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Old Mar 1, 2004, 7:06 AM   #1
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Default AF-I 500mm - First Results

Having decided to buy a large telephoto lens for wildlife photography, the key question was which one ? As a none car owner I initially discounted the 600 to 800 mm range on the basis of bulk and/or weight, but having decided on 500mm which one should I go for ?

I eventually got down to a choice of two, the 500mm f4.5 Sigma or a 500mm f4 Nikon. My problem was that I really wanted the Nikon but could only afford the Sigma. However, after a couple of weeks looking at the second hand market I was able to purchase a Nikon AF-I 500mm f4 from Cameraboerse on eBay.

I'm pleased with my choice, and I've provided some details in this posting for anyone who's thinking similar thoughts.

The AF-I model was produced around about 1995, just before the production of AF-S. As such it has an internal focusing motor, perhaps not as quiet or as fast as the AF-S, but quiet enough and fast enough for me (also a lot cheaper). Using the lens in M/A mode also allows a final manual override on focus if required, and the lens comes with four focus lock buttons spaced around the main objective lens allowing focus lock and full-frame recomposition.

Optically it produces pleasing results from f4 to f22, with the best (to my eye) at about f5.6. As I've found with the other best Nikon lenses the results need minimal post processing. All of the results shown here were taken using a non-coloured glass internal filter, and have been cropped and slightly sharpened using Unsharp Mask in Nikon Catpure Editor.

Teal. 1/1500 f5.6. A nice co-operative subject.



House Sparrow. 1/3000 f5.6. The M/A focus option was useful here with twigs at awkward angles in front of and beside the sparrows body.



Turnstone. 1/2500 f5.6. A moving subject, the shot being highly reliant on the continuous autofocus supported by this lens.



All of the above used my Nikon D100 camera body at ISO 400 with centre-weighted metering. I used a short shutter release cable and the D100 anti mirror shock setting in all cases.

The lens and camera were supported on a Wimberley gimbal mount on a Gitzo 1325 carbon fibre tripod. The Wimberley was balanced like a feather between -30 and +50 degrees, and a slight tension on the Y axis control was enough to control the head beyond that. X axis tracking was very smooth, and key to getting the Turnstone shot.

Regards,
Graham.
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Old Mar 6, 2004, 5:48 PM   #2
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Very Sharp Glass!! Good Choice, and nice pictures...
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Old Mar 8, 2004, 6:43 AM   #3
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Thanks Dale. I just wish that the set-up was a little lighter to hump around. Or rather I'm glad I bought it at the age of 50. It will get me fit.

Regards,
Graham.
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Old Mar 8, 2004, 8:53 AM   #4
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Agreed they are heavy, I allways thought carbon fiber Tripods and Monopods were to expensive.... But after getting the 600mm Which by the way ways 10.7 pounds I found out why Carbon fiber is must..... After a football game Im as wore out as the players. Then I carry two cameras, one with the 600mm and the other the 80-200mm and a 24-85mm loose in my in my tack belt and a back pack.... Good luck
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