Nikon D4s and Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 for Bird Photography

My D7000, Nikkor 500mm and I have had some wonderful times together – the shots of a Peregrine chick jumping off the ledge for the first time, the yoga-stretching Osprey that made Audubon’s Top 100, and who can forget the Night Heron flying past with a baby alligator in it’s mouth. But like all relationships, it seemed the initial pizazz was fading. I began to notice how she had trouble staying focused and got noisy when I pushed an issue. Furthermore, with 190,000 clicks under her belt, well, let’s just say her shutter curtains were starting to droop a bit. It was time to move on, but don’t get me wrong, we’ll always be friends. Now I hate to admit it, but I’d been having an online affair with the new Nikkor 800mm for almost a year – I’d link over to her B&H page and run my finger gently around her buy now button. Oh how we teased each other… Then one day we went all the way.

Next week she was there in front of me, the ten pound, one ounce Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR OMG BFF. However, when I unpacked my new lens, it was obviously lacking a proper rear lens cap. How inconsiderate of Nikon not to include a D4s to keep the rear element clean. Nothing a few years of crippling debt couldn’t solve. I dusted off my backup credit card and a few days later the D4$ showed up. So without further ado, my first 29 hours testing the 800mm/D4$ combo for reach, handholding, buffer, burst rate, high ISO ability and general BIFiness.

Reaching Out

Let’s start at the end of the day and half of testing – 800mm of reach allowed me to maintain a non-threatening distance from this Common Black-hawk posing in front of the moon sneaking through the clouds. 1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 2500, 800mm, D4s. I cut loose with some artistic experimentation with this – embrace the post-processing noise – it’s pretty much the last you’ll see in the article:

Black Hawk Moon Page Springs

Verdict: For bird photography, 800mm of prime yumminess can’t be beat. Add the 1.25x teleconverter (comes with the lens) for more reach.

Please note: the shots in this article were all shot in camera as large fine JPEGs. I usually shoot RAW, but Lightroom doesn’t have D4s RAW support yet so I went the jpeg route for now.

The Anderson Handheld Challenge

Let’s go back to the beginning. The D4s/800 test started inauspiciously as I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk on a power pole and drove a bit closer. I was curious about hand-holding this beast so I left the tripod in the van, grabbed the camera, turned around and the hawk was gone. For those not experienced in bird photography, this is the norm – for every bird sighted, only very few allow themselves to be photographed. I figured I’d spooked the bird but that was not the case – the hawk was racing over to engage a Bald Eagle that was trying to steal a rodent clutched in the talons of yet another Red-tail. Crazy action right off the bat. I lurched around the corner of my van, swung the D4/800 combo up and started ripping away. Problem is, it’s darn hard to center your target through such a narrow field of view as the following shot shows. This is cropped and aligned from the bottom left quarter of the frame:

Eagle Hawks Mormon Xing

When action like this happens, you don’t notice your rotator cuff shredding from handholding the D4/800 combo. As you can see focus is a bit off and it took some jiggery-pokery in Lightroom to get the eagle somewhat sharp. The centered 9-pt AF-C configuration I use for BIF with my D7000/500mm combo missed the birds entirely. I couldn’t find my Leatherman™, so instead of slitting my wrists, I switched to a 51-pt array, then later in the day back to the 21-pt array with better success. I show you this shot to illustrate the futility, reality and excitement of bird photography. 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800, 800mm+1.25x, D4s. In retrospect, I wish I’d bumped up the ISO so I could shoot at f/11 or f/16 and get some better DOF in hopes of keeping all three birds sharp.

Verdict: This sub-par result is all my fault not the D4s/800. You can successfully hand-hold this beast at very high shutter speeds (I’d stay at or above 1/2000th), but it’s hard to find your target and track it. This isn’t the lens’s fault, just the nature of super-telephoto photography. If you can find your subject and lay an AF point on it, you should get acceptable results. Note: the rest of the photos in this article were shot on a tripod with sidemount gimbal head.

Easy Bird in Flight Test

I was pretty bummed about blowing that shot – after-all, Bald Eagles and Red-tails are generally easy subjects – they usually fly slowly in predictable paths and are large birds easy to nail a focus point on. Dagnabbut – I needed an even easier BIF subject to test this out on. Nearby was an area next to a fish hatchery that attracts Great Blue Herons and Osprey.

