The Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens: First Impressions, a Caution, Thoughts, My Prediction, and Images ….Multiple-item Nikon Used Gear Sale « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens: First Impressions, a Caution, Thoughts, My Prediction, and Images ....Multiple-item Nikon Used Gear Sale

What’s Up

I walked an easy 1 1/2 miles on Sunday morning and swam twice, once before brunch and once after dinner for a total of 88 lengths, exactly one mile. I photographed down by the lake with the 200-600 and the 600/2X, both with the a7r IV. It was not a great session. I did have a gorgeous Red-shouldered Hawk on the ground in beautiful light in a very nice setting. But I got too greedy and tried to get too close, that with the 1200mm rig set up on the FlexShooter Pro in my Sequoia … Next time.

It is nice to have practically guaranteed cranes and vultures every morning when you are looking to test new gear. This morning I ran into blog regular Tilo Samter and his wife photographing down by the pier at ILE. It was nice meeting them.

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s two featured crane images do you like best? Why?

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Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page.

New Nikon Listings

Nikon D850

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is offering a gripped Nikon D850 in like-new condition for only $2,399.00. The sale includes the MB-D18 Multi Battery Power Pack, the Nikon Battery Chamber Cover BL-5, a Nikon EN-EL 18c Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (10.8V, 2500mAh)- “the Nikon D5 battery”, a dual D5 battery charger — the Wasabi Power Dual Battery Charger for Nikon MH-26, MH-26aAK, EN-EL18, EN-EL18a and Nikon D4, D4S, D5 with Adapter for Canon LP-E4, LP-E4N –as recommended by Steve Elkins at Bedford’s, the small Nikon D850 battery and charger, a Sony 64GB XQD card, a Sony XQD/SD card reader, the original product box and factory operating manuals/accessories, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. All products were originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera one year ago with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

The Nikon D850 was my preferred Nikon body for 18 months. After trying it, I sold my D5 and purchased a second D850 as a backup. Both the AF system and image files are superb. artie

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is also offering a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens in like-new condition for only $3,396.95. The sale includes the original product box with all of the factory accessories/operating manuals and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. This lens was originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera in May 2019 with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

Of all of my Nikon lenses, I will miss the 500 PF the most. It is an amazing flight lens and does quite well on static subjects with the TC-E14. On many trips, it was the only lens that I carried into the field. Some days I handheld it, and on some days it was mounted on the Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini artie

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is also offering a Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens in like-new condition for $1,796.95. The sale includes the original product box with all the factory accessories/operating manuals and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. It was originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera one year ago with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

The amazingly versatile 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are the world’s most popular mid-range telephoto, I made zillions of great images with my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lenses. The Nikon version works well with both the TC-E14 and the TC-E17 teleconverters, even with a crop factor body. They are easily hand-holdable and are great for tame birds, landscapes, urbex, indoor stuff like concerts and recitals, and just about anything you want to photograph. As new one sells for $2,796.95 you can save one grand by grabbing Tony’s lens right now. artie

Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF Lens

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is also offering a Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF lens in like-new condition for only $1,196.95. The sale includes the original product box with all of the factory accessories/operating manuals and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. It was originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera in March 2019 with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

Super-fast and super-sharp, this one is the Nikon landscape photographer’s dream lens. artie

200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR Zoom Lens

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is also offering a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR Zoom lens in like-new condition for the very low price of $899.95. The sale includes the original product box with all of the factory accessories/operating manuals and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. This lens was originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera one year ago with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

This inexpensive Nikon-starter super-telephoto zoom lens is sharp and versatile. It was my first big Nikon lens. I fell in love with it instantly and used it until the 500 PF was released. At that time, I went to the Nikon 80-400 VR for its versatility. artie

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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Sandhill-Crane-preening-back-_DSC5053-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL-1

This image was created on October 11, 2019, during my first session with my newest lens. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lensat ( 600mm) with the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 800 (could have been ISO 400). Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1600 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was about zero on the analog scale. AWB at 8:10am on a clear, sunny morning.

