Just curious - is there demand for DX primes?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Dieter Schaefer, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    Why all the talk about 'upgrading' to FX?

    Are photographers who use DX not professional enough? Are we just playing at being photographers?
    Just 'amateurs'?

    I have no interest in moving to FX. DX does everything I require and I don't feel I'm compromised.
    I also don't reckon that just because someone uses an FX camera that they are better than DX users.

    It's not the tool you use, it's how you use what you have.
  2. Absolutely, Ken. Also, I'm absolutely an amateur who's never shot Nikon DX format, and I'm under no delusion about claiming to be a better photographer than... pretty much anyone.

    Still, Nikon offer some camera features in FX bodies that they don't in DX (>24MP, higher frame rates), the sensor size has an inherent advantage for effective aperture (barring someone making a lot of good f/0.95 DX lenses, which will require a mirrorless mount), and for the same field of view, better FX glass tends to be available (e.g. 14-24) - though there are exceptions, especially in zooms. You also get a larger finder. By some definitions, moving to FX gives you a more capable photographic tool set. Not by all definitions, but by the ones which justify the expense of the FX bodies (at least to enough of the market for them to sell).

    This has no effect on the ability of the photographer, although it occasionally influences the circumstances in which they can shoot at a given quality. Many people could run rings around me and my D810 using a cell phone, though there are a few situations in which the technology would rescue me. The systems lie on a continuum, and I wouldn't claim the gradations are huge.

    That said, hands off my D810, I'm not swapping. :)
  3. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    I'll keep my Contax RTS IIs and 139s and Carl Zeiss lenses...
    ... and my medium format cameras :)
    I tend to carry two systems when I'm out and about - film and digital.
    Digital tends to be Nikon, but I sometimes take my Nex 6 and use my Carl Zeiss lenses just to make life interesting (and throw in a 139 as it is so small!)
  4. I use DX cameras, but also shoot film Nikons. I can't see any reason at all to buy a DX-specific lens if that focal length is available in a full frame version, or close. The only DX-only lenses I own are the ones that came on my cameras because they were cheap and convenient, and a 10-20mm Sigma because that's the only way to get that one.Otherwise, I mostly have ai-s lenses and AF-D.
  5. I just hear, repeatedly, that cheap and light are high on the priority lists; lens compatibility, less so.

    Canon have maintained near-perfect compatibility within the EF mount and hold about 50% ILC market share ... I do believe these things to be related. Users trust Canon even though they may gripe about features the thing is that you can even use a new STM lens on an EOS film camera (that's what I call good engineering), also when Canon introduced their radio controlled flash system, it works with older cameras (with limitations such as in high speed sync). With Nikon's AF-P lenses there are limitations on which bodies they work and concerning even fairly recent bodies. Nikon radio flash functions only work on D7500, D500, D5, and D850 so far. I think it ought to have been possible to implement a transmitter that would work on older cameras. How do I know that it's possible? Because third party radio transmitters achieve this feat. I love the way Nikon's radio AWL works and it seems very reliable (which is more than I can say of Elinchrom's system). I was willing to upgrade my D810 to D850 though at considerable cost, to access these features. I'd have been happier to continue to use my D810 simply because it was in perfectly good shape and didn't have any great flaws. But, radio controlled flash with automated functions is a feature I need and have been waiting to have access to for many years (I skipped the third party options that had been available for TTL radio because of the additional batteries that are needed as well as somewhat spotty reports of compatibility). I do think Nikon ought to put more attention to compatibility as they once did. The AF-P lens protocol could be redesigned to work with older camera bodies.

    There's a lot of feedback that people are less interested in the D7500 than the D7200;

    Yes, because there is reduced compatibility and reduced feature set (in some respects). That is not what users at this level want. However, the D7200 was top of the line DX, and now there is a higher-end model, the D500, which D7200 users can consider as an upgrade, if they need one. The D7500 was pushed down in the lineup by the D500, and the D7500 is between D7200 and D5600 in some ways; it's better to think of it as an upgrade to D3x00 and D5x00 users than D7200 users. However, people do not necessarily happily pay the extra price. What is happening is that manufacturers such as Nikon are no longer investing significant R&D money in consumer cameras and are focusing their resources on the high end products (the D500, D850, D5, and expensive lenses such as 19 PC, 105/1.4, 70-200/2.8 FL etc.). These products remain profitable even if overall volume of camera sales declines (which it has) and they offer distinct advantages over the smartphone whereas in the low end the motivation to use a dedicated camera may be not as clear in the eyes of the consumer. There is still and advantage in ergonomics and availability of long lenses etc. but these advantages in my opinion are more clearly exhibited in the D7200/D7500 not in the D3x00/D5x00.

