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Reviews => Ramblings of the Fierce Bear of the North => Topic started by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 16, 2015, 16:32:21

Title: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 16, 2015, 16:32:21
I got my review sample of this lens today. Reports on findings will come day by day.

My schedule for today is cramped so test images will be posted later today.

First impressions,


Colour rendition might be on the cold side, but this needs to be rechecked under more controlled conditions.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Erik Lund on October 16, 2015, 18:23:09
A perfect go everywhere Safari Zoom and super affordable!

Thanks for your preliminary thoughts  ;D
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 00:18:58
I returned from my meeting this afternoon only to find my main ISP line had dropped dead. Too bothersome and hassle to post via the alternate hookup as it is entirely disconnected from my normal network, so sorry no test photos tonight. I continue shooting with the lens and address some of the questions I raised for myself during the first shooting experience.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Roland Vink on October 17, 2015, 07:25:59
Quote
Slimmer and thus easier to handle than the latest 80-400 Nikkor.
Is that a typo? The 200-500 has diameter of 144mm, vs 95.5mm for the AFS 80-400 - the rear part of the barrels probably have similar diameter.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Somnath Goswami on October 17, 2015, 08:39:17
I am a noob in bird photography but the affordable lens has lured me into buying one . Posting a pic , please delete if not right to post it here. on D810 , f5.6 , 500 mm , 1/60 s handheld , about 2/3rd crop . Please guide about what to do or not.

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5666/22050928218_fefe539289_b.jpg)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jakov Minić on October 17, 2015, 08:59:43
Somnath, that is a beautifully captured bird.
I cannot believe ti's so sharp hand-held at 500mm and 1/60s...
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 09:06:16
Is that a typo? The 200-500 has diameter of 144mm, vs 95.5mm for the AFS 80-400 - the rear part of the barrels probably have similar diameter.

No typo. Don't know where you got the 144mm figure from? The filter size is 95 mm and the thickness of the barrel is less than this.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Somnath Goswami on October 17, 2015, 09:31:05
Somnath, that is a beautifully captured bird.
I cannot believe ti's so sharp hand-held at 500mm and 1/60s...

Thanks Jakov , This lens has a fantastic VR implementation, I was very surprised myself !!!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Roland Vink on October 17, 2015, 09:55:35
No typo. Don't know where you got the 144mm figure from? The filter size is 95 mm and the thickness of the barrel is less than this.
My mistake, 144mm is the diameter of the AIS 200-400/4.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 13:49:45
OK, my internet connection is at least temporarily restored, and I'll be able to show some boring test images.

First a quick test on focusing accuracy, field curvature, geometry, and light fall-off. Just returned home, put the lens on the Df, and focused (by AF) on my living window curtains. With the lens set to 350 mm and the curtains nicely back lit, a perfect test object for the given purposes.

(f=350mm, N=5.6, t=1/1000 sec)

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 14:00:39
Obviously the lens passed muster on the previous test. Sharpness is very even all over the frame, even into the extreme corners, and light fall off and geometric distortion are negligible. Thus at least at near range, field curvature is virtually absent.

Moving outside, to my back porch, I then aimed the lens set to 500 mm  at my standard "distant" test object, a restaurant perched on a hill ridge 1.6 km away, across the valley from my house.  Perfect and clear autumn weather making for ideal shooting conditions. Still wide open, as f/5.6 even with today's high-ISO capable cameras won't give super fast speeds for hand-holding the lens (Norwegian conditions, remember ...).

First is the entire frame, showing the building on the ridge, and also demonstrating that there is a slight light fall off at the longest focal length. Nt much signs of the usual pincushion distortion though.

The 100% crop shows a wealth of detail. Quite convincing for such a test shot straight off the camera.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 14:27:29
Now, over to the short end and repeating the same hill shot with f=200mm and N=5.6. Again, light fall off into the corners are negligible and geometric distortion seems to be under strict control as well.

First, overall frame, then the mandatory 100%.

No chromatic aberration control has been in force for either this or the previous capture.



Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 17, 2015, 15:46:47
The propensity of lens flare is much higher than I would have anticipated. Apparently present at all focal settings, but can be terrible at the longer end. You get flare that washes out colour to make the image nearly useless, even when the sun is out of the field of coverage. Apparently having sun rays striking the big front element makes the lens go haywire in terms of flaring. The hood should ideally been much longer, or you have to make an impromptu shadow over the front glass in order to avoid the worst flare. I guess there is no nanocoating here.

A typical example, with the sun well outside the field of view. You can observe directly in the view finder how the image deteriorates as you swing the lens towards a strong source of illumination. Very illuminating as it were.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Kim Pilegaard on October 17, 2015, 18:01:35
Thanks for the initial remarks and tests. Looks like a sharp lens!

Maybe the flare could be avoided by adding a UV filter or similar with good coating? It would probably be fairly expensive at that diameter. Otherwise a hood extension could be made very cheap.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 17, 2015, 19:07:26
The addition of a filter can only make the flare problem worse.

It is a pity that Nikon didn't use nano crystal coat on this lens.

Otherwise, seems promising.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jan Anne on October 17, 2015, 19:49:38
Curious what this lens does at 500mm around the minimal focus distance of 2.2 meters.

I used the 200-400/4VR a lot at 400mm around the 2 meter mark to get some close up animal portraits, a real bonus compared to most of the primes in that range.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on October 17, 2015, 20:56:02
The addition of a filter can only make the flare problem worse.

It is a pity that Nikon didn't use nano crystal coat on this lens.

Otherwise, seems promising.

Perhaps method in their madness - the upgrade to this lens (in 2 year's time) might have that :) There has to be something they can improve on for the next generation.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 18, 2015, 00:34:07
I already mentioned the smooth bokeh. An example is shown below. Also visible here is the "cat's eye" phenomenon, a constraint of the blur circles caused by mechanical vignetting within the lens assembly. These start to appear fairly soon off the optical axis. I had liked the blur circles to keep their shape better, but that probably wasn't possible with this physically quite long design.



Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: stenrasmussen on October 18, 2015, 01:10:56
Thanks for sharing your findings Bjørn!
As for the smooth OOF rendering I do see evidence of an over corrected design (weak outer rim). This could be a sacrifice in order to obtain across the field sharpness..?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 22, 2015, 16:33:18
Other pressing commitments, plus the usual arrival of poor weather immediately upon my getting lenses for review, have delayed my work with the 200-500/5.6 for a while. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to spend an entire day in the field with 200-500 and the new 600/4.

Speaking of which, here is a direct size comparison between the two newcomers. I am loath to assign "kid" to the 600/4 though, as it completely dwarfs the 200-500. Do note that the 200-500 does extend about 1/3 more when it goes to 500, but it rapidly creeps to 200 once stood on its own. Nonetheless, the differences in size, and commensurately, their asking price, are huge. In fact, the 600/4 requires a financial outlay the equivalent of a small car ....

Evident also on this picture is the very different approach to tripod mounting of the two lenses. The 200-500 has a very narrow rotating collar, and to exacerbate the stability issue further, the tripod foot is slanted 45 degrees. This cannot be expected to yield a stable platform for tripod use and indeed test shooting with the lens at slower speed easily leads to a major loss of image quality. The tendency for the lens to make "swimming" movements is even more apparent once the new TC-14E.3 is attached to it. Do not be duped by reports of the 200-500 having a satisfactory tripod arrangement as they are quite misleading.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on October 23, 2015, 11:20:30
The tendency for the lens to make "swimming" movements is even more apparent once the new TC-14E.3 is attached to it. Do not be duped by reports of the 200-500 having a satisfactory tripod arrangement as they are quite misleading.

Maybe fitting a cork in between the foot and the lens barrel would help, as you did for the old 300/4!
Do you get vibrations from the shutter movement? Is the issue reduced by using EFCS?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 23, 2015, 15:21:03
Maybe fitting a cork in between the foot and the lens barrel would help, as you did for the old 300/4!
Do you get vibrations from the shutter movement? Is the issue reduced by using EFCS?

There doesn't seem to be a suitable place to mount such an auxiliary device due to the position of the focus ring (judging just from the images of the lens; I don't have the lens). However, Kirk have a product that takes contact with a second point on the barrel, with rollers, however, their foot and second contact support together add to the cost of the lens. This is what they offer (two parts):

http://www.kirkphoto.com/200-500mm_f_5.6E_ED_VR_lens_support.html

EFCS should eliminate most shutter induced vibration if using the D810. However there is also wind that can cause a lens to swim, so EFCS by itself would likely not solve the problem.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 23, 2015, 20:15:09
It is an enigma why Nikon reverted to this flawed tripod collar design for the 200-500. The only explanation I can imagine is that the placement of the collar only came to the engineer's mind after all other mechanical aspects had been completed and thus the collar had to go where some narrow free space still existed. In order to balance lens + camera, the foot itself has to be cantilevered when it is positioned to the extreme rear of the lens.

