AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR
Incredible! Thats all I can say!
This lens is incredible, the clarity and speed of focusing is second to none. Quality throughout but you better have strong arms and a sturdy tripod. You also need to have a lot of time available because everyone wants to know what it is, who you work for and can they look through it! This lens has allowed me to capture images of wildlife that I would have never been able to obtain with other smaller lenses. I also photograph a lot of military aircraft shows. The speed of the AF-S focusing allows me to track the aircraft and on occasion be in close enough to see the rivets on the wings! That's amazing!
May 5, 2011
Nikon's Best Long Lens
I bought my 600mm VR with the sole purpose of taking photographs of wildlife. PERIOD. If you are planning on hoofing through the bush, and you want to have this lens ready for that once in a life time shot of Bigfoot running through the forest, you may want to re-think your equipment needs. This beast is heavy. I'm a big guy, and 50 lb. camera backpacks on all day hikes, in the mountains is normal for me. If you use the strap it will be cutting into your neck in no time. I made foam guard for mine which helps. Then, you have the massive size. If you are in the bush, a mental debate will rage. Do you take the 500.00 dollar lens hood off? keep the lens cover on? or streamline it and risk scratching that large piece of glass at the front? I haven't checked but I bet its darn expensive to replace. The other option is to have it mounted on your tripod, and hang it over your shoulder. I have seen this done with large lenses, and, well, let's say I lost the courage to do it, after seeing another photographer forget to lock the gimbal down and have his 400mm lens slide out. I prefer several configurations. I use the shoulder strap, and cradle the lens / camera in my arms. This takes the weight off the neck a bit. When I am hiking to a site and don't expect to use it for a while, I disassemble the setup and store it in the back pack (Airport Addict is my favorite pack).
Ideally, this lens is best suited for what I refer to as 'ambush photography'. Basically, you wait for the subject to come anywhere near you.
I have found this lens to be ridiculously razor sharp, but it takes time to learn how to use it correctly. I was warned by the pro at the store where I bought it, to have patience with the learning curve. It took me a long time to figure out proper technique on using this without getting a fuzzy picture. Moose Peterson's videos saved me more frustration.
Even with mirror lockup on my D200 I found I couldn't just set it on the tripod and get a sharp picture. I need to hold it firmly, even while on my Gitzo 5541LS / Wimberley WH200.. If you are planning on slinging this thing by hand, forget it. Few people are that strong. This lens is made for tripod photography. Which brings me to the VR II tripod feature. Words can't describe how nice this is when you have the VR on, while using a tripod. Sometimes you will need to drop the speed or raise the ISO for low light. The tripod VR feature will be your new best friend.
This lens locks on to subjects fast, VERY fast. Hummingbirds are my favorite subject and I have no problems with the focus. The VR works great and the whole unit is quiet. Hummingbirds are nervous to begin with, and this lens lets me shoot multiple pictures without scaring them away.
The box that the lens comes in is impractical for slugging along on a hike, but excellent for airline travel. (a word of caution, put it in a box / case / suitcase. A big box with NIKON emblazoned on the side is asking for trouble).
I have found that panning can be tricky, since the lens has a very narrow view. By the time you find that rare bird in the view finder it can be gone. I mounted a red dot hunting scope on the top and have no problems pointing and shooting without looking in the view finder on the camera.
The lens knows what to do when focusing.
If you are the type that is never satisfied, and want a teleconverter to make this a >1200mm, I wouldn't go any more than the 1.4x tele. unless you have high ISO / low speed capabilities in the camera, or are close enough for a flash.
Depending on light conditions I prefer to not use the 1.4x tele and take the photo anyway. You would be amazed how much you can zoom in and still get a sharp photo, while using just software.
To summarize: It's FAST, it's HEAVY, it's SHARP, It's NIKON and its worth every penny I paid for it. I love it.