    I think the D7x00 class is very important as it is the price class which is within reach of the majority of people interested in photography and the cameras are reasonably fully featured and have very good ergonomics for photography. I think it's really bad thing if Nikon feel they have to leave features out of this camera class to support sales of the D500. The D7200 ergonomics and handling with long lenses is better than that of mirrorless cameras in my opinion, but since the D7500 doesn't have a vertical grip it doesn't quite fill in that position as well as the D7200 did.

    Ilkka, you're pretty much the first person I've seen say that.

    I was expecting it not to work, but it did. Probably Snapbridge version 2.0 is getting more ready to a production level software. :) One needs to record RAW+JPG or JPG only (it doesn't seem to transmit anything if one shoots RAW without JPG). It is slow to transfer the files (25 s for 2MP file!) but works so far without a glitch. I did notice slight delays in autofocus (25-point dynamic) when shooting figure skating this weekend in occasional situations (the D5 is more responsive and just focuses instantly) but I haven't been able to reproduce it when I've tried afterwards, and I don't really know what specific circumstances cause it (maybe related to snapbridge, busy shooting or something?). I will of course get more experience and the AF is definitely more sensitive and more robust than Multi-CAM 3500 when used with fast lenses in low light, but for some curious reason I felt it wasn't quite as responsive and fast to initiate focus as the D5 in the skating environment. I was given a tip to use airplane mode that might solve the issue but I am not sure yet whether it is related. Also remote control works with Snapbridge 2.0 and allows one to adjust exposure settings.

    I think the initial performance of Snapbridge was a PR nightmare for Nikon but they seem to be finally achieving what they set out to do, even if it is not fast, the images do appear as small jpgs on the phone without the need to do further interaction on the user's part. I think there is still some user interface issues and they can add features but generally I think they are closer to achieving the mission of making images taken with DSLRs easier to post on social media and e-mail without always reconnecting to camera manually. (That is why they used bluetooth, so that if the mobile device is connected to the internet via wifi, the user doesn't have to connect the wifi to camera and back to the internet manually each time.) Picking images manually for transfer is easy: in playback, press i, and then OK. The camera adds the image to the queue of images to be sent to mobile device in the background. Once on queue removing images from being sent didn't have immediate effect but eventually it stopped transmitting. So these kind of little glitches are still there but I think Nikon will be able to work them out now that the application shows some promise.

    Would I be interested in a small, lightweight mirrorless FX system? If the adaptor is cheap (ahem, FT-1), works properly, and the camera itself is decent, yes.

    But the mirrorless with an F mount adapter mounted wouldn't be small or lightweight, it would probably be about the size of a DSLR, yet with less good ergonomics. From my perspective until there is a comprehensive set of native lenses such a camera would not offer much incentive to buy. With native lenses, AF is expected to be good/decent, and there is the advantage of having a viewfinder for silent photography and video. However, I am of the opinion that Qc in DSLRs is quiet enough when used discriminatingly and it's not necessary for me to be completely silent (I still breathe, and my shoes make some sounds so the camera sound is not the only one that is present).

    I'd put a lot of money on Nikon not getting it perfectly right first time;

