Picked up the lens, and didn't take it out of the case until I got to my shooting location. First impression is that it is big..and heavy. It has a good bit of length and girth over my 300/2.8 even with a TC on it. Since I have been shooting with the 300 combined with the 1.4x & 2.0x TC's I have been very careful to use excellent long lens technique and this carried over to the 500 making my first experience a pretty good on [read: I am very happy]. I immediately mounted the 500 on my D2X and then in the Sidekick mounted in a Markins M20, over a Gitzo 1325. The first thing I notice is that with the foot on the 500 being as tall as it is, the lens is positioned out past the center plumb line of the ball head and tripod. So while the Sidekick/M20 combination is still real usable, I may be adding a Full wim or a Jobu just for security sake. Second thing I noticed is that my RRS B87 flash bracket doesn't clear the barrel of the 500..so I'll need to replace that as well. If any one is interested in the bracket let me know. As is always the case, one purchase spins off into two or three subsequent purchases, so the already expensive 500 is now going to cost close to a grande more after the gimbal and flash bracket. Anyway.. the focus is brutally quick, especially when compared to the 300 with the TC's. Again, my experience with the 300/2.0x TC made target acquisition less of an issue witht he 500 than I thought it might be. I did mount the 1.4x TC on the 500 after modifying it to allow for AF and it is fine..though I opted not to use it for this shoot. Below are my first test images...some with the D2X and some with the D300. All shot raw and converted in Lightroom and resized for the web..(looks like I might have over-sharpened a bit.. still getting used to Lightroom v2.0) D300 F-Number: F/9 Exposure Time: 1/800 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: -0.3 ISO Speed: 200 D300 F-Number: F/9 Exposure Time: 1/800 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average ISO Speed: 200 This is my first sighting of Tri-Color Heron.. D300 F-Number: F/5.6 Exposure Time: 1/1000 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: 0.3 ISO Speed: 200 D300 F-Number: F/5.6 Exposure Time: 1/1000 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: 0.3 ISO Speed: 200 Definintely over-sharpened this..plus it's an aggressive crop.. D2X F-Number: F/6.7 Exposure Time: 1/1250 Metering Mode: Multi-segment Compensation: -1.7 ISO Speed: 250 Once the sun was high in the sky, I needed to take a break. The green flies were absolutely carnivorous, though not so for this green dragon fly. Shot from about 8 feet away.. D2X F-Number: F/10 Exposure Time: 1/400 Metering Mode: Multi-segment ISO Speed: 250 Aside from the unexpected additional items I'll have to address, I am quite happy..results will only improve from this point.. C&C encouraged.