April 14, 2011
Great in combo with Nikon D3s
Great nature photography lens. I was in Tanzania for 2 weeks in May 2010 and used this lens for most of my shots. This lens and the Nikon D3s make a great combo. Being able to shoot at ISO 2000 or higher allowed fast (1/4000 or greater) shutter speeds even at f/8 or f/11. I shot from a Landcruiser using a beanbag most of the time but was able to handhold for birds in flight and other fast moving photo ops. For a distant leopard the 600mm autofocused with the new TC20e iii 2x extender. I wouldn't recommend this 2x teleconverter/600mm lens combo for birds in flight but it was great to have an autofocusing 1200 mm using a beanbag for static subjects.
August 24, 2010
This lens is so sharp!
I love this lens. It is super sharp and quick focus.
July 30, 2010
Unbelievable image quality
I have the Nikkor 600 f4 teamed up with the D700. On a recent trip to the Masai Mara in Kenya this lens proved its worth time and time again. Images are incredibly sharp, the level of detail is mind-blowing. The Nano coating guarantees brilliant contrast and the VR II ensures no blur due to camera shake. This is a triumph of optical engineering.
July 30, 2010
The best I have ever seen
I am a veterinarian and love to photograph wildlife especially in Yellowstone. The required distance to stay from the animals necessitates a long lens. It is heavy but it is sharp and easy to use with the proper support. I am in love with nano coating and this lens. Please go to my website to see some of my first attempts that are unedited from an amateur. http://www.drdonn.com/west-yellowstone-veterinary-services.
This lens took pictures of the OSU/Purdue football game last year when the Boilermakers became the new Spoilermakers. This lens as I said "Is the best camera lens I have seen and I have owned Nikons since 1966.
It is a major expense and I am only sorry that I am up in years and have not had it for my whole life. My kids will probably cherish the lens as much as I after I go that great park in the sky. As a Nikon salesperson told me years ago, "A Nikon camera is not a hobby it is an addiction". This camera gives me hope that I will get that photo of a lifetime.
If you can afford it, get it.
July 30, 2010
Absolutely tack sharp.
I waited a long time for this lens and find that it was truely worth the wait. It operates flawlessly and is tack sharp. As with all super tele-photo lenses one has to be very careful with the settings to get the best image, but is not difficult to learn the proper techniques to achieve a truely marvelous image. I have even gotten very accectable images hand holding this lens, but I will say it is a handfull. I would recomend it to anyone.
July 30, 2010
Great replacement for the non-VR / manual focus
I had the earlier 600f4 for 20+ years and as I got older thought I would like the auto-focus. I got a sale for the older lens and ordered the new.
Now I actually have a need and purchased a Wimberley Gimbal. Capturing birds in flight is real; much better than just shoot(alot) & pray. It all works just as advertised.
I couldn't ask for more...eccept maybe a full-frame f4.0 or 2.8, 24-120 or 150mm VR so that I could use a teleconverter for quick, single lens travel work.
July 30, 2010
A class apart
The first images obtained with this lens, mounted on a Gimbal head and a massive tripod, were just marginally better than the ones that I usually get with the Nikon 80-400mm, which made me nervous at such a price point. I tried everything possible (higher shutter speeds, every VR mode, a RF remote control, mirror up, Lv mode) without significant improvement. After many tests, I ended up discovering that the lens is short sighted. It becomes outstanding at medium and short distances, where it is mostly used, but is soft near or at infinity, even in direct sunshine. This problem has been reported on other prime lenses, in particular the 200-400mm. Otherwise, AF is instantaneous (so fast that I wonder why someone would like to memorize a distance), and the bokeh is impressive. Overall, I am very satisfied with the lens, as I do not expect to use it at infinity.
November 15, 2012
Great lens with some CA
This lens has similar characteristics to the other new super-tele VR lenses. It is very sharp, with a consistent contrast and colour rendition. The normal VR works well, the tripod VR not so well.
This lens has two problems:
1. Typical of most Nikon telephotos, the foot is poor, prone to transmit and amplify vibrations. Buy an aftermarket foot to replace the Nikon one.
2. Chromatic aberrations are evident on subjects with bright white sky background. I have seen this on three different lenses. It is blue on one side and red on the other, and difficult to remove except in Nikon software.
This is still a fantastic lens and I would recommend it to any serious photographer.
July 30, 2010