    No one ever does. Of course they will have a second and a third model, they made a whole bunch of 1 series camera models (9?). However, both Canon and Nikon have the issue that there can not be any seamless or soft transition to mirrorless cameras, it's more of a crash landing. On the other hand Canon is having some success with their 1.6x mirrorless (both M5 and M6 have been received well) and those cameras indeed do answer to many people's practical needs. The M5 is compact, the lenses, though few in number, are solid and they can be used for many functional applications of photography. However, it is clear Canon is not aiming the camera for people who want to use a lot of lenses. But for many people the purpose of photography is to make records of what is, and use the images, not create art or intend photography to be some sport where only the best quality image is of value. I think the D7200 is one of those cameras which is really good for photography as a tool to make images of practical function not as an end in itself or the purpose of life itself. And I think DX in general is good for such applications. Micro Four Thirds can be that also, but those cameras and lenses seem mostly to be designed for easiest possible portability and not the best functionality (my opinion, not necessarily shared by all MFT users). At least from my perspective the D7200 has better ergonomics than any of the mirrorless cameras I've tried or used. I would not dismiss the DX/1.6X DSLR as something of a passing thing - it's the most popular type of ILC by far and perhaps we ought to consider the possibility that the popularity is because people really like them.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  6. Yes - the old adage that Nikon have compatibility back to the 1960s is really messed up by the small print. It seemed obvious to me that Nikon made the wrong decision in going with screwdriver autofocus and (to a lesser extent) mechanical aperture coupling once they went electronic. Canon's approach of putting the expense in the lens always seemed more profitable and flexible. Nikon are now mostly there with AF-S (at least assuming AF-P doesn't require hardware changes) and E-aperture, although I think DSLRs are going to be stuck with mechanical aperture levers for a while. Canon have had thirty years to make up for the lens obsolescence they caused in the 1980s, and I know nobody who thinks it's still an issue. And agreed about the flash. :)

    Oh, agreed - it's a worse (in some ways) camera for more money. If it sold for the same price as the current D7200 market value (which, unless tilting touchscreens are expensive, it should be able to because it's missing some bits), it would be a much better sell. There will always be people wanting access to legacy lenses, and cameras should be available for that, but if Nikon care more about new glass I think they can focus on customers whose low-end bodies already didn't support these lenses (properly). I admit that my proposal for budget FX was assuming that some discontinued AF-S lenses were still available and cheap; since they're not, ditching the AF motor seems unwise, although I'd sooner Nikon just replaced the budget lenses. Then D3x00 users could buy them and plan ahead for upgrades, like I did with all my (non-kit) Canon glass.

    I agree, and there's good logic to that. The problem is that it turns Nikon into a poor man's medium format system, or Leica, which survive with good solutions at a premium enforced by vastly reduced volume. They still need an affordable "gateway drug".

    I agree. If it had allowed a significantly cheaper D7500 it would have made sense, but at current prices and just for differentiation, it doesn't. The D750 has now dropped in price enough that I guess it's the step-up option for those wanting an FX D7200, but I'm expecting Nikon's profit margins on it to be relatively low (at $1500). I do agree that Nikon have a problem making a profitable middle-ground camera with all the desired features.

    I'm prepared to be marginally less cynical. Although I still prefer the idea of raw transfer, which means either the expensive dongle or a slow Eye-Fi card. Still, anything working has its place, so I'm glad to hear a good report.

    Yes - I'd be interested because I would like the idea of a small backup body for a high-end DSLR. I can stuff the adaptor elsewhere in my bag, so "small" still helps. For wide-angles, this is a terrible long-term solution, because the enforced flange distance makes for unnecessarily large lenses - Nikon should release with a plan for small wide-to-normal lenses. For a telephoto lens that's going to be big anyway, I'm not so fussed about an adaptor - if it definitively doesn't affect quality (which implies good alignment).

    I think Nikon goofed with DX. I think they should have reduced the flange distance when they went to a crop sensor so the camera could be smaller, and provided a small adaptor ring for FX glass. Canon half-did this with EF-S and intruding lenses, but they had less stuff (and more room) inside the mount than Nikon.

