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NikonAF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black)
 
4.8

(based on 43 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (36)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (38)
  • Strong construction (26)
  • Consistent output (22)
  • Durable (20)
  • Rugged (19)

Cons

  • Heavy (26)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (37)
  • Sports/action (23)
  • Landscape/scenery (6)
  • Wildlife (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (22), Semi-pro photographer (15), Pro photographer (3)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (35)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

This lens is a

I bought the 500mm primarily for shooting smaller wildlife and ocean sports with a D700. 500mm seems to be the sweet spot for me - lighter and more reach than the 400f2.8 - certainly...Read complete review

I bought the 500mm primarily for shooting smaller wildlife and ocean sports with a D700. 500mm seems to be the sweet spot for me - lighter and more reach than the 400f2.8 - certainly lighter and smaller than the 600f4. When I need more reach, the TC-14EII seems very well-matched to the 500 - I see no loss in quality. The AF-S is fast and accurate, and so far I don't see a need to do any AF fine-tuning. I'll be picking up the new TC-20EIII, based on mostly good reports.

I'm ecstatic to find that the 500 is sharp and contrasty wide open, improving only very slightly when stopped down half-stop to f4.8 - this makes using teleconverters a no-brainer.

One of the first things I did was to replace the stock Nikon foot with a Kirk LP-47. I use this in conjunction with the Kirk Security Strap which lets me hang the lens+camera combo from my shoulder when my hand gets tired. If you go this route, be advised that the 4 screws provided by Kirk were too long, and bottomed out before securing the Kirk foot tightly to the lens body - just re-use the original Nikon screws. Currently, I'm using an Induro CT-214 tripod with a Markins Q3 ballhead - if I could go back in time, I would get a larger ballhead (i.e., a Q10 or Q20). Eventually, I'll probably get a gymbal mount like the Wimberly.

I did have a momentary scare when I mounted the lens on my D700 for the very first time - and failed to hear the "click" sound of the VR kicking in/out. I quickly double-checked all the usual switches, and started to panic when I realized that the 500mm has a rotating ring-type collar switch on the lens barrel to turn VR On/Off - and the factory default was "Off" - don't forget to press the release button as you rotate the collar switch. Although I can see that VR could be really useful when you must hand-hold for maximum mobility, mostly I tend to use a monopod - and thankfully, the Kirk Security Strap works with the monopod attached. I use a Manfrotto 680B - it's a good match - no need to go any larger.

I wouldn't bother getting the optional CL-L2 case - it's too short to fit the 500 (hood reversed) with camera mounted, and the single shoulder strap makes it awkward to carry on your back. A dedicated large lens carrier from Think Tank Photo or Kata works much better.

Overall, I'm very happy with the fit and finish as well as the performance.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Nikon Quality Control Suspect

I received a lens but camera was backordered. I could not test until my chance to return it B&H had expired. When I finally got my camera and lens together, what a...Read complete review

I received a lens but camera was backordered. I could not test until my chance to return it B&H had expired. When I finally got my camera and lens together, what a fiasco.I have been a bird photographer for years but could not get a decent shot no matter what. I brought the lens in for service and the techs told me to shoot in a different mode.I have shot in all camera and lens settings and could not get a sharp shot.Contacted Nikon directly and was told to shoot in shutter priority.After begging at Nikon for someone to take a look at my problem, I finally got a tech who said I should take it back in for service.When I took it back in, they found the VR unit defective and replaced it. Also the bayonet mount was replaced. Mind you I just bought this $[$] beauty a month prior.I can shoot pictures now but will never consider another purchase from this manufacturer.Also the Nikon D300s I bought was also defective and had extensive repairs as well.Maybe Nikon is having issues with QC but they caused me an untold nightmare.

Reviewed by 43 customers

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Soon Headed for Replacement?

By Ricardo

from San Jose, CA

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Rugged

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    With an upcoming (once in a lifetime) trip to the Arctic to photograph polar bears and my longest lens a 300mm f/2.8, I struggled with whether to buy or rent either a 500mm f/4 or the 800mm Nikon lenses. Even though I thought that the 500mm would soon be replaced by a newer version which would be lighter (and more expensive), I decided to go ahead and purchase this 500mm lens. I have to say that I am quite pleased with it. The image stabilization works great allowing me to even hand hold it for a couple of shots though best to use it on a sturdy tripod. And when I unintentionally turned off the VR one time, I noticed a huge difference, even when I was using the tripod.
    A couple complaints. First, it would seem that Nikon (and Canon) could easily supply a foot with the rapid release grooves. The 500mm lens actually comes with a monopod collar but I went ahead and bought a replacement foot with the rapid release grooves from RRS and was glad I did. Second, the weight of this lens limited me to mostly using it on a tripod. It will be interesting to see when the new version is introduced how many pounds Nikon can shave off and at what increased cost. Since this lens has been backordered now for several months, I feel lucky that I was able to obtain it before my trip!