I am not sure if I used Upper Right Zone or Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF. Either way, it was active at the moment of exposure. There is no program that I know of that you can use to access the AF info after the fact … And as far as I know, there is no menu option for seeing the selected AF point, the active AF point, or even the AF mode during Playback. If I am wrong, I would love to hear about it. This is a serious problem with the high-end SONY camera bodies. It would seem that it could be rectified with a firmware update.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Sandhill Crane preening back

First Impressions

I had realized last week that the 2-6 was a variable aperture lens: f/5.6 at the shot end, f/6.3 at the long end. For bird photographers, the pretty much means that it is an f/6.3 lens. Strike one. When I got the box on Thursday and opened it, the lens looked big and heavy and seemed clunky. Strike two. When I put it on the scale and compared it to the weight of my Nikon 500 PF/gripped D850 I was pleasantly surprised. With the lens foot removed, the 2-6/a7r IV combo weighed 6 lbs, 7.7 oz with a card in the camera. The Nikon 500 PF/gripped D850 rig, with the lens foot removed am a card in the camera, weighed 6 lbs., 3.3 oz. Because of the far lighter weight of the camera, the SONY rig weighed only 4.3 ounces, a bit more than 1/4 pound than my beloved Nikon rig. That was good news.

More good news: while handholding, the lens handled beautifully in the field. Unlike the 600mm f/4 GM that comes in two pounds heavier than the 2-6, I was able to handhold the 200-600 rather easily. (Note: I can handhold the SONY 600mm f/4 using the knee-pod technique and make sharp images at least at 840mm. But when a bird flew by, my formerly damaged left shoulder did not allow me to raise the lens and fire; that is why I was on the tripod for the striking Great Egret striking situation detailed in the blog post here). With the 2-6, the entire zoom range is covered with a quick twist of the wrist over about 75 degrees — you get from 600 to 200 (and back again) in an instant. The lens does not change length when you zoom in and out. That is a huge plus, especially when working on a FlexShooter head.

Best of all, the handheld images were sharp. Very sharp. Scary sharp. Because the new 2-6 is a G series lens rather than a GM series lens, I had been a bit concerned about image sharpness and about the quality of the build of the lens. I now have no concerns with the former and time will tell on the latter; the lens does, however, seem sturdy and well-constructed. I’ve had only a few halfway decent flight chances so it is too soon for me to make a definitive statement on photographing birds in flight with the 200-600/a7r IV combo. (Note: flight photography with the 600 f/4 GM/1.4X TC/a7r IV combo was quite excellent as you will see by the fishing Sandwich Tern images that will be featured here sometime this week.) The more that I’ve used the new rig the more I am liking the SONY 200-600.

A Caution

Folks moving from the Canon 100-400 II, the Canon 400mm f/4 DO II, any 80- or 100-400 lens, or the Nikon 500 PF need to understand that sharpness technique errors that lead to lens shake will be exacerbated by the square of the focal length! Yes, the square of the focal length. If you are going from a 400mm focal length to a 600mm focal length the math looks like this: Six squared is 36; four squared is 16; 36 divided by 16 is 2.25. Unsharpness due to lens shake at 600mm will affect the image 2 1/4 times more than unsharpness due to lens shake at 400mm. For the 500 PF, the math looks like this: Six squared is 36; five squared is 25; 36 divided by 25 is 1.44. Unsharpness due to lens shake at 600mm will affect the image nearly one and one half times more than unsharpness due to lens shake at 500mm.

I did learn yesterday that setting the OSS (Optical Steady Shot) to 1 rather than 2 or 3 better stabilizes the subject in the viewfinder. The trick is to remember and get in the habit of going to 3 for flight photography …

In short, handholding and getting sharp images at a focal length of 600mm is far more difficult than when handholding at 400mm (or at 500mm). What are the implications here? You need to go to faster shutter speeds (with correspondingly higher ISOs), improve your sharpness techniques, sit and use the knee-pod technique whenever possible, or put the rig on a tripod. The Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini will be dead-solid perfect for the SONY 200-600 with any SONY body. We hope to finally have the Minis in stock within two weeks after a lengthy production delay.

