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

(based on 46 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (38)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (40)
  • Strong construction (28)
  • Consistent output (23)
  • Durable (22)
  • Rugged (20)

Cons

  • Heavy (27)

Best Uses

  • Wildlife photos (40)
  • Sports/action (25)
  • Landscape/scenery (7)
  • Wildlife (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (23), Semi-pro photographer (16), Pro photographer (4)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (38)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Soon Headed for Replacement?

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...Read complete review

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!

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 46 customers

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(1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

fine lens

By Jerry

from Dallas, Tx

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easily Interchangeable
  • Rugged
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Uses

  • Wildlife Photos

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

I used the Nikon 200-400 for 3-4 years but was never satisfied with the focus, with or without a TC. I bought the Nikon 500 mm about 18 months ago and have waited to write until I had more experience using it. The lens by itself is excellent and I have had some superb results on wildlife, much better than the 200-400. This year I upgraded my support package to a heavier tripod and that has helped as well. Most importantly, I have not had good luck, a little soft, with the TC1.4. Recently however I tried my TC1.7 and got better results. I have been experimenting with the fine autofocus feature on the 810 but have still not managed to master it. More instruction from Nikon would be helpful on this point, even with them publishing there own target image. I still haven't figured out whether or not the focus engine is as fast as their main competitors but owing a scad of Nikon lenses I'm not changing now. I'm very happy I bought the lens as I have some great images I just couldn't get before.

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  • No

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(3 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Good lens

By Paul Evans

from Laddonia, MO

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Fast / accurate auto-focus

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Sports/Action
    • Wildlife Photos

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

    I use this lens frequently for birds on a D810 and it takes sharp clear photos. It does not autofocus well with the Nikon 1.4 teleconverter that was sold to me with this lens. The teleconverter must be bad, because the bokeh with it is awful When the batteries get below 75% the lens with the teleconverter does not want to focus and hunts constantly. It does drain batteries quickly, I use the Nikon battery pack on the D810 to add a little power. As long as you use the lens alone, you should be happy with it.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (9 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    A Long-Awaited Purchase

    By Fred Stevens

    from Portales, New Mexico

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Easily Interchangeable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Good VR
    • Outstanding Case
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Sports/Action
      • Wildlife Photos

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

      I have rented this lens four times in the past. we have had a really good year so I finally took the plunge and bought myself one. I am using the lens for bird, wildlife and scenic images with D810, D800 and D7100 bodies. So far, the lens has met my expectations and helped to generate some great images. On a recent trip to photograph birds at Bosque del Apache NWR, I used the lens extensively. I mounted the lens with a Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Tripod Head and used the D810's Group Area Autofocus mode extensively. The number of successful images was higher than usual and the physical demands of the shoot were reduced. I had used AF Fine Tune to match the lens to all three camera bodies and found the results to be sharp from f4 to f8. The lens is heavy but not so much so that I could not pull it from the tripod for a few hand-held sequences. I did three or four of these with good results. This lens costs four times what my first new car did. Once you unravel that from your thought process, you come down to the practical applications for the lens and what price/worth you put on achieving them. My rental experience taught me that I would use this lens often if I owned it. So far, so good.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (19 of 19 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:

        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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        (2 of 9 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:

        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:

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

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

         
        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:

        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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        (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

         
        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:

        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).

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

         
        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:

        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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        (6 of 7 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:

          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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          (6 of 16 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:

            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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            (3 of 3 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:

              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.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 8 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:

              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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              (3 of 6 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:

              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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              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              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:

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

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (4 of 4 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:

                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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                (3 of 4 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:

                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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                (11 of 11 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:

                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 3 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:

                  Great Lens

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (6 of 6 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:

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

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                  • No

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