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Equipment overhaul? (1 Viewer)

CWOBrien

Well-known member
Hi everyone,

I'm thinking about updating my bird photography equipment and would appreciate any advice.

I currently shoot with a Sigma 150-600mm C lens on a D7200 body. Happy out with the camera for the most part. I love the lens as well, but am at a stage where I'm hoping to get more from my photography and not sure if this lens can provide it. True, it offers great range and I've gotten some fantastic shots with it. But it can be frustratingly soft at full reach, even sometimes with a static or close subject. Plus, the minimum F6.3 aperture at 600mm isn't great for bokeh.

My budget isn't massive, so I'd any ideas would be welcome. At the moment I'm leaning towards maybe a Nikon 300mm F4 combo'd with a 1.4 extender. I'd lose a bit of reach, but I'm hoping the image quality from a prime lens will compensate for this.

I'm less sure about upgrading the camera body - maybe a D7500 or even D500, or a low-end full frame model? I've not considered going mirrorless yet, though it seems to be a path a lot of photographers are going down.

I never shoot with a tripod or monopod. Would you recommend?

All thoughts appreciated.

Thanks,
C
 

MerlinT

Active member
Hey there!

You already have a great camera for birding. 300mm is a great lens, but personally, I think you'd lose to much (focus speed) with an extender. Did you try the 200-500mm? I enjoyed it with my D750, and D850, but I replaced it by the 500mm pf in April.

Good luck!
 

CWOBrien

Well-known member
Hey there!

You already have a great camera for birding. 300mm is a great lens, but personally, I think you'd lose to much (focus speed) with an extender. Did you try the 200-500mm? I enjoyed it with my D750, and D850, but I replaced it by the 500mm pf in April.

Good luck!

Thanks a lot for your reply! The 500mm PF looks a good lens, but it might be a bit beyond my price range right now. Also, I'm looking for something with a bigger aperture to give a nice bokeh to my photos, F4 at the very least. That's why I'm shading towards the 300mm. What do you think?
 

MerlinT

Active member
Like I said, the 300mm is a great lens. Don't forget that you'll lose the aperture's advantage with an extender, and focus will be slower. But your camera with the 300mm would be a very nice combination (300 x 1.5= 450mm). I used this lens with a D7000, and was very pleased with the result.

Good luck :t:
 
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CWOBrien

Well-known member
Like I said, the 300mm is a great lens. Don't forget that you'll lose the aperture's advantage with an extender, and focus will be slower. But your camera with the 300mm would be a very nice combination (300 x 1.5= 450mm). I used this lens with a D7000, and was very pleased with the result.

Good luck :t:

Nice one. I might just go with that! Thanks for the advice.
 

Andrea Collins

Beside the Duddon, Cumbria
Supporter
England
I've been using the 300mm f4 PF with the 1.4 TCii for some time, initially with the D7200 then the D500.

It's a really good lightweight combination and my 300mm is razor sharp even with the converter attached. However, it's still a lot shorter than the zoom you currently have.

You would certainly be able to do some decent selective enlargements with the 300 and 1.4 tc combination but in real world shooting I'm not sure you would get significantly better results than you currently get from your zoom. You might of course, but your zoom has a very considerable head start in terms of magnification and the lack of reach of the 300 plus converter might leave you a bit disappointed.

I think my personal choice in the same situation would be to save hard until I could afford the 500mm PF. I've just upgraded to it myself now it's readily available and slightly cheaper than it was when it was released. Based on my first afternoon's shooting with it I think I'll be able to get better results than the 300 and 1.4 tc in the typical open habitats I like.

I tried the 200-500 but had to send it back as I found it too unwieldy. I'll certainly be keeping my 300mm PF as it's still a very useful lens but I think I'm likely to use the 500 a lot more. Anyway, that's all just personal opinion based on what I have tried and what works for myself. For what it's worth my favourite habitat is the sort of big open beaches favoured by waders/shorebirds.

Also for what it's worth, most of the pics in my gallery are from the 300mm PF with the 1.4 converter. Most are selective enlargements.
 
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marcsantacurz

Well-known member
CW,

I think the thing to ask is "What am I struggling with?" Is it BIF, is it reach, is it ISO noise? Different answers for each.

I used to use the Tammy 150-600 G2 a lot, but switched to the 500/5.6e. I lose a little reach, but I really think the quality is noticeably better. It is also easier to carry around. 6.3 to 5.6 will not make much of a bokeh difference, though the 500/5.6 does have nicer Bokeh than the Tammy, but that's an optics feature not due that much to the aperture size.

