No reason for a 500mm PF on African safari?

Butlerkid

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Next March I will be going to Tanzania. Having already been to South Africa, Botswana and Kenya, I have a pretty good idea of the photo ops I'm likely to encounter.....namely fairly big animals and only occasional chances for birds, especially BIF. Bodies will be D5 and D850.

In my previous trips to Africa, I used my 500mm/f4 about 50% of the time, and the 80-400 AF-S about 30%. Of that 30% using the 80-400, about 10% was at 400mm and about 15% was between 80 and 225mm.

So, I had thought I would buy the 500mm PF before my next trip. But now I am having trouble justifying a hand holdable 500mm versus my excellent 80-400mm zoom and 300mm PF!

Perhaps the best lenses for me in Tanzania would be:

300 PF - close subjects and low light (and with 1.4 tele = 420mm)

80-400 AF-S Hand holdable zoom

600/f4 + 1.4 tele

I think I've just talked myself out of a 500mm PF!!!!!! :eek:
 

Butlerkid

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The 600 is to heavy and gets you to close IMHO. I love the 500mm PF, so light, and it takes a TC14 really well
Good points, but the new 600mm weighs the same as my old 500mm and I will be shooting off bean bags. No way I can hand hold the 600mm. And the 300 PF with tele is 420mm and very hand holdable. My 80-400 AF-S focused fast enough to capture a kingfisher dive into the water and emerge...and the zoom covers the mid-range. I just seems the 500 PF is redundant......
 
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Hard to go wrong owning the 500PF (I just got one and love it), but with the 500mm f/4 already in your kit along with shorter and longer glass to accompany it, the only "need" for the 500PF would be to improve handholdability over the 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4.

One thought: I presume you are NPS and can be top of the list to get one (my delivery date was about a week after notifying NPS of my order). I suspect you'd be able to use it for the trip and still sell it for very nearly the original purchase price to someone who is still on the waiting list for it.
 

Butlerkid

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Hard to go wrong owning the 500PF (I just got one and love it), but with the 500mm f/4 already in your kit along with shorter and longer glass to accompany it, the only "need" for the 500PF would be to improve handholdability over the 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4.

One thought: I presume you are NPS and can be top of the list to get one (my delivery date was about a week after notifying NPS of my order). I suspect you'd be able to use it for the trip and still sell it for very nearly the original purchase price to someone who is still on the waiting list for it.
I called my favorite store...they only have 1 on the waiting list. And yes, I'm NPS, but I don't really need the lens until next March.

I now have the 600mm/f4 which will be great for shooting off the bean bag. If I were walking around shooting birds a lot, I think the 500mm makes a lot of sense. Do you use light room? Take a look at all the shots you've taken with the 200-500. How many are at 500mm? I'll bet you shoot there over 85% of the time, so you would not lose much focal length flexibility over the prime. But you would gain faster AF, especially with a tele, and better taming of backgrounds.
From personal experience, the 300PF + 1.4TC is a great combo: long reach, light weight, and super IQ.
I fully agree. And for me, the 80-400 AF-S is a fantastic lens. I've gotten some stunning photos with it. AF is "fast enough". Take a look at the diving kingfisher sequence, which starts at photo #2 HERE......
...and HERE on the D810!!!!!!
 
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The 500pf is a great lens. In this case though it would be redundant. You have pretty much the entire range covered and if you're not out hiking around then the weight advantage might not be as important.
 

Butlerkid

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The 500pf is a great lens. In this case though it would be redundant. You have pretty much the entire range covered and if you're not out hiking around then the weight advantage might not be as important.
Yep, if I lived somewhere where I could walk around and shoot birdies, it would definitely be worthwhile.

Sad, really. I had already told hubby I was going to buy the 500 PF so he was prepared for the savings account to take the hit! :p
 
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I called my favorite store...they only have 1 on the waiting list. And yes, I'm NPS, but I don't really need the lens until next March.

I now have the 600mm/f4 which will be great for shooting off the bean bag. If I were walking around shooting birds a lot, I think the 500mm makes a lot of sense. Do you use light room? Take a look at all the shots you've taken with the 200-500. How many are at 500mm? I'll bet you shoot there over 85% of the time, so you would lose much focal length flexibility over the prime. But you would gain faster AF, especially with a tele, and better taming of backgrounds.

I fully agree. And for me, the 80-400 AF-S is a fantastic lens. I've gotten some stunning photos with it. AF is "fast enough". Take a look at the diving kingfisher sequence, which starts at photo #2 HERE......
...and HERE on the D810!!!!!!
Great pics
It remains the most underrated lens ever
I sold my 200-500 because of size and it’s no better than the 80-400 IMO
 
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I know your pain ...

I always wanted a prime telelens and the 500 PF sounds really good. Snappy AF and I love the fact it's really compact to take with me on the plane.

