health, eyes getting older all factors in the focus issues.
I'm guessing from the above that maybe you do not use a tripod? That's ok of course; some people just can't or don't want to lug around a tripod. But if you don't use any support then you might think about adding a light tripod or at least a monopod. As good as VR / IS technology is, a tripod or monopod can still help a lot.

I'm sure we all can relate to frustration with "blurred shots." If you have not checked your D7200 for the need to fine tune the autofocus, I definitely suggest doing that. Look closely at your images and see if you consistently see that part of the image is in sharp focus but it seems to always be either in front of or behind the desired focus point. I found I needed to adjust both my D7200 when I had one and also my current D500.

I think you're getting good advice on keeping your D7200; it's a great camera. You might be able to pick up a D500 used for a bargain price if you are patient. A lot of people are switching to mirrorless or full frame systems. I'm not sure I would advise getting either the Z6 or Z7. The Z7 is probably the better camera for birds, but it is really expensive and the best bird images you get with a Z7 would not be that much better than the best images from your D7200.

However, especially shooting mostly perched birds, someday you might find that a mirrorless camera helps you with focus, because the viewfinder on a mirrorless camera allows you to magnify the focus point to make sure you are nailing focus exactly. They also have focus peaking which helps make the sharpest focus point easier to see in bright light or with bad eyes. Modern autofocus systems still sometimes miss, even when you "fine tune" them. With a mirrorless camera shooting perched birds, after using autofocus for a few shots, if the bird remains cooperative I like to use the magnify feature to zoom way in on the bird's head or the eye and sometimes manually focus. A tripod helps with that too.

Good luck!
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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 18:10   #12
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Originally Posted by marcsantacurz View Post
Z7: It is not for action. It will take great portraits, but the tracking and AF is not up to moving birds. It also has a noticeably slower power-up from standby time that causes me to miss shots. It is not instant like the d500 or d850. And while its powering up, the viewfinder is black, unlike the DSLRs. It can take wonderful shots, especially with a 1.4x TC, because it focuses on the sensor not through a prism, so you don't need to futz with AF Fine-tune like on a DSLR. I'd wait for the next version, or maybe a software update to help the AF tracking.

Marc
I have the Z6, D850, D500 and D7200. I have more than 1500 bird photographs with the Z6 including plenty of bird in flight images.

The Z6/Z7 will track relatively well, but you need to throw out the ideas that your settings for a D850 will work on a Z6/7. The viewfinder will power up just fine, but you need to use the camera in a different manner. The Z6/Z7 does use Phase Detect AF for all AF-C area modes, and focus is relatively fast, but you still may need AF fine tuning either to shift your desired focus or to adjust for lens and mount specific issues that affect Phase Detect focus.

As far as AF is concerned, the Dynamic AF of the Z6/7 is similar to the D500/D850 in that it requires you to quickly return the AF point to the subject. If you can't return the AF point to the subject, you need to use Wide AF mode. Wide is equivalent to Group on the D850/D500, where the camera uses a group of AF sensor as one sensor. There are two options - Wide Small and Wide Large - roughly the same as the way Group covers the sensor on the D850 and D500 respectively. With Wide or Group, the intent is to focus on the closest subject. That's a place where the Z6/Z7 does not do as well as the D500/D850 - especially with busy backgrounds. That issue needs to be corrected with software. I never use 3D tracking with any of these cameras for bird photography - it's got a different role such as for colorful subjects moving directly toward the camera.

The AF success rate or keeper rate for me on large birds in flight was around 75% with the Z6 compared to 90% with the D850 and 72% with the D810. With smaller birds that number gets much lower and is based on technique.

The EVF is fine at a high frame rate. If you have it set correctly, you have a slight strobe effect - similar to the shutter on a DSLR. It's different but I had no problem tracking a subject for 8-10 frames.

Shutter wake up is different. It takes about 0.8 seconds to activate the viewfinder. What I learned to do was touch the shutter when I saw a potential subject. By the time I could raise the camera to my eye, the camera was fully active with the EVF operating normally. When working a subject for long periods, I set my standby timer for a little longer, and wake the camera periodically.

The big advantage I have using a Z6/Z7 is with small birds. The smaller AF sensors allow better focus on small details or small subjects in wooded or shrubby areas. Tracking a small sparrow on the ground is much easier than with my D850. Dynamic AF does a remarkably good job of helping me stay on a hopping subject and avoiding focus on sticks and brush instead of the subject.