The result is a wobbling affair. The flexing is less than seen with other flawed collars of a similar design, yet sufficient to introduce unsharpness at slower speeds. This is further exacerbated when the TC14E.3 is added and it is easy to document the problem rests with the tripod collar/foot alone. Simply put the lens on a *really* sturdy tripod and notice how the lens vibrates. The early 200-400/4 Nikkor ED AIS also has a cantilevered tripod mounting design, but is much more solid constructed and there is no vibration at all under the same conditions. Thus, cantilevered supports are not the culprit per se. Compare the images below.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 23, 2015, 22:59:02
Lots and lots of boring test shots later, I conclude that the 200-500 is OK as long as you don't use VR with it tripod mounted, or stop it down further than about f/11 or f/16 in a pinch. The image sharpness rapidly declines in either case. Images remain pretty clear of chromatic aberration until you extend the lens to its longest focal settings, but most if not all of these nasties came under adequate control in a decent RAW converter.

However, adding the TC14E Mk.3 is a quick if extensive way of bring back all these gremlins in force.  Image quality really suffers as well.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 23, 2015, 23:02:35
The 200-500 can do decent flower photography and with the lens set to 500 mm the background is nicely blurred. Don't expect true "macro" lens performance, though.

A late-flowering clump of Oxeye Daisies Leucanthemum vulgare captured in a rural setting. I could use a nearby barn as a convenient background.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jakov Minić on October 23, 2015, 23:59:17
Lovely image, Bjørn.
How is the image quality compared to the 200-400/4 that you posted mounted on a tripod?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 24, 2015, 00:23:55
The old 200-400 was a fantastic lens for its time and still capable of holding its own to newer designs. I haven't done direct A:B comparisons between them as the 200-400 is so scarce an item, and thus most people never will have the opportunity to use it. The 200-500 should be judged on its own merits.

So far, I think the 200-500 will appeal to a great many users. The overall image quality is pretty high all things considered.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 24, 2015, 00:59:55
Here are a few more of the hand-held captures from today. VR on. AF is not super quick in the Df, but will do the job adequately.

(The willow is a male Salix pentandra. Just in case you wonderdd)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Tersn on October 25, 2015, 12:07:55
It looks like a useful travel light lens for wildlife and the like. I guess the 500/4 and  600/4 belong to a higher league, but so do their weights and prices.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Kim Pilegaard on October 25, 2015, 12:42:42
It would be interesting to compare the 200-500 mm with the old and new 300/4 + converters in terms of sharpness. Probably the two primes will still outperform the zoom (except for the missing VR on the old one).

Maybe Bjørn has something to say about this?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 25, 2015, 15:02:17
I've been busy testing the 200-500 with TCs. Apparently the newest TC14E.3 does work quite well and you get reliable, albeit slow, AF on the newer cameras capable of AF at f/8.

However, the tendency for the 200-500 to show lateral chromatic aberrations towards the longer focal setting become much more pronounced when any TC is added. Not surprising of course, but still something to keep in mind. You really need to remove CA in the work flow for the images to be useful. Image sharpness might suffer less by the shorter TCs, but the propensity for lens and camera vibration increases dramatically and even VR cannot be relied to bail you out. Shooting at 700 mm (lens set to 500 mm plus the TC14E.3) makes captures a troublesome experience even with the lens mounted on top quality tripods, unless mirror lock-up is engaged and you work in a slow, method fashion.

You do get the opportunity to try exposure settings say of f/45 at 1/6 sec, though, with the TC attached. Something for the experimentally inclined photographer perhaps, but don't expect miracles as they will not manifest themselves no matter how strong your faith is.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on October 25, 2015, 15:05:08
I plan to do a new series of comparisons between the 200-500 and various 300 mm lenses. Not sure which ones yet, except that the 300 PF is a top candidate. My car goes into the repair shop for its annual checkup tomorrow and I'll be without the required 'wheels' for whatever period the Peugeot shop requires for fixing any issues.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 26, 2015, 13:54:10
It would be interesting to compare the 200-500 mm with the old and new 300/4 + converters in terms of sharpness.

I don't have first hand user experience with the 200-500, so I can't answer that question directly.

But I find the use of a TC typically reduces the AF keeper rate especially when photographing moving subjects at mid to long distances (tens of meters to infinity). A native lens of a given focal length is better because it is designed to focus well for typical distances where such focal lengths are used whereas a TC is typically added to a lens when the distance to subject is greater than normal for the native focal length of that lens and also the aberrations are increased by the TC which makes the job of the AF system more difficult. I have used one TC+prime lens combination where the AF performance is excellent across all distances, that is the 200/2 I/II + TC-14E II/III (technically that is two TCs and two different lenses but they're similar).

Even if the 300/4+1.4X TC may be sharper in a test chart test than the 200-500/5.6 (which could be the case, but not necessarily) it doesn't mean the real world performance of the TC rig is as good as that of a longer lens that achieves the desired focal length without the use of a TC or cropping. I would assume that the clarity of the image and colours are probably better with the 200-500 than with the 300/4 PF + TC-14E III; the PF isn't quite the best lens in terms of clarity and contrast to begin with and if you add a TC and long distance to the picture then the results probably aren't all that great. I think TCs in general work ok at relatively short distances to subject, and I've gotten good results with both III-series TCs on the 300/4 PF, but AF is severely impacted with both TCs especially the 2X. I would always preferentially choose a native lens of a given focal length rather than use a shorter lens and a TC, but there are those who like to use a shorter lens and TC (the 300/4 PF of course is ridiculously small even with TC attached compared to the 200-500).

From some 200-500/5.6 users that I have discussed the lens with, I gather that the 200-500 has great AF at long distances (planes, sports in bright light) but struggles a bit with bird in flight shots (compared to e.g. 300/2.8 or 80-400 AF-S). Thus it would seem that the optimal area of application of the 200-500 is different from that of the 300/4 + TC.  My experience  with the 80-400 AF-S is along the above lines of thought: it autofocuses very well at 400mm even at distances of 50m or so, whereas none of my short lens + TC rigs has quite done that. I have read user comments (from those who have both 200-500 and 80-400 AF-S) that the 80-400 autofocuses better for birds in flight (this could be thanks to its aggressively focal length shortening focusing method) than the 200-500.

Anyway, hopefully I'm not overanalyzing the situation. I just want to emphasize that AF performance and lens image quality on a static subject and AF performance and resulting image quality and consistency in dynamic, action tracking situations are not the same and this should be considered when deciding which lens to use for a given task.

I have used the 300/4 PF quite a lot by now, for sports and concert photography, and after initial testing I have not used it with TCs, mainly due to AF jitter in low light. The images do have high resolution and I simply prefer to crop a bit when required and retain the full AF performance that the lens is capable of. The reason I've used the lens a lot is its supreme practicality and compactness; I don't have to think about whether to throw it in the bag or not. However, I don't think it produces quite the level of image quality and consistency that the 200/2 or 70-200/2.8 II give; it is "different" for lack of a better word. In low light the results do not quite match those of the faster lenses, but they can be "ok" still. I have found that a good, and practical to use 300mm is long enough for 99% of my telephoto needs, but if I really needed a longer lens I would start by looking at lenses that achieve a longer focal length without TC and only use a TC occasionally when a situation appears which was not possible to plan for.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on October 30, 2015, 11:42:56
Any further feedback on this lens?
or experiences by others?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 30, 2015, 14:47:23
Any further feedback on this lens?
or experiences by others?

I have so far one night session and one daylight session behind me with this lens.

I find the tripod collar better than what Nikon supplies with the AF-S 80-400, but it's not quite as rigid as I would like. After letting go of the camera, the lens still wobbles about for about 2 seconds before stabilizing. I find that there is some blur with 1/60s shots made at 500mm or 700mm, but things look ok at 1/125s, using my tripod (3-series Gitzo Systematic). I am considering the acquisition of Kirk's collar and front support but will first see what the upgrade to 4-series, 3.2kg tripod legs will do to help with the vibration.

I like the balance of the lens when hand held, and the VR stabilizes the lens very nicely. The 500mm focal length does mean the image tends to wander to a different composition during the time the viewfinder is blacked out, so I find myself striving to maintain precise composition. However this is the first time I've ever used a 500mm lens hand held so I don't have the required practice behind me. The lens feels great to hand hold it is not too front heavy and while my hands start feeling it a bit after 15 - 20 min, it is overall a pleasant experience.

However, there is a catch. The zoom ring has a long throw (about 180 degrees of turn from 200mm to 500mm) and the ring is quite stiff, so you have to use some force to turn the ring and I find myself taking the lens down from the eye and grabbing it with two hands to adjust the zoom and then take it back to the viewfinder for shooting. This to me implies that I should try using a monopod with it because the monopod would hold the lens and camera orientation still while my left hand turns the zoom ring. I have to say the 80-400 is far easier to zoom hand held than the 200-500.