The d500 is a wonderful camera and you might get a bit less ISO noise on it than the d7200. It's been a long time since I used either, so I'm not sure how much. The d500 focusing system is fantastic. So, if you're shooting at the right shutter speeds and have good technique, but still are high on the miss rates, the d500 might be the thing for that problem.

I think you need to figure out what your desired effective focal length is. At 600mm + 1.5x crop (d7200), you're at 900mm. Are you still cropping in post, say another 1.4x to 1260mm? If you are burning through 900 - 1200mm of reach, then going to a 300+1.4TC (630mm effective) will not be the right move. Also, you might need to go through a few 300mms and TCs to find a pair that works well together and with your camera.

Personally, I am shooting a used d5 + 500/5.6e now. With crop, I get maybe 750mm at 10 MP. That's generally good enough for me -- I am not making giant enlargements. I tend to shoot right around sunset, so getting the really good ISO noise performance of the d5 plus its excellent low-light focusing is more important to me than super high MP or super long reach (sure an 600/4 would be great too, if I could carry it as easily and afford it!). I also have a d850 and I would shoot that during the day when I have better lighting. That would let me crop a lot more (or a d500 would be about the same).

I find it is much easier to track BIF in full frame and crop later than to try and track them with a d500.

Another thing to think about is where your focus points are. A d7200 with a f/6.3 lens will only have a few cross points in the center. A 5.6 lens will give you a lot more cross points, especially on newer cameras like the d500. So if you are missing shots because the focus point is out of the center, going to a better AF system or a faster lens (or zooming out with the 600) to f/5.6 might help. Or look at mirrorless that will focus the same anywhere on the sensor, edge-to-edge!

I hope something from that rambling helps.

Marc
 

Tanager

Well-known member
I've been using the 300mm f4 PF with the 1.4 TCii for some time, initially with the D7200 then the D500.

It's a really good lightweight combination and my 300mm is razor sharp even with the converter attached. However, it's still a lot shorter than the zoom you currently have.

You would certainly be able to do some decent selective enlargements with the 300 and 1.4 tc combination but in real world shooting I'm not sure you would get significantly better results than you currently get from your zoom. You might of course, but your zoom has a very considerable head start in terms of magnification and the lack of reach of the 300 plus converter might leave you a bit disappointed.

I think my personal choice in the same situation would be to save hard until I could afford the 500mm PF. I've just upgraded to it myself now it's readily available and slightly cheaper than it was when it was released. Based on my first afternoon's shooting with it I think I'll be able to get better results than the 300 and 1.4 tc in the typical open habitats I like.

I tried the 200-500 but had to send it back as I found it too unwieldy. I'll certainly be keeping my 300mm PF as it's still a very useful lens but I think I'm likely to use the 500 a lot more. Anyway, that's all just personal opinion based on what I have tried and what works for myself. For what it's worth my favourite habitat is the sort of big open beaches favoured by waders/shorebirds.

Also for what it's worth, most of the pics in my gallery are from the 300mm PF with the 1.4 converter. Most are selective enlargements.

I have the same combos (1.4xIII TC tho) I use the 300mm pf + 1.4 for travelling light and the 500mm pf when I can carry a little more. Highly recommend both set ups. both used with a d500. I found the 200-500mm optically ok but awkward to use too.
 

gandytron

Well-known member
I shoot a D500 with the Sigma 150-600 C and the Nikon 300mm PF + 1.4TC III combo.

In the OP's position I think I would move to the D500 first, before changing lens - I had a D7100 previously and the change in body was a substantial step up.

The 300mm PF and TC is a nice set up (no loss of AF speed on the D500, but I find the images a bit softer with the TC) however it is really a bit too short in many birding situations, though brilliant for a lightweight "go anywhere" set up.
 

Len Poxon

Well-known member
I have gone on a similar journey. I progressed from a D80 to a D7000 with a 300mm F4 lens (none PF), then after trying a it with a 1.4 TC and finding it too soft, I upgraded the lens to a Sigma 150-600 contemporary. Still not satisfied with both AF and ISO/noise I upgraded the camera to a Nikon D500, this allowed me to take shots in poorer light than I never could have attempted before. In the continuing drive for better images and because I wanted a lighter hand-holdable set up I have recently upgraded the lens to a 500 f5.6 PF. I am still on the learning curve with the set-up particularly as it appears to allow me to shoot at lower shutter speeds, but already I have found my photos to be much sharper and with a better colour contrast even in poor light. It also performs very well (at F8 though) with the older 1.4 TC with surprisingly very little loss of sharpness.