Another big advantage with small birds is the ability to zoom through the viewfinder. Because you have an EVF, you can zoom before or after making the image to view a magnified image. I program the Fn1 button to zoom, and set it to either 50% or 100% depending on the subject. In effect, the EVF works like electronic binoculars with a stabilized view. Using the Fn1 button to zoom, I can identify a small bird at a long distance and concurrently grab in image for review. I can also use the zoom to watch a subject and shoot with precise head position or a catchlight in the eye. On recent bird walks I was able to identify and photograph 1-2 additional subjects each time due to this capability.

My favorite lenses for bird photography are the Nikon 600 f/4 AFS VR, the 300 f/4 AFS, and the 200-500 - all with the FTZ. The first two work very nicely with the 1.4 teleconverter. The 300 f/4 is my walkaround birding lens using the TC14E II teleconverter. This combination takes an older lens without VR and has the benefit of IBIS. AF using the FTZ is the same as performance with the same lens on my D850. There is no real difference - and a possible edge to the lens with the Z camera. I find focus a little more accurate with the Z cameras - even using the FTZ and F-mount lenses.

My conclusion is for large birds in flight, the D850 and D500 are about 20% better than the Z6/Z7. But for slow moving, hopping, or perched subjects the Z6/7 is significantly better and easier to use.

I can take the D850 or Z6 out today and produce professional quality images consistently. The D850 is a superb all around camera, but the Z6/7 is also a very good camera and tops the D850 in a number of ways.

The D500 - like the D850 and D5 - has a separate AF processor. That makes the D500 and D850 faster to focus than other cameras like the Z6/7 and D750, D7200, D7500, etc.

Here are some samples with the Z6 and the FTZ.

The gray catbird is a 100% crop of the second image using the 300 f/4 and the 1.4 teleconverter.

The other two images are with the 600 f/4.
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Old Monday 15th April 2019, 23:13   #13
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Awesome feedback thanks, yes I have started to use a tripod as the blur was getting worse And I thought it was me or the camera gear. I am struggling since becoming very ill with the 150-600 finding it cumbersome and a little heavy, by the time I have zoomed in and found the bird then focused the bird has long gone more often than not. So my original aim was to find a reasonably priced set up that would afford me faster AF and a bit lighter.
I am always at full zoom anyway so would it not be better just to get a prime and a 1.4 tx ?
The D7200 being less than a year old is now staying after listening to all the great advice hear(thanks so much for that) I will also see how my G1 performs after repair then decide if I will get a newer G2 or go for the prime if one comes up.
Another issue is living here in the Philippines there is a limited choice of gear and delivery to within the Philippines is notoriously difficult with many items ordered from outside never reaching their final destination. So ordering online etc is out of the question right now, if my G1 is ok then I may well end up going to do a visa run March 2020 and look in Taiwan or HK etc and buy my lens then.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 09:38   #14
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The Nikon Z6/7 will be getting a significant AF upgrade in May.

https://www.dpreview.com/news/296147...-for-z6-and-z7
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 10:50   #15
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Originally Posted by shrek48 View Post
Awesome feedback thanks, yes I have started to use a tripod as the blur was getting worse And I thought it was me or the camera gear. I am struggling since becoming very ill with the 150-600 finding it cumbersome and a little heavy, by the time I have zoomed in and found the bird then focused the bird has long gone more often than not. So my original aim was to find a reasonably priced set up that would afford me faster AF and a bit lighter.
I am always at full zoom anyway so would it not be better just to get a prime and a 1.4 tx ?
The D7200 being less than a year old is now staying after listening to all the great advice hear(thanks so much for that) I will also see how my G1 performs after repair then decide if I will get a newer G2 or go for the prime if one comes up.
Another issue is living here in the Philippines there is a limited choice of gear and delivery to within the Philippines is notoriously difficult with many items ordered from outside never reaching their final destination. So ordering online etc is out of the question right now, if my G1 is ok then I may well end up going to do a visa run March 2020 and look in Taiwan or HK etc and buy my lens then.
The 150-600 is a relatively light long lens. It's in a similar league to the other options from Sigma and Nikon. I have the Nikon 200-500 because it provides a constant f/5.6. For me, a fraction of a stop is more important than a little more reach. I rarely use a teleconverter, but it is possible with the 200-500. The Tamron and Sigma 150-600 lenses are at f/6.3 fully zoomed - which means only the Center AF sensor is a cross sensor and it is the most reliable for AF fully zoomed. You won't get reliable AF with a teleconverter using a lens that is f/6.3 wide open.

The only real alternative to these lenses is the new Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF. It's a very good lens - very sharp but much smaller than the 200-500 or 150-600 options. But the lens is expensive at $3400 US. At f/5.6, it works nicely with the teleconverter if you have enough light.