I tried to photograph some plants and leaves and image quality was very good but the autofocus often didn't find anything to focus on, so I had to get the focus close by focusing manually and then refine it with AF (since I was hand holding I felt the autofocus would compensate for my hands and body swaying in depth so used AF-C). I felt  the image quality was a positive but clearly there are some practical issues that I have to learn to deal with when hand holding this lens.

I will try a monopod next. Hopefully it will be a pleasant experience that way. I think if I'm to hand hold it I will mostly preset the zoom and then shoot, instead of dynamically adjusting the zoom according to subject movement. This is quite restrictive vs. the way I typically use a zoom. So my first experience with this lens is not all roses and sunlight. However, I will give it a due chance to earn its place in my kit.

I think perhaps the large elements have to move so much when zooming that Nikon decided to play it safe and implement a (hopefully) durable but stiff zoom control instead of a loose but wobbly design.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on October 30, 2015, 15:02:52
I hope that the rather stiff zoom mechanism keeps the lens safe from zoom creep when pointed at steep angles (such as when taking a moon shot or down from a cliff).

I think perhaps the large elements have to move so much when zooming that Nikon decided to play it safe and implement a (hopefully) durable but stiff zoom control instead of a loose but wobbly design.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 30, 2015, 15:42:59
I hope that the rather stiff zoom mechanism keeps the lens safe from zoom creep when pointed at steep angles (such as when taking a moon shot or down from a cliff).

The zoom indeed doesn't creep. I think this may well be the reason it was implemented in this way. However, it does interfere with easy hand held use of the zoom  especially in situations where tracking an approaching subject requires rapid adjustment of the focal length. In designs where the lens doesn't extend while zooming (such as the 200-400/4) the zooming action is lighter but then the lens is too heavy to hand hold on a regular basis (at least for me). I will go with the monopod approach next to see where that leads me. It is a pity as the VR seems to make the lens eminently hand-holdable if we ignore the stiff zoom. If one can shoot with the lens without zooming frequently while tracking the subject then I think the lens works well hand held.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on October 31, 2015, 09:25:55
I noticed that when hand holding the lens, it is easier to zoom when the tripod collar foot is in my palm. The lens is more difficult to zoom if the collar is removed as it is harder to keep the main barrel from rotating without placing strain on the body/lens interface.

Monopod use seems to be a good option as image sharpness seems improved but I need to get used to the monopod way of shooting. It looks like the VR works well with the lens on monopod. But I still feel that I'm doing more pre-zooming and then shooting rather than zooming while shooting because of the way the zoom is implemented on this lens. The tripod collar provided seems acceptable for monopod use but I am still considering the Kirk products because it would be nice not to have to use a separate QR plate and the front support appeals to me.

Image quality seems very uniform across the image.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 02, 2015, 22:25:56
I got my new GT4542LS tripod which has thicker tube diameter than my regular GT3542LS.

I did some slow shutter speed tests with the 200-500mm set at 500mm, lighting a textured subject with a halogen spot and adjusting the light to subject distance to get access to different shutter speeds. I used 1/6s and 1/15s, f/7.1 (I assumed that would be close to the optimum aperture), ISO 800, on the D810. I took series of 3 shots per set of parameters to test the reproducibility of the sharpness. I tried with EFCS on and off at both shutter speeds. These tests were done with VR OFF.

I would say the difference is very subtle, in favour of using EFCS which gave slightly higher sharpness than when using full mechanical shutter. The reproducibility of sharpness with the 200-500mm + GT4542LS (standard collar) was excellent, in contrast with the AF-S 80-400 on my GT3542LS (with Kirk collar). I will next carry out a similar test in subdued daylight to get a feel for what kind of shutter speeds I can safely use with this rig and whether the purchase of a Kirk support system is warranted. It would seem from my initial testing that the reproducibility of sharpness is acceptable at least in the indoor environment with very little air flow.   

I tested the image stability using Live view at maximum zoom. With VR off, the image settled in approximately 1 second after tapping the camera. This seemed to be an improvement over using the same lens with the GT3542LS, no doubt thanks to the more rigid tripod. However, I think there is room for improvement in the collar part of the setup. However, after the 1-1.3 second waiting period the image seemed to be very stable. When I then turned VR on, the image started to drift about in a small region in a seemingly random fashion. So, I will definitely keep VR OFF when using this lens on a tripod. On a monopod I was happy with the results with VR on. I think that with appropriate care, it should be possible to get good sharpness in field conditions at slow speeds using this lens and the GT4542LS tripod in a consistent fashion, and EFCS boosts sharpness slightly, giving more confidence to using the lens although I think it would be very hard to spot the difference in a print of "normal" size.

I think both the tripod and the lens even with standard collar represent an improvement to my previous 80-400 AF-S and GT3542LS when it comes to use at slow (or intermediate) shutter speeds and there doesn't seem to be any of the inconsistency that bothered me with the lens that I had before. I also find that the 200-500's AF doesn't cause any noticeable lateral wobble in the image whereas with the 80-400 AF-S, the image shook left and right a bit when the autofocus was active. This problem seemed to cause some indecisiveness on subject AF tracking when photographing birds in flight with the 80-400, and it bothered me personally (OCD). This lateral wobble in the image is absent in the 200-500, suggesting it is built to tighter tolerances for the focus group (or I might have had a less than perfect copy of the 80-400). I look forward to verifying my findings in field conditions outdoors and see how well the setup handles wind. I am cautiously optimistic about it and hope that I can avoid the cost of additional support. I should probably have investigated the 4-series tripod already with the 80-400 AF-S but it does represent 1.2 kg of extra weight and the lens seemed to be a part of the problem not just my tripod. Now I understand it was a combination of factors.

I will try to investigate also how the tripod-based sharpness differs from monopod mounted and hand held to get a feel of how much of a compromise I would make when choosing less support (the advantage of less support is greater mobility and a faster shooting experience). So far it is my impression that the monopod does provide a significant help compared to hand holding this lens, but I'm not really a fluid monopod user, so I'll have to work on it. Mounting the lens on the monopod is a nervous moment for me as I'm used to one component (the tripod) being stable and both hands being free to position the lens while it is being attached. When mounting a heavy lens on a monopod, both are in motion and only one hand is free to support the lens. I really don't want to drop my kit ...
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Erik Lund on November 02, 2015, 22:42:08
What head did you use and how did you mount it?
Makes a lot of difference...

I find a huge difference between series 3 and series 5 Gitzo!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 02, 2015, 23:07:38
What head did you use and how did you mount it?
Makes a lot of difference...

I find a huge difference between series 3 and series 5 Gitzo!

I use an Arca-Swiss Z1 sp head, firmly mounted on the tripod (with locking screw from below the top plate of the tripod), and a Burzynski QR plate on the tripod collar of the 200-500 (the Kirk collar on the 80-400 had its own dovetail so no QR plate was needed). The Z1 is not convenient for tracking moving subjects but I would be using the tripod with this lens for landscape and detail shots mainly, and when I need to use it for a moving subject, I would be using either a monopod with ball head, or hand hold the lens if there is no possibility of using a support.

The 5-series Gitzo is  unfortunately heavier than I'm willing to carry around (I have occasional back problems and I try to minimize the instances where they hit me), and the 4-series seemed like a good compromise that would give me more stability when using a long lens. It is closer to 5-series than 3-series in weight but I think I can manage it.  I will keep the 3-series for shorter focal length work.

With 300mm and shorter lenses I've been happy with the 3-series, but 400mm and 500mm focal lengths clearly exhibited problems with achieving sharp results below 1/100s.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on November 03, 2015, 13:17:20
Thanks for the observations regarding stability!

What about weather resistance? Has anyone had the chance to test in harsh conditions or seen a test regarding that?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on November 03, 2015, 15:10:07
Today I got my review sample of the 200-500 updated at my Nikon repair facility. The procedure was quicker than I had anticipated and including a great deal of humour and chatting with the techs, took less than 10 minutes.

Now I have to stand up to a family funeral tomorrow and some associated chores and then back to full test drive mode again.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on November 03, 2015, 16:02:35
Today I got my review sample of the 200-500 updated at my Nikon repair facility. The procedure was quicker than I had anticipated and including a great deal of humour and chatting with the techs, took less than 10 minutes.

Now I have to stand up to a family funeral tomorrow and some associated chores and then back to full test drive mode again.

Glad the fix was quick and pleasant.
Sorry to hear about that, wish you the best.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 03, 2015, 16:27:42
Here is an outdoor test with the GT4542LS and two shutter speeds, f/8, with and without EFCS (100% crops from D810 images); 500mm focal length setting. I recommend looking at the leaves under the shutter speed text as those seem to be closest to being in focus. Also the larger branches show differences. As you can see, both EFCS and faster shutter speed help, but the leaves fluttered a bit in the very light wind so a part of the benefit of the faster shutter speed may have been due to the leaves not being perfectly still. I also did a shot at 1/200s with EFCS on but that wasn't any perceptibly better than the 1/100s shot with EFCS on. The differences here are a bit larger than in my indoor testing. The shot-to-shot consistency (within each set of parameter values) was however, very good.

