Is Nikon’s New 500mm FL Too Sharp?

Verm-deep-TV-South-Rim-5565-2

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.

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Super Telephoto Wildlife Photography – The Good and the Bad

Immature Bald Eagles fighting

If you have read any of my previous articles, then you would know I have two Nikkor super telephoto lenses and I often use them in wildlife photography. I also often mention that reach is important in wildlife photography and getting highly detailed and crisp images. Two of the super telephoto lenses I have are the 600mm f/4 prime and the 800mm f/5.6 prime and they are amazing lenses that give me amazing reach for wildlife, but this reach can also be a problem when multiple eyes are involved (ie: several animals in same frame).

Lets take a look at a nightmare photo to get with a 600mm lens at optimal distance requiring minimal cropping:

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Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Announcement

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

Nikon’s last announcement today is the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a super telephoto zoom lens designed for sports and wildlife enthusiasts. This lens is a very interesting announcement, because it is very different from all other super telephoto Nikon lenses we have seen in the past – it is Nikon’s first zoom lens with a fixed aperture that covers such a long range. Many enthusiasts have been asking for a 400mm f/5.6 lens and one wonders if this lens could address such needs. The 200-500mm f/5.6E VR supposedly can work with all three teleconverters and if it proves to be as versatile as it sounds, this might be something many wildlife photographers have been waiting for. The best part is the price – at $1,399.95 MSRP, it certainly falls into the “affordable” category when compared to other super telephoto lenses. Let’s take a look at this lens in more detail.

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Nikon 600mm f/4E VR Preview

Nikkor 600mm Comparison

This will just be a short article with my very first photograph taken with this wonderful lens and my first impressions. I have the 600mm f/4G VR and it has been an amazing lens for me and wildlife photography. I was worried when I bought the new lens as I really was in love with the old one and wasn’t sure if the new one would be as good. Obviously, I can’t evaluate and determine that in one day – I wish I could, but here is what I can share so far with you guys and gals.

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Wildlife Photography with a Short Telephoto Lens

Anhinga

If it isn’t obvious from the photos I share on Photography Life, the camera equipment I use makes it quite clear: I am not a wildlife photographer. In fact, my longest lens weighs in at 105mm — nowhere near the super-telephotos used by most wildlife pros. However, although I rarely seek out wildlife opportunities, animals do not avoid me. I have been fortunate enough to see everything from whales to reindeer while taking pictures, and I’ve learned some tips for photographing wildlife with a short telephoto lens along the way.

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Nikon 500mm f/4E VR and 600mm f/4E VR Announcements

Nikon 500mm f/4E VR

Nikon has just announced two highly anticipated super telephoto lenses for sports and wildlife photography, the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. After Nikon released the 800mm f/5.6E VR and the 400mm f/2.8E VR lenses, it was a matter of time before the 500mm and 600mm lenses got updated with the latest and greatest optical designs and technology. As before, Nikon has completely revamped the optical formula of these new lenses, shredding as much as 20% off the total weight on the 500mm and 25% off the total weight on the 600mm! Now the new 600mm f/4E VR weighs as much as the 400mm f/2.8E VR, which is incredible. Considering how hand-holdable the 400mm f/2.8E VR is, both of these new lenses open up a lot of amazing opportunities to get closer to action.

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Nikon 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Review

Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E VR

During the past few years, Nikon has been slowly replacing its high-end super telephoto lenses with newer technology using lightweight fluorite lens elements, shredding off a lot of weight and making additional improvements to lens designs, making the already strong lenses even better. After the 800mm f/5.6E VR monster, it was time for Nikon to update its legendary 400mm f/2.8G VR with the newer version, so that’s how the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL VR came to life. Although Nikon is planning to update every super telephoto lens in its line-up with lighter lenses featuring fluorite elements (which includes the 200mm f/2, 300mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 lenses), Nikon decided to start with the 400mm f/2.8, because it is one of the lenses that would get the most benefit from the fluorite lens design. Weighing in at a whopping 4.6 kg, the previous generation 400mm f/2.8G VR was a monster of a lens to handle and impractical to hand-hold (it was quite a bit front-heavy). Although it is quite a versatile lens and works remarkably well with all three Nikon teleconverters, its weight and size were its main disadvantages, making a lot of photographers opt for other super telephoto Nikkor lenses like the 500mm f/4 instead. The newly designed 400mm f/2.8E FL VR is a whole different lens in comparison – weighing 3.8 kg, the lens is now similar in weight as the 500mm f/4G VR, which is a great engineering achievement! Let’s take a closer look at this lens.

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Sigma 150-600mm Sport Goes on a Safari

PL Photo 14

Earlier this year I had a chance to go on a safari to the Serengeti to see the Great Migration and other wonders. After reading Gord Aker’s excellent article about his trip to Africa I thought it could be interesting to make a field report and share my experience with the brand new Sigma 150-600mm Sport which accompanied me during the trip.

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Shooting Hand-Held with the Sigma 150-600mm Sport

sigma sport hand held image 12

In advance of the Photography Life’s full review on the Sigma Sport 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM/S superzoom, I thought readers may like to see a few sample images along with some initial thoughts about shooting with this lens hand-held. Before getting into this brief article I’d like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to Photography Life reader Michael Wroblewski, who very generously let me borrow his copy of the Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens so I could do some shooting at Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

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