    Generally I agree. They do have a power advantage, some of us like optical viewfinders, SLR phase-detect has a benefit, etc. Some handling issues are teething problems for the companies, or a limited range of devices with different trade-offs (small body vs large grip, etc.) Nonetheless, mirrorless is mechanically simpler, and at some point the volume advantage of Nikon and Canon will be affected by the manufacturing simplicity. Once both companies are playing in this space properly, I wouldn't put money on the DX SLR that costs more to make persisting indefinitely. It won't be overnight, though.
  7. Andrew, you seem to assume that there are a lot of D3x00 users who want to upgrade to FX and it is only the lack of an affordable FX solution that prevents them from doing it. I maintain that the vast majority of D3x00 users has not intention to go that route (and probably many D5x00 users as well) - since neither of us has access to relevant data to support either claim, they sadly will remain assumptions. I also maintain that D7x00 users, if they are not staying with DX, would rather not upgrade to a lower-end FX body but rather to at least a D610/D750. It has been argued over and over again in various fora that a $2000 DX camera has no place aside a $2000 FX camera; the D500 shows very clearly that, given the right set of parameters and distinction, there certainly is. However, I maintain that the D500 is not the best upgrade path for many DX users as the D7200 provides what most users need and unfortunately, Nikon choose to cripple the D7500 in some aspects to make it a good successor; just another example where Nikon is shooting themselves in the foot. Nikon would need to treat the D500 akin to the D5 - the DX flagship that those who value the features are willing to pay the price but realizing that it will be unattainable to many and hence will be a niche product. Thus it should be mandatory to have a very strong camera at a much reduced price point below it; the D7200 fit that bill, the D7500 does not. Over time, Nikon has utterly failed to come up with a concise camera hierarchy and marketing strategy. I think that one major problem is that most users of the lower-end DX bodies does not weigh the detailed features the way we see it happen in this forum when camera and/or lens purchases are concerned; they pick based on sales person, relative, friend, internet advice or the presence of certain features (24MP better than 21MP, WiFi allows direct upload to social media sites).

    Most likely true - but the D750 ought top have recouped development cost several times over by now and a smaller profit margin is better than none at all. Maybe the D750 now attracts more people to buy into FX than there would be FX owners that would upgrade to an D750 successor, making up for that smaller profit margin?
  8. I think i would be interested in a "modern DX version" of the e-series series with AF ( ie. 18 or 19mm F/2.8, a 35mm not needed is alreay there, a 60mm f2.8 an a 100mm f2.8)
    So , a set of light and small an reasonably sharp & fast lenses ( check series-e 10mm F/2.8 to get my drift.. : Nikon Series E lenses -100-135mm focal length )
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  9. Many people like DX because of the extra reach it gives them for wildlife and sports, that's why the fast D500 was made.

    Why don't Nikon make a nice, light 400mm f2? Using DO/Fresnal lenses it should be doable.

    I guess the answer is, people are happy getting an FX 300mm 2.8 and just cope with the unnecessary size and weight.

    I wonder how much smaller the new Sigma 500mm f4 OS would be if it was DX only. I know they kinda shot themselves in the foot with the 50-150mm OS monster using effectively an FX lens shell., but who knows.
  10. That's probably going a bit far. I'd say there are some D3x00 and probably more D5x00 users who are buying Sony because they want a small full-frame system. Price and weight. I've no idea how many, but someone's buying them, and there are a lot of people with the low-end Nikons. A friend of mine is thinking of replacing his Eos 350D, and is looking at the D850; I'm strongly going to suggest he compares it to the A7RIII before making a choice. Time and again I hear "too big" as a reason not to go FX. Lenses too, of course, but not as much as you'd think if you balance the effective apertures - so we could do with some slower glass alongside the 70-200 f/4, that's not the middling 24-120 f/4. If Nikon made an optically good, affordable and small 24-70 f/4, I'd get one (even though my f/2.8 Tamron is dwarfed by the Nikkor equivalents).

    Alas, true. Such is academic discussion. Although commenters in this forum do provide quite a good sample.

    Before the D7500, I wouldn't disagree. The lack of aperture ring and second card slot on a D7500 makes it an easier target to upgrade from. I concede that I thought there were more cheap AF-S lenses than there are (actually there were, they just got discontinued), so maybe we're stuck with an AF motor - which is Nikon's own fault for not providing new glass to buy that could replace it. Given the aperture advantage to the finder even with a pentamirror, I'd still find a cheap FX body a moderately compelling option at least to someone considering a D7500. I'd also not allowed for how cheap the D750 has got, though.

    I absolutely agree (and always did). Of course, the D500 is nearly as big as a D810 (having used both side by side). It's a lovely camera that has its place, but people can justifiably not want it.

    Agreed again, partly. I think losing the second card slot was a mistake. I'm less fussed about the aperture ring situation - presumably Nikon feel the number of DX users shooting with manual lenses (and not the D500) isn't high enough to justify the production cost. But then the D850 loses the integrated flash, which I use, so removing functionality in later models is hardly unprecedented.