I guess a fluid head would provide some additional stability, and then there is the Kirk solution as well to consider. However, these do cost additional money and at least some of the fluid heads recommended by the good people of this forum are three times the weight of the Z1.  ;) Perhaps I can just restrict myself to using the lens at 1/100s and faster for the most part, although that feels very restrictive for shooting in the pre-sunrise winter light. If anyone can suggest a fluid head that would help me with this lens, and would be lighter than the typical 2kg ones I've read about, I welcome such suggestions!  :) At this point I'm willing to believe that both Nikon's collar as well as the head may contribute to the lack of perfect stability at slow speeds.

What worries me a bit is that Nikon hasn't put EFCS with RAW capture in their other camera bodies, and its support in future bodies isn't quite clear. Anyway, I think the feature has its place and it gives me a bit more leeway in using slow shutter speeds with improved results given the camera support that I have available. I've found that it helps especially when using light weight smaller to mid aperture telephoto lenses on tripod collars and vertical captures in a certain shutter speed window. With the 200/2 (even with TC-14E III) the difference between EFCS on and off is almost imperceptible, whereas with a lighter lens such as 70-200/4, the difference is very obvious.

I will try to make a similar test with the 300 PF with TCs to compare.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 03, 2015, 16:49:09
In my second test shot series I used 1/15s, 1/50s, 1/100s with and without EFCS on a distant building facade (about 150m distance) and I could not perceive any difference between EFCS on and off at any of the speeds (pairwise comparison). However, the 1/50s shots appeared to be ever so slightly less sharp than the ones at 1/15s, and the 1/100s were slightly worse than the 1/50s.  I will not post these as there is really not enough to see. I'm not sure why the difference between EFCS ON and OFF vanished, perhaps atmospheric fluctiations had greater impact at this longer distance. The tree shots  posted above had an approximately 40m distance between camera and the tree.

Edit: I figured out the likely explanation why my 150m facade shot doesn't show the effect of shutter vibration but the 40m tree shot does. The 150m facade shot was a horizontal image and the 40m tree shot is a vertical! The movement of the shutter sidewise in the left-right direction (in the vertical shot) is not as well dampened by the tripod as the top down shutter movement in a horizontal orientation shot. Also it is easy to see in the tree shot that most of the blur in the EFCS off shots is in the left-right direction in the image. Also, my indoor images shot yesterday were horizontals and they showed only a small difference between EFCS ON and OFF.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on November 03, 2015, 18:10:08
A very typical sign of inadequate tripod support is a difference in stability between landscape and portrait mode captures.  Such a difference exists for the 200-500 lens. Your observations in that regard echo mine.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 06, 2015, 00:41:55
Hand held at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 2000, VR normal.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Tersn on November 07, 2015, 19:03:10
Handheld w. D3s @ 1/160, f/5.6, 200mm, iso 3200, VR on.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Tersn on November 07, 2015, 19:06:30
One more:
Handheld w. D3s @ 1/160, f/5.6, 500mm, iso 4000, VR on.

(Both shot straight out of the box on the way home from the photo store.)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 08, 2015, 05:46:28


(Both shot straight out of the box on the way home from the photo store.)

thats what I call enthusiasm :)

I am still waiting for mine - as I ordered one with a later serial number
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Tersn on November 08, 2015, 10:20:38
thats what I call enthusiasm :)

I am still waiting for mine - as I ordered one with a later serial number

I hope the enthusiasm will remain after a few weeks of shooting. As far as I could tell this lens was the only copy available in town yesterday, so I hurried down to grab it. The serial number was good. Tried the lens this morning on small fast birds in flight. However, light was poor.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Valeria Lages on November 08, 2015, 18:44:29
Tried the lens this morning on small fast birds in flight. However, light was poor.

Hi, Tersn, could you please give your opinion about how this lens performs with birds in fly and moving animals under poor light if by so you mean low light? Being a f/5.6 zoom lens, I'd like to know how is its autofocus speed, accuracy and so on in such situation. I'm wondering how good would it be for shooting right before the sunrise/right after the sunset, also using it in forests where one doesn't always see blue sky due to the high amount of trees and shadows.

I'd appreciate if you can write a little bit about your feeling of shooting handheld with it aswell. At first it seems to me it's too heavy for this (I'm female), but besides the weight we know there are other things which can add to the handheld experience, like lens balance, diameter of barrel, smoothness of zoom and focus rings etc. 

Thanks in advance!

Valeria
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 09, 2015, 17:54:39
The bokeh is surprisingly good in this lens. The attached shot was made at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 1600; I was mainly testing how the lens can autofocus on an approaching subject; quite well is the answer, at least at these distances and light level during an overcast day. I imagine this lens will work quite well for summertime outdoor concert photography as well as some sports.  Unfortunately current weather conditions limit applications in the next few months. On the 22th of November there is the opening of the christmas street in Helsinki which is accompanied by outdoor music on the steps of the Helsinki Catherdral, and the steps are quite far away, leading to potential use of this lens, if weather co-operates. There will also be the National Ballet with Snow Queen. Anyway, I find this lens shows more promise than the 80-400 which required stopping down to f/8 for good image quality at 400mm. The drawbacks are in handling and the greater effort required in zooming.

I ordered the Kirk NC-200-500 and LS-2 for use with a tripod, and they should arrive next week so I will be able to compare stability and handling with that setup and the standard Nikon collar.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 09, 2015, 17:57:57
thanks for the feedback!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 09, 2015, 17:59:49
Nicely even sharpness across most of the frame in architectural shots. I think the outermost 5-10% of the image circle is slightly softer at 500mm than the central area, but this is only seen in the edges at far sides of the long axis of the image. This is at 420mm, f/11, 1/100s, ISO 800, monopod.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on November 09, 2015, 18:28:24
The bokeh is surprisingly good in this lens.

Indeed, very nice!

At this point, it seems pretty difficult to justify the 50% premium of the 80-400; Nanocrystal coating and perhaps a slight edge in AF speed seem to be the only real benefits aside from the different range of course. Or am I missing something?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on November 09, 2015, 18:59:27
The two-thirds stop difference perhaps?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 09, 2015, 20:01:40
At this point, it seems pretty difficult to justify the 50% premium of the 80-400; Nanocrystal coating and perhaps a slight edge in AF speed seem to be the only real benefits aside from the different range of course. Or am I missing something?

Zooming is much faster on the 80-400, with the 200-500 it's quite a slow process. This is quite significant in action scenarios, e.g., an airshow where you'd want to frame to compose the plane(s) and the clouds as things happen; with the 200-500, zooming takes a while and it's just not something you do on the fly.  It takes me 6 seconds to zoom from 500mm to 200mm, and 8 seconds to go from 200mm back to 500mm (using the left hand to zoom with the lens in shooting position). With the 70-200/4, either way just takes 1 second.   I think for formations I would use a 70-200mm,  and regard the 200-500mm as an adjustable prime lens pre-set to 400mm or 500mm for those long shots.

The 80-400 offers a more convenient (and available!) 77mm filter size (vs. 95mm), nano coating,  AF that works also at close distances (the 200-500 often needs manual help at close distances), a 5x focal range, and is more portable and hand-holdable. The 200-500 is sharper at f/5.6 and offers the 500mm focal length, and perhaps is a bit better constructed (but this comes with the tradeoff of glacial zooming).

I guess for landscape photography the zooming is not at all a problem, but I thought I would be able to maintain approximately constant framing on an approaching subject in some sports scenarios and this is just not possible with the 200-500mm. For me this is the main limitation of the 200-500. However, not having a sharp f/5.6 is a more severe limitation for me, so my choice between the 80-400 and 200-500 sides with the latter (the fact that I already have the 70-200mm range covered with a fast, high-quality zoom contributes to it). For someone who is ok with stopping down a bit, and needs quick access to a 5x zoom range, the 80-400 likely is the better choice.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on November 09, 2015, 21:53:25
The two-thirds stop difference perhaps?

Small detail, thanks! :)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Tersn on November 10, 2015, 00:20:08
Hi, Tersn, could you please give your opinion about how this lens performs with birds in fly and moving animals under poor light if by so you mean low light? Being a f/5.6 zoom lens, I'd like to know how is its autofocus speed, accuracy and so on in such situation. I'm wondering how good would it be for shooting right before the sunrise/right after the sunset, also using it in forests where one doesn't always see blue sky due to the high amount of trees and shadows.

I'd appreciate if you can write a little bit about your feeling of shooting handheld with it aswell. At first it seems to me it's too heavy for this (I'm female), but besides the weight we know there are other things which can add to the handheld experience, like lens balance, diameter of barrel, smoothness of zoom and focus rings etc. 

Thanks in advance!

