Best Telephoto Lens For Nikon D500

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What are the
all-time Nikon lenses for wildlife photography? Our readers often enquire united states about lenses for nature photography and while I have already written almost which Nikon lenses I consider to be the best for landscape photography, I have received numerous requests to write nigh lenses for wildlife photography equally well. In this article, I will not only talk virtually which Nikon lenses I believe are the best for wildlife and nature photography, but also when I use a detail lens, along with enough of epitome samples from each lens. Delight keep in mind that the information I present below is a personal opinion based on my feel so far, which is subject to change. If you have a favorite lens of yours for wildlife photography that is not listed beneath, please feel costless to add a comment on the lesser of the page with some information and links to pictures (if you lot have whatsoever that you would like to share).

When photographing wildlife, whether shooting bears in Alaska, or capturing birds in flight, i of the most important factors in choosing a lens is its focal length. More often than not, the longer the lens (in focal length), the better. Unlike landscape and portrait photography, where you could get away with a cheap lens and still get great results, wildlife photography pretty much requires high-quality, fast-discontinuity telephoto optics. This evidently translates to a high price tag, with the lowest cease of the spectrum averaging between $500 to $i,500, and the highest-quality / best reach lenses costing every bit much as $10,000+. Without a dubiety, wildlife photography is a very expensive hobby to have (unless yous are so good that you can sell your pictures and brand good coin), especially once yous add together up all the gear and travel costs.

ane) Nikon lxx-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

If you want to become into wildlife photography on a tight upkeep, the Nikon 70-300mm f/four.5-v.6G VR is the lens yous want to get. Information technology is a great purchase that will get y’all to 300mm at under $600 USD. Its autofocus is pretty expert in daylight and its versatile zoom range of 70-300mm is cracking for large animals and perched birds. The lens is light and compact, making it easy to carry it around when scouting for wild fauna in parks and wildlife spots. It is capable of producing relatively expert bokeh, specially on its longest end, although its sharpness performance also drops quite a bit at 300mm. Having VR is a definite plus when hand-holding the lens.

In daylight conditions the Nikon 70-300mm VR tin can overall produce great results, but its functioning does suffer in low-light situations – something to exist expected from a tedious variable discontinuity zoom lens. Unfortunately, the Nikon seventy-300mm VR cannot be used with any teleconverters, so its range is limited at 300mm.

Here are some sample images from the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.v-5.6G VR:

Nikon 70-300mm VR - Hawk
NIKON D300 @ 165mm, ISO 450, 1/k, f/5.0
Nikon 70-300mm VR - Western Meadowlark
NIKON D300 @ 300mm, ISO 200, i/1250, f/v.half-dozen
Try to count the birds
NIKON D300 @ 300mm, ISO 200, one/1600, f/5.half-dozen

See my erstwhile Nikon 70-300mm VR Review for more data on this lens.

ii) Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR Ii

The next step-up from the lxx-300mm lens is the Nikon lxx-200mm f/2.8G VR Two, a superb lens non only for portraiture, simply besides for wildlife photography. While its rather short on the long side, information technology is i of the few Nikon lenses that works with all electric current Nikon teleconverters. The Nikon TC-14E 2 makes it a 100-280mm f/4 lens (one.4x focal length multiplication), the Nikon TC-17E 2 makes it a 120-340mm f/four.8 lens (1.7x) and the latest Nikon TC-20E III doubles the focal length to 140-400mm (2.0x) at f/5.6. A truly versatile lens indeed. The latter combination needs expert light for reliable AF and should be stopped downwards to f/8 for best results (there is some sharpness deposition at f/v.6).

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Unlike the 70-300mm f/four.5-5.6G VR, the Nikon 70-200mm f/ii.8G VR II is a very sharp lens from 70mm all the style to 200mm. It sports some of the best Nikon technologies, including fast AF, Nano Coating and VR II.

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (1)
NIKON D700 + 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 340mm, ISO 800, ane/640, f/v.0

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (2)

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (3)
NIKON D3S + 70-200mm f/2.viii @ 400mm, ISO 320, i/1250, f/v.six

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (4)

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (5)
NIKON D3S + 70-200mm f/2.viii @ 340mm, ISO 3200, 1/80, f/four.8

Nikon 70-200mm Wildlife Samples (6)

Encounter my detailed Nikon 70-200mm Review for more than information on this lens.

3) Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S

The next lens is i of my all-fourth dimension Nikon favorites, the Nikon 300mm f/four AF-S. It is a pro-level lens with superb optics and very fast autofocus. Optically, it is a earth better than the Nikon 70-300mm, better than the Nikon 70-200mm VR II + teleconverters and pretty close to its much bigger and heavier blood brother, the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR Ii.

Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S

I love this lens because information technology is lite (compared to the big 300mm+ guns below), compact, sharp, capable of producing beautiful bokeh and works extremely well with the Nikon TC-14E 2 ane.4x teleconverter. In fact, I have my TC-14E Ii permanently glued to this lens, because it performs and so well wide open up at f/5.6 (the 1.4x TC slows the lens downwards from f/4 to f/5.6) and gets me to 420mm. This is the lens I adopt taking with me on a plane when travelling. Information technology does have a couple of annoyances that I hope Nikon fixes on a future version of this lens. First, the lens has no VR. Second, its lens collar is not designed for skillful stability and you will have to replace information technology with a better one. Third, it has no rear optical element, all the way to the lens diaphragm, so you will take to be careful when shooting in dusty conditions (that’s another reason why I continue the TC-14E Ii mounted on information technology).

When hand-holding a telephoto lens with no VR, yous always have to make certain that your shutter speed stays fast enough not to cause photographic camera shake. E’er remember that the longer the focal length of the lens, the more prone it is to camera milk shake. A general rule of pollex is to keep your shutter speed faster than the focal length of the lens. Then if your focal length is 300mm, and so your shutter speed should be faster than 1/300 of a second. If you apply a DX camera, then don’t forget to multiply the number by 1.5x, which in this case would be around 1/450. Obviously, it all depends on your mitt-holding technique. If you take very strong hands and a good hand-belongings technique, you might be able to become great results with much slower shutter speeds, while those with shaky hands might need to increase the shutter speed even more to get acceptably sharp images. I explicate all this in detail in my “how to photo birds” article.

One question that I go a lot from our readers, is which combo to get – the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR Ii + TC-20E III, or the Nikon 300mm f/iv AF-S + TC-14E II. I take both and I certainly prefer the latter combo (300mm f/4 + TC-14E II). First, as I take already stated before, the 70-200mm + TC-20E Three should be stopped downwardly to f/8 for best sharpness, while the 300mm f/four + TC-14E II is abrupt wide open, so there is a cease of reward right there. Second, AF speed and accuracy with the 300mm f/iv + TC-14E Ii is much better – you volition become a lot more consistent results. What about VR (or lack thereof)? When I use the Nikon 300mm f/4 lens, I always keep the shutter speed fast, knowing that I practice non take VR. It helps to shoot with a good depression-lite camera like the Nikon D700 or Nikon D3s that tin handle high ISO, because I can set Auto ISO to regulate photographic camera ISO when calorie-free atmospheric condition alter. I definitely prefer faster and more accurate AF to VR.

Many of my wildlife photographs that I posted as wallpapers on this website have been shot with this lens. See my quondam Nikon 300mm f/4 Review for more information on this lens.

Some image samples from the Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S:

Allen's Hummingbird
NIKON D4 + 300mm f/four @ 300mm, ISO 400, i/100, f/viii.0
Coyote Hunting Jump
NIKON Df + 300mm f/4 @ 300mm, ISO 220, 1/2000, f/5.half-dozen
Black-necked Stilt
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/4 @ 420mm, ISO 450, ane/1250, f/5.6
Roseate Spoonbills at Sunrise
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/4 @ 300mm, ISO 3200, one/250, f/8.0
Osprey Eating Fish
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/four @ 420mm, ISO 450, 1/1000, f/10.0
Great White Egret
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/4 @ 420mm, ISO 200, 1/1600, f/5.6

What virtually the Nikon 80-400mm VR lens? Forget about information technology – its AF is slow in comparison. I take tried the lxxx-400mm and would non consider it for fast-action photography, especially birding.

4) Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR 2

The side by side big jump (in terms of size, weight and cost) gets us to the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II – a astounding lens, one of Nikon’s best lenses to date. Information technology is a workhorse tool used by professionals for sports, wildlife and portrait photography. I used the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II for several months and I was very impressed by its performance, peculiarly when coupled with teleconverters. In fact, Nikon specifically released the TC-20E Three together with this lens, which makes this lens almost like a “reference” lens for employ with teleconverters (with the TC-20E Iii, the lens becomes a 600mm f/5.6 lens). It is loaded with Nikon’s latest technologies like VR II and its optics are merely outstanding. AF performance is top notch, with super fast and accurate autofocus acquisition, even in low-lite situations.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II

