AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR
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Super telephoto power has never been so light. Combine brilliant optical performance, improved AF tracking, a fast electromagnetic diaphragm and VR image stabilization with a new weather-sealed magnesium alloy lens barrel that reduces overall weight by nearly 0.9kg, and you have the definitive 500mm prime for sports, action and nature photographers, or anyone looking to get the most out of their current Nikon DSLR camera.
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AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR
Based on 7 Reviews
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I talked myself into buying this lens after looking at the MTF curves (essentially perfect) and having something of a windfall to be able to afford it. The primary use is birds-in-flight, plus some close-up work. Yes, that last sounds odd for a 500mm lens, but for things like butterflies and dragonflies, it allows one to stand well back (thus not disturbing the subject) and still get frame-filling shots, plus which it´s sharpness rivals or exceeds that of the Nikon 200mm macro lens -- and that´s saying something.
This lens is replacing the 200-500mm zoom, itself a very nice lens. One does give up some flexibility (single focal length vs. a range), some close-focusing distance, and maximum magnification, but the increase in sharpness and definition more than makes up for the downsides. I find that I can shoot subjects further away without getting ´´softness´´ in the image, especially at 80 meters distance from the subject and with 500mm focal length set on the zoom. Closer in and/or with the zoom at lower focal lengths, the differences are less obvious but nonetheless present if you look for them, e.g. the definition of individual barbs in a bird´s feather.
The lens is light enough that you can shoot hand-held with it. My method is to mount it and the camera body (and the 1.4X teleconverter) on a gunstock-style mount, the Stedi-stock 2, which I recommend you look into as an accessory. It´s only $60 or so and really helps.
Minor details: 1. The lens hood is the best I´ve seen; all lens hoods should be like this. Not only is it lightweight (carbon fiber) but the attachment method is excellent. 2. The lens comes with a nice case, something of interest to those who might travel with it (I don´t). 3. It comes with two straps, one for the lens, one for the case. 4. This lens will attract attention. When it arrived at the camera store, the entire staff gathered around to see it. Other bird photographers will follow you around, too. (OK, that last is a bit exaggerated, I admit, but not much :-)
Bottom line? If you can afford it, and you really do want the best, then go get one. You will not regret it.
I sold my Nikon 500mm f4.0g vr II lens and bought the Nikon 500 f4.0e FL ED VR lens. It a little heavier than my Nikon 300 f2.8g vrII lens but actually balances better due to the lighter front elements. Handles a lot better than my old 500 due to almost a 2 lbs weight reduction plus being better balanced.
I just got the lens yesterday and tested it out on my d500 and found that no auto focus fine tuning was required. I shot many images in my back yard of hummers, sparrows and some of my cedar fence that is at a skew of around 30 degrees to my line of shoot. I focused on a screw on the fence and proved that the sharp focus in front and behind the screw was about the same. The feather detail and eye rings on the birds were in sharp focus. I am very, very happy with the lens and now its clothed in a lens coat cover to protect the exterior of the lens.
I´m broke, but happy as a clam.
Amusing story to start. Since this lens is rarely seen by camera store personnel, when it arrived every one of the crew at Mike´s Cameras crowded around for the ´´unveiling.´´
Is it sharp? Oh yes. The convincing evidence of that was a photo of a skipper butterfly blown up from only 1/25 of the FX sensor area. The result was as sharp or sharper than my 200mm Nikkor macro lens, and certainly better than either the 200-500 Nikon zoom or the 150-600 Tamron zoom can do.
Is it glaringly better than the above mentioned zooms? The differences are subtle, but nonetheless real. Individual barbs and barbules on bird feathers are better defined; individual hairs on carpenter bees more distinct. You can magnify more and have good results. That sort of thing.
Is it heavy? Specs say it ´s about 2.5 pounds more than the zooms. In practice, the effect of that difference is small (for me at 6´1´´, 185lb). It can be handheld with good results.
Will it substitute for technique? No. You can misuse this one just as easily as any other lens. For example, if you´re shooting birds in flight (one of my main objectives), you´ll still need good panning technique.
A really big win is the f/4 aperture vs. f/5.6 or f/6.3 when using a teleconverter. With a 1.4 teleconverter on this lens, the effective f/5.6 allows operation of all the autofocus points of a D500 or D750 body. That is a huge convenience when trying to follow rapidly moving birds.
