Nikkor 600 5,6 EDIF on DSRL

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by marco_p|1, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Hi to all, I am looking for something really long for my D200, budget allows
    this old supertele, already own 300/4 AFS + TCs for dynamic subjects. Does
    anybody have some experience to share with me? Thank you, Marco
  2. Should be fine. Foir steadier iamges, try using a monopod or a second tripod underthe body.
    Alternately a Bogen/Manfrotto Superclamp + Magic arm combination, clamp attached to leg
    of tripod and the Magic arm camera platform attached to the camera'stripod mount works
    very well too.
  3. I wouldn't be too optimistic about image quality with this old lens on a D200. The 600/5.6 has an optical design similar to that of the 400/3.5 ED-IF, and the 400 is not a good performer on the D200 (I've tried).
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Not that I doubt Bjorn's comment at all, but about 15 years ago, the 400mm/f3.5 AI-S Nikkor was supposed to be one of the best super tele available. I am surprised to learn that it performs poorly on the D200.

    Now back to the original question. IMO, rather than a slow 600mm, you may be better off finding a 500mm/f4 P. You lose a bit of reach but gain an important stop.
  5. Unless it is absolutely critical to have a small, light lens, I'd recommend following Shun's
    advice. Don't neglect to get a solid tripod and head.
  6. Thank you all for your impressions. Well, not very encouraging, but with a small budget some compromises must be accepted. The suggested 500P costs quite a bit more...
    Bjorn, yesterday I was looking at various Nikkor tele of the same era as this 600 5.6, and I had the impression that the front part of these lenses was the same: 300/2.8 400/3.5 600/5.6 800/8. When you mentioned the 400/3.5 I felt my impression was confirmed. That would be a similar design to the modern Leytz APO Telyt, where you find the same head combined with different "rear" elements to give different focal lenghts/apertures. Just a thought.
    Ellis suggestion to support the camera with a clamp and magic arm is also interesting and I will eventually check it. Thank you, Marco
  7. As I like to play around with old lenses, I am interested in this discussion. I note that there were 4 versions of the 600 f/5.6 EDIF, though there were no major changes in the optical design. I looked at "The Nikon Compendium" Simon Stafford, et al to see what their comments were. One statement was "It is considered by many photographers to be optically superior to the faster f/4 version."
    Why the apparent inconsistency? Well there is always sample-to-sample variation and how the lens is used. Any "Big Glass" needs careful technique to fully utilize its potential. If I could get that lens for $500 or less, I'd buy it just to try it out. If it doesn't work out for you, sell it and wait for the legendary 500mm f/4 P Nikkor.
  8. Bjorn briefly mentions the 400 f/3.5 and D200 when combined equal poor performance. I've used this combination with good result. See Leucistic Hummingbird shot on my PN page. The second (closer image) was made with this combination. The 400 f/3.5 is going to part of my preferred long lens selection (along with a 50-300 f/4) when used with both my D200 and D2X.
    Best regards,
  9. I was looking at various Nikkor tele of the same era as this 600 5.6, and I had the impression that the front part of these lenses was the same: 300/2.8 400/3.5 600/5.6 800/8.
    You are probably thinking of the Nikkor-Q 400/4.5, Nikkor-P 600/5.6, Nikkor-P 800/8 and Nikkor-P 1200/11. These came as lens heads which attached to a common focusing unit. These lenses have poor handling - they are heavy, very long and since they are not IF the focusing is slow. Also, they lack ED glass so CA is likely to be a problem. The 600, 800 and 1200 were released as ED lenses for a short time before being replaced by lenses with internal focusing. They are very hard to find, which makes them expensive and the handling is no better than the non-ED versions. These ED lenses have a good reputation due to the simple, highly corrected optical design. Optically they are similar to the non-IF 400/5.6 ED, 300/4.5 ED and 180/2.8 ED which all perform well on digital, although modern designs tend to be better corrected for CA.
    In the Mid 1970s Nikon released a range of IF-ED super telephotos which replaced the earlier designs. The first were the 400/3.5 and 600/5.6, followed by 300/4.5, 300/2.8, 400/5.6, 600/4, 400/2.8 and 500/4P IF-ED which all have similar 8/6 and 7/6 optical designs. These lenses are all good, although they show some CA on digital cameras. If you are willing to spend a bit of time correcting this in photoshop, they are a good way of getting a supertele without breaking the bank.
  10. Marco: here's a 1:1 crop of a Raven's eye taken with a 600 5.6 EDIF Nikkor and a D2H. Note the reflection of the sky in the bird's eye. Decide for your self if is sharp enough.
  11. And here's the entire frame, so you can see just how smalled the cropped section is.
  12. Thank you for the additional thoughts / images. The version I am looking at is the latest, with internal focus, I am willing to give it a try, as suggested I can always sell it and get the 500/4P which costs more but gets consistent excellent reviews. Do you think 1600$ for a clean Ais 600/5.6 EDIF is correct? Thank you, Marco
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Marco, you seem to be posting from Italy, where prices are likely to be generally higher than those in the USA.

