600 f5.6 ED IF on a D500 - yes or no?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by david_simon, May 10, 2017.

  1. The new 600mm Nikons are way out of my price range. I can get my hands on an old Nikon 600 f5.6 ED IF for a reasonable price to use for stationary birds on my D500. What can I expect in terms of image quality, i.e is the body too good for the lens/
  2. Go for it.

    I got a 500/f8 mirror for use on my D7200.

    When you need the reach, you need the lens to give you that reach. And you have to be able to afford the lens.
    The only question is, are you good at manual focusing, because some people are not.
  3. If the little suckers are really stationary and you are also able to be stationary (with prefocus, etc, like the old days before AF), then there is hardly any better solution than a "mirror" lens so long as you can stand donut highlights (once it was all the rage!). Difficult focus and shallow DoF are issues.

    The Nikon Reflex Nikkor 500mm f/8 (often for only $200) is one of the better ones. For a bit more reach the Sigma 600mm is also very, very good.

    I have explored this obsession with catadioptric lense for far too long. If you're actually interested, I'll post some links to my many essays here.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I bought the 600 / 5.6 to use with my FF Nikons. It is big,and heavy but it is GREAT. Very sharp, much more so than my Nikkor 500 f8 Cat. Plan to use a monopod or tripod, though I have caught birds in flight with it hand held (with some luck) in excellent light. With your D 500, you'll really get some reach! Check Roberts Camera Used -- that's where I got mine. They often have very good prices and frequently "make an offer".Remember, not all that many years ago, only Pros and the rich had one.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would imagine that an old 600mm/f5.6 ED IF manual focus lens wouldn't cost a whole lot in these days, but with a modern D500, I would rather get a 200-500mm/f5.6 AF-S VR that is also very affordable, actually cheaper than the D500 body.
  6. I also shoot Sony and use a Auto Focus 500 f/8 with IBIS and manage awesome handheld photos. Wished Nikon made an AF mirror lens.
  7. I have had an obsession with Novoflex "follow focus" lenses since the late 70's, and have 400mm and 600mm versions that I enjoy experimenting with. For shooting sailing events handheld, I get a higher percentage shots in focus (and sharp) using the 3 dot rangefinder focus than I would expect with the 400mm. The 600mm is not practical for handheld shooting from a small boat. I am pretty sure that using the IF would be about as easy as the trigger focus Novoflex system, and the 600 ED Nikkor is probably better than the 600mm Novoflex.

    From a practical standpoint, I will have to agree with Shun, a 200-500 with AF and VR would likely produce more keepers with less effort, and would be a more flexible lens to use.

    I also think my manual focus hit ratio using my Sony mirrorless and zoomed image focusing is better than when using the optical finder in the Nikon DSLRs for telephotos. Waiting on Nikon to do a better mirrorless!
  8. is the body too good for the lens - I find this line of reasoning a bit odd: a lens is as good as it is, and either lens resolving power, or the resolution of the sensor/film ends up being the limiting factor. In the end, there always is a limiting factor, and whether that's the body or the lens doesn't quite matter to the final product (the image).
    Since lenses last longer than bodies, I'd always opt to get the best possible lens within my budget. Resolution is just one aspect of that, it's also about how a lens renders, distorts, vignettes etc. etc. But the bottomline: get the lens that best suits your needs within budget. The body you currently use is rather inconsequential.

    I'd also opt for the 200-500 VR in this case. It's a lot of lens for the money.
  9. Owned those too and while they were fine on film cameras, they didn't work for me on a DSLR (D200 at the time), showing quite pronounced CA. Got rid of them eventually.
    Not my experience, especially when hand-holding. Squeezing a trigger is quite difference from having to focus via a rotational motion.

    +1 on the 200-500 recommendation.
  10. My 600/5.6 ED-IF AIS does just fine on my D800. It may not have the contrast that the 200-500VR Nikkor has, but I bet it has better off-center sharpness. My copy is pretty darned good across the frame at 36MP. It might suffer a bit at higher pixel densities, but not that much.

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