So my recommendation would be ultimately change your 150-600 to the 500PF. In the interim you may get improvements in upgrading the camera to a D500. I also spent a lot of time with my Sigma 150-600 adjusting the settings using the dot-tune method which did improve the sharpness, so if you have not done so already that should be your first option.

Good luck on your quest.
 

CWOBrien

Well-known member
Hi guys,

Thanks so much for all your input. Right now, I'm leaning towards the Nikon Nikkor 500mm f/4 D ED IF AF-S AF lens which I can get second hand at a reasonable price. Does anyone have any experience with this lens?

Thanks,
C
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Hi guys,

Thanks so much for all your input. Right now, I'm leaning towards the Nikon Nikkor 500mm f/4 D ED IF AF-S AF lens which I can get second hand at a reasonable price. Does anyone have any experience with this lens?

Thanks,
C
Cee Dubbya - doesn't that then put you somewhat into the budgetary range of the PF 500 f5.6 ?

In head to head comparisons it's pretty hard to pick the difference in IQ between that and even the latest 500 f4 FL.

I don't think the difference in bokeh between the two is enough (if anything in practice) to offset the nearly 3x weight of the bigger f4. It would certainly not be as much fun to walk around with the f4 as the little 500 PF.

I think that lens upgrade is where you'll see the most bang for your buck. If the D7200 is capturing ok in flight etc then it's an awesome sensor. I shoot mine in the 1.3x crop mode giving you 7fps RAW, and 2x the focal length of the lens @14.2 MP. 1000mm f5.6 in a super handy walkaround is nothing to sneeze at ........ yes ?

Who knows if Nikon will ever get around to making a PF 600 f5.6, or upgrading the D500 to D500S etc. You could become very old and grey waiting !

Nikon just had $300 off the PF 500 f5.6 over Halloween too :t:








Chosun :gh:
 

CWOBrien

Well-known member
Cee Dubbya - doesn't that then put you somewhat into the budgetary range of the PF 500 f5.6 ?

In head to head comparisons it's pretty hard to pick the difference in IQ between that and even the latest 500 f4 FL.

I don't think the difference in bokeh between the two is enough (if anything in practice) to offset the nearly 3x weight of the bigger f4. It would certainly not be as much fun to walk around with the f4 as the little 500 PF.

I think that lens upgrade is where you'll see the most bang for your buck. If the D7200 is capturing ok in flight etc then it's an awesome sensor. I shoot mine in the 1.3x crop mode giving you 7fps RAW, and 2x the focal length of the lens @14.2 MP. 1000mm f5.6 in a super handy walkaround is nothing to sneeze at ........ yes ?

Who knows if Nikon will ever get around to making a PF 600 f5.6, or upgrading the D500 to D500S etc. You could become very old and grey waiting !

Nikon just had $300 off the PF 500 f5.6 over Halloween too :t:








Chosun :gh:

Good points all! Thanks for your input. Definitely shading more towards that.
 

CWOBrien

Well-known member
Happy New Year all! Just letting you know I got the 500mm PF and am loving it so far. Thank you so much for all the input and advice!

Kind regards,
C
 

montynj1

Member
Hi guys,

Thanks so much for all your input. Right now, I'm leaning towards the Nikon Nikkor 500mm f/4 D ED IF AF-S AF lens which I can get second hand at a reasonable price. Does anyone have any experience with this lens?

Thanks,
C
I'm a former owner of the 500mm F/4 AFS lens and I switched to the 500mm F/5.6 PF lens with no regrets. The 500mm F/4 lens is a great lens but it does have limitations you need to be aware of. It's a big heavy lens that you will need at minimum a good monopod and head. Recommend a carbon fiber monopod for the weight savings. Lugging it around all day can be tiring particularly if you're not a big person (which I'm not). Hand holding it is pretty much out of the question with it since it doesn't have VR. You can get good photos with the lens but technique is paramount. The 500mm PF lens is a joy to hold and handle. Even though I still take my monopod with me, I rarely have to use it. Handling wise, the 500mm PF lens is comparable to a 300mm lens.
 

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