Sunday 6 January 2019

First Impressions on the Nikkor 200-500mm lens

The Brahminy Kite emerging from a shaded building into the light

Link for photos with Nikon D750 and Nikkor 200-500 mm lens.

Recently added the Nikkor 200-500mm lens to my kitty. Here are some first impressions about the lens. This is by no means a lab review of the lens, but completely done outdoors. So my presentation will be of photos. All the photos in this blog are taken using Nikon D750 and 200-500 mm, handheld.

Though I had rented out this lens before and used on many occasions, this is first one which I own. Most of the photos are of birds, which is the main purpose of me getting this much sought after lens. In fact the only 500 mm lens at a fixed aperture in a very affordable price, which is another reason, I was able to add this to my lens collection.

Moon was one of the first shots coming from this lens. One of my favorite subjects for sure. As it turned out it was quite sharp.

The waning moon.
Some photos with the light on the proper side of the subject. This little sunbird was shot from a distance of about 20 feet. The lens had no problem in locking the subject and able to get quite some details on it.

Purple rumped Sunbird - Female

If there is one thing I am blessed about, it is my Winged Neighbours. This little fellow is one of them.

Common Tailorbird

The lake near by was lively with lot of activities. Not known for a huge variety of birds, since this lake is in the middle of the urban settlements, but does provide some interesting sights. Mr. Little Grebe is one such interesting fellow.

Little Grebe

This is a very common sight most of the residential apartments. So no stranger to me as well. When the subject is closer and the light just right, there is no dearth of details.

Rock Pigeon

Those were pretty straightforward. How about some action or the birds flying? Well, one needs some practice to focus on the action, in this case birds in flight. The lens does not have any problems in focusing on flying birds, even though the background does not have much contrast. However, I cannot say if it is as fast as some of the high end prime lenses.

Here are a few birds in action.

Black Kite banking

This egret was not just flying but also was against the light. But the lens did not have issues locking focus.

Little Egret

The Common Coot taking off from the water is a good subject for some action. This is a very fast action and starts without any preamble or warning. So focusing on such a subject is quite difficult even for trained hands. I did struggle a bit to get the right focus. In fact had to spend quite some time and lot of tries to get a couple of them right. I will attribute that to the lack of practice I have. The lens also had some difficulty in locking the focus due to the fast action. But once locked, it held on!

Common Coot, taking off

Here is one more from the Common Coot.

Common Coot Running on water

This one too is a reasonable fast flier. However there was no problem in having the focus locked.

Pond Heron flying

Well, not bad at all for the range of the lens. How for the most difficult part. How does the light hold up in low light. The 5.6 max aperture is not ideal for any kind of low light photography, especially birds or wildlife, but still wanted to give a try.
Here are a few low light bird shots.

Once again the Pond Heron. This time it is still. Obviously it would have been quite difficult on flight. It was early morning and the sun never came up, so had to bump up the ISO to get some decent shots.

Pond Heron

Black kite on flight. Not a very difficult action shot since this one was just gliding and not a fast flier.

Black Kite on flight

The following was a quite difficult shot. Not only was the light low, but also is this a fast action of a small bird at quite a distance. Whatever light that was there was right behind the subject, which helped greatly in the water drops and splash, but not so much in getting the focus right.

Little Grebe skipping on water.

Though the focus on the following is quite good, I cannot consider this a very high quality image, even though the Grebe was quite close.

Based on the time I spent so far, I can say for sure that the focusing is quite fast even in low light for a lens with 5f/.6 max aperture. However, I cannot hold the image quality at the highest.

Now for some bonus. What about smaller subjects? The lens is not designated macro lens, but the for my kind of interests (Butterflies and Bugs), the lens gives some great working distance. I can photograph these beauties without having to get too close.
Though I am not intending to use the lens for such work, no harm in a few tries. Here are a few sample.

The focus spot on and the details quite good on the Chocolate pansy.

Chocolate pansy
Never have to worry about getting close with those. These wasps are small and quite fast. But the lens, in good light, never had a problem in locking focus. It was real fast this time!


I would dare not get near this Yellow Jacket! This was shot from over 20 feet distance and the lens never had a problem getting focus, since the light was quite good. The details too was quite good, considering the distance and the size of the subject.

Yellow Jacket targeting a caterpillar

Though the photos of the bugs have come out quite, the lens certainly is not for macros. I will stick to the Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 for macros!

In the coming days, I will use it further for the birds and wildlife and see how it holds up. If you have any tips for better using the lens, please do share your ideas.

Pied Bushchat on a sunny day


shreelekha said...

I dont understand photography except some great pics from my redmi note..but yes must say..brilliant catch ..each of the photo is treat to the eye..especially the eagle..!

Trails of a Traveler said...

Thanks Sreelekha.