Nikon d500 + 300f4 pf 1.4 tc - upgrade options?

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895
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Ben
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Hi,
My partner has the d500, 300 f4 pf and a 1.4 tc. She rarely uses the 1.4 tc unless really good light, predominantly to shoots small birds, waders and BoPs
She is becoming increasingly frustrated however at the ‘bad light stops play’ with focussing/tracking, iso, & crop ability performance etc etc which at this time of year, obviously makes short days, even shorter.

I know the d500 is still regarded as a great ‘current’ camera, but wondering if there was anything viable out there, that would make enough of a significant difference to make a switch/upgrade worthwhile.
Obviously, there is a jump up to something like a D6 and 500/600mm f4 prime, but the price jump is just a bit crazy too.
Just thinking if there was any next step up before saving up for a super telephoto prime.?
I’ve been looking at various options, such as the Nikon mirrorless bodies, z6, z6ii, z7, z7ii, 500 5.6pf, or Sony a9ii, with 200-600, but not sure which would make the best improvement, if any.
I guess a newer full frame body would probably have better af and iso performance, but when taking the crop factor into consideration, is it really much different?
Is the best advice just to say get saving for that 600mm?
 
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36,652
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D500 and 200-500 f5.6 are made for each other and would give her more reach than the 300 + 1.4 (which will be slightly affecting AF & IQ) ... cost wise it is a steal compared to the 500 PF, 600 f4 or a complete change.
However if money is flush ....
 
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666
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There are two things that you’re trying to solve .... I don’t think there are many cameras out there better than the d500 when it comes to tracking and af for wildlife etc. it’s pretty good imo.

Iso and crop ability are down to the crop sensor body - however you’re going to need a really high mp count on a fast body to improve on the d500.... let’s say you moved to a Sony ff - you’ll lose the extra ‘reach’/forced crop (not going to get into any arguments over the terminology) and to get the equivalent pixel density on the sensor you’ll need at least 45 mp or more if you want better crop ability. From what I’ve read noise gets worse as you crop ....

How unusable is the 300pf with the tele? Or is it the iso performance you’re disappointed with ?
 
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richard
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I have a d500 and the 300pf ( and a tc14 eii ).
The tc only seems to reduce the iq a bit in my experience.

I am with the other poster who recommended the 200-500. I couldn’t afford it when I was looking for a long tele some years ago and got the tamron 150-600 g1 and now the g2. Very pleased with both if them - the g2 has slightly more contrast than the g1. They are lighter than the Nikon. If I had the dosh I would get the 500pf.

As far as bodies go I use a Z6 for general photography but I really don’t think you can beat the AF of the dslrs ( d850/d5/d6/d500) with current mirrorless ( except maybe by the A9 )
richard
 
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1,287
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Stef
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Hi all, thank for posting this Ben while I‘ve been at work. I’m the picky person Ben talks about :)

thanks for the suggestion Gramps, long time no see :wave:

The 300pf is amazing, I don’t like the tc as the af is sluggish and imo degrades the quality too much. I’m also disappointed with the iso performance, yes. I delete so many shots when the light has dipped, only a bit. Not talking dusk shots, just greyer day shots, I end up finishing a day out early and packing my camera away.

Ben has just switched his gear to the A7r iv and I got to reading about the Sony bodies for wildlife and all the reviews sing about the low light performance.

Weighing up all the pros and cons without frying my brain cells, the ff of the a9 ii with the 200-600 the low light capabilities will give me more opportunities to shoot for longer in the day and on our frequent overcast days.
The negatives are obvs the weight factor of the Sony lens vs my lovely Nikon and also the funds lol. I can save and wait but I wouldn’t sell my D500 and 300mm until I was 100% happy with whatever route I take, if I switch at all.
 
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Hi all, thank for posting this Ben while I‘ve been at work. I’m the picky person Ben talks about :)

thanks for the suggestion Gramps, long time no see :wave:

The 300pf is amazing, I don’t like the tc as the af is sluggish and imo degrades the quality too much. I’m also disappointed with the iso performance, yes. I delete so many shots when the light has dipped, only a bit. Not talking dusk shots, just greyer day shots, I end up finishing a day out early and packing my camera away.

Ben has just switched his gear to the A7r iv and I got to reading about the Sony bodies for wildlife and all the reviews sing about the low light performance.

Weighing up all the pros and cons without frying my brain cells, the ff of the a9 ii with the 200-600 the low light capabilities will give me more opportunities to shoot for longer in the day and on our frequent overcast days.
The negatives are obvs the weight factor of the Sony lens vs my lovely Nikon and also the funds lol. I can save and wait but I wouldn’t sell my D500 and 300mm until I was 100% happy with whatever route I take, if I switch at all.
Switching to a a9ii will give better high iso performance. However - reach wise will be very similar to the d500 300 + 1.4 on the d500


Also remember that the Sony 2-600 is at 6.3 at the long end. So in low light - you’ll be pushing ISO’s even higher for the same field of view ....
 
