Picked up the lens, and didn't take it out of the case until I got to my shooting location at the E. Forsythe NWR 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) 1) D300 F-Number: F/9 Exposure Time: 1/800 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: -0.3 ISO Speed: 200 2) D300 F-Number: F/9 Exposure Time: 1/800 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average ISO Speed: 200 3)This is my first sighting of Tri-Color Heron. Unfortunately, I thought I was above the reeds along the shore line. I was kneeling to keep out of sight, but a few of the reeds blew into the frame. I'm inclined to leave them there, and learn from my mistake. D300 F-Number: F/5.6 Exposure Time: 1/1000 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: 0.3 ISO Speed: 200 4) D300 F-Number: F/5.6 Exposure Time: 1/1000 Metering Mode: Center-weighted average Compensation: 0.3 ISO Speed: 200 5) Definintely over-sharpened this..and it's an aggressive crop.. The north leg of Forsythe often has an abundance of Snowy's. This trip I saw about a dozen Glossy Ibis near these, but distance was too great.. D2X F-Number: F/6.7 Exposure Time: 1/1250 Metering Mode: Multi-segment Compensation: -1.7 ISO Speed: 250 6) 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.. I've got a long way to go, but I have a lot of inspiration. Now I just need more energy and some closer shooting locations so I can exploit the early light better. C&C encouraged.