At this moment I have the 80-400 and the 200-500. I really love the 80-400. It's very compact and while all the reviews say the AF is slower than the 200-500, I don't have the same impression. I must say, the bokeh on the 200-500 is a bit creamier. But I already decided for myself, if I would buy the 500 PF, the 200-500 will go up for sale. I will keep the 80-400 and I also want to have something with 500mm in my bag.

In the near future, I will be photographing Brown Bears in Finland from a hide. And this got me thinking.

If I use the 500 PF. I lose A LOT of flexibility. You see a bear, you point your lens towards it and you shoot. You don't have a lot of choice composing your image. With the 200-500 you can take a shot at 500mm and if you want to include more natural habitat, you just zoom out. It won't be possible to use 2 camera's and lenses at the same time. You need to be very silent and I will only have room for 1 tripod.

So I'm a bit confused right now. I really wanted to buy the 500 PF. But the more I think of it, you can't beat the flexibility of the 200-500. For a safari, it's a bit easier. I would use one body with the 80-400 and the other one with the 500 PF. Or the one body with the 200-500 and another one with a 24-70, ...

The more I think about it, the more I talk myself out of buying a 500 PF ... :( :D
 
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I know your pain ...

I always wanted a prime telelens and the 500 PF sounds really good. Snappy AF and I love the fact it's really compact to take with me on the plane.

At this moment I have the 80-400 and the 200-500. I really love the 80-400. It's very compact and while all the reviews say the AF is slower than the 200-500, I don't have the same impression. I must say, the bokeh on the 200-500 is a bit creamier. But I already decided for myself, if I would buy the 500 PF, the 200-500 went up for sale. I will keep the 80-400 because I really want to have 500mm in my bag.

In the near future, I will be photographing Brown Bears in Finland from a hide. And this got me thinking.

If I use the 500 PF. I lose A LOT of flexibility. You see a bear, you point your lens towards it and you shoot. You don't have a lot of choice composing your image. With the 200-500 you can take a shot at 500mm and if you want to include more natural habitat, you just zoom out. It won't be possible to use 2 camera's and lenses at the same time. You need to be very silent and I will only have room for 1 tripod.

So I'm a bit confused right now. I really wanted to buy the 500 PF. But the more I think of it, you can't beat the flexibility of the 200-500. For a safari, it's a bit easier. I would use one body with the 80-400 and the other one with the 500 PF. Or the one body with the 200-500 and another one with a 24-70, ...

The more I think about it, the more I talk myself out of buying a 500 PF ... :( :D
I agree on the 80-400. It’s every bit as good as the 200-500.
When I can’t move I prefer a zoom
For BIF the 500pf is the king so that’s what I use it for. I sold my 200-500 after a year. The barrel is too thick for a lot of fast zooming and it’s not fun for me to use it. I much prefer the 80-400. Lots of lens come and go but the 80-400 stays because it’s fun and has very good IQ
 

Butlerkid

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I know your pain ...

I always wanted a prime telelens and the 500 PF sounds really good. Snappy AF and I love the fact it's really compact to take with me on the plane.

At this moment I have the 80-400 and the 200-500. I really love the 80-400. It's very compact and while all the reviews say the AF is slower than the 200-500, I don't have the same impression. I must say, the bokeh on the 200-500 is a bit creamier. But I already decided for myself, if I would buy the 500 PF, the 200-500 will go up for sale. I will keep the 80-400 and I also want to have something with 500mm in my bag.

In the near future, I will be photographing Brown Bears in Finland from a hide. And this got me thinking.

If I use the 500 PF. I lose A LOT of flexibility. You see a bear, you point your lens towards it and you shoot. You don't have a lot of choice composing your image. With the 200-500 you can take a shot at 500mm and if you want to include more natural habitat, you just zoom out. It won't be possible to use 2 camera's and lenses at the same time. You need to be very silent and I will only have room for 1 tripod.

So I'm a bit confused right now. I really wanted to buy the 500 PF. But the more I think of it, you can't beat the flexibility of the 200-500. For a safari, it's a bit easier. I would use one body with the 80-400 and the other one with the 500 PF. Or the one body with the 200-500 and another one with a 24-70, ...

The more I think about it, the more I talk myself out of buying a 500 PF ... :( :D
Actually, I have found the bokeh of the 80-400 much better than the 200-500. Many times the bokeh on the 200-500 can be "nervous", squiggly.......not sure how to describe it. Of course, if there is a good amount of distance between the subject and the background, then it is not an issue for the 200-500 or the 80-400.

My personal assessment is that if you are lucky enough to be able to walk/move around a shoot birds, especially BIFs, (or maybe some sports? planes? and other situations I've not thought of) then hand holding the 500 PF is probably the best option out there right now. Unfortunately I seldom get to do that kind of photography.
 
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