500mm f/4.0P ED-IF (AI-P) vs AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by fluppeteer, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. Okay. Next up, f/8. I should have tested this with VR off as well, to see whether VR was impacting sharpness with the sharper aperture, but I'm afraid I was too lazy - and I didn't want to start bringing high ISO into the equation.

    This is f/8, 1/250s, ISO 280 with VR on. I think it has the edge over f/5.6; I didn't check all intermediate apertures, but I'd generally stop down a tiny bit with this lens if I could.

  2. Giving it one more stop, here's f/11, 1/250s, ISO 560 with VR on. I don't think this helps over f/8.

  3. Right. Teleconverter time. Please note this is the TC14E-II, not the latest -III version. Conditions changed a little because I was rushing and manged to cross thread my teleconverter and the 200-500 (I mounted them at the wrong orientation); that shouldn't be possible, and it took me a while ti disentangle them, but which point the cloud cover was worse. I did my best. I upped the shutter speed a little because of the 700mm focal length - 1/250s was slightly softer, at least the way I was doing it, and 1/400s didn't seem to be an improvement.

    I should point out that I don't think I ever fine-tuned this lens (or if I did, it was a long time ago) - this is from the normal AF system. I might have done a little better with live view if I'd wheeled out a tripod (hand-holding 700mm with live view is pushing it), but my food was going cold, so I'm afraid you'll have to think of this as worst case.

    Firstly, f/11, 1/320s, ISO 500, obviously VR. This is clearly somewhat softer (although you're also getting a closer view). I've shot this lens with a TC wide open, but only under bad light when I had little choice - and in some cases didn't have time to remove the teleconverter.

  4. And finally (bored yet?) here's the TC14 (700mm effective) again, f/11, 1/320s, ISO 2000 (I guess the cloud was thicker). It's not perfect (the noise doesn't help), but it's better than f/8.

  5. Just for reference, here's how much of the frame the moon was taking up (at 500mm). So plenty of room for corona and such if you're aiming at an eclipse (very carefully and with an eclipse filter except during full totality, obviously).


    In my experience, lunar eclipses are a real pain to shoot - the moon is a lot darker than during normal exposure, and getting a usable ISO and a shutter speed during which the motion of the moon and rotation of the earth don't blur things is tricky even with a tripod. Sadly I keep just missing solar eclipses, so I can only offer advice off the internet on that!

    I hope all that helps. I'm sure a 500mm prime is a little better, especially the latest ones and especially with the teleconverter (and you'd be quite a bit closer with a 600mm and a TC20 - something I'm bearing in mind for the next time I want to photograph wolves in Yellowstone), but for a budget and easy to use option, it's respectable.
  6. Thanks Andrew.
  7. Glad to be of service, Gary. Now I just need to come up with a somewhat more efficient way of lossless cropping. (Just cropping a converted raw file would have been much simpler, but I had to be clever and try to use the out-of-camera JPEGs, didn't I?)
  8. I'll echo here: thanks Andrew! appreciated.
  9. ... anyone know when, ie what focal length, a non-tracked rig needs to start upping the shutter speed for subject movement NOT camera movement?

    Anyone else found this..?

  10. The conventional version is the "500 rule" (you need shutter speed of 500/focal-length-in-mm seconds to limit blur) - although that's for full frame rather than pixel peeping, and it depends a bit where you're pointing in the sky. It doesn't really compensate for the moon moving as well - which I guess is in the same direction as the earth but about 28x slower and shouldn't have much impact...

    Experimentally, I've tried 20s-or-so exposures with my 200mm (with and without TC), but it's a bit tricky. 30s with a 50mm does seem too long. Hence my purchase of a tracking mount, but I've yet to find time to use it. Or you can just stack, of course - which is not a bad idea for me given the amount of orange saturating the sky. I've got LPR filters (I'm still worried that my big one has gone missing), but they cut out enough light that you really need a long exposure. I'm hoping for a clear sky when I next visit my sister in Wales.

    I hadn't seen that one (I assumed it was going to be one of the superzoom bridge camera demos); it took me a while to realise where a 400mm f/2.8 Leica had come from (I keep forgetting about R lenses). If we're competing, I can stick my D810 on my 10" Dobsonian (which is about f/5). Whether I'd get anything useful out of stacking my TC14 and TC16 (and whether they'd clash if I tried) I'm less sure. If I'm unexpectedly keen, I'll try it some time and report back. Someone with access to serious astronomy equipment (or Hubble) could beat that easily, but I assume we're playing fair!
  11. I just shoot the moon at 1/1000 sec (or faster) with my 300mm lens, and don't worry about subject or camera movement.
  12. That does reduce some of the blur due to atmospheric shimmer (so long as you're not stacking). I suspect you'll be starting to lose ISO, though, depending on aperture (with a 300 f/2, sure). I believe the preferred way to moon image is to track back and forth with a webcam (which tends to have tiny pixels) and merge the result - with enough shots to play "pick the clearest" in each section.