    The D7500 suffers from being an odd duck, and from the D7x00 line having played DX flagship for so long. If they'd been able to rebrand it in the D6x00 range, and if the D500 had been called a D9x00, positioning would be much clearer. Canon seem to have it better going with "mark n" for the high-end models (mostly), although they've got the whole "Rebel/Kiss" confusion going on at the low end.

    It's definitely true that the feature set for low-end cameras seems to matter less. I tend to research everything expensive I'm going to buy (which makes me a moderate expert in a wide range of weird and esoteric stuff, at least based on what was available at the time), but I realise a lot of people rely on limited advice and availability. Plus my usage isn't the same as some others (I care precisely not at all about being able to upload instantly to social media...) We do tell people to try a camera for how they like the feel of it, so we're as guilty as any of pushing people to a store to buy whatever's in front of them. Since "the best camera is the one you have", maybe that's better than decision paralysis - as we've discussed in other recent threads (about the 5DIV and D850, particularly). Still, there's a lot of mirrorless out there, DSLRs have to justify their size advantage, and if they cost more to make than mirrorless this is a problem for Nikon.

    True, and I admit the D750 is definitely currently cheaper than I thought it was. I worry that Nikon will replace it with a mirrorless system that's less capable, though. Maybe I should be advocating for something that differentiates more - like a Df2 with a D5 sensor. :)
  11. Well, a bit. Pixel density doesn't necessarily have to go with sensor size. But the pixel density/speed combination certainly makes the D500 suited for these markets - and I gave a D500 quite a lot of use for wildlife. I'll probably happily use a D850 for both, but I'm no specialist.

    It would still be an enormous front element, and quite hard to transport. Canon had mixed reviews of their first effort with a 400mm f/4 DO, although I gather the second one is an improvement; people are really picky about bokeh in these lenses. I'd really like to see a PF kit lens that collapsed, though. A 400mm f/2 would have to be awfully good to justify itself. No argument it would be special, though.

    I still want a 400mm f/2.8 and care much less about a 300mm f/2.8 (in as much as I'm in the market for either). Don't you already have the 120-300mm Sigma, or am I confusing you with someone else?

    I suspect very little. Telephotos tend to have better coverage anyway, I believe. But I'm not an optical technician.
  12. Actually, in academic discussion it is characteristic that one provides references i.e. the source of the information or argument.

    Since the D750 is discounted now, it is somewhat likely that a replacement may be coming soon. The D850 at least in the European market is far too expensive for many of the D750 customers and in my opinion mirrorless cannot replace anything until there are at least a couple of dozen native lenses which would be about 5 years from now, if Nikon is working on it at full speed and not on anything else. And even then it would require that buyers prefer it.
  13. I have discussions with different academics than you do. :) But it's true that if I was stating something as fact, I'd need to provide references. Less necessary for a hypothesis, but obviously I'll be happy to reject mine if contrary facts disprove it. For now, I've enjoyed seeking perspectives; actual references require the kind of market research that likely doesn't come for free. Except when I get my famed "table of features for future Nikons" put together and I can actually poll the (remaining) participants in this forum. Yay, fun Christmas activities.

    I assume so too, especially given the 6DII turning up. I hope, purely for Nikon's sake because I don't think they'll get the mirrorless ecosystem sorted out fast enough, they don't provide only a mirrorless camera for this segment (unless it's really spectacular). Is the segment below that, where the D610 lives, dead - or being dedicated to mirrorless? Maybe.