Valeria

Hi Valeria, I will need some time before I can say much about the performance. So far I'm just getting used to the lens and am dialling it in. Moreover, I will be busy the coming weeks with some projects, so have to move slowly with the 200-500. So far I have only been shooting it handheld. At 2.3 kg it is a little lighter than the 300/2.8 that I am also using handheld (about 0.5kg lighter). However, after handholding the lens for some time, most people will feel its weight. Still I expect to be shooting it with no pod most of the time. The zoom  can be a little cumbersome (at least in the beginning).

The attached sample shot was done at iso 6400 with a D3s and an SB910 flash. No wonder it looks a bit soft. Besides, I have done no focus fine-tuning yet.
@ 400mm, 1/2000 s, f/5.6, -1.3 eV, handheld.

Terje
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Anthony on November 10, 2015, 10:55:46
Indeed, very nice!

At this point, it seems pretty difficult to justify the 50% premium of the 80-400; Nanocrystal coating and perhaps a slight edge in AF speed seem to be the only real benefits aside from the different range of course. Or am I missing something?
I am thinking about this issue at the moment.

I have the 80-400 VRII and have been thinking about the 200-500.

Apart from the money saving aspect of not buying the new lens, the advantages of the 80-400 are weight and versatility.  For my immediate needs, which will involve a degree of hiking around and other awkward manoeuvring pursuing various forms of wildlife, the advantage of having one lens rather than the 70-200 and the 200-500 to carry around is considerable, particularly if each lens has its own body attached.  I know that the 80-400 has the AF speed to shoot BIFs, and it is light enough to make this practical in the field without tripod and Wimberley.  I also know that I can get good shots with it at low shutter speeds handheld.

On a safari in a Land Rover the analysis might be very different.

So for the moment I shall probably save my money and use what I have.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: simsurace on November 10, 2015, 14:18:51
Zooming is much faster on the 80-400, with the 200-500 it's quite a slow process. This is quite significant in action scenarios, e.g., an airshow where you'd want to frame to compose the plane(s) and the clouds as things happen; with the 200-500, zooming takes a while and it's just not something you do on the fly.  It takes me 6 seconds to zoom from 500mm to 200mm, and 8 seconds to go from 200mm back to 500mm (using the left hand to zoom with the lens in shooting position). With the 70-200/4, either way just takes 1 second.   I think for formations I would use a 70-200mm,  and regard the 200-500mm as an adjustable prime lens pre-set to 400mm or 500mm for those long shots.

The 80-400 offers a more convenient (and available!) 77mm filter size (vs. 95mm), nano coating,  AF that works also at close distances (the 200-500 often needs manual help at close distances), a 5x focal range, and is more portable and hand-holdable. The 200-500 is sharper at f/5.6 and offers the 500mm focal length, and perhaps is a bit better constructed (but this comes with the tradeoff of glacial zooming).

I guess for landscape photography the zooming is not at all a problem, but I thought I would be able to maintain approximately constant framing on an approaching subject in some sports scenarios and this is just not possible with the 200-500mm. For me this is the main limitation of the 200-500. However, not having a sharp f/5.6 is a more severe limitation for me, so my choice between the 80-400 and 200-500 sides with the latter (the fact that I already have the 70-200mm range covered with a fast, high-quality zoom contributes to it). For someone who is ok with stopping down a bit, and needs quick access to a 5x zoom range, the 80-400 likely is the better choice.

Thanks for the nice summary.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Valeria Lages on November 13, 2015, 05:10:35
Hi Valeria, I will need some time before I can say much about the performance. So far I'm just getting used to the lens and am dialling it in. Moreover, I will be busy the coming weeks with some projects, so have to move slowly with the 200-500. So far I have only been shooting it handheld. At 2.3 kg it is a little lighter than the 300/2.8 that I am also using handheld (about 0.5kg lighter). However, after handholding the lens for some time, most people will feel its weight. Still I expect to be shooting it with no pod most of the time. The zoom  can be a little cumbersome (at least in the beginning).

Thanks for your feedback, Terje! Enjoy your new lens and please let us posted about your new findings!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Valeria Lages on November 13, 2015, 05:25:19
   Hi folks,

   I'm wondering about Nikon telelenses but it's being difficult to make my mind. Since the good reviews about the 200-500 started to show up I'm thinking about this to pair to a 70-200 4 that I'd buy too to replace my current 70-200 2.8 VRI which isn't good for full-frame. The f/4 version is my option over the 2.8 VRII due to its lighter weight and good AF performance with no focus breathing.

 Then I realized that the 200-500 is probably heavier than I'd like to handheld for a long time so would need often a mono/tripod with gimbal. Also I'd have to pack and be able to transport much more gear than I wish because my work is mainly traveling. Hence it seemed to be more practical to choose instead only the 80-400, which is almost the same price as the 70-200 4 + the 200-500. But I'm not totally convinced yet and still wondering about.

 It's worth say I own the 300mm f/4 PF + TCs 14EIII and 20EIII as well and although my primary interest is wildlife, I have no budget to go deeper into more serious top first line Nikkor lenses. So I can't see other options than the ones I'm dealing with…

  Any thoughts and comments will be much appreciated! 

  Valeria
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 13, 2015, 11:23:21
The 70-200/4 is excellent and would travel with the 300/4 PF nicely taking a moderate amount of bag space. I think this pair is a better quality option than the 80-400 AF-S. If you need additional focal length, then the 80-400 gives 400mm and 200-500 gives 500mm which is more substantially different from the 300mm you already have. Yes, it is a larger and heavier lens than the others. I would think that you need to test it in person to see whether you find its handling and portability acceptable. You can always choose to travel with the 70-200/4 and 300/4 PF if you need to go light. I think the best way to handle the accumulation of weight in your kit is to simply leave something at home and focus on one or two lenses on a trip, depending on what subjects you expect to encounter.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: PedroS on November 13, 2015, 11:43:30
Ilkka just made a good point.
Being a wildlifer for long, thought, I never relly on TCs on other lenses other than the 2.8... That said 300 is "always" short.

One thing that I don't see much people refer is the need of wide lenses on a wildlifer kit. Wildlife is not always just portraits, showing the subject on its habitat is very important, and you can make dramatic photos as well.

My option, if weight and budget constraints are present, would be 24-120 and 200-500, and don't forget a speedlight!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on November 13, 2015, 11:55:17
Being forced to leave gear at home is a blade that cuts both ways. In order to have this work smoothly, forget the urge to bring more of the lenses you already have, concentrate on what you would likely need for the planned trip instead. Otherwise you will pine for the item you didn't bring along and that'll never do any good for your photography. Learn to maximise the potential of the gear you have at your disposal instead.

Both 80-400 or 200-500 are pretty big lenses and you really need good support for them in order to eke out the maximum performance of each optic. Many people claim they can easily hand-hold them, which is true as neither weighs 5+ kg, and think they can get super sharp images with a lens operated in this manner thanks to VR and similar miracle features, the latter claim usually never being corroborated by careful A/B comparison of the same lens used hand-held or being tripod-mounted. The universal truth is that tripod support always increase the chance of getting a sharper shot and frequently also one with a better composition.

Excuse this long preamble as an introduction to why I think a 70-200 (f/4 or f/2.8 Mk.2) might be the better choice of your alternatives, given you already own the 300/4 PF and TC14E.3.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Chris Dees on November 13, 2015, 17:15:17
The 70-200/4 is excellent and would travel with the 300/4 PF nicely taking a moderate amount of bag space. I think this pair is a better quality option than the 80-400 AF-S. If you need additional focal length, then the 80-400 gives 400mm and 200-500 gives 500mm which is more substantially different from the 300mm you already have. Yes, it is a larger and heavier lens than the others. I would think that you need to test it in person to see whether you find its handling and portability acceptable. You can always choose to travel with the 70-200/4 and 300/4 PF if you need to go light. I think the best way to handle the accumulation of weight in your kit is to simply leave something at home and focus on one or two lenses on a trip, depending on what subjects you expect to encounter.

That's in my "light" travel set as well. Put a TC 1.4x III in the bag for the time you want/need more reach and the IQ loss is minimal.
Together with the 18-35G and 24-120/4.0G it gives a nice set and not too much weight.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 14, 2015, 17:12:48
ja well - I have NO clue where I am going to pack mine - I always liked that everything fitted in my bag. Now we have a problem ...
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: PedroS on November 14, 2015, 18:53:46
Elsa, look at the Gura Gear line of shooting bags.
They are extremely well made, very light and carry everything you might need.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 14, 2015, 19:14:57
I looked :)
I do have a biggish bag already  - but any bag with wheels is compromised in the packing department. I cant go bigger as my bag then wont be allowed for carry-on luggage when flying.
it's the 200-500 thats not going to fit...

I think someone needs to come up with a custom name for that thing -  the lens I mean
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jan Anne on November 14, 2015, 21:50:02
Elsa, the big Gura Gear bag (now Tamrac btw) fits a 200-400/4VR with body so the much smaller 200-500 should fit easily.