It also has the best lens hood I´ve ever seen. Not only does it appear to be made of carbon fiber, but the method of attachment is so much better than all other lens hoods as to be in a different league altogether. It also comes with a fancy lockable case and two straps and a second attachment foot for use with a monopod that can be readily switched with the tripod foot.
Save your pennies. Combine a couple of years´ worth of birthday and Christmas presents budgets. Keep the old car a few years longer. Then go out and splurge :-)
The saying that you get what you pay for in glass is certainly true in this case. The bonus is the reduced weight.. The attached photos were taken hand held using an old wood ´Scope-Stock´ and TC14E3 1.4 tele-converter. I mounted an Arca type clamp made by Hejnar Photo to the stock.
I have used this lens with the D810A, D750, and more recently, the D500. I am getting amazing results when shooting wildlife and nature photos, especially when paired with the D500. The VR feature is superb. Recently shot an owl in the woods after the sun went down, using only a monopod, at shutter speed 1/25. VR worked beyond expectations.
Weight is decent for a 500mm lens. At my age (50), I can hand hold the lens while tracking birds in flight. Bokeh effect is smooth. When coupled with the TC-14E III, I don´t lose image quality.
I used this lens to cover an event at a mega church. Had to shoot from the back, so I left the 300mm f/2.8 at home and took this lens. I was able to capture the pastor and musical entourage in very sharp detail.
Build quality is on par with Nikon pro lenses. Lens fits perfectly snug to all 3 of my DSLR bodies.
Sharpness, color saturation, and contrast are key to obtaining exceptional image quality, and this lens delivers on all of those.
The reduction of weight and change or front-back weight balance makes this a very, very attractive lens to take the place of my current Nikon 600mm f4. I used it hand held with and without a 1.4x teleconverter and a monopod. The monopod was a piece of cake--it almost felt like the Nikon 300mm f 2.8. Hand held was not so bad giving a few good shots, which is not possible with the 600mm. Its very easy to pack in my backpack with the body attached leaving some extra space for other gear. Photo quality is typical Nikon--excellent. This is a great travel super telephoto lens
I´ve used a Nikon 500mm f/4G extensively for the last three years. Sold it and took delivery a few days ago of the new E version of the lens. Initial impressions.
Things I like:
1) The reduction in weight is noticeable and important. The E is still a heavy lens but I can hand hold it for a few minutes at a time whereas it was difficult for me to shoot with the G without monopod support.
2) The E is better balanced than the G, which is quite front heavy. This helps in hand holding the lens. It also makes the lens mate better with a lighter DX body.
3) The new Sport VR mode really helps with panning and trying to keep birds in flight in the viewfinder. The Sport mode appears to be somewhat less effective in controlling camera shake at low shutter speeds than the Normal mode, but I seldom shoot below 1/500 s anyhow, so I expect I´ll be using Sport mode most of the time.
4) The G version of the lens requires twisting a mechanical lever to turn VR on and off whereas this is accomplished on the E lens with the movement of an electrical switch. This is a big improvement in usability.
5) I think the E lens may be a little sharper and faster to focus than the G lens, but the G lens was no slouch in these departments so the improvements are subtle.
Things I don´t like:
1) The G is already a very expensive piece of equipment. The E costs 30% more. Combine that with the strong dollar relative to the yen and I feel like Nikon is being a bit too greedy on this product.
2) I´ll have to replace the stock foot on the E with a Wimberley, just as I had to for the G. Every photographer I´ve ever seen with a Nikon long lens has replaced the stock foot. Nikon, please provide a proper foot that is Arca-Swiss compatible.
3) We now have an upgraded piece of luggage in which the E lens ships. But I, like nearly everyone else who buys the lens, will put this $500 item in storage to be used again only when the lens is sold. Make the case bigger so that it can at least handle a body and a few accessories instead of only the lens. The additional manufacturing costs would be passingly small while the usability of the case would increase dramatically. And if you really want to be helpful, put wheels on the case.
4) Ship a polarizing slip-in filter with the lens. This can´t cost much for Nikon to manufacture, it is an important accessory, and I´m bothered that I have to pay a premium price for something that should be part of the package.
All in all, I´m delighted with the lens. The weight reduction, more even weight distribution, and Sport VR are, for me, the most important new features.