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895
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Ben
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Yep - it’s kinda 2 steps forward and 1 back, and arguably another step back with the size and weight/cost.
I’m thinking persevering with the current set up and saving whilst waiting to see Nikon’s Z long lens line up announcements and possibly the Sony A7iv and A9iii - which I’m sure will all be contestants by spring next year.
 
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1,287
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Stef
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This -
From what I’ve read noise gets worse as you crop ....
I think my issue is that I’ve used the tc and got poor results for all sorts of reasons and then dismissed it. Just been going over images in LR and from what I already knew (I crop too much) I never use NR and am zooming in to more than 100% to crit the images. I’ve gotten lazy too, not walking that bit closer because shamefully, in my head I know I’ll crop.
I need to de-lazy myself and revisit the tc which has been in my bag for a good year doing nothing.
If I’m using the tc with my 300, I think I’m expecting too much. As soon as the focus starts to hunt, I take the tc off instead of taking the time to get it right :oops: :$
 
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3,713
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Adam
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The 300mm PF with Nikon 1.4x TC is usually very good image quality wise, yes will be slower to focus but if properly calibrated there is very little noticable degration in image quality, as above noise will be an impact as ISO has to increase due to less light or lower shutter speed which then introduces change of small camera movements
 
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1,845
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Peter
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I have the same set up and used it quite a lot. I too find the 1.4 tc images are noticeably poorer.
Earlier this year I bought a 500PF and stopped using the tc. Much better but a lot of expense.
I also started to use Topaz denoise on my D500 images and it definitely helps.
For various reasons I haven't done much photography this year but this is the way forward for me.
 
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1,111
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Si
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Strange, I've been using a 300 F4 PF and 1.4x TC (the Mk3) for a couple of years and don't find any noticeable impact on IQ with the TC attached. AF is slightly slower (and I mean slightly), but still massively quicker than the 200-500 for example. I find the 300 is still quicker for AF than 200-500 even with the 1.7x TC attached (although only marginally quicker). This is with either a D500 or D810, but I've also tried it with a D850. The 45MP FF sensors do seem to give slightly cleaner images when cropping right in and pixel peeping, but the gains here seem to be diminishing, which is why I haven't gone out and bought a D850 (yet!) I'm waiting to see how the Z Mk2's fair first. I have been tempted at times by a 500 PF, but I'm waiting to see what the 100-400 S Line is like when it eventually lands. I use my 300 combo for close-up work when I don't have a macro lens handy and a 100-400 with short MFD could be very handy!

The main issues I had with the 200-500 were the weight and IQ in poor light. The 300 combo is noticeably better here IMO and I get similar quality cropping in with the 300PF+1.4x @ 420mm to the 200-500 @ 500mm. The only advantage I found with the 200-500 is that it takes the 1.4x TC quite well (albeit only in good light)
 
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1,111
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Si
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This -


I think my issue is that I’ve used the tc and got poor results for all sorts of reasons and then dismissed it. Just been going over images in LR and from what I already knew (I crop too much) I never use NR and am zooming in to more than 100% to crit the images. I’ve gotten lazy too, not walking that bit closer because shamefully, in my head I know I’ll crop.
I need to de-lazy myself and revisit the tc which has been in my bag for a good year doing nothing.
If I’m using the tc with my 300, I think I’m expecting too much. As soon as the focus starts to hunt, I take the tc off instead of taking the time to get it right :oops: :$
I find getting enough pixels on target is a real issue, especially with the D500 and noise - when you can fill the frame then I find the noise is much less of an issue (for me, although tolerance to noise in images is very subjective). There's a bit more leeway here I found with the D850 in particular
 

mex

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5,833
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Nigel
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I've not had a 300 PF but I do now use 500PF on my D500,prior to that I had the 200-500. The IQ on 500PF is a lot better than the 200-500,although the zoom is no slouch by any means. I also use 1.4 III on the lens and the IQ again is superb. there's also the known fault on the 200-500 with the lens jamming halfway, although to be fair I never had this problem. As I have stated in another thread the only fault I can find with the 500PF is the foot, it's really not up to much but easily replaceable with a better one.
 
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1,287
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Stef
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Thanks all, much appreciate the food for thought. It’s making me think about me and my attitude towards the gear I have. I love the D500 and the 300pf. I think I am going to change the way I take shots and edit to how I used to when I first got this set up. I’ve let bad habits creep in and because of work constraints I feel I’m always trying to rush to cram a day in here and there instead of concentrating on the shot I want to achieve if that makes sense.
Instead of giving the tc more of a chance, I’ve dismissed it after a few dodgy shots and then instead of considering using it, I crop the shots I do get.

.
The main issues I had with the 200-500 were the weight and IQ in poor light. The 300 combo is noticeably better here IMO and I get similar quality cropping in with the 300PF+1.4x @ 420mm to the 200-500 @ 500mm. The only advantage I found with the 200-500 is that it takes the 1.4x TC quite well (albeit only in good light)
I tried Bens 200-500 before he sold it and it wasn’t for me for those reasons. I’m also editing on an iPad Pro now so I pixel peep more than I should in LR.
 
