As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, I rented a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S ED VR lens from LensRentals.com to photograph for a week. I had planned on using this lens for field sports, too. Sadly, with the Covid-19 pause, all those sports were canceled for this season. To get a varied wildlife photography experience, I headed out to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York on a beautiful Spring day to see what the lens would do for me.
This lens is long when fully extended at 500mm at almost 17 inches plus the camera. It is a heavy lens at about 5 pounds. I had no problem hand holding the lens but was able to rest along the Wildlife Drive in the refuge as I moved from location to location. If I was shooting sports, I would use a monopod with this lens.
Above, you see the focal range of the lens. These first three photos are uncropped. Wildlife, even when used to people driving by more often are farther out. No worries, you can still crop the images. I waited patiently for this male Red-winged Blackbird to sing.
I only got one chance to capture a bird in flight (BIF) as a Caspian Tern was hunting over a pool. Unfortunately, the tern was on the Sun side of the vehicle I was photographing from.
At 500mm, it was tough following a flying bird from a vehicle’s window but not impossible. I got about 75% of the shots in focus.
At f/5.6, the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR is a fair weather lens when it comes to moving subjects. The better the light, the better the images will be. At f/5.6, the field of focus can be narrow as in the photo of a Canada Goose with a set of goslings.
I should have stopped the lens down to f/8 to get more of the goslings in focus. For the most part, f/5.6 for wildlife subjects works fine. Like on this pair of goslings.
At a price of only $1,400 list (look for deals. I have seen very good pricing for both new and used ones), this is one of Nikon’s great values for either DX or FX digital cameras.
For a more detailed review of this lens, visit Thom Hogan’s Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E Lens Review. When business picks up again, I will be getting this lens for my photography.