Nikon 200-500mm Review - Jeff Carpenter Photography

Nikon 200-500mm Lens Review (10-1-2015)

I thought I would share my first impressions of the new 200-500mm Nikon telephoto. The lens just arrived this week. It came one day after the supermoon eclipse, so I'm a little bummed by the bad timing.

This review will focus on real world use. I like to shoot wildlife, so that is how I chose to test it out. All the images were shot handheld at 500mm. There will be no tripod shots or test patterns. Lets face it, I didn't get this lens to shoot test patterns or to use at 200mm. I edited the images as I would any image in Lightroom. There is some sharpening and noise reduction as well as added contrast and clarity.

I have used some of Nikon's more expensive primes (300mm f2.8 and f4). This lens doesn't quite match the level of those lenses, but it comes pretty close. For the money it is the perfect compromise. The added reach is perfect for wildlife.  I have not used the Sigma or Tamron 150-600mm lenses, so I can't comment on how they compare.

My first few shots look good on first impressions. These aren't great photos, I was just trying to see how the lens performed. The day was overcast and the images were taken around 2pm. I didn't see any chromatic aberration, so none of the annoying purple fringing. The sharpness at 500mm is good, at least good enough for me. My previous setup was a Sigma 70-200 with 2x teleconverter. This lens is significantly sharper at 500mm compared to the Sigma at 400mm. Below you can see a 100% crop from the bee photo. The hairs on the bee have good detail, as well as the veins in the wing and the pollen.

100% crop of bee photo. f8, 1/400, ISO 400, 500mm

The shot of the goose wasn't exactly a keeper. It came out a little soft, but I think that is due to the slow shutter speed and some user error. It really isn't that bad considering the circumstances, so with a little better light and shorter focal lengths, I'm hoping birds in flight will come out pretty well.

This lens is a keeper for me. The 300mm f4 VR from Nikon is a great lens, and I was thinking of getting that before this lens came out. The 300mm is tiny compared to this lens, and works really well with a 1.4x teleconverter. The 200-500mm is cheaper, creates a quality image, and give me a longer focal length.

100% crop of goose photo. Panning slowly as shot was taken, VR in sport mode. f5.6, 1/125, ISO 400, 500mm.

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