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Nikon 500mm F/4

    By Paul

    from Laddonia, MO

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Easily Interchangeable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    I use this for wildlife photography and it is sharp and fast. It does not have great Bokeh. I have contacted NIKON and they brush the problem off and say there is nothing wrong.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Great Lens

    By Larry

    from Florida

    About Me Photo Enthusiast

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    This is one of the best long lens I have uses to photograph wildlife.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4 VR Lens

    By Keith

    from Aurora, CO

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Easily Interchangeable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Rugged
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    This is a sharp lens if proper telephoto techniques are employed. I use it primarily for birding and wildlife photography and videography with D3 & D600 bodies respectively. If you're already in the Nikon camp, this lens will not disappoint.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Amazing image quality with teleconverter

    By Montereyman

    from Monterey, CA

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Pros

    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Image quality
    • Using Teleconverters

    Cons

    • No carry bag
    • Price

    Best Uses

    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    I have used the Nikon 600mm f4 non-VR lens and the 200-400mm VR zoom and was not expecting the vast difference in performance of the 500mm with teleconverters. With the 600mm and 200-400mm I stayed with the 1.4 TC for the most part or would be using manual focus.With the 500mm f4 VR the difference is night and day with IQ with the TC20E III teleconverter that surpasses that of the 200-400mm VR lens without a teleconverter. I can use all three teleconverters and get excellent IQ with sharp images and good autofocus speeds. Even my D7100 can autofocus in low light with the 500mm lens and the TC20E III teleconver. Amazed at the IQ with this lens and all the converters when used with the D800e. I feel like I bought one lens and now have four lenses (500mm f4, 700mm f5.6, 850mm f6.3, 1000mm f8).

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    • No

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    5.0

    Very Pleased

    By Jim

    from West Chester, PA

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Rugged
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Landscape/Scenery
    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

    This lens requires a little technique tweaking to get the most from it. Nothing extraordinary, you just have to really pay attention to your settings, especially shutter speeds. I have a lot of fast glass and I guess I've become lazy (sloppy) where a D4 or D800E makes minor adjustments that aren't critical. Can't get away with that with this lens. Having said that the results are amazing; tack sharp, awesome color and nice bokeh.Debated over the 400mm f2.8 and the 200-400mm f4.0 for several years. It wasn't a cost decision, I just couldn't make up my mind. This was the best choice for me.

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    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Perfect lens for wildlife

    By Evgeny

    from Russia

    About Me Photo Enthusiast

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Effective VR
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Sharp
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Wildlife Photos

      Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

      I played with the lens just for a couple of days so these are my initial impressions. First of all, I am glad that I chose 500 f/4 over 600 f/4, which I also considered. For me, 500 f/4 already feels rather heavy. I could imagine how heavy 600 f/4 would be! Overall, I think 500 f/4 is the best all-around wildlife lens. If you want to be mobile at your shootings – this is the best option, in my view. But keep in mind - it's still heavy! Quick tests showed that it is professionally sharp at f/4, although wide open it lacks some contrast. I was pleasantly surprised that it takes 1.4 converter very well – I was very concerned with this as I read numerous reports that 1.4 converter may produce focus problems with this lens model. I can say that my combination of 500 f/4 + TC-14E II is sharp wide open, although again lacks some contrast. At f/6.7, the combination is perfect. VR works very well, though I still need more practice with "tripod" and "hand held" modes to decide which option to choose and when. "Tripod" mode did not always produce good results on the tripod. Memory recall is a very interesting option and I think I will find it useful in real shootings. My current tripod set up (Gitzo 2 series + RRS BH-40) really needs to be updated. If I turn on live view I can easily see how bad the vibrations are. As a first step, I plan to upgrade the head and see how it works. I'd really like to stay light so would prefer not to buy new legs at the moment. But after I experiment with the new head, I assume I might change my mind… I will try to give a more detailed update once I test the lens in the field.

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      • No

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      (1 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

       
      3.0

      Nikon Quality Control Suspect

      By The Photo Guy

      from Los Angeles

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      See all my reviews

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

        Cons

        • Blurry Focus
        • Heavy
        • Slow Focus

        Best Uses

        • Wildlife Photos

        Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

        I received a lens but camera was backordered. I could not test until my chance to return it B&H had expired. When I finally got my camera and lens together, what a fiasco.I have been a bird photographer for years but could not get a decent shot no matter what. I brought the lens in for service and the techs told me to shoot in a different mode.I have shot in all camera and lens settings and could not get a sharp shot.Contacted Nikon directly and was told to shoot in shutter priority.After begging at Nikon for someone to take a look at my problem, I finally got a tech who said I should take it back in for service.When I took it back in, they found the VR unit defective and replaced it. Also the bayonet mount was replaced. Mind you I just bought this $[$] beauty a month prior.I can shoot pictures now but will never consider another purchase from this manufacturer.Also the Nikon D300s I bought was also defective and had extensive repairs as well.Maybe Nikon is having issues with QC but they caused me an untold nightmare.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Update on Previous review

        By Birdie

        from Louisiana

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Pros

        • Consistent Output
        • Fast / accurate auto-focus
        • Nice Bokeh
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

        • Heavy

        Best Uses

          Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

          I previously posted about issue with 1.4 TC. I sent lens and TC to NIkon to check.
          After some adjustments by Nikon it is now stellar. I have no complaints. I use this lens for so many things I never dreamed of. It is excellent for close up work with a extension tube as well as for birding and wildlife.