Btw GG doesn't have models with wheels, thats Think Tank  ;D
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 15, 2015, 03:43:48
JA - yes that's why I have a Think Tank :)

Thing is - my bag can fit a 200-400 too - but what about my other lenses?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: tommiejeep on November 15, 2015, 04:56:36
Elsa, I normally travel with my wife and son so we get three hand carry bags but , all three of use vests when travelling.  We have quite a collection , everything from the Domkes (for serious gear) to fashion vests .  I went to Kashmir with the D700 (with out lens), 24-70 2.8 and 70-200vr 2.8 II all in the vest.  Janette always travels to and from the UK with a vest.

So far so good , never had anyone weigh a vest and makes it dead easy when you get to security.  Just take the vest off and put it in a tray  :) .   Probably would not work on very small aircraft where weight is very closely monitored, ala a Safari or Alaskan seaplane.   Janette had her EM1 system in her vest and my new a7II , four lenses, in her hand carry on her more recent return from the UK ;) .
Just a thought , works for us.

Cheers,
Tom
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 15, 2015, 04:59:21
I forgot about the vest thing - thank you for reminding me. That really is an excellent idea!!!

I have a Canon vest  ;D ;D ;D but that thing is so big for me now - I need to invest in a new one -
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jan Anne on November 15, 2015, 10:09:35
JA - yes that's why I have a Think Tank :)

Thing is - my bag can fit a 200-400 too - but what about my other lenses?
Back in the day of the 2009 NG safari my Gura Gear Kiboko fitted a MacBook Air, a D700 & D300 (both with grips) and the 14-24/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8VR and the 200-400/4VR plus an assortment of accessories like a SB-800, batteries, flashlights, cards, etc.

Though in this case overweight this bag was allowed as a carry-on and fitted in the overhead compartment on every flight I made so far, including little prop plains to get to remote places. The overweight problem was tackled by stuffing heavy stuff in my pockets and sling the 200-400/4VR with camera over my shoulder before checking in and putting everything back into the bag just before boarding.

A general tip is to change the bags configuration to get all your gear on site and change it back to a shooting mode once on site for easier access of the gear. Second tip is not to bring everything you got as you will always fall back to your favourites lenses regardless of that setting one is in, or buy smaller gear ;D

Not sure what Think Tank model you have but those are usually also designed to hold a lot of gear including big lenses.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: tommiejeep on November 15, 2015, 11:32:06
I forgot about the vest thing - thank you for reminding me. That really is an excellent idea!!!

I have a Canon vest  ;D ;D ;D but that thing is so big for me now - I need to invest in a new one -

Elsa, I have a custom, John Storrie Vest that will carry the proverbial kitchen sink.  Bought when I was younger , healthier and fitter  :).   If I loaded it up with the gear I carried in Mexico for three months in 2007,  I would not make it up the stairs to my bedroom to have a lie down  ;) .   I might travel with the 80-400 afs by air but not the 500vr and 300 2.8 these days  :( .

Getting old is such a bore!
Tom
Edit: I do use the John Sanford custom backpack for the 500vr but I am actively trying to get a Multi Trolley than Andreas put me on to.  Maybe when Janette goes to UK in January  :)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 15, 2015, 13:28:12
I suppose I will have to leave my 300 at hom in future, have to get my head around it still - although I like to keep that on my one body at all times

My bag fits my
2 bodies,
70-200
300
24-70
14-24
flashes
135
50
2xTC
batteries cards etc

I have a rather big Think tank - but as said - you do loose some if your bag has wheels. I hate unpacking so I like to have all my gear with me - and since I wheel it - no need to worry too much about weight. Just space.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 21, 2015, 21:00:38
A small island or islet "Luoto" in Helsinki, distance from camera is about 1 km. This is hand held at f/8, 1/160s, ISO 800, 500mm focal length. I captured three shots at the same settings, their composition varied wildly, and one was sharper than the other two.

The lens managed the 1km distance quite well and I was happy with the quality of the sharp shot. I do find that hand holding this lens is a bit of a gamble. I would be too embarrassed to post the other two attempts of this composition because the position of the building in the frame varies by about 1/4 of the frame dimensions. I did try to hold the lens steady, I just wasn't very successful in maintaining the composition.  ;)

In the future, when possible, I would use a tripod for these kinds of shots but even hand held it is possible to get good results (taking enough shots to capture an acceptable composition and sharpness). Taking advantage of a tripod, I would have been able to use a lower ISO and very probably obtained a slightly sharper result but I was satisfied with the result. I am looking forward to finding out how the tripod based results are affected by the possible slight gusts of wind on the coast.  I am still waiting for the Kirk NC-200-500 and LS-2 which should arrive in another week.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Valeria Lages on November 22, 2015, 03:20:01
Hi people, first of all, let me apologize for the delay answering you. I had to travel in a hurry and have been very busy lately. Secondly, thank you very much for all feedbacks! Some replies:

The 70-200/4 is excellent and would travel with the 300/4 PF nicely taking a moderate amount of bag space. I think this pair is a better quality option than the 80-400 AF-S. If you need additional focal length, then the 80-400 gives 400mm and 200-500 gives 500mm which is more substantially different from the 300mm you already have.

Yep, from what I've been learned, I already know that the 70-200/4 is very good and that's why I was thinking about this lens as a replacement for my 70-200/2.8 VRI, but I still think that this added to my 300/4E is not long enough. Then I thought about the 200-500 to complete the tele set up and ended up realizing that could be overkill traveling with these three lenses plus the others that I always travel with. At that such moment I remembered the 80-400, thought that it could be an option too, hence the mess has started :)

And to complicate a little bit more there's always the fear of missing the versatility of a zoom lens while shooting wild animals, so I'm not sure if only the 300/4 PF (with or without TC) at the longest end will be a good option while in field. I've not yet traveled for any job since I got this lens.

It is a larger and heavier lens than the others. I would think that you need to test it in person to see whether you find its handling and portability acceptable.

Unfortunately where I live there are not local stores where I could try its handling and portability. I'd have to order it online totally blindly, with no previous contact.

Being a wildlifer for long, thought, I never relly on TCs on other lenses other than the 2.8...

So far I've used TCs only with the 70-200/2.8 VRI and for me the results with 14EII are acceptable, but too much soft with the 20EIII, which I tried but then gave up to pair with this lens. When I bought the 300/4E PF I ordered also the 14EIII because from what I've known the latter performs much better with E lenses than its predecessor. And the 300 being a prime I thought it could accept that well. Didn't have the opportunity to test it in field yet.

That said 300 is "always" short.

Exactly! That's why I decided to give the 300/4 PF + 14EIII a try and was OK for now because I don't have the money to go for the longer lens. But the 200-500 showed up in a very affordable price and I started to research. And when I saw I was with a big "?" on my mind among 70-200/4, 80-400, 200-500 precisely because I own the 300/4 PF and the TCs yet…

One thing that I don't see much people refer is the need of wide lenses on a wildlifer kit. Wildlife is not always just portraits, showing the subject on its habitat is very important, and you can make dramatic photos as well.

You're totally right and that's why I wonder whether a versatile zoom wouldn't give me more flexibility for both showing the subject on its habitat and the animal itself. However, for other purposes than telephotos, I always go wild also with the 16-35/4 VR, 24-70/2.8 and macro 105/2.8 VR, plus the fish-eye 16/2.8 when there is underwater environments and dive possibilities.

My option, if weight and budget constraints are present, would be 24-120 and 200-500, and don't forget a speedlight!

I don't like the 24-120 for nature, only use it for cityscapes and others subjects. And yep, my SB-900 is often with me!

Both 80-400 or 200-500 are pretty big lenses and you really need good support for them in order to eke out the maximum performance of each optic. ...  The universal truth is that tripod support always increase the chance of getting a sharper shot and frequently also one with a better composition.

No doubts a tripod makes all the difference! I own a Gitzo made of carbon fiber, a serial 5 traveler one, which is light and very sturdy, perfect for my trips. I didn't meant I do not want to use a tripod. Certainly I always use it when I'm on land and have the needed time to set it up. But there are times that it's simply impossible because the animals don't wait for you. When you are walking in a rain forest and see (or hear) some movement in the trees, over its top or among its leaves, you'll want just shoot fasty whit whatever you have on you hand or forget it because before you try to mount your tripod the animals have already gone. Or if you're crossing a river on a very small boat in a wetland, where there are so many animals both aquatics and on its banks, but there's no enough space aboard to the tripod's legs. Same if you're sailing on the sea and wanna shoot whales or even some seabirds in fly, both are impossible to be done from the boat with a tripod… In these cases be able to handhold a lens may mean all the difference between get the pic or not…
 
  My fault, I might not have being much clear when I talked about my worries with too many things to travel with. The problem is that often that I go wild I am going actually to shoot underwater and then I have to carry a lot of stuffs (many dive gear plus underwater photo gear, which means camera housing, strobes, cables etc), so it's necessary to well plan the baggage because every weight counts.

That's in my "light" travel set as well. Put a TC 1.4x III in the bag for the time you want/need more reach and the IQ loss is minimal.
Together with the 18-35G and 24-120/4.0G it gives a nice set and not too much weight.

