Wildlife photography often requires you to capture unexpected and momentary scenes in the blink of an eye. These fleeting scenes are frequently at a significant distance, so there is a need for speed as well as reach. The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR super-telephoto prime lens, combined with the D500, brings you closer to the action, and delivers exceptional image quality and near instantaneous autofocus on your subject of choice, even in low light situations. (Photo and report by Benjamin Oh)
Mounted onto the D500
The bundled Slip-on Lens Hood HK-34 (may differ by country or area)
Focal length: 500mm (equivalent to 750mm in FX- and 35mm format)/ Aperture-priority auto (f/4, 1/640 sec, EV +0.3) / ISO 1000/ WB: Auto
After a long walk in the afternoon, I came upon this Laced Woodpecker hammering at a dead tree trunk. Even wide open, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR displays exceptional acuity and a colour depth that brings photos to life. In addition, the D500’s high speed continuous shooting (up to 10 fps) and the 1.5x crop factor of the DX format sensor allow me to get closer to the action and capture it uninhibited.
AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR + AF-S TELECONVERTER TC-14E II/ Focal length: 700mm (equivalent to 1050mm in FX- and 35mm format)/ Aperture-priority auto (f/8, 1/800 sec, EV +1.3) / ISO 1000/ WB: Auto
5 seconds - that was all I had to capture this moment. After two and a half hours of waiting, this African Leopard unexpectedly woke up and jumped down the tree, beginning its hunt for the evening. Extended with a 1.4 times teleconverter, the D500 allowed me to get close to the hunter, navigating my way through the maze of branches that threatened to obscure my image. Although it was nearing dusk, the D500’s quick focusing ability—autofocus sensitivity down to - 4 EV at the center point—helped nail the shot before the leopard disappeared into the bushes.
Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR is not only extraordinarily sharp, it also delivers exceptional image quality and offers a superb balance between its weight, reach, and maximum aperture. This versatility makes it not only suitable for wildlife and sports photography where reach is crucial, but even for landscape and portrait photography where the long focal length helps to create a unique compression effect. As a wildlife and nature lover who frequently loves to hike, this lens is my best buddy, as its weight is suitable for carrying around, it is long enough to get close to the action, and the aperture is wide enough to freeze action even in dim conditions.
With its maximum aperture of f/4, the lens creates a smooth bokeh effect in the backgrounds that make for exceptional subject isolation. Should you need more reach, you can pair it with an AF-S TELECONVERTER TC-14E II to achieve a 700mm f/5.6 combination that does not drastically compromise on its low-light capabilities or sharpness, and its autofocus still remains a strong performer. For times when you do need to use slower shutter speeds, the Vibration Reduction (VR) steadily kicks in to provide an effect equivalent to a shutter speed of 3 stops* faster.
*Based on CIPA Standard. This value is achieved when attached to an FX-format digital SLR camera.
What really defines the lens is its ability to focus nearly instantaneously. Combined with the D500, autofocus is also incredibly accurate thanks to the 153-Point Multi-CAM 20K Autofocus System which includes 99 cross-type sensors for added focus detection. Often, during wildlife photography, shooting opportunities are rare and fleeting. Thus, it is imperative for one to have reliable and top-performing tools such as the D500 and AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR to work the miracles. If I had to recommend one lens to someone going on a wildlife photography expedition that demands the best optical performance and reliability, this would be my lens of choice!
ED lens elements
For more details, click: AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR
A self-taught photographer whom has been shooting for a decade now, Benjamin specialises in wildlife, landscape, and travel photography. Working as a management consultant, he travels the world for both leisure and work, capturing the many wondrous sights to behold. Benjamin has visited 55 countries to date and aims to photograph them all eventually.