Great Blue Herons are a gateway bird. An easy high that hooks many shooters on bird photography and leads them to harder stuff like falcons, pro DSLR bodies and 10K lenses. GBHs are huge and fly in slow direct paths. The can be skittish, but if busy feeding or just lazy, will allow a close approach:

Verm GBH Page Springs

Generic Great Blue Heron in flight shot – D4s/800/1.25x checks out fine, but at 1000 ISO, 1/3200, f/8 nothing a D7000/500/1.4x couldn’t handle (Shot in Aperture preferred, hence a shutter speed twice as high as needed – 500 ISO would have been fine, but at 1000 ISO on the D4s I don’t see any objectionable noise).

Verdict: I tossed the D4s/800 a softball and it knocked it out of the park as it should.

A Buffer Buffer?

Heron in the bag, cue the Osprey. Osprey are less skittish than Herons, but a bit smaller. They’re noble, dashing, powerful birds and cooperative subjects. They will circle a pond looking for fish, hover facing into the wind when they spot one (good time to lock focus), then dive and usually come up with a meal. They conveniently stay submerged for a few seconds wrestling with the fish while you reacquire focus, then lift back out of the water in a glorious spray and fly to their favorite perch (right past you if you have their routine scouted). What an embarrassment for this osprey diving twice for fish and coming up empty – in a hatchery pond no less. Poor gal could starve at Long John Silvers. Anyway, it gave me a chance to check out the D4s’s vaunted buffer while this Osprey circled the pond. Yeah, I actually buffered it out, but I had to try.

Osprey Page Springs

I got 199 more where this shot came from – the D4s buffer keeps going and going. My shutter finger was starting to get pumped – good thing the bird had ample endurance. 1/2500th, f/8, ISO 1000, 800+1.25x, D4s. Note: the D4s limits burst length to 200 shots (or less if you tell it to).

Verdict: thumbs up on the buffer, 5 stars, will you marry me?

11 Frames Per Second? Be Still My Heart.

One thing that struck me immediately was the frame rate increase – after just one day shooting birds with the D4s, I tried out the D7000 for a sequence and thought I’d inadvertently set it to CL mode. I had always thought that 6 fps was sufficient for bird shots, but the following shot proved me wrong:

Osprey Broken Branch

This Osprey tried landing in this tree only to have the branch snap under her weight. I had 16 frames from which to choose of the landing/snapping branch sequence. It’s unlikely I would have had this frame to choose with a slower fps body. 1/2500th, f/8, ISO 1000, 800+1.25x, D4s.

Verdict: Take away my 11 fps and I’ll have to hurt you.

Getting High on ISOs

What about high ISO? For sharp bird photos you want to shoot quick shutter speeds – even 1/1000 sec will show blur in most flight photos or even preening shots when the bird twitches. Problem is, birds are most active around dawn and dusk when there is less light. If you’re going for crisp action shots (as opposed to intentional motion blur), you need fast shutter speeds and that means bumping up the ISO and therefore the noise. I spun the command dial and bumped the ISO up to 10000 with the following results:

GBH Page Springs

1/1250 sec, f/8, ISO 10000, 800+1.25x, D4s. Check out this Great Blue Heron as it slices through a sea of high-ISO noise with its javelin of a bill. Well, actually, that noise doesn’t look bad to me at all. Some dodging and burning here in post and about 20% cropped off, but no additional noise reduction applied than what came out of camera (D4s High ISO NR set to default of NORM). Yeah your pixel peeping peeps on the nature forum might zoom in to 100% and say “ah ha!”, but at full size and reasonable viewing distance this pup looks fine to me, and if I didn’t like it, I could mask off the bird and do NR on the background in Photoshop. PS, the faint blurs in lower left are reeds – focus continued tracking well as the heron flew behind these.

With super-telephoto lenses, depth of field is shallow at best. Unless you’re shooting condors or ostriches, birds are generally small to tiny subjects. You need to get close and the closer you get the less your DoF. With a 800mm lens on a full frame body and a bird 50 feet away, you get only 4 inches of DOF when wide open at f/5.6. Fine for a warbler – but at that distance the warbler will be mighty small in the frame. Crop in and IQ will suffer. At 50 feet away, you have to stop down to f/14 just to get 12 inches of DOF. Focus on the wingtip of a GBH in flight and the body will be soft. Again high ISO capability can make a big difference.