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1,287
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Stef
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Stunning shots. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try some more well thought out shots and concentrate on the garden birds we have as they’re a great test. I’ve started to take them for granted even though I love my shots I‘ve got with the outside set up.

These were taken with D500, 300PF plus 1.4x TC and cropped a good amount, not sure if these are of similar quality you are getting?

SEO Exmoor by Adam Sibbald, on Flickr

DSC_3757 by Adam Sibbald, on Flickr
 
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7,270
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Steven
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....from what I already knew (I crop too much) I never use NR and am zooming in to more than 100% to crit the images. I’ve gotten lazy too, not walking that bit closer because shamefully, in my head I know I’ll crop. I need to de-lazy myself and revisit the tc...
Welcome to the circle of equivalence...
Nothing is going to make as much of a difference as getting closer, not using a TC/longer lens, and not cropping as much.
Going to full frame isn't likely to help much, because longer lenses are typically slower. And having a crop sensor of greater resolution (same MP#) IS also more magnification.

But all images would probably benefit from some editing, and realistic requirements (zoom level) will increase the number of keepers.

Adding a TC is very much like getting a longer telephoto lens; except that the additional/stronger telephoto elements (TC) are not particularly matched to the rest of the lens... That's why some say the 1.4 TC doesn't work very well (compounding errors) and others say it works extremely well (cancelling errors). I went through three or four of the current 2x TC's to find one that worked acceptably well with my 400/2.8.
 
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1,287
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Stef
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I’ve just posted a pic of the neighbours black lab on here (scroll down a bit) shot at 1000 iso but no converter (Disproves the poor performance theory lol) I’ve deleted any shots I had taken with the tc at high iso so I’m going to take some test shots at some point while I have a few days off work and go from there :)

Thanks Steven, I will see how my tests go and look at it from a less lazy perspective and see what exactly my issues are and also my expectations. I don’t want to lower them but realising I’m being unrealistic is another issue that £000’s won’t solve
 
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36,652
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Really surprised to hear some of the comments about the 200-500, it obviously can't directly compare with the 300 PF f4 prime but I used it with and without the TC 1.4iii on D850, D500 and D7500 and found it a superb option.
 
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7,270
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Steven
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I’ve just posted a pic of the neighbours black lab on here (scroll down a bit) shot at 1000 iso but no converter (Disproves the poor performance theory lol)
Keep in mind that "ISO noise" is primarily due to a weak signal dominated by photon shot noise... i.e. it is due to low light levels and not the ISO per-se. In fact, increasing the ISO reduces the resulting noise level (non-invariant cameras).
You can get 3 stops (or more) of better "ISO performance" w/ stronger light (stronger signal)...
 
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3,713
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Adam
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Really surprised to hear some of the comments about the 200-500, it obviously can't directly compare with the 300 PF f4 prime but I used it with and without the TC 1.4iii on D850, D500 and D7500 and found it a superb option.
200-500 is march made in heaven like you said before I loved mine and all my WTSE on Mull were on D500 and 200-500
 
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1,287
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Stef
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200-500 is march made in heaven like you said before I loved mine and all my WTSE on Mull were on D500 and 200-500
It was too big for me to really enjoy it. Suffered a lot with a neck problem but thankfully that’s improved with my change of job last year.
Your shots of the WTSE are amazing
 
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1,111
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Si
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Really surprised to hear some of the comments about the 200-500, it obviously can't directly compare with the 300 PF f4 prime but I used it with and without the TC 1.4iii on D850, D500 and D7500 and found it a superb option.
I got some great results with mine in good light, not so much in poorer light. To be fair, some of that is down to me - the 200-500 was pushing it weight-wise for me (I'm rather scrawnily built), so I'd have to increase my shutter speed more than I'd like to get sharp images in poor light. I had a similar experience with the Tamron 150-600 G2 (albeit found the AF much snappier with the Tamron, but the Nikon stayed locked on moving targets better once focus was acquired). Much happier with the 300 PF + TC - it works much better for me, but each to their own!
 
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278
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Glynn
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I was really happy with my D500, 200-500 f5.6 combo apart from low light shooting (which with wildlife, is much of the time). I still use that lens, when I might need to zoom out, but bought a second-hand 500 f4 prime (on here) earlier this year and there is no comparison. The 500 prime is an awesome lens!

I have tried converters on both lenses, but still prefer the image quality without them. - At the end of the day, there is no substitute for getting closer to your subject, and investing £150.00 in a decent portable hide is a lot cheaper than upgrading an existing lens!
 
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1,287
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Stef
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Ive been testing a range of high ISO’s with a clean background and with a bit of noise removal and careful not to zoom beyond silly on my iPad, results are crazy. I think I was too quick to dismiss the tc and not even try when the light had dipped a bit.
I will save for a longer lens which means doing overtime and less photography lol but in the meantime, I’ll work on getting myself closer.
 
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