Sorry, but I didn't get exactly what's your light travel set up? Could you please clarify? And do you really like the 24-120? I own this lens but actually travel with it only when I want to go really light and don't worry much about IQ. It is: only in personal trips when I shoot just for fun. For landscapes works which are supposed to be published I prefer the 24-70/2.8G, which I wonder if someday worth be replaced by the new VR version.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Chris Dees on November 22, 2015, 11:16:53
Hi people, first of all, let me apologize for the delay answering you. I had to travel in a hurry and have been very busy lately. Secondly, thank you very much for all feedbacks! Some replies:

......

Sorry, but I didn't get exactly what's your light travel set up? Could you please clarify? And do you really like the 24-120? I own this lens but actually travel with it only when I want to go really light and don't worry much about IQ. It is: only in personal trips when I shoot just for fun. For landscapes works which are supposed to be published I prefer the 24-70/2.8G, which I wonder if someday worth be replaced by the new VR version.

18-35G, 24-120/4.0G, 70-200/4.0G, 300E + TC1.4
For me it's a perfect trade-off between weight and IQ
I like the 24-120 very much as it has nice reach and good (enough) IQ. Most of the time I'm at 5.6 or 8.0 and then there's no real difference with the 24-70 which I find too short and too heavy for traveling. I had both lenses side by side for 6 month or so and I ended up selling the 24-70.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 26, 2015, 12:50:51
I just received the Kirk collar NC-200-500 and the LS-2 front support piece with rollers. The collar by itself feels sturdy and doesn't flex. It looks all very well made.

I am planning on repeating my slow shutter speed tests with the Kirk support to see what kind of a difference it makes. Of course the Arca Swiss style dovetail is in the collar so this means an additional quick release plate is not needed and can not slip.  :)

However, today it is raining outdoors so I will wait.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 26, 2015, 19:21:45
While the construction of the Kirk system (both components) is excellent, the effect is still not perfect in that vertical shots are less sharp than horizontal ones. I guess it is possible that the head that I use allows the system to vibrate along the rotational axis around the neck of the ball head (Arca Swiss Z1 sp). Also the vertical shot taken with EFCS ON is slightly less sharp than the corresponding horizontal shot. I can't rule out the effect of focusing in these test shots (but the EFCS on/off pairs were made without refocusing). LV CDAF was used to set the focus. I refocused between changing of orientation since with some lenses the focus can shift slightly when the lens orientation is changed (due to gravity).

All shots at ISO 400, 1/30s, f/5.6, 500mm.

The subject is a photo frame on a desk lit by a halogen spot light; the dust on the frame allows the sharpness to be evaluated in this lighting.

My conclusion is that vertical slow-speed shots with long focal lengths on tripod should be made with EFCS, if the body supports it, even when using the two-point support system by Kirk. I will consider making a set of comparison pictures to see the results using the Nikon mount, if this is seen as something valuable. I think the weakest link in my tripod support is probably the ball head at this point.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on November 26, 2015, 19:44:26
I redid the series of shots after first tightening the front support a bit more (you can adjust the tension a bit before tightening the front support roller carriage). The results were similar to the first set above. I repeated all the shots three times and everything was reproducible. This is different from 80-400 where I didn't really find the kind of consistency as I would have preferred.

Moving next to testing the Nikon collar for reference.

Handling the lens, pointing it precisely on the target for a controlled composition and using the CDAF is easier with the Kirk setup because the whole rig stays put where I point it instead of vibrating whereas with the Nikon setup it's a bit like handling a live animal, nothing stays still too much ... ;-)

However, when I tried capturing some exposures at 1/30s and 1/50s I got mixed results, the Nikon collar was ever so slightly better at 1/50s and the Kirk at 1/30s. I repeated the testing several times and got the same results. I think maybe the Kirk setup is preferred for slow speed work (and it does make the lens easier to control) but it would require much more testing to find whether one of the collars really gives an advantage in terms of image quality over the other. I will be using the Kirk collar because it makes the lens easier to control when composing, doesn't require a separate QR piece, even if there are some shutter speeds where the Nikon gives an ever so slightly better result.

I guess what my initial summary could be that I was not able to find a clear universal image quality advantage from using the Kirk system, but there is a definite handling advantage when working with a tripod, especially for a control obsessed person who values precision in composition and is frustrated when the composition changes slightly after locking the head and letting go of the lens. I hope this information is helpful even though it is incomplete as I had only time to try two shutter speeds. Obviously it would be better to go through speds from 1s to 1/200s and register the results and compare them carefully unfortunately it takes some work to swap the two collars and I just don't have the time right now to proceed with such extensive testing.

I will proceed with real world shooting next. There can be such a thing as too much testing.  ;)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 27, 2015, 03:58:42
thanks for doing updates!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Valeria Lages on December 02, 2015, 05:06:37
18-35G, 24-120/4.0G, 70-200/4.0G, 300E + TC1.4
For me it's a perfect trade-off between weight and IQ
I like the 24-120 very much as it has nice reach and good (enough) IQ. Most of the time I'm at 5.6 or 8.0 and then there's no real difference with the 24-70 which I find too short and too heavy for traveling. I had both lenses side by side for 6 month or so and I ended up selling the 24-70.

Thank you for your feedback, Chris!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Kim Pilegaard on December 10, 2015, 08:29:47
Bjørn,

Have you completely discarded this lens?

Do you have a final verdict?

Kim
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on December 10, 2015, 09:41:39
I have returned my review sample but other chores have delayed my conclusion.

The final verdict is that the 200-500 is a viable alternative for those seeking a medium to long focal length zoom lens, and shoot under good light conditions. Sharpness is best at the wider aperture stops, image contrast is adequately high, CA issues are small unless you shoot at the longest end and then the artefacts can be brought under control by processing software. Many will applaud the moderate weight and the VR, both traits to which I'm more lukewarm. The tripod mount is poor and seems to be an afterthought in the overall design. The physical extension of the lens casing as you zoom the lens towards the longest end creates imbalance when the 200-500 is on a tripod and exacerbates the inadequacy of the tripod collar.

I give it a solid '4'.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Kim Pilegaard on December 10, 2015, 12:38:34
Dear Bjørn,

Thank you very much for your clear evaluation of this lens.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jan Anne on December 10, 2015, 13:21:41
Is the sharpness of the 200-500 comparable with the 200-400VR at 400mm?

Does the sharpness deteriorate at longer ranges as it does with the 200-400VR, the latter was noticeably softer beyond 30 meters or so.

When I was with Fanie in South Africa I temporarily switched my 200-400 for the old 80-400VR with somebody we met in the game reserve and tested it on some local wildlife but was hugely disappointed in the IQ. The guy whom I switched lenses with had a very good day though ;D

And I'm not worried about tripod use btw, will mainly use tele lenses handhold or on a monopod.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ilkka Nissilä on December 15, 2015, 12:35:15
If you would like 200-400/4 image quality at near distances but better quality at longer distances, perhaps you should look into a fixed focal length supertele. 

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on December 15, 2015, 12:51:43
My test shooting with the 200-500 indicated it did very well at distance. You do get more CA at the longest end (450 mm and up), but nothing that cannot quite easily be removed by any decent RAW conversions software.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: ColSebastianMoran on December 22, 2015, 20:04:29
Delighted to see all the evidence, impressions, and test shots on the 200-500 f/5.6.

For several years, I have made an annual winter trip to Florida to shoot birds at Wakodahatchee, Grand Cay, Ding Darling, Shark Valley, and the Anhinga Trail. In these locations, the birds are used to people on the walks/boardwalks, and you can be reasonably close (perhaps 50'-100'). I have been using the original 300 f/4 AF and the 2001 300 f/4 AF-S lenses with a D300 on a monopod. I don't use TCs; I shoot loose and crop instead. The results I have found quite pleasing. I prefer this lighter setup; I'm not interested in carrying the 500 f/4 and big tripod typical of the real birding pros.

This year, I wanted to upgrade to 24MPx and a newer lens. I was ready to buy the 300 PF, but a good friend suggested this zoom. I was concerned about sharpness of the zoom vs. the 300 prime, especially on the better sensor. I rented the 200-500 and shot a series of tests vs. the original 300 f/4.

My conclusion is:
 - The zoom is sharp, as sharp as my old lens on a 24MPx sensor. Perhaps the new PF is better, I don't know, but my concerns about using a zoom are relieved.
 - The VR I think will be a big help. I'm astounded to see sharp images at 1/150th and less! This may make some hand-holding practical, but I'll still mostly use the monopod.
 - The flexibility of a zoom will be an advantage in my shooting.

I've bought the 200-500 zoom. In a couple of months, I'll have shots to share.

