And I guess the follow-up question would be “Could Verm come up with a more provocative title?” To put you at ease, these sample pics are all saved at web resolution so you needn’t don eye protection. This last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting with the new AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR. Here are some quickie sample pics and comments from the first few days of shooting. There’s more to come as I’ll be doing in-depth field tests and comparing results with the “old” Nikkor 500mm.
Is it sharp? I’ll let this spike answer.
This was handheld at 1/125 sec in the new “sport VR” mode. Sport VR is designed for objects that move in multiple directions, say a football player dodging a tackle or a cheetah chasing dinner or a football player dodging a cheetah chasing dinner. Speaking of eating…
No complaints with these pre-dawn breakfast shots. And finally the sun crests the horizon.
Looks like the deer on the right is fawning over the other one. Yes the 500 FL is a sharp as my wit is dull.
This bull elk was polishing his antlers and taking off some oak leaves in the process. It was pre-pre-dawn, and I was shooting wide open at 25600 ISO and 1/60th of a second. Pretty soft. Alas the VR didn’t provide a miracle here. Here’s a better result (sharpnesswise) at 1/80 sec.
Let’s stop ruminating over the ruminants and get onto some bird-in-flight action. The nearly two-pound weight reduction compared to the old 500, makes the 500 FL eminently handholdable.
This Turkey Vulture is making the rounds wondering when the next tourist will slip off the rim of the Grand Canyon.
I’ve been standing in the sun for quite some time now and smelling a bit ripe. The vulture comes in for a closer inspection. AF-tracking with the D4s is giving a very high hit rate so far.
And a young one comes by for a portrait shoot with the 500 FL attached to a D810. Let’s zoom in.
Focus looks spot on the head in this one, not the easiest task with the bird coming nearly head on. Nevertheless, my initial impression is that my keeper rate was lower with the D810 than the D4s, which is strange given the have the same AF-module. I’ll be doing more testing on this.
What have we here? A vulture imposter. This is a Zone-tailed Hawk (juvenile). The Zone-tail has a clever hunting strategy. It looks nearly identical to a turkey vulture – similar size and markings and flying style. Chipmunks, mice and the like know Turkey Vultures only eat carrion and are no threats to a live critter. The Zone-tail takes advantage of this, mixing in with a flock of vultures all the while keeping a sharp eye out for tasty meals that have let their guard down. The 500 FL is tracking well as the hawk flies perpendicular to the lens axis. This despite a complex background that could easily throw the AF off.
And here it is coming straight on to the camera, giving a very narrow target to focus on, but again the 500 FL nails the shot.
And once more coming straight on, but this time the 500 FL is paired with a TC 14E II, which is not the latest version of 1.4x teleconverter (TC 14E III). Focus is looking good, though so far my keeper rate for BIF shots with the 1.4x was lower than without. I hope to try out the newer 1.4x with the 500 FL for the in-depth review.
Looks like something died. The full crop (pink chest bulge) on the perched vulture indicates it recently ate.
From one scavenger to the uber-scavenger – the California Condor – largest flying land bird in North America and one of the rarest (only about 200 in the wild).
Here’s the handsome #87 giving the camera sexy. And this is where my too sharp question raises its ugly head. This is cropped way in to 100% and otherwise the untouched RAW file.
And here it is tweaked to get rid of the RAW blah. Eek, I can see every pore in it’s neck. Moreover, this was shot with the old 1.4x TC attached. I used a tripod on this – all the other prior shots in this post are handheld.
I’m okay with shots this sharp, especially pushing out to 500mm with the 1.4x, but upon close inspection I noticed this.
No, not the dandruff. The 500 FL is resolving the individual parallel barbs on the feathers so well they are creating interference with the pixel grid of the D810 sensor – in a word, I got moire. The luminance moire shows up as the wavy dark banding on the feathers and I’ve got color moire (hard to see in this output, but evident on my monitor) with repeated prismatic color splotches also evident. This is the risk you take shooting a camera without an OPLF (optical low pass filter, AKA anti-aliasing filter). The OPLF intentionally blurs the image before it reaches the sensor to reduce the possibility of moire. Of course, shooting a softer lens would probably do the trick too and the contrast between feather barbs wouldn’t show up. The cure? Shoot a body with an OPLF, such as the D4s. Better yet, don’t view your files at 400%.
So is the 500 FL too sharp? Hey, this is Photography Life and in This Life, no lens is too sharp. Sorry to worry you and I’ll get back to researching the full review.
Text and all photos ©John Sherman. Please no reproduction without written permission.