Verdict: I’ll tell you as soon as I wipe away these tears of joy.

Keeping Focused

On to AF performance. You’d be hard pressed to find a better test of AF performance than shooting flying birds in various situations. We’ve already seen GBHs and Osprey in flight, but how about putting the focus system and photographer really to the test and choosing a challenging subject. Anyone say Violet-Green Swallows? These guys are the size of a stick of butter and twice as slippery. They’re insanely fast and erratic fliers that make multiple course corrections in flight to catch bugs in midair or pluck them off the water surface. Tracking them is like trying to follow an air hockey puck. I shot 856 frames of these guys and probably half didn’t even have a bird in the frame. I only kept 37 frames, and only six of those true keepers, the other 31 saved for research into swallow attack angles and other behavior that could help my shooting in the future.

VGS Page Springs OOF

I’m sorry to show you this, but for every tack sharp BIF shot you see in the mags, there are scores of these that get junked. AF sensors seek contrast, hence water ripples, branches and the like hog the attention and get the focus, not the bird. This is why bland, low contrast backgrounds such as a blue or gray sky make for easy BIF pickings.

VGS Page Springs

It’s a miracle! Another shot like this and I’ll be eligible for sainthood. 1/3200, f/9, ISO 2500, 800+1.25x, D4s. Talk about spray and pray – it took me 856 shots over 30 minutes and a 70% crop to get this. The D4s AF system still does not have beak and beady eye recognition software built in. Heck, it doesn’t even have the Coolpix pet mode. My success rate would likely be near as good just trying manual or fixed focus or maybe even closing my eyes.

Verdict: Don’t expect AF miracles from the D4s. It’s early in my testing, but other than f/8 AF capability, I don’t see a great improvement in the field over what my D7000 does. All the same AF frustrations I experience with my prosumer bodies and bird photography still apply. I think the D4s tracks subjects flying behind foliage better, but this might be a function of how OOF the plants are with the 800mm’s very shallow depth of field. I played a bit with the new group mode, but so far I’m not a groupie. Note: 3D tracking and Auto AF modes don’t work with the 1.25x teleconverter on – only at f/5.6 or less.

Sniff

The D4s doesn’t allow one to save user settings in camera like the D7000 or D600. For instance, I generally shoot in manual mode and if a bird is perched, I can get by with a lower shutter speed and lower my ISO for better IQ. With my D7000, if my subject takes to the air, U2 has my BIF settings ready to go and is just one click away from M. On the D4s you get M, A, S, P and that’s it. Seems like this would be an easy addition to make in future firmware – I’ve already dropped this idea with my NPS rep and maybe if a bunch of other users do too it could become reality.

Another criticism I have is how shallow the D4s vertical grip is – it doesn’t fit big hands well at all.

Was It Good For Me?

I can give you 25000 reasons why you shouldn’t buy the D4s/800 combo. Or I can show you this pic, shot midway through my first day with the D4s/800, as to what it can do:

Mating Black Hawks

Oh my! The D4s/800 has the ability to shoot at ISO 2000, 1/1250th sec, f/10 at 11 fps through an entire (12 second) mating of these rare Common Black-hawks (only ~250 mating pairs in the entire US) and not buffer out before the birds did. I could never have done that with my previous kit.


This guest post was submitted by John “Verm” Sherman, who was awarded Flagstaff Photography Center’s 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year award. A portfolio of his Peregrine Falcon images was recently featured in the November 2013 Arizona Highways. Verm currently has work on display both at The Phoenix Airport Museum (Sky Harbor airport) and Flagstaff’s High Country Conference Center. Visit his website and blog at www.vermphoto.com.

All images copyright John Sherman.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Deon Zeelie
    March 17, 2014 at 3:32 am

    oh my how disappointing!!!!

  2. 2
    ) Thomas Stirr
    March 17, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Hi ‘Verm’…

    Thanks for your posting…..great article and wonderful shots that show the added capability of the D4s and 800mm Nikkor!