    Quick speculation on a DSLR replacement in the D750 market segment, then...
    • Sensor. Thom Hogan has pointed out the trouble Nikon seem to be having with sourcing too many different sensors. The 6DII has a 26MP sensor (which I believe isn't shared by any other Canon). I see Nikon's choices as: 1) keep the current sensor (maybe without AA filter) and try to improve the body in other ways; 2) try to add PDoS at least for video without taking the performance hit that the A7II (but not A7RIII) did with it; 3) use the D810 sensor (but... the impression I get is that many don't really want 36MP); 4) use the D5 sensor (like the D700/D3 pair and Df/D4 pair), compromising low-ISO performance for a big boost at high ISO - most likely an option if a D5s is coming, I suspect. I've no idea whether (2) is even an option, and I don't know which of the others are best.
    • Autofocus: Well, the D610 had cheap autofocus (thought not as much as the 6D), but the D750 is a match for the D810. Assuming the camera is differentiated enough in other ways, the D5/D500/D850 AF seems likely.
    • Frame rate: Slight problem, 10fps encroaches a bit on the D5, slower looks bad compared with the D500 and D850. 7fps would take the lead back from the 6D2, and match the 5DIV/D850 (gripless). 8fps (maybe with a grip?) would match the old D700-with-grip, and stop it falling behind the D7500. A delicate balance, all things considered. Slower is likely acceptable if Nikon choose the 36MP sensor.
    • Cards: Hmm, tricky. The speed suggests the XQD/UHS-II combo from the D500 and D850, but that's expensive. Dual SD with at least one UHS-II might be enough.
    • Other stuff: Touchscreen and 4K is probably a given unless the sensor really can't do it, along with the latest UI changes (I guess from the D7500).
    • Summary: Either a lighter version of what the D700 was to the D3 (D5 sensor, slightly sub-D500 frame rate, possibly still the low-end shutter) which would appeal to quite a few but cause some complaints that we'd really like a "true D700" D5 sensor in a D850 body, or a lighter version of the D810 which might better take on the A7RII. Or a middle ground aimed squarely at the 6DII.
    All of which is idle speculation (hey, it's nearly the holidays), but I could imagine Nikon doing something like one of those, and it differentiating itself enough to sell.
  14. IIRC, then the D750 was discounted about the same last year before the holidays, yet no replacement appeared in 2017.
    Really, f/2? There's been an 300/2 in the past, but f/2 for 400mm is really pushing it. Or do you mean f/4 - in which case one only needs to look at Canon who is already on the second iteration of that lens to see how much weight and size reduction is feasible going the DO (Canon speak for what Nikon calls PF) route.
    My guess is: not that much. The front element likely will have to be the same size and the possible savings in lens element size downstream might not matter all that much.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  15. Dieter, I was hoping the combo of the smaller coverage needed and Fresnel optics might help!

    I suppose to get the light in, you still need a large lump of glass at the front regardless of how big the area of the sensor is.

    I've got a 600mm f4 AFS II in the menders at the moment getting a new AFS motor, so my search for smaller, lighter primes is a bit pointless:)
  16. From my experience with a (mere) 200 f/2, I suspect once you've tried that, everything else will feel small and light. Problem solved!

    (Well, I had experience with a 500 f/4 as well, but I couldn't hand-hold it because it was too front-heavy with a balance point too far from my body. This is why I'd like a 400 f/2.8 - from experiments in a shop I can wedge my elbow to hold one of those. I know my place when it comes to a 600mm, although teleconverting one to 1200mm f/8 is pretty appealing from my Yellowstone experience. I'm trying not to look at a used one myself at the moment, but I'm slightly saved by how much better I know the latest versions, which I definitely can't afford, are.)

    If you can make the front element of a 400mm f/2 much lighter by "DOing" it, it would make it much more hand-holdable. It would also give you a very limited amount of padding if you tried to take it on an airline as carry-on baggage, though. I've been a little wary even of the 300mm f/4 PF (partly because of the stories about the 400mm DO), although I already had the AF-S when it came out; I'd need to be very convinced about the bokeh for a lens in this class before PF tempted me.
  17. You can tell how front heavy it is as the handle on the carry-case is front-offset by about 4 inches!

    Equally, I think I'll need a custom 'foot' to get it to balance on my gimbal with a Nikon J5 (fully manual mount only due to the lawyers*) reach of 1650mm f4 EQ

    I think I'll need an elbow extension to brace it to my waist!

    *maybe I should try and find a used J4?
  18. Well, it's about a 1.8x reach difference if you compare pixel density to a D850 (and crop both to taste). Good luck with the manual focus.

    I've got one of the Manfrotto arms that is designed to let you brace the camera body against a tripod leg while the lens sits on the tripod itself. Other than being a convenient source of their generic clamp thing (which I recently used to try to hold a backdrop in place), I'm not sure that it's really designed to work if you ever need to change where the lens is pointing - which, for a long lens and in my experience, is basically any time you're not just pointing at a bird's nest. There's a "Haoge" widget ("telephoto lens support bracket long-focus holder quick release plate" - catchy) I have tagged on Amazon which provides a brace between the lens foot and the camera body. I've not tried it, but it might help with some of the poorer tripod feet (ahem, 300mm f/4 AF-S) and it's a lot cheaper than the RRS long lens support. I don't know why more lenses don't have a two-point contact "handle" like the 1200-1700mm AI-P and the 1200mm AF-S.