    With the 500mm I could easily believe that 1s would be pushing my luck. If I do more experiments, I'll try to test this. I was close to ISO64 with 1/125s at f/5.6 in my experiments, although that suffered from being hand-held.
  13. If the sky clears I'll have a play this evening. Mind you, I think battery life may be a bit short tonight!

    I guess Lunar movement is linear (NB Pedants, you know what I mean!) and camera shake is random - circular vibration?
  14. I think it's at least due to be clear tomorrow night, assuming we're close enough together that the weather report is similar. Orion's up, so I might have another go with a tripod. I might even try the tracking mount, but I'll probably run out of time and energy. This evening I'll be having fun because I made the mistake of not realising that the requirements on electronically-submitted passport photos are different from printed ones, and I suspect I'm a little too-tightly cropped - so for the second time this week (and this year) I'll be breaking out the flash guns. At least I'd already tidied the room this time. Must remember that I find photography to be fun...
  15. I start with a full daylight exposure, 1/ISO @ f/16. Then do the equivalent exposure to get to 1/1000 sec.
    • At ISO = 200, 1/1000 @ f/8
    • At ISO = 64, 1/1000 @ f/4
    From here I go up or down as I want the moon brighter or darker.
  16. That's with "sunny 16"; with the equivalent "rule" for the moon's surface, "looney 11", you need to lose a stop. So you'd be at ISO 200-ish at f/5.6, and ISO 400 at f/8. On the shots above I seem to be getting on for a further stop behind that (ISO of roughly 1/shutter speed at f/8) , but I did have a small amount of high haze. I didn't do hugely better in my post on Nikon Wednesday this week with a clearer sky, but the moon was lower, so there was probably some more atmosphere affecting it. I'm quite paranoid about trying to stay as near ISO 64 as I can for dynamic range reasons, so I wouldn't tend to go above 1/1000s unnecessarily. Not that it hugely matters unless you're doing the kind of extreme processing I did with one of my Wednesday images. :)
  17. Now that I have a longer lens, I got to try the "looney 11".
    I shoot at 1/1000 to try to eliminate camera movement, since I am usually firing the camera on a tripod, but holding the camera vs. cable release.
  18. I think it's a "rule" like sunny 16 is a "rule" - more of a guideline. :) (I qualify all this by not claiming to know what I'm doing, as most around here know...)

    That's a commendable attempt to get rid of vibration, given that I was shooting hand-held at 1/250s (with VR)! The worst camera-induced vibration is normally in the 1/10-1/100s range, I believe; I'd be surprised if you couldn't drop it a bit without seeing an effect, but I'm prepared to be proven wrong. You'll probably cut out a bit more atmospheric wobble with a high shutter speed than I was doing, though.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  19. "Of course the fast AF of the D500... " With the 200-500?

    I get extremely frustrated with the slow AF of the 200-500 on my D5 and want to pull my hair out with my D800. I think the D500 s/b the same as the D750 which is the same as the D5?
  20. The D500, D850 and D5 AF have Multi-CAM 20k series AF modules though the selection of available AF area modes varies from model to model and there are reports of the D5 being faster in some tasks (3D Tracking). The D750 and D7500 should be similar to each other (Advanced Multi-CAM 3500 II) but use a different AF sensor module than the D500/D850/D5.

    I have only used the 200-500 with the D810 which is not as fast as the D5 though in my experience the advantages of the latter are pronounced when using fast lenses. For example with an f/5.6 lens the cross-type points are limited to the center area.

    In my experience the 200-500 autofocus doesn't work all that well for close-by subjects (within a few meters, say 2.5 to 5m) but at longer distances (tens of meters) it seemed to autofocus acceptably on the D810. However, I only used the lens for a brief time. The 300/4 PF focuses faster and more reliably in close range than the 200-500 but of course is only a 300mm. With TCs the AF on the 300 becomes progressively less reliable as the TC factor increases. I guess my recommendation is to use the 200-500 for more distant subjects and the 300 PF (if available) for the close range.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017

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