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          • No

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          (1 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Good optic

          By Tomasz kapala

          from NY Brooklyn

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Pros

          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Nice Bokeh

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

          Nice optic very sharp this 500mm usable with 1.4 tc build quality no that good like Canon 500mm :( Ihave tripod collar problem with this one .

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Sweet Lens!

          By Gramps

          from Beachwood, NJ

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Sharp pics
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

          • Sports/Action
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

          Great lens for birding & wildlife! Works great with Nikon's teleconverters. While it's a bit heavy, that's to be expected. Use of a good tripod is a must!

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          Excellent lens - sharp as a tack

          By gwcbirds

          from McLeansville, NC

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Sports/Action
            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

            Excellent lens - sharp as a tack - good choice for birders and wildlife photography.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            What a masterpiece

            By Photo Dude

            from Chicago, IL

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Durable
            • Easily Interchangeable
            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Rugged
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

            Compared the 400, 500, and 600 and believe this is the most lens for the money. Take some time getting used to hauling it around, but it is truly a masterpiece. I use this lens with a 1.4x t/c and the reach is incredible even with my full-sensor dslr.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Great lens

            By Alan in the Sierras

            from Calaveras County, CA

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

            I moved to the Nikkor 500mm from a 300mm and there was a day or two learning curve involving balance and weight with the new lens. I mostly use this lens with a tripod or monopod, and after about one week I feel very comfortable taking it into the field for photographing birds and other wildlife. When I focus properly, the images are very sharp. Dark subjects, like ravens, can be a bit of a challenge, but I am improving rapidly.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Great Lens

            By Danmats

            from Bowie, MD

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Durable
            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Nice Bokeh

            Cons

            • Heavy

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

            This is a summary of my impression of using the 500mm lens for two months. It is a terrific lens, one of the sharpest I have and capable of producing excellent results. I can hand-hold it (connected to a D700 or D4) for a few shots, and the VR works amazingly well in low light-slow shutter speeds. But I'm 69 years old, and cannot hand-hold it too long. The lens focuses wonderfully with both my cameras, although it does drain the camera's battery-and no wonder, since it has to focus continuously from near to far in photographing birds, which is its main use (the large focus ring has to rotate about 3/4 rotation from nearest focus to infinity settings). The photos taken with the 500mm is superior to those taken with my 70-200mm VRII lens set at 200mm and combined with a 2x TC-20EII extender (or teleconverter). Like the manual says, the 500mm len's autofocus does not work with the 2x extender, but it is tack sharp when you get the manual focus correct. I also am amazed with the wonderful bokeh I got on photos of flowers shot at a distance. Altogether, it is a wonderful lens.

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            • No

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            (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Sharp aand bright

            By Jippie5735

            from Houston, TX

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Durable
            • Rugged
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Indoors/Low Light
              • Sports/Action
              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

              Great Lens

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Exceptional Sharpness

              By Gregg

              from Colleyville

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Durable
              • Easily Interchangeable
              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Nice Bokeh
              • Rugged
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

              • Heavy

              Best Uses

              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

              I currently have the 200-400 mm lens and thought it was sharp until I got the 500 mm. This is an exceptional lens.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (0 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Great lens

              By Tomasz Kapala

              from New york

              About Me Photo Enthusiast

              Pros

              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Nice Bokeh

              Cons

              • Heavy

              Best Uses

              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

              I use this lens for birds and widlife ,sharp image,fast autofocus

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (3 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Beautiful lens

              By birdied

              from Louisiana

              About Me Photo Enthusiast

              Pros

                Cons

                • Does Not Take TC Well

                Best Uses

                  Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

                  Wonderfully sharp lens but not with a TC. I am a bit disappointed that this lens can not take a 1.4 TC without significant loss of image quality.
                  The farther away from the subject the worse the loss of quality.

                  Not being able to use TC is the only reason I am giving this 4 stars.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (9 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Simply Awesome

                  By MBS 707

                  from Queens, NY

                  About Me Photo Enthusiast

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Consistent Output
                  • Durable
                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Nice Bokeh
                  • Rugged
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                  • Heavy

                  Best Uses

                  • Sports/Action
                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens (Black):

                  I finally pulled the trigger and decided it was time to acquire this lens. This lens does not disappoint. The focus is fast, accurate and the VR is expectional to say the least. This glass isn't light by any means, you'll need a little muscule to hold it for a long time. Sharpness and focus using the 1.4 TC isn't an issue, but with the 1.7 TC and 2.0 TC it does slow down. No regrets purchasing this lens, it is a top notch lens.

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                  • No

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