    Or you could just attach a tripod head to the bottom of the J5 as ballast. :)
  19. The 500/4 FL should be within the realms of hand-holding with some practice; there is less weight at the front and it has VR. I see the Canon 500/4 IS II sometimes in hand-held use by bird photographers and the latest Nikkor is apparently 100g lighter. Are you sure the 400/2.8 is more hand-holdable? You might want to try the latest 500 just in case; it is slightly less expensive than the corresponding 400/2.8 and if you're looking for focal length then you should start with the longest primary lens before you start adding any TC. However, Lance B in fredmiranda did note the 400/2.8 FL works apparently well with TC-20E III. However I am a little suspicious of any rig with 2X TC.

    DO or PF do not make the front elements any smaller, so the weight reduction would be because the barrel can be made shorter. A 400/2 would have a 20cm front element, almost as big as the one in the 1200/5.6. Finally DO or PF lenses have mediocre bokeh and I don't think people who are willing to pay the required amount of money for a lens like a 400/2 are willing to compromise on this aspect of optical performance.
  20. I do hear people report this, so I have to believe them. The 500mm f/4 AI-P's problems aren't helped by the position of the focus ring - in order to hold my hand where I could focus it, I found I had to extend my elbow to the extent of it being unsupported, and that lens was sufficiently front-heavy that I couldn't aim it stably. Newer versions may be substantially better.

    Well, give me one and I'll confirm it. :) I've tried them (pre-FL) a couple of times in shops; although they're heavier, the centre of gravity is close enough to me that I can brace an elbow on my conveniently-shaped belly. I'll have mixed feelings if I cease to be anatomically adapted before I get such a lens.

    The advantage of the 400mm is aperture - it'll give more subject separation than the 500mm (whereas for the 600mm it depends on the scene geometry). It depends what I'm pointing at, though; for wildlife near my house 400mm will often do, but the lighting is often limited. I don't really do the sports for which it's optimised. For birding, it's not long enough - the teleconverter option would be because I couldn't separately afford an 800mm. (200mm + 400mm will probably do me, and I'd be sane enough to hire when I needed more.)

    The argument for the 2xTC, for me, is mostly with the 600mm. The 800mm f/5.6 + TC14 only gets you to roughly the same place, while being a little less flexible; there's not really any such thing as an "old" 800mm, so there's no cheap route. Having seen someone with the 600 + TC20 in Yellowstone (with, admittedly, a D5 not pushing the resolution boat out much), it came to my attention that it's the main way of getting 1200mm with autofocus on a modern Nikon body - and it's quite a bit more reach than my puny 200-500 + TC14 combination. I've always been a little put off the 600mm partly because it's tested optically a bit worse than the shorter glass, but the FL versions seem to be improving that. On the other hand, less good, used versions for under £2000 (beaten up but hopefully okay optically) are a little tempting with autofocus. So far I'm restraining myself, since I have my eye on the D850 and 70-200 FL, and also not leaving myself indefinitely in debt. Besides, it would be most useful on a longer trip (near my house it would mostly give you a close-up of a magpie...) which means hiring the new versions are more appealing than trying to get a monster like this on a plane. I already stretch carry-on limits quite a lot.

    Technically it can also make an element thinner, which could be significant for both total weight and weight distribution. Barrel length doesn't do that much for total weight at the same absolute aperture (the 200mm f/2 is roughly the same weight as the pre-FL 300mm f/2.8, IIRC, and in the same ballpark as the 200-400 f/4 - all roughly 3kg), which - at the risk of being on topic - is a reason I'm dubious about the "lighter DX lenses" argument. You could get an FX lens to about the same weight as a DX equivalent by matching the effective aperture, to within an approximation.

    To be fair, I hear horror stories about this both from the Canon DO and the Nikkor PF, but people mostly seem awfully happy with them. I'd want to know before it went on my wish list, though.

    On the other hand, I can do about 1400mm f/5.6 with a 10" Dobsonian, but don't bother except for the sky because of the bokeh. Well, also it's manual focus and a bit hard to hand-hold. :)

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