I have been shooting with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR lens for the last iv-five years and I can assure you that the Nikon 300mm f/ii.8G VR II is overall a better lens to purchase (unless you shoot large animals from a close altitude, similar bears in Alaska). I bought the Nikon 200-400mm for its zoom capabilities, but the lens turned out to be heavier, bulkier and it just does non tolerate anything longer than the TC-14E II. This leaves me with 560mm of constructive focal length to work with on the long finish, which seems to be very shut in terms of IQ to the 300mm f/ii.8G VR Ii @ 600mm. But its biggest trouble is non the 40mm shorter focal length – it has one notable weakness, which but shows upwards when you photo anything at a distance. Up close, the 200-400mm creates cute images, but as soon as yous start shooting subjects over 200+ anxiety, its autofocus accuracy starts to suffer. Mind you, this does not typically happen when shooting lone birds in the sky, merely primarily when there is something immediately behind the subject. For case, when I was photographing bears in Yellowstone, viii/10 times I would go grass behind the bear in focus. When I starting time noticed this beliefs three-4 years ago, I thought that information technology was only my bad camera/focusing techniques. I tried reacquiring focus, using only the middle AF betoken and tried all kinds of tricks and the problem did non go away. I then thought that something was wrong with my lens, so I calibrated it like crazy, only to find that in that location was aught incorrect with it. And then I read complaints from other 200-400mm owners on various forums, who reported exactly the same problem with this lens and that’s when I realized that information technology was the lens that was the trouble. I tried the 300mm f/2.8G (along with 400mm and 500mm lenses) in very similar conditions and they practise not take the same problem.

Burrowing Owl in Flight
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/ii.8 @ 500mm, ISO 450, one/1250, f/v.6
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 600mm, ISO 640, 1/500, f/8.0
Burrowing Owl Chick
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/250, f/5.6
Marmot Standing Up
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 300mm, ISO 1250, 1/m, f/5.6
American Pika
NIKON D3S + 300mm f/ii.8 @ 500mm, ISO 1600, one/800, f/8.0

Meet my detailed Nikon 300mm f/two.8G VR Two Review for more than information on this lens.

five) Nikon 400mm f/2.8G VR

The next best wild fauna lens is Nikon’south heavyweight super telephoto bazooka, the Nikon 400mm f/2.8G VR. This is the lens that will get you to 800mm at f/5.six with a 2x teleconverter! Weighing a whopping iv.six kilos, it is almost as heavy as Nikon’southward longest 600mm f/4 lens (more on the 600mm below) and almost twice every bit heavy every bit the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR Ii. It is a massive lens for a reason – its large discontinuity of f/2.8 requires huge drinking glass elements to transmit so much low-cal into the camera. Similar to the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR Ii, information technology also works exceptionally well with all teleconverters, including the Nikon TC-20E III.

Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

Due to its massive size, this lens requires a good tripod setup. Forget about trying to mitt-hold it, fifty-fifty if y’all have artillery as big equally Schwarzenegger’s. Information technology has very impressive optical features and information technology delivers exceptionally good-looking images, peculiarly at its maximum aperture of f/2.8. However, its weight and size are its biggest enemy. This is not the lens you lot would pack in a backpack for hiking.

Sample #2
NIKON D3S + 400mm f/two.eight @ 400mm, ISO 250, one/1000, f/2.8
Sample #1
NIKON D3S + 400mm f/2.eight @ 550mm, ISO 200, one/1600, f/four.0

Sample #7

Sample #5
NIKON D7000 + 400mm f/ii.8 @ 550mm, ISO 200, ane/chiliad, f/5.six

A summary on which super telephoto lens I would recommend and my thoughts on 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 lenses is provided at the bottom of this commodity.

See my detailed Nikon 400mm f/two.8G Review for more information on this lens.

vi) Nikon 500mm f/4G VR

The Nikon 500mm f/4G VR is sort of a “sweet middle” between the 400mm and 600mm lenses. Due to its slower f/iv discontinuity, it is actually a much lighter lens than the 400mm f/2.8G VR (by almost a kilogram) and but slightly heavier than the Nikon 200-400mm f/iv VR II. This is the merely super telephoto lens that I would even consider hand-holding for short periods of time. Optically it is an insanely sharp lens, I would say about the same as the Nikon 600mm f/4 below. Again, not much to complain about in terms of optics and features.

