Urban wildlife: my short stint with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens by Manojodungat:
Wildlife photography means capturing animals in their natural habitats - capturing those special moments in the ‘wild’. Now that I am totally confined to a concrete jungle in a city called Chongqing in China, I hardly get to explore the ‘Wildlife’ or ‘Nature’ that are completely untouched my human. Also that, the itch in me to see my favourite subjects through this lens getting more serious off late, I am left with exploring the backyard, the gardens, those small little lakes and green parks in the city, hence terming it ‘Urban wildlife’.
I live in Chongqing, most part of the year. Chongqing is one of China's directly controlled four municipalities, the other three being Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.
Let me kick start with this image. This was taken during a photo- walk, in search of some bird action, through the outskirts of Chongqing. This thing never ceases here: the constructions! Finding some ‘wildlife’ in the concrete jungle is some task.
After getting this lens, I have already had a month or so, of photo-walk through the city during weekends, all in search of some wildlife action in the urban setting.
There is a lake in the centre of a Nature Park in the city, looks very much artificial though. As I was walking around, I found this Pelican landing for a quick shower. I immediately leaned down on to the ground and captured this beautiful moment.
I was lucky that I could position myself such that the subject was backlit. This lens is sharp, even wide open @f5.6, hence I set the camera in the Aperture priority mode wide open almost all the time. Since I had set the shutter priority mode at 1/2000s, I could easily switch and capture some beautiful action moments. The subject was some 30 meters away and the images have been straightened and slightly cropped.
It’s quite amazing to see the behavior of some water birds at times. The other weekend, I was quietly watching these in the same Nature Park. Suddenly I found getting one into some action and getting this one was quite fun with this lens.
I was thinking of getting a Sigma 150-600 ‘Sports’ but the weight was definitely a put off. I shoot birds and wildlife handheld almost all the time. Went ahead with the Nikon and after having spent a month or so behind this lens, I must admit that this one is a keeper.
The contrast, the colour rendition, the bokeh, the sharpness, the VR - all outstanding !
AF has been very accurate almost all the time. It is fast in good to decent light and very much manageable in poor/dark conditions for perched birds. I am quite happy with the overall AF performance, as I am consistently getting way more keepers from this lens than what I could manage with my copy of Tammy earlier. It could also be that handholding @600 is more demanding than @500mm, fighting camera shake.
It is cold in here this time of the year and the Sun rarely comes out of the cloud cover. Rains don’t help either. Visited this abandoned lake area in the city the other weekend. I have observed most of the water bodies in this part of the world are affected by eutrophication facing an early death. It was a surprising moment to spot these beauties emerging out of water through the green cover.
This lens is very crop friendly especially on 36MP D810 sensor. A couple of insane crops !
For birds, 700mm is fun but can be a pain in the back at times when light goes.
With a TC 14E, it becomes an f/8 lens. When light goes down, the AF struggles. With an f/8 lens the number of active AF sensor points on the camera get reduced considerably with one cross-type sensor at the centre of the display, if I am right. That would have been the reason, when cloudy and dim, the AF hunted a lot that I had to use the centre AF point to get the AF locked most of the time. With TC, I lock focus with the subject placed at the centre of the viewfinder and recompose if needed.
With TC 14E II:
With TC 14E III:
From my subjective field tests, I didn’t find any significant difference in both IQ and AF between 14E II and III versions. Though 700mm is quite useful for birds, getting sharp images isn’t any easy handholding the lens and a tripod/monopod is recommended. In most of the cases 1.2x mode on a D810 with some cropping should suffice.
To sum it up I should say that I am very happy with this purchase and this lens is going to stay. Thanks for viewing.