Thanks for all the helpful info!
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: ColSebastianMoran on December 24, 2015, 21:03:36
Anyone have comparison shots of the 200-500 zoom @ 300mm vs. the 300 f/4 PF?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Dalek on December 31, 2015, 00:30:59
I had a chance to use all the new Nikon E lenses at a "Nikon Day at the Zoo," in Miami, Florida. I shot the 400, 600, and 200-500 on my D4s. I hand- held all and was most impressed with the 600. After shooting the 400, which was very fast to focus, I decided that I like my 200-400/4 VRII just as much. I compared the images of the 200-500 with my Sigma sport and decided the extra 100mm really helped when out in the field. Now the 600/4E, WOWWWWWW, I want it and was totally impressed with focusing, it is fast to acquire moving subjects. I think I will sell my 500VRII and pay the difference for the 600E.

Great site as I am new to the reorganization.
Dale
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ron Scubadiver on January 03, 2016, 00:50:17
I took this lens to Maui last month.  It is large enough to force me to change how I pack, but I like the solution better than what I was doing previously.  This item isn't light or compact, but I can shoot it hand held.  If anything, when attached to a D800 it has the heft of a shotgun.  The image below is a 9mp crop of a D800 36 mp file, so I guess that is like 1000 mm FOV.  It was shot hand held.  I don't know what those shooting megabuck flourite glass will think, but to me it gets the message across.

(https://ronscubadiver.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/dsc_0077.jpg)

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Bjørn Rørslett on January 03, 2016, 01:35:28
For some subjects, "zoom with your feet" is not applicable :D
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: stenrasmussen on January 03, 2016, 02:01:41
Ron, a very attractive message this 😊
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Somnath Goswami on January 03, 2016, 10:07:56
I got one , wide open at 500 mm.

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5793/23634404842_3426a57ffc_b.jpg)

cheers
Title: Re: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E -- TC14E iii ??
Post by: ColSebastianMoran on February 14, 2016, 18:59:41
Having a great time with the 200-500mm f/5.6 with birds in Florida  (DX body, tripod or monopod).

In the past, I've used one of the 300 f/4 lenses. My concern had been whether the zoom would give me the image quality I had been used to.  Here are some comments on my experience with the 200-500:
 - The image quality at 300mm is fine, matches my expectations based on the 300 f/4 prime. (Maybe the 300 f/4 PF would be better?)  I'm shooting mostly wide open, f/5.6. Image quality is quite consistent across the zoom range. Shooting a lot at 500 and f/5.6.
 - The extra reach is much appreciated for bird shooting. So is the flexibility to zoom out to 200mm.
 - Shooting at 500mm, tripod and gimbal head is much better. I used a monopod with the 300mm.
 - AF is fine for perched and wading birds. Did not need AF Fine Tune.
 - Handheld is OK, though a bit heavy. Handheld birds in flight are tough; haven't had much success.
 - What to do when I want even longer reach? In the past, I just accepted the loose shot and cropped later. This time, I added a TC14E iii. First results were poor. Combination had significant mis-focus (in front of the desired target). When I added AF Fine Tune for the combination, results at 1.4x500mm with the TC are better than the lens alone 500mm and crop the image. I settled on +8 for the lens+TC combination. Not sure how much I'll use the TC, but good to know I can get reasonable results. (Zooming with feet would, I'm sure, give better image quality, but sometimes you can't.)

Ding Darling, Great Egret, 200-500 @ 200mm f/5.6, this is the full frame, some adjustments.

(http://2under.net/images/160204-DingDarling-GreatEgret-D720708.jpg)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: ColSebastianMoran on February 14, 2016, 19:11:35
Here's another, this time at 500mm f/5.6 with considerable crop.

(http://2under.net/images/160204-DingDarling-Spoonbill-D720644.jpg)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: BruceLeventhal on November 04, 2016, 15:59:57
I am an infrequent poster, but long time lurker. I might have something useful to add to the dialog.
I have owned and shot the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR1 since September 2013. In fact, I switched from a ten year tour with Canon that began in 2003 back to Nikon (2013) because of the 200-400VR. I was using a Canon 300mm f/2.8IS-1 when the 200-400VR was locally available used for $3000. Knowing that I could never get the Canon version of this lens ($10,000 used), I jumped ship.

Point #1... so very glad I left Canon. I had been using Nikons between 1990 and 2003 and I missed the ergonomics of Nikon bodies... anyway... my 200-400VR has been all over the place... from Costa Rica to Iceland, and we have had a love-hate-love relationship. In close proximity, the 200-400VR is as good as any prime I have used at any focal length. At distances, the results are inconsistent. It would not matter if I was a using a D300, D800E, D810, D4 or D500... there were times when the focus was perfect and other times when nothing was in focus... not a mis-focus, but a non-focus. I have chalked this up to everything from heat haze to misaligned elements. Regardless of the cause or who "laid-hands" on the lens, the inconsistent distant focus drove me mad. This issue is huge for me, as I prefer to shoot wildlife landscapes over wildlife portraiture.

Enter the 200-500VR... I purchased one for my wife who uses it with a D610 and D7100. We have been shooting otters in CA together, birds in Florida and Puffins in Iceland. I, with my 200-400VR and she with the 200-500VR would often photograph similar subjects. While my portrait work is a hair (or feather) sharper than hers at f/5.6, by f/8 there is no difference. Furthermore, her lens is far superior when shooting distant wildlife or arboreal subjects.

In July (post Iceland) I purchased a 2nd 200-500VR so that I could shoot wildlife from a kayak... )see link: http://btleventhal.com/bruceleventhal/2016/8/5/favorite-places-estuaries ). I was so impressed with the 200-500VR, it's portability and the additional 100mm, I sold the more rugged and faster 200-400VR. Not wanting to be without a bullet-proof fast tele, I used the dollars from my sale to buy the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AFS-II. ...my point... in my opinion, unless you must have the rugged build and faster AF motor in the 200-400VR, the optics 200-500VR will meet your needs... this lens is a rare bargain in a sea of very expensive alternatives.
regards,
bruce
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 04, 2016, 16:42:49
Bruce - thank you for your post - I enjoyed reading it - and I concur. I also used the 200-400 (for 6 months only) and it never gave me the results I am getting now. I simply love this lens - I believe I am the proverbial 200-500 evangelist :)
Should they release a Version II - I will be ordering it before it hits the shelves.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Andrea B. on November 04, 2016, 16:45:20
Bruce, thank you for this interesting comparison of the 200-400VR and the 200-500VR. I've been wanting the 200-500VR for a long time. I think your post finally has prompted me to place the order! I only photograph birds and wildlife "for fun" and as a little record-of-sighting so I'm never going to be owning any big heavy tele. I think the 200-500VR will be perfect for my needs.

BTW, let's see some of your and your wife's work, ok?
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: BruceLeventhal on November 04, 2016, 19:28:37
Thanks for the note Elsa and Andrea...
I would be happy to share some of our work and have you see a comparison of similar images between the 200-400VR and the 200-500VR. I will post two links to my blog (apologetically). Before i do this... is posting to this board via paid membership only? If that is the case, let me know and I will become a subscriber, as I believe in supporting solid forum communities... until I sort the membership side of things out, here are two posts.

Puffins from Iceland (called "Can it Get Any Better") http://btleventhal.com/bruceleventhal/2016/10/15/can-it-get-any-better
Expensive v Affordable Gear (called "The $6200 Question") http://btleventhal.com/bruceleventhal/2016/3/23/the-6200-question

You can always tell Tamy's work from the gear in the picture subheading (D7100 + 200-500VR) vs my shots (D4/D500 + 200-400VR)

cheers,
bruce
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: elsa hoffmann on November 04, 2016, 19:38:17
Damn those Puffins are gorgeous...
Bruce - you are welcome to post your images in the thread. Multiple images is fine in one thread. You obviously can start a new thread (might be a good idea) as it will attract fresh interest.
No one is forced to be a paid subscriber here - but since this forum is run by like minded volunteers, we don't expect them to foot the bill for our little pleasures - hence the subscription to pay for hosting etc. Its not a for - profit site.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Anthony on November 05, 2016, 00:08:09
Bruce, thanks for the great images and the interesting discussions.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Erik Lund on November 05, 2016, 09:37:46
Bruce, here you can read about Subscriptions:

http://nikongear.net/revival/index.php/topic,3553.msg52394.html#msg52394

We would love to see you as a Subscriber ;)
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Jørgen Ramskov on November 05, 2016, 10:45:34
Thanks for the images and blog post. Makes me want to buy a 200-500mm, but I would likely use it way too rarely, so I better not.
Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: BruceLeventhal on November 05, 2016, 12:14:01
Anthony, Erik, Jorgan and Elsa...

Thanks for giving the pics a look and your comments...
As for membership... thanks for the "How to..," tutorial.

Title: Re: New kid on the block: AFS 200-500 mm f/5.6 Nikkor E
Post by: Ron Scubadiver on November 21, 2017, 02:06:48
I thought mine took great pictures although it was a bit heavy for my style of shooting.  It was ruined in the flood.  I am considering getting a Tamron 100-400 for hand holding.