Preening Bird Photo Tip

When photographing a preening bird, strive to have the eye visible and the bird’s face perfectly parallel to the imaging sensor. As was done with Image #1.

Sandhill-Crane-head-portrait-_DSC5121-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL-1

This image was also created on October 11 during my first session with my newest lens. Again I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at ( 600mm) with the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400 (could have been ISO 400). Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/800 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was about zero on the analog scale. AWB at 8:16am on a clear, sunny morning.

For this one, I used Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF. Either way, it was active at the moment of exposure. There is no program that I know of that you can use to access the AF info after the fact … And as far as I know, there is no menu option for seeing the selected AF point, the active AF point, or even the AF mode during Playback. If I am wrong, I would love to hear about it. This is a serious problem with the high-end SONY camera bodies. It would seem that it could be rectified with a firmware update.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Sandhill Crane head portrait

Thoughts on the SONY 200-600

For me, I do not envision ever going into the field with the tripod-mounted 600mm f/4 GM lens and the 200-600. If I do carry an auxiliary lens on a Black Rapid Curve Breathe strap on my shoulder while carrying the big lens, it will be the 100-400 as it meshes much better with the 600 in terms of focal length coverage and because of its great close-focusing capabilities. On the other hand, if I want to head out handholding a single lens, the 200-600 will be my choice. Along with the 1.4X teleconverter in my fanny pack. (I have yet to test the 200-600 with the 1.4X TC.).

For folks who have never and will never own a 600mm f/4 lens — the latest versions from the major manufacturers average about $13,000 new, the SONY 200-600 represents a whole new world of possibilities: you sacrifice 1 1/3 stops of speed (f/6.3 vs f/4) in exchange for handholdable 600mm of reach (along with the versatility of a 200-600 zoom). Like the Nikon 500 PF ($3,596.95), the SONY 200-600 is — at $1998, relatively inexpensive (but very difficult to get at this time).

Minimum Focusing Distance

While the Minimum Focusing Distance (MFD) of the 2-6 pales somewhat in comparison to the .98 meter (3′ 2.22 inches)close focus of of the CANON 100-400 II and the SONY 100-400 GM. But those working around tame birds and wildlife will be justifiably impressed with the MFD of the 2-6 (2.4 meters or 7.87 feet), especially when compared to the MFDs of the SONY 600mm GM (4.5 meters or 14.67 feet), the Canon 600mm f/4L IS III (somewhat better at 4.2 meters or 13.78 feet), and the Nikon 600mm f/4 VR (4.39 meters or 14.4 feet).

My Prediction

My prediction is that the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens may become the life-changing super-telephoto weapon-of-choice for the ever-growing legions of bird photographers going to mirrorless camera body systems … That if — and this might be a very big if — the 2-6 proves to be more than adequate for flight photography with the a7r III and the a7r IV. I have no doubt, however, that the 2-6/SONY a9 (or a9 II) combo will be best for photographing birds in flight (albeit at “only” 24 MP). Time will tell on flight photography with the 200-6oo and either the a7R IV or the a7r III …

C-1-crane-head-SCRN-CAPT

This is a Capture One screen capture of Image #3.
Click to enlarge

Editing My SONY Images with Capture One

As mentioned here before, when I view SONY images in Photo Mechanic, the small embedded JPEGs do not allow me to enlarge the image enough to judge critical sharpness. To do that, I go to Capture One Pro 12 and use the (adjustable) Loupe (P) to enlarge as needed. I use Large for the Loupe size and 100% for the magnification. I may be doing a video detailing exactly how I set up and use Capture One so that I can do my editing (pick my keepers) quickly and efficiently.