    Tom

  3. 3
    ) Robert Andersen
    March 17, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Hey John

    The reach of the 800mm is amazing and the speed of the D4s and its ability are amazing – this is just an amazing combo and oh – did I say amazing three times :)

    It’s gets you closer, gets your heart beating, it challenges you to do better, get better and nothing wrong with trying to handhold occasionally, got to do something to stop from getting fat and lazy.

    I can’t wait to get out on the ponds here in another month, for eagle, ospreys, loons, moose – it’s going to be fun.

    Very nice article and awesome stuff!!!

    Regards
    Rob

    • March 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

      Thanks Rob. Not many loons here in Arizona ;( Send some our way.

      Have fun on the ponds,
      Verm

  4. 6
    ) unclemikey
    March 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Verm, great shots and great article. Love the humor. Thanks for sharing your findings of this combination.

    • March 17, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Just keeping busy until my Hasselblad Lunar shows up ;)

      • 13
        ) unclemikey
        March 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

        You’re a dog. I’m drooling. LOL

  5. 7
    ) Patrick O'Connor
    March 17, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I really enjoyed this post! Great photos and some…not so great (to illustrate your points). Showing the misses is more encouraging for guys like me than only showing the great shots. And I love your sense of humor. Thank you very much!

    • March 17, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Thanks – that gives me an idea for a new article of my best misses – wait, that could fill 100 articles. Here’s a link to a blog talking about one of my misses and a subsequent success: http://www.vermphoto.com/blog/2014/2/you-lose-some-you-win-some. I think to be a bird photographer you have to be like a hockey goalie – when a puck gets by you you can’t dwell on it, just get ready for the next shot.

      • 14
        ) unclemikey
        March 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

        This weekend I returned from a convention and show in Las Vegas pertaining to large construction and earth moving equipment. I was shooting with another photographer who has a contract with a custom machine design firm in Ohio. I was looking over a huge platform lift that I had to photograph and was approached by a young man with a Nikon Coolpix on a neck strap. He began asking me questions about being a photographer which I always respond to. (Never know who the next JoeyL might be). On question he asked was; “what’s the difference between a pro photographer and an advanced amateur?”. I replied, about 100 shots per image and discard 95 of them. We make a lot of mistakes but the real difference is we know it and learn from those mistakes. Most amateurs will try to improve them in Photoshop while most pros will just hit the delete button.

        I think misses are important is we learn why they are misses.

        • 15
          ) unclemikey
          March 17, 2014 at 10:58 am

          That’s if we learn whey they are misses.

        • 17
          ) Brian
          March 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

          In the film days, the difference was a bigger wastebasket.

          • Profile photo of Mike Banks
            18
            ) Mike Banks
            March 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm

            True Dat!!!

          • March 17, 2014 at 8:49 pm

            I remember a story about a noted photographer (I think it was Pete Turner) who found people sorting through the dumpster behind his office to grab the transparencies he’d thrown out.

  6. March 17, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Hi john, great article and I like the humour.
    Looking forward to more bird photography articles !!!!!!

    Cheers,
    Ron

    • March 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Thanks. I hope Photography Life will have me do more bird (and non-bird) articles. Until then there’s quite a few on my blog on Vermphoto.com. Please visit.

  7. Profile photo of Daniel Michael
    16
    ) Daniel Michael
    March 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Hi!
    This article made me chuckle, enjoyed the read! That black hawk / moon picture is pure art, it’s stunning – simple and effective.

    Cheers!

    • March 17, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks! Sometimes it pays off to be “simple”-minded.

  8. 19
    ) Blaine Plester
    March 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Great photos and great writing! I don’t see myself having the means to purchase either this camera or lens. But I sure enjoyed reading about them.

    • March 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks, I had fun writing about them and I have an idea about a “how to afford this lens” article.

  9. March 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    John,

    I love your sense of humour. Very fun and informative article – thanks for sharing. For my surfing photos I use the poor man’s equiv. 80-400 AFS + D600. I will take your advice on higher ISO for a bit more depth of field. Maybe even manual with auto ISO to lock in f10 and 1/2000 or similar. Might help sharpen up some of the shots that the camera misses.