    I am not that familiar with used prices in the US, but $1600 seems high for a used 600mm/f5.6 in US. That lens is clearly out of favor so that used prices should be very depressed. A few days ago, I saw a used 400mm/f3.5 at US$999 at my local pro store (K&S in Palo Alto, California). I would imagine that a used 500mm/f4 P should be in the $2000+ range. (Back in 1998, I sold mine in Ex condition for around $3200, and prices have dropped since then.)

    My point is that if you are paying $1600 for the 600/5.6, you might as well try to save a bit longer for the 500/4 P. Also keep in mind that it may not be all that easy to sell the 500/6 later. Again, prices in Europe may be all different, so take my comments here with a grain of salt.
  14. Thank you Shun for your advice, yes I am in Italy and 1600 is indeed the price for an US lens, ans I have to add shipment / custom. The final price would still be rather good by european standards, thanks to the current USD/EUR exchange rate. Maybe it would make really sense to look for a good price on a 500/4P. Yesterday I was looking at a recent nature photo book, I saw many pictures taken with 500/4 lenses, either on film or on digital, either canon ord nikon lens. No 600/5.6 EDIF shots... maybe this means something. The 500/4P seems to be still in use, and the images look great. By the way, one of the most used lenses is the Nikkor 300/4 AFS, birds, landscapes, flower closeups...
    Thank you. Marco
  15. The 400/3.5 ED-IF was OK with my D1 and D1X, but has proven itself to be poor on D200 and D2x. Since the 600/5.6 ED-IF basically is the same design I expect it to perform in a similar fashion, with a core of sharpness overlaid by massive CA. You can reduce the impact of CA to some extent in post-processing, but it will tend to rob the image of critical sharpness (or perceived DOF, depending on how the CA manifests itself).

    Lens analysis and evaluation are much more difficult in the digital era since you cannot neglect the "interaction" between lens and camera (or rather, the imager inside the camera). So, lenses that did great on the first wave of DSLRs, such as the 14/2.8 on D1, in many cases couldn't stand up in quality when the higher resolving models arrived. D2H likely will be less demanding for a lens than the D200.

    To show that the issue is complex, my 400/3.5 with a Wratten 87C filter is a beautiful performer with my Fuji S3Pro UVIR for IR work. In fact, one of the best performing lenses I've tried for IR photography (many lenses, long ones in particular, don't like IR at all and some such as the 300/4.5 ED cannot even project a coherent image).
  16. With some reluctance (because I'm very fond of my 600mm f/5.6 EDIF) I have to basically agree with Bjørn and admit that I've struggled to get consistently acceptable results with it on a D2X. On my D2H, and before that on a D100, it was terrific, but on the higher resolution camera it usually seems to fall that bit short of expectations - there's always a certain softness there, it seems.
    There do seem to be some conditions when its failings don't matter too much, though, so it's not a complete disaster, and certainly given how cheaply this old lens can be had nowadays I'm not sure there's a better alternative anywhere near the price. It's also very much lighter and more compact than its modern f/4 autofocus counterparts, FWIW.
    Here are a couple of examples where I've had adequate results from it, but unless there are samples of the lens out there that are significantly better than mine I wouldn't expect too much more. Mine is a rather beaten up old sort, with a lot of miles on the clock, so it's possible. Both of these shots were taken wide open - performance doesn't improve much one stop down.

