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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

500/4 or 600/4? (1 Viewer)


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Been thinking about this for a while, but I'll have to buy soon before the VAT goes up. I guess it's reach vs versitility. What would you recommend?
My main thought is that you cannot have too much magnification, and you always want/need more.

Is the 600 MUCH larger than the 500? Unless it's almost twice as large/heavy, I'd go for the 600. (I'm assuming money is not an issue or you wouldn't be looking at both).
Depends really, if you intend to do a lot of walking and stalking then the weight of the 500 may be a godsend compaired to the 600.....but if your built like a brick outhouse well maybe you won't mind the weight and the added reach is nice (though not essential....good fieldcraft will get you close enough to birds that a 500 would be more than enough).

I went with the 500 so do a lot of others, just as many go for the 600.... its up to you.
I had the dilemma a few years ago and went for the 500 f4 as I wanted the lighter and shorter lens and I've not regretted it for a moment. I spoke to a number of photographers about it and all said that the physical size of the 600 f4 could make it hard to use in confined spaces, like shooting from a car (I wiped out my rear view mirror with my 500 f4 when grabbing it from the passanger seat for a shot, if I'd had the 600 it would probably have gone through the windscreen)! If you can it's worth getting to a shop where you can compare the sizes.
Go for a 600. You wont regret it. Sure its heavier, but the extra reach makes up for it. Dont forget you will need a substantial tripod & head to support it.
have you considered a 400/2.8?? with a 1.4 you get a 560/4 plus a super fast 400/2.8??
have you considered a 400/2.8?? with a 1.4 you get a 560/4 plus a super fast 400/2.8??

How does it compare with your old 500?

My initial thoughts were that it has all the disadvantages of the 600 with awkwardness, bulk, and weight, but not as much reach, so I did dismiss it. And the 200-400/4 for similar reasons.

But then I've never actually used one.

I use my current 500/4 (manual focus only) around Stocker's lake, usually with the 1.4 tele. on, which works really well. This gives me about 700mm, so with a 400/2.8 I would need at least a 1.7 tele. For this reason I think a 600 might be even better.

However I think the 600 would be more of a pain in a hide or in the car than a 500. With my local nature reserve, Maple Lodge, I rarely use even the 500, usually just the 300/4.

I already have a series 5 Gitzo tripod and wimberley head.
Ah but the 600mm on MPB is in a shocking state. It may have been used as a goal post on more than one occasion I suspect. ;)

Oh and to add one other thing Mr Rouse was on here offering to sell his 600mm VR as he was wanting to change it in for a 500mm. Maybe it's still for sale but the fact that he would prefer a 500mm also speaks volumes.
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I went with the 500f4 over the 600f4 as its lighter and easyer to carry around no regrets here.
Unfortunately, not had the opportunity to give it a good work out (had it for 3 weeks and only been out once and then it rained!!)
Initial comments, its bigger and heavier than the Sigma (stating the obvious) AF is extremely fast even with a 1.4 and a 1.7 on, test shots in the garden with a 1.4 on appears no different than without, not really tested it with a 1.7 but suspect it'll be better than my 500 & 1.4 (old combo gave me 700mm @ 6.3, new combo with 1.7 gives me 680 @ 4.8)
needed a wimberley foot on as the Nikon one is very high and the balance was very poor on a gimbal head.
2 stage lens hood is a bit of a pain but give you options.
Should be off road on Sat in a car so will let you know how I get on with it (weather permitting!!)
Its no difference in length to my old 500 the sigma weighed in at 3Kgs and 350mm in length compared with 4.6Kgs and 370mm long for the Nikon.
As soon as I get a bit of light and a few nice subjects I'll give it a field trial.

I also had the opportunity to see and try before I bought which took the worry out of the deal, not sure I would have bought one blind.
Feel reasonably luck as this is in pristine condition (non vr though)
Since you already have a 500F4, then all you will get from a new one is af and possibly stabilisation (not that its going to mean much on a series 5 + Wimberly). A 600 gives you a bit more reach which can be very useful but it is a bit of a beast to lug around and the handling is more cumbersome. Both the 500 and 600mm Nikkors weigh a lot more than the old manual focus lens at 3.8 and 5kg respectively, vs 3kg. Does not sound a lot, but after a long day it could be significant. I have met plenty of 600mm users who regret not getting a 500 instead.

I am in a similar situation to you, in that I have a manual 500F4, which gets used a lot. The rest of the time it's a 300 F2.8 vr. I find that there are times when af is desirable and the 300 is not really long enough-the 1.7x gives more reach but at the expense of speed and af. I have decided that for me at least, a 600F4 vr is the way to go, though financially not for the foreseeable future.
One thing I will do when and if I get one is replace the foot. Nikon is not very good with support for the big lenses.
Helios, have to say that 1st impressions are good, had chance yesterday to try the 400 out in a vehicle and on a tripod with both a 1.4 and 1.7 connected, can't say I noticed any difference in AF speed between the 1.4 and 1.7 and image quality also didn't suffer attached are a couple of shots with the 1.7 connected, things can only get better with the 1.4 or without a TC. I'm tempted to get another TC-20e in case I ever need a 800/5.6 for those record shots. Birds in flight tracked well and it was only my technique that probably stopped me from nailing the shot (lapwing with a 1.4 attached).
Looking forward to really getting to know the lens and weighing in between a 500 and a 600 I suppose its not a bad place to be. Just need a few days in a hide now to make use of its sharpness at 400 with no TC


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Thanks for the info Steve. Too late for me I'm afraid as I just bought another 500/4 today (one with autofocus and VR). Decided to play it safe and bottled out of the 600/4.

To be honest I never really considered the 400/2.8, but the more I think about it, the more it has going for it. Being a 2.8 aperture, it's ideally suited to taking teleconverters. Your shots have good colour, sharpness, and contrast. This is impressive with a 1.7 teleconverter. With my old 500/4, the 1.4 teleconverter (both B and E versions) did drop constrast, and overall punch to the image. This was more noticable in less than ideal light. It 's a manual lens so no autofocus, but with my 300/4 the autofocus is noticably slower with the 1.4 converter.
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