    Keep up the good work. Enjoy your Lunar when it arrives.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

    • March 17, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      The Lunar is in the same box with the Burberry Df – both backordered…

      Joking aside, I have the D600 and also the 80-400. The D600 is out on the service advisory now for a new shutter (if you haven’t had your D600 fixed, now’s the time – Nikon will take care of the dust/oil issue even if the warranty expired). I think your idea of going manual with auto-ISO is good. The D600 handles relatively high ISOs pretty good. I wouldn’t worry about shooting at 3200 if that’s what it took. But heck, if it takes 6400 or higher or you won’t get the shot, then I’ll go as high as needed. Emotional impact of the shot will always trump any noise concerns in my book.

      • March 17, 2014 at 9:39 pm

        Yes – the D600. I’ve not had any more dust problems than I had with my old D7000. So I’m torn between going weeks (months) without a DSLR and getting an uneeded repair…
        Thanks for the quick reply. Let me know when you come to Australia and I’ll shout you a beer!

        • March 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm

          In Australia and drinking beer – I’m afraid you’ll never be able to afford the 800mm. What’s with the sin taxes? I was there a couple years ago and I can buy Aussie beer cheaper here in the States. Bob Hawke would never put up with that. Alas.

          My D600 spent less than a week at Nikon in L.A. before shipping back. I expect it in a few days. I’m interested to find out if they replaced the shutter or just cleaned the sensor.

          • March 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm

            Yes – the cost of living here is hell. But the lifestyle is worth it! Moved here 19 years ago from snowy Toronto.
            Bob Hawke for PM!
            Please let me know what happened to the D600. I bought mine in the US so I can bring it over there for the repair. I will be in the US in a couple weeks. It would be nice to get the extra .5 FPS!
            Cheers,
            Jeff

            • 30
              ) Mike Banks
              March 19, 2014 at 8:12 am

              Jeff, a .5 increase FPS rate isn’t really much, however it could mean getting the shot or not. On another chat board dedicated to Nikon shooters, a thread developed with tested information regarding very fast SD cards for the D7100 which has increased my FPS rate dramatically before the buffer jams up. I now use Extreme Pro 95Mb/s cards at 5FPS and can get as many as 15 to 20 captures at 14 bit compression and much more if I drop down to 12 bit compression RAW. Have you tried that with the D600?

  10. Profile photo of Andrew Russell
    23
    ) Andrew Russell
    March 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Great article! I’m glad to see your conclusion on the D4s’s autofocus vs. the D7000 — I have always defended the D7000/D600 AF system. It has worked very well for me. I also totally agree about the U1/U2 settings issue. I wish Nikon would pay attention on this, it has been one of the things holding me back from the D800.

    On the buffer size, were you shooting JPEG? Because actually, if you use JPEG, the D7000 buffer won’t run out either on a fast card :-). On the other hand, if you were shooting RAW, that is very impressive!

    • March 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      I’m shooting jpeg for now until Lightroom supports the D4s RAW. I haven’t had a chance to try out the small-RAW option with the D4s either. I’ll be interested to check out the differing RAW buffer abilities.

  11. 31
    ) Dimitris
    March 20, 2014 at 4:38 am

    I really believe that for amateur enthousiasts and even pros that have budget issues, the D7100 is great for birds. It’s nice to dream for the D4s/800 combo but unfortunately it is not easy to touch this.
    D7100 allows you to even crop to 2x (at 16 Mpixel – great even for prints), so that you can get away with a cheaper lens of 300 or 400mm equivalent to 600 or 800mm. Also this allows for faster FPS. It also has so many focus points that really helps following the subject.
    I think d7100 is the poor mans equivalent (great equivalent thought!).

    • Profile photo of Mike Banks
      32
      ) Mike Banks
      March 20, 2014 at 7:03 am

      Unfortunately, for those of us who do shoot with the D7100, a much maligned camera for several reasons, we have discovered that many of the short coming’s of the body can be overcome with fast SD cards or downsizing images in the camera. Dropping down to 12 bit RAW compression and using a 95Mb/s U1 SD card I can obtain 20+ captures in a single continuous burst.

      I earn my living with this camera as well as the D800e. Both have their place in the professional world and I think it is important to remember than when the first Nikon DSLR’s came out, they were APS-c sensors. However, most of my lenses are FX lenses due to speed and construction.

