Is the Nikon 200-500 a bargain or what?

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Paul
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#1
I’m looking to get a big telephoto and giving thought to a used 500mm f4 VR or getting a new/mint 200-500 f5.6. I have both full frame bodies such as a D4s and D810 plus I also have the superb D500 so the best of both worlds really. I know ultimate sharpness lies with the f4 VR but is the big price difference worth it over the very highly rated 200-500? I would be using the zoom at its maximum most as it’s for wildlife I want this lens for so the double turn zoom issue isn’t a problem. Anyone tried both or maybe switched to the zoom and pocketed a bit of cash?
 
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#2
I had the 500 f4 VR and loved it, used it with the 1.4, 1.7 and very occasionally the 2.0 TC's.
I sold the 500 due to weight issues and got the 200-500, it is a great alternative for me, reasonably light and IQ is good.
It isn't a 500 f4 but it is a good alternative if weight or cash is an issue ... it's f5.6 so there is a small light disadvantage there, I have used it with the 1.4 TC and it's just okay, I wouldn't seriously use anything more.
It's absolutely ideal on the D500, they are made for one another.
 
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Mick
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#3
As Gramps says the 500 F4 is a different beast altogether?

I guess besides price it depends on how much of your stuff will be at the long end of 500mm which with wildlife is a lot!

If it is nearly everything the 500 F4 would be a better choice as it works with the 1.4TC very well giving you over 1000mm with your crop factor on the D500 at F5.6 and the IQ is so much better

Just get used to lugging the dam thing around which is besides price the main disadvantage of the big primes, but the 200-500 no lightweight neither :)

Another option could be the new 500 PF F5.6 which are remarkable small and light and are around the low £3k from grey importers and imo a better choice if you can justify the price tag
 
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Mike
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#4
I've used the zoom and the 500pf mick mentioned, as well as canon and nikon superteles, the nikon was a 600mm though, all the Nikon were on d850s, over 2 days last year when a couple of kind photographers loaned them to me for a trial.

Good technique will give you a strong fighting chance of high IQ shots with all 3, but predictably the best IQ starts with the super tele, closely followed by the 500pf, then the zoom.

The zoom is obviously the most versatile but also my last choice for putting a teleconverter on, so you need to have a think about subject size and distance.

I was really impressed with the 500pf, feels like a toy lens but results were great, especially for flight shots.

If you can pay the money and dont mind the weight, the supertele will be fantastic, but I was very tempted to go with the 500pf when I switched to Nikon

Mike
 
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David
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#5
I used the 200-500 with and without the 1.4 TC and it was super sharp on the Nikon D810 if it hadn't of been for the size/weight I'd have kept it.
 
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Hadge
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#6
Thanks for the posts guys. I’ve thought about the 500mm PF as well, especially as new the grey ones are available for £3.1k. The 500mm VR’s are going for £3.2 ish second hand and as you know the zoom is much cheaper.
I wouldn’t be hiking the lens round but the small size of the PF is appealing for birds in flight and the 2 primes are also fully weather sealed too which is a big bonus.
 
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#7
I haven't used the 500 PF (not many have lol) but I did use the 300 PF for some time and it was excellent.
The 300 PF was of course f4 whereas the 500 PF is f5.6 and I'm not sure that I would chose it over the 500 f4 VR unless weight/convenience was critical.
 
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#8
Different vein of thought, but given how good most cameras are now at high ISO, the different between f4 and shooting at 400 ISO to 5.6 at 1600 ISO is negligible.. in the context of being after a higher shutter speed.
 
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Mark
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#9
If your considering the 200-500 then also seriously consider the Sigma and Tamron 150-600’s.
The biggest difference between all 3 lenses is copy variation.

If the thought of using the Sigma/Tamron upsets you then so should the thought of using the 200-500.
 
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Hadge
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#10
The decision is made and I’m going go for the super telephoto lens. But which one. Funds is not an issue so it’s either a used 500mm f4 VR, 500mm PF or save a few pennies and get a 500mm AF-S which obviously lacks the VR but is lighter and is pin sharp. It seems the non VR makes the AF-S the better choice as shooting at high shutter speeds makes VR irrelevant. Maybe those who have one of these lenses could give an opinion.
 
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#11
The latest 500 f4 is the 'FL' version, next down is the VR version (both are AF-S) and down again are the non-VR versions.
If going for an older version, be wary of the availability of spares and make sure it comes with the correct drop-in filter as they are necessary, hard to come by and sometimes not supplied with older lenses.
 
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#12
Its good for what it is, an enthusiast tele-zoom of reasonable price. Is any lens a bargain, businesses don't really do bargains these days lol
 
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Hadge
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#13
The cheaper of my choices was the AF-S 500mm f4D IF-ED and the other choice was the AF-S 500mm f4G ED VR. Me mulling over them was whether I needed VR or not and yes the IF-ED does come with the correct drop in filter etc.
 
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Mike
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#14
I'd be very wary about going with the older one due to the spares issue, but you will invariably want the VR. Opinions vary, but I almost always hand hold the superteles and find VR invaluable.

There is potentially a very good VR in the classifieds here right now that I almost bought myself a couple of weeks ago before getting a 'bargain' on a 600mm

Mike
 
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Hadge
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Paul
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#15
The one in the classifieds is on the list.
 
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Darren
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#16
Just to be annoying and to add another option, have you thought about the 300mm f.2.8 vrii with a couple of TC's?

It's 1kg lighter than the 500mm which is nice, pair it with your D4s for a 2.8 low light bokeh beast, add in the 1.4 iii tc for a nice 420 f4 all rounder and finally a D500 2.0 iii tc combo for a nice hand holdable (just) 600mm 5.6 set-up.

For distance work the 500 f4 wins but the flexibility of the 300 could be something that appeals.
 
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Gareth
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#17
I have swapped a 500 f4 vr for a 500 f5.6 pf and it terms of image quality I cannot split the two. On a few occasions I have missed the lack of subject isolation. However, for me personally the weight saving is a huge bonus, I can now carry my birding kit in a small backback with an additional macro lens. Now I generally don't bother with a tripod. So I am much more mobile and can hike with the lens in way in which was not possible with 500 f4. It will also make flying with my kit much easier.
 
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Hadge
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#18
I own a 300mm f2.8 VRII but I did not want lose any quality using converters being honest. Maybe I’ve just not given it enough of a chance and should give it a go. The large aperture on the 500mm and being able to isolate the subject was the main appeal really.
As for the PF lens it’s being able to get hold of one new. Those available second hand seem to be going for just as much as the new ones. Grey imports are cheaper but they seem to be hit and miss stock wise lately.
Maybe I should give my 300mm a few outings and then decide.
 
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Hadge
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#20
I did consider the 200-400 but because I’d probably use it 400mm end the most, I decided I needed that extra reach and hence my choice of the 500mm VR lens.
 
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Iain
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#21
The 300mm f2.8 is designed to work with the three Nikon tc’s. I used them all on mine and had excellent results.
 
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