The Capture One Screen Capture

As regular readers know, I do pretty much all of my SONY and Nikon RAW conversions in Capture One Pro 12. If you enlarge the screen capture, you can see all of the adjustments I made to the RAW file before converting it and bringing it into Photoshop as a TIF file.


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11 comments to The Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens: First Impressions, a Caution, Thoughts, My Prediction, and Images ….Multiple-item Nikon Used Gear Sale

  • avatar Andrew

    I don’t know about program with GUI but you can use command tool Exiftool (free download) and all information is included in EXIF data. Interestingly enough there’s also distance information with 200-600 and 600.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Andrew. What is GUI?

      I found the site and Exiftool sounds great but all indications seem to indicate that is Windows only.

      If you could provide a link to a Mac version that would be greatly appreciated.

      with love, artie

      • avatar Andrew

        GUI=graphic user interface which means that tool is command line only which limits it’s usefulness in your case. There’s no graphical representation of focus point type or location.
        When you type in command in Terminal (app in Utilities folder) it’ll give you all information needed as far as EXIF tags go. Some interesting information is included like distance,internal temperature,external temperature, battery pack percentage (per battery),battery pack temperature.
        Focus point location is represented in coordinates and I didn’t check if it relates (approximately) to what I think it was when taking a picture.
        Since all this info is taken from undocumented Sony tags I don’t expect that it’ll be incorporated into Lightroom or Capture One anytime soon.
        🙁

  • Hey Arthur, Going with image #2. Love that clean graphic look and the killer green background. Looks to me this lens was released to compete with the Sigma and Tamron 150-600. It will be interesting to see see if Canon or Nikon does something similer. Either way if does make that 600mm focal length much more affordable.

  • avatar Steve White

    On the 200-600, is the 600 mm a true 600? The Tamron and Sigma 150-600 are 575mm or so and not a true 600mm.

  • avatar Adam

    Artie, likewise my initial impressions of the 200-600 were very favorable. Although the construction appears fairly solid, the hood itself is cheap and reversing it for storage has already scratched the distal plastic ring on the lens. I found the foot annoying and removed it quite quickly for handheld shooting. Sharpness and IQ have been great even wide open.

    Surprisingly, paired to a camera body and pressed to the face, it has good balance and pans easily. It is eminently easier to hand hold than a 500/600 prime though there are always compromises. I was shooting in overcast skies and rain and was pleased that it acquired focus quickly and accurately in spot focus mode. Against a difficult background (rain, mist, water), the 200-600 performed remarkably well for BIF in zone af paired to a a7riv. In one series it captured nearly 75+% of images in focus of a low contrast gull whereas my 5dmkiv would have struggled, hunted, and failed under similar conditions. If this translates into further success under better conditions has yet to be determined.

    As you observed, the 100-400 offers a lot of advantages and flexibility and it remains to be determined where the 200-600 fits into the lineup. It is an incredible value and I could foresee that it might be a useful alternative as a lighter weight, single, travel lens for wildlife. One could easily make due on a trip with a 24-105 and a 200-600 and cover nearly all the bases with the exception of astro, etc.

    Your points regarding the need for higher shutter speeds can not be over emphasized. While it may not be as much of a concern when the 200-600 is paired to the lower MP a9, the longer FL as well as higher MP density demands higher Tv when the lens is mated to a a7riv. I’m still struggling with the overall a7riv IQ as compared to images coming out of my 5dmkiv. Although the a7riv images appear sharper due to the higher resolution, they are grainier and less buttery at similar ISO’s. On paper, the a7riv has better DR, tonal response, etc. and I need to down sample the images to make a more valid comparison before drawing any conclusions.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Adam, for your thoughtful comments.

      I am not sure about the “less buttery” stuff. Are you referring to color? When you say “grainier,” I believe that you are referring to what I often call here, “high pixel density noise.” But that is not noise at all, just the tightly-packed pixels.

      with love, artie

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