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      I wonder if an independent camera company could modify the D7100 to have a larger buffer. That would answer a lot of wildlife photographers’ wishes. I was waiting for a D400 to come out, as I like the extra reach of DX, but finally gave up on that dream and popped for the D4s.

      • 36
        ) unclemikey
        March 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        That’s an interesting thought John. I’m thinking probably not as an independent company would most likely need the algorithms to go along with setting the buffer but it is a good thought. I like my D7100 and I like my D800e’s as well. I would also like to get a D4s but I don’t really need it for my work. I shoot mostly birds after flight. LOL I like the sitting still kind. Anyway, if my wife asked me how much the D4s cost I would probably be buying her shoes for the next year and a half.

  12. March 25, 2014 at 5:30 am

    John,

    Wonderful article, entertainingly written, very informative. A reality of bird photography is that those with the best equipment, with sufficient skills, who can travel to the most desirable locations, increase the odds of capturing the most memorable images. Right now I am very satisfied with my D7100 and 500mm lens with teleconverters and the additional 1.3x in camera crop. (And a sturdy tripod!) When I win the lottery I might move up. It’s all fun!

    Alan

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      The D7100/500 is a great combo Alan and the extra money to move up could be spent traveling to where your favorite subjects are. I’m lucky to have great birds to shoot here in Arizona so I blew the money on gear :) I do feel the resale value of the 800, if you can find a buyer, is high, so I didn’t feel like I was risking much investing in that. Bodies however become obsolete in a few years, so I’d better make good use of the D4s in the near future – it won’t be worth much in 10 years.

    • 37
      ) Birder
      April 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Alan, I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion The D7100 with a fast lens offers several benefits over the 800mm f/5.6 beasty with D4S. The 500mm f/4.0 is a very nice lens. I also think that the D7100 teamed up with a 300 f/2.8 VRII and TCs is great since it gives the flexibility to shoot at effective focal lengths ranging from 450mm @ f/2.8 (awesome for BIF!) to 900mm @ f/5.6 with the TC 2.0 III. In addition, since these camera/lens combination aren’t that huge its possible to get away with a monopod or maybe even handholding which mean that it won’t break your back. Of course it won’t break the bank to the same extent either and as you suggest might allow for travel (with your kit in your carry-on!).

      • April 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        My 500mm just fits in a carry-on, but the 800 won’t, so it would be my choice for air travel. Your carry on might exceed weight limits, but if you first go to the airline customer service desk and explain you have professional camera gear you won’t check through they can give you a tag the exempts the weight limit.

        • Profile photo of Mike Banks
          39
          ) Mike Banks
          April 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

          John,

          Like you, I too have to travel for business and have never been charged for carry one baggage. In fact I can’t remember ever being asked to weight my Pelican 1510 as I use that for carry one. On several occasions flying with regional airlines, I’ve had to hand over my Pelican case to an attendant to be stored in baggage because the flight attendants didn’t think it would go in the over head and even then have never been charged for the case.

  13. April 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Up until today I had the 800mm 5.6 VR and the D4 and used it for most of my nature photography. With the D4 and 800mm I found all my AF Fine Tune settings were right around “0” give or take a 2 with the 1.25. Today I sold the D4 and have a D4s on the way. Have you calibrated the D4s with the 800mm. If so were the settings right at zero?

    • April 19, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Randy,

      I haven’t calibrated the D4s AF – my in the field shots look right on with the factory default so I haven’t felt the need to check. It couldn’t hurt though as the 800mm DOF is so slim you need your focus right on. Good luck with your D4s and maybe you can post your AF tuning experience here.

  14. July 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I commend you for posting an out of focus image in context when 99.9% of photo articles never reveal the ‘truth’

    great article and images!
    cheers

  15. 43
    ) S Y Chan
    July 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I have been using Nikon D4s camera with Nikon 800mm f5.6E lens for two months and found this combo is superb in filming birds in flight, including fast-moving terns from a rocking junk in open sea. That was even before I started using group-area focus.
    Another occasion when I filmed black-eared kites from the shore, the combo could get clear photo of the mouth water droplet dribbling from the tongue of a flying kite.

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