One thing to keep in mind if you replace your current lens is that Tamron has had some challenges maintaining compatibility of their lenses with the Nikon Z cameras. The lenses all have needed individual firmware updates - if they can work at all. It's taken Tamron quite a while to make those updates and a number of lenses don't work. That might bias me toward Nikon or Sigma lenses that have their "Dock". The Nikon worked seamlessly and the Sigma lenses generally had a quick firmware update to applicable lenses.
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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 05:23   #16
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I had the Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 and it's great, but it was too bulky for a trip I took to Alaska, so I went with the Tammy 150-600 G2 f/6.3 on a d500 and sold the 200-500. The 150-600 was great. I still use that lens on my d850 and Z7. Tamron has fixed the compatibility problems with the Z7, though it did take a while. I have not used the G1, but my understanding from reviews is the G2 is a significant upgrade from the G1. The main downside is f/6.3 -- with enough light it's great, but in gloomy conditions you will be hitting higher ISOs.

As Eric pointed out, there are not many long lens options lighter than the Sigma/Tamron 150-600. I think it's the 500 f/5.6e PF or the 300mm f/4 + 1.4x TC or the Sigma/Tamron 100-400.

I have been getting great results with the 500mm f/5.6 and the d850 and Z7. Once I got the AF fine-tune nailed down, the d850 does very well with the 1.4x TC it at 700mm. For perched birds and a tripod, the live view focusing on the Z7 is amazing and you can use a very small focus point to pick out exactly what you want. It has also done well picking out bird eyes even with foreground clutter.

With the SL1 silent mode on the d850 or the electronic shutter mode on the Z7, you can use really low shutter speeds without any camera shake. I've been shooting 1/30th - 1/40th at 700mm on tripod with cable release. Of course, that's only for very still subjects.

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Old Thursday 18th April 2019, 11:52   #17
Chosun Juan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shrek48 View Post
Awesome feedback thanks, yes I have started to use a tripod as the blur was getting worse And I thought it was me or the camera gear. I am struggling since becoming very ill with the 150-600 finding it cumbersome and a little heavy, by the time I have zoomed in and found the bird then focused the bird has long gone more often than not. So my original aim was to find a reasonably priced set up that would afford me faster AF and a bit lighter.
I am always at full zoom anyway so would it not be better just to get a prime and a 1.4 tx ?
The D7200 being less than a year old is now staying after listening to all the great advice hear(thanks so much for that) I will also see how my G1 performs after repair then decide if I will get a newer G2 or go for the prime if one comes up.
Another issue is living here in the Philippines there is a limited choice of gear and delivery to within the Philippines is notoriously difficult with many items ordered from outside never reaching their final destination. So ordering online etc is out of the question right now, if my G1 is ok then I may well end up going to do a visa run March 2020 and look in Taiwan or HK etc and buy my lens then.
Just a note on what has been discussed in response to this.
The G2 Tammy has a Tap-in-Dock which means you can set whatever parameters you want, and also fine tune it to your camera (highly recommended) for a multitude of distances and focal ranges. It should also be able to accommodate software upgrades as the mirrorless Z's have firmware upgrades applied such as the upcoming May one. The G2 also has modes for using with tri/monopods etc.

As far as carting the lens and camera around on a walkabout, I use a Black Rapid Sling. I nearly always have the lens fully zoomed out (and the camera in 1.3x crop mode as well), and just practice getting better at pointing it. It's quite doable with a bit of regular shooting. The only time I would zoom out is trying to get on fast moving erratic targets (like swallows, or perhaps hunting falcons, and definitely falcons hunting swallows !), or with bigger birds that just approach too close in rapid circling etc. It's actually a very handy feature and quite easy to manage even in the heat of the moment.

There's not really too many options for high performing reasonably priced lightweight birding lenses - even less in prime's unless you are prepared for high dollar big kg units. Apart from the ones mentioned, there's a possibility that Nikon will finally update the 300mm f2.8 with a lightweight FL unit (which you would use with a 2xTC). Even if that comes in at 2.27kg (5lb) or less, it will be around twice as expensive as the PF 500 f5.6





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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 22:54   #18
shrek48
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Cebu , Philippines
Posts: 317
The response to this has been immense and appreciated very much, I am not technical but have been able to follow 99% of the thread and think that the D7200 will stay for now then think about my lens options. I will see what my G1 does when it is back then decide as I am a very part time birder and my health plays a massive part in what I can and cannot do.
Thanks all.
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