    Sample 1 - 600mm f/5.6 EDIF
    Sample 1 - 100% crop
    Sample 2 - 600mm f/5.6 EDIF, plus TC14B
    Sample 2 - 100% crop
  17. Thank you Huw, your first hand experience is very precious. I consider sample 1 rather good, sample 2 less accettable. Excuse me if I dare, isn't it possible that the focus plane is not on the bird's eye in sample 2? maybe on the bird's wing? I agree that there is little choice in the price range, and the dimensions / weight of the lens is very attractive also. Zhank you again, Marco
  18. It's possible, Marco. I estimate that that shot was taken from about 50m, and at that range the depth of field would have been roughly 0.5m before and behind the subject. Viewing at f/8 (with the converter) it's hard to nail the focus very precisely. Then again, that much depth of field should be enough to keep the whole bird reasonably sharp if the optics are good enough. I'm not sure getting it a few centimetres either way would have improved the shot very much.
    Here's a larger 100% crop area from that shot so you can see the wing as well - it's completely unsharpened, so try out your own settings. For me it's a usable shot, but whereas with a really good lens I would normally be willing to up-size a D2X shot somewhat, with one like this I wouldn't be keen to go beyond the native resolution at 300dpi.

    Sample 2 - larger area 100% crop

    In the final analysis I do think the lens can sometimes get adequate results with a 1.4x converter, but it's very much on the limit, and hard to achieve the required standard consistently.
  19. Reluctantly, I have to agree with Bjorn that the performance of the 400mm.f3.5 on the D200 is not what it was on the D100. I was surprised to find this to be true. I took some test photos of Mourning doves outside my window and they were ok, but not as sharp and clear as I would have hoped. Let me add that another lens that suffers a bit when used on the D200 is my beloved 80-400mm. VR zoom. At 400mm. f5.6 the results are pretty awful; only when the lens is stopped down past f8 do things really improve.

    How good is the MF 600mm. f4 on the D200? Has anyone tried this?
  20. I owned the 660/5.6 for several years, started off on a N70 film body, then switched to a Fuji S2 (had the lens chipped). I loved it and figured I would always keep the 600mm, but switched over to a 500mm AF-I for the AF (was more difficult to get reliable focus on a DSLR than the full frame SLR.

    It was very sharp on both bodies. Here is a moon photo taken with the Fuji S2.
  21. Response to Nikkor 600 5,6 EDIF on DSRL(Category:Nikon Lenses and Optics) I have a 600 5,6 ED IF recently purchased (July 2007) (after read this opinions, of course) and I think I get an opinion about this lens. First of all, this is my first "big" lens and I didn't own an arcaswiss or wimberly head over a Gitzo 5, but I think altough this is a 600 lens is not a really enormous lens like de 600 f4 and this gadgets are not neccesary...or maybe yes???? It's a real strange lens. You can get nice results like this with some kind of light and conditions that still can't control. But in other cases with distant objects (animals)when the atmosphere effects didn't help (water vapor in summer or windy days with dust in the air...) the lens couldn't deliver sharp images easily. If you want sharp images you have to close up to f11 and the best lighting conditions. Seems like if the sharpness was enough in perfect condition but no more. Maybe it's normal in this kind of lenses and you (the ones who own this, and better kind of lenses) could say something viewing some test images of this summer. These are the middle up average quality of the photos I took. There are better (few) and worse (a lot) All the images have a middled sharp mask and adjusted levels I hope it will be usefull for anyone Ea,

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