Nikon 500mm f/4 VR

Unlike the Nikon 400mm f/2.8G VR, the Nikon 500mm f/4G VR only works well with the TC-14E II teleconverter, giving an effective focal length of 700mm at f/ Unless yous shoot with the new Nikon D4 that can handle autofocus up to f/8, forget about using either the TC-17E II or the TC-20E III on this lens. I tried them both on the D3s and I was disappointed. Not just considering I was getting softer images, merely besides because AF with the TC-17E 2 is very inaccurate and manual focus with the TC-20E Three at 1000mm is very painful and cumbersome.

Nikon 500mm f/4 Sample #2
NIKON D3S + 500mm f/4 @ 700mm, ISO 500, 1/1250, f/v.half-dozen
Nikon 500mm f/4 Sample #1
NIKON D3S + 500mm f/4 @ 700mm, ISO 1600, 1/500, f/five.half dozen
Nikon 500mm f/4 Sample #3
NIKON D3S + 500mm f/4 @ 500mm, ISO 3200, 1/160, f/4.0
Nikon 500mm f/4 Sample #4
NIKON D3S + 500mm f/4 @ 700mm, ISO 800, one/1600, f/five.six

I will soon publish a detailed review of the Nikon 500mm f/4G VR lens, along with more than image samples.

7) Nikon 600mm f/4G VR

And lastly, I present y’all the Cadillac of all Nikon super telephoto lenses: the Nikon 600mm f/4G VR – the longest, the heaviest, the bulkiest and the priciest lens of them all. This is the lens that many wildlife photographers get, peculiarly those that photograph birds. It goes without proverb that you demand a good support system for this lens – a very sturdy Gitzo Systematic series tripod with a Wimberley Gimbal head is what I would get to hold this monster. Couple it with a professional camera body like the Nikon D3s, and we are talking almost a whopping 6.5 kilograms here!

Nikon 600mm f/4 VR

Once again, your only choice for longer accomplish is to use the Nikon TC-14E II, which will requite you 840mm of constructive focal length to work with at f/ Neither the Nikon TC-17E II nor the new Nikon TC-20E III work reliably well with the 600mm f/4 lens. Yes, in good light you can get some decent results with the TC-17E II, but the lens will occasionally hunt. As for the TC-20E III, AF is very unreliable and all over the place. Lens hunts even in good light with the 2x TC.

Nikon 400mm f/2.8 vs Nikon 500mm f/4 vs Nikon 600mm f/4

Choosing between the 3 Nikon super telephoto lenses tin can be difficult, given the weight/size considerations and how many different combinations y’all tin can do with teleconverters to get to a certain focal length. While y’all can exercise all kinds of math to see what you lot would get with each lens and shoot charts to see which combination wins, at the end of the mean solar day, information technology is all well-nigh which lens gives you the longest focal length with the least amount of bug like weight, size and transportation considerations. What is optically better? The Nikon 400mm + TC-20E III @ 800mm, the Nikon 500mm + TC-17E II @ 850mm or the Nikon 600mm + TC-14E II @ 840mm? The Nikon 600mm + TC-14E II performs the all-time wide open up with the 500mm + TC-17E II coming in 2d and 400mm + TC-20E Iii coming concluding, but when all three are stopped down to f/eight, those differences pretty much go away. The most important cistron to consider is not how a lens performs sharpness-wise when shooting a test target from a altitude, only how reliably its AF functions in mixed light environments. How proficient is sharpness if you cannot even lock AF on your subject? In this instance, the Nikon 600mm f/4 is always going to be the top choice. Every bit for 400mm f/2.8 vs 500mm f/4, the 400mm will give you more options and working AF with all three teleconverters, while the 500mm has a weight/bulk advantage. In summary: if you demand the attain, you become the 600mm f/4. If you want to exist able to paw-hold a lens, you get the 500mm. And lastly, you go the 400mm f/two.viii for its versatility – if yous want to be able to employ all three teleconverters with working autofocus. If your plan is to always apply a tripod, and then either get the 600mm f/4 or the 400mm f/2.8, depending on your budget. Hither are the price differences between the three lenses:

  1. Nikon 400mm f/2.8G VR –
  2. Nikon 500mm f/4G VR –
  3. Nikon 600mm f/4G VR –

As you can see, the price difference between the 400mm and the 500mm lenses is minimal, while the 600mm is priced significantly higher.

Now with the upcoming D4, things might change quite a bit. If AF accurateness on the Nikon D4 is indeed better than on the D3s when teleconverters are used (with working AF at f/8), then the Nikon 500mm might exist a better choice over the 400mm (850mm with TC-17E Two and 1000mm with TC-20E Iii vs 800mm with TC-20E Three) for achieve.

Please let me know if y’all have any questions!