DX-format cameras are great for telephoto photography because with them, you can achieve a telephoto crop effect that is equivalent to 1.5 times the lens’ focal length. That is especially ideal for capturing large powerful shots of wild animals. Here, we recommend one high-resolution NIKKOR super-telephoto lens with high-speed and high-accuracy autofocus. (Photo and report by Akira Uchiyama)
Mounted onto the D500
The optional Lens Hood HB-71 (sold separately)
FL: 500mm(Equivalent to 750mm in FX/35mm format)/ Aperture-priority AE(f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, EV -0.3)/ ISO 12500 / WB: Auto
I wanted to photograph this tiger in the zoo such that it would look like a wild tiger. Taking a full-body shot of it would not achieve that effect, so I took a close-up shot of its face at 500mm. A bokeh effect was added to the background and the leaves in front to depict the tiger’s habitat.
FL: 200mm (Equivalent to 300mm in FX/35mm format)/ Aperture-priority auto (f/5.6, 1/1250 sec)/ ISO 6400/ WB: Auto
I took a picture of the red panda during its feeding time with a background of fresh green using maximum aperture at 200mm. The zoom ring has a wide range of movement, so it may take time to switch focal length quickly. It would help to have a good idea of the focal length you want to use before you shoot.
When mounted on the D500, it becomes a 300-750mm equivalent super-telephoto zoom lens, which blows up faraway subjects magnificently. The lens barrel extends quite a bit—the body-size is 267.5mm at focal length 200mm, but expands to 343mm at focal length 500mm. When mounted onto D500, the front of the camera may feel heavy, so you may want to mount the power battery grip onto the D500 in order to maintain a balance.
I wanted to capture the wild, fearless spirit of the Siberian tiger, but the tiger just kept walking around which meant I kept getting its side profile and could not catch the front view of its face. When the tiger stopped for a moment as it switched directions, that was when I managed to establish focus on the tiger’s eyes and took a number of photos using continuous shooting. The AF was satisfactory, and I got the impression that it focuses very quickly and accurately. I had no issues with hand-held photography at 500mm, thanks to the Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization.
It would be a good idea to switch the Vibration Reduction (VR) mode to SPORT mode when using the extreme telephoto end. This is because, in NORMAL mode, centering–before-exposure is carried out so the composition when looking through the viewfinder and the actual photo often turns out to be quite different.
The D500 uses the central portion of the image circle, which ensures flawless picture quality up to the image peripheries. The image is sharp across the entire zoom range, possibly because the zoom magnification of 2.5x is just right. If you plan to use the D500 to take photos of animals or planes from a distance, this lens is definitely the one to get.
For more details, click: AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
When shooting at 500mm, the viewing angle is equivalent to 750min FX/35mm format. But if you use the 1.3x DX crop, the viewing angle becomes equivalent to 975mm. At the zoo, the focal length is often not enough even at 750mm, so you would probably want to set the custom control settings of your D500 so that you can call up “Choose Image area” option by pressing a control and rotating a command dial. That way, you can use 1.3x DX crop straightaway.
Born in 1941, Uchiyama studied under renowned photographer Tokutaro Tanaka with an aim to become a wildlife photographer. In 1969, he had his first overseas assignment in Central and South America, including the Galapagos Islands. After that, he continued to take photos of wild animals and travelled all over the world, including to the North and South Poles. He spends more time overseas, and has also published many books.