Nikon 500mm pf lens wildlife photography

Nikon 500mm PF lens – a game changer

During my recent Uganda mountain gorilla photography tour I had my first chance to test Nikon’s 500mm 5.6 PF lens. I’ll put a few photos and thoughts below on using this lens in the field so to speak.

Nikon 500mm pf lens wildlife photography

A Blue cheeked Bee-eater about to snag a dragonfly taken at 5.6 ISO 400 and a shutter speed of 1/1000th. For my first outing with this lens I walked down to the Botanical Gardens, Entebbe, which is a great spot for birding.  And that sentence says a lot … I walked there and then wandered around for a good few hours. The Nikon 500mm pf lens is so small and lightweight compared to other quality telephotos that it immediately gives you an advantage of utter portability.  When I saw this Bee-eater catch a couple of dragonflies I could bag a shot of it hand held. 

Nikon 500mm PF 5.6 lens quality

This lens is a total game changer for wildlife photography producing clean, sharp images. The Malachite Kingfisher below was taken hand held on a moving dug out canoe in the Mabamba swamp. F5.6, 1/1000th sec, ISO 450.

We had a great sighting of a Shoebill here and again this lens nailed really sharp images of this bird both static and in flight. This lens is fast and the autofocus locks onto your target nice and quickly. 

Nikon 500mm PF 5.6 lens image stabilisation

The image stabilastion on this lens is supurb meaning ou can still hand hold it at quite slow shutter speeds to capture a sense of movement. I shot this Fox’s Weaver at just 1/80th sec which produces the effect in the wings and the water drops. 

Nikon 500mm pf lens wildlife photography

Nikon 500mm PF 5.6 conclusion – pros and cons

The Nikon 500mm pf 5.6 is a superb lens. It instantly solved my need for a longer telephoto lens that is lightweight. But ultimately it  all comes down to image quality and I’m pleased to report that this lens is very sharp and fast. I’ve used a Nikon 200-400 F4 for many years and this lens matches that for image quality I think – at a size and price of about half. You’ll also miss far less shots than with a large telephoto as this is so easy to use hand held.

There are only a couple of drawbacks with this lens. The 5.6 aperture is never going to let you isolate subjects from their background as well as a 2.8 lens of course but I was pleasantly surprised. I shot the golden monkeys below recently in the high bamboo forests of the Virungas and the background is more than useable.

Elephants Kazinga channel Uganda

For bird photography this is the perfect lens allowing sharp shots hand-held.

Barbet birds Uganda

The other drawback is something that most Nikon lens suffer from and is only a minor inconvenience. The lens hood is sometimes hard to align properly to put it on. At the time of writing the Nikon 500mm pf 5.6 lens is hard to get hold of and you might have to wait a while after your order. Thanks to Greys of Westminster for getting hold of one for my at short notice.

Nikon 500mm pf lens wildlife photography

I’ve been running Borneo orangutan photography tours in partnership with the Orangutan Foundation UK for over 10 years now and recently used the Nikon 500mm pf lens for wildlife photography in the  rainforest for the first time. Below are a few photos taken hand held using this lens in Borneo. 

Orangutan photography tour

This year in Borneo I only used two Nikon camera bodies – my good old reliable D4 full frame and my D500 DX. All of these orangutan photos were taken on my D500 meaning with the cop factor this lens become equivalent to a 750mm lens. Just quite incredible how it produces clean, sharp images with such a snalll size lens.

Orangutan photography tour

A few more orangutan and other wildlife photos from this trip can be seen here.

Orangutan photography tour baby orangutans playing

orangutan photography tour

orangutan photography tour

orangutan photography tour

Nikon 500mm pf lens wildlife photography – tiger photos

Below are a few shots taken using my Nikon 500mm pf lens in India this year on my tiger photography tours.

India tiger photography water reflection

Spotted Deer Ranthambore

India tiger photography

Tiger photography India

tiger photography holiday Ranthambore India