With all the new mirrorless stuff: Is the 500mm f/5.6 PF still a good buy?

photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
edited July 2020 in Nikon Lenses
Hi guys, I am not sure if what kind of answers I expect to this or I likely would not have posted. But here's the current things on my mind.

1. I really like the 500mm PF but it is F mount and it feels a bit off buying an expensive lens for an old mount with no guarantee things will improve on future Z cameras in AF speed.
2. Canon just brought out a 100-500mm L lens, I know it will hold up to adverse weather like it is nothing and it'll work without an adaptor on a new Canon camera in 20 years from now.

So I really love my z6 and the f/1.8 S primes and it is a system I would really like to invest in. The 500mm PF I think I would get with a dedicated D500 or D850 body as I pretty much gave a dedicated body to my old 300mm f/2.8 on the Canon side. I almost always carry two bodies, so the shorter range is covered by the Z6 at all times.

Almost all of my shots with my 300mm where ether on a crop camera or on a FF then cropped into 500(ish)mm FOV. So I am pretty confident that 500 is the goto range for that wee fox or bird that just isn't going to let me get closer and I am just as quick bringing up the z6 if something is too close.

So fellow wildlife folks, would you still get the 500mm PF today with all this mirrorless excitement? I think it is less frightening to me than a f/4 just now as I think £10,000 is a lot of money for "old tech".

Edit: Also I don't know much about Nikon bodies so my the D500 vs D850(Which one can keep shooting when it is bucketing down in the highlands and I want that hare) may not be a good comparison. I know one is 10FPS and I like 10FPS and I know I love the IQ out of my Z6 with its 50mm and 85mm Z primes.
Post edited by photobunny on


  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,486Member
    I have a 400 2.8E and I bought it when I knew mirrorless was coming, even though I did not know for sure Nikon would come up with something that works as well as the FTZ adapter.

    If your 500 was 4cm or so longer and worked fine on your Z6, would you be worried? If Nikon upgraded your 500 to a newer model (like they upgraded the 400 2.8G to the 400 2.8E) would you be fretting over your "old tech"?

    Thought so. So go buy an FTZ and keep it permanently attached to your 500. That is what I will do with my 400mm 2.8E at some point in the future.
  • tc88tc88 Posts: 537Member
    @photobunny, you asked difficult questions, I'm not sure there is a correct answer. But I guess that's why you asked.

    Sometimes if you can't make decisions, see if you can reduce choices. So (1), if there is a Z 500 PF, it will likely cost 30% premium. Are you willing to pay that? If not, then that part is moot point.

    (2) Now if money is not concern, then how soon do you need it? If you need it this year, then Z teles are out of the picture anyway. Otherwise, if you can wait, then you don't need to make decision now.

    Regarding D500 and D850, I will take FF over 3 additional FPS any day. Especially since you are taking pictures of ground animals. For BIF, at least more FPS can increase chance of better wing positions. But in your case, there is no such concern and 7 FPS is plenty fast for ground animals.

    Now you are still left with needing to choose between Nikon and Canon. I think that depends on the expectation of future performance of sensors, AF, longevity of the mounts, etc. Unfortunately it's difficult to prove the future, even though different people have different perceptions regarding how future will unfold. I think you will have to make your own decisions on that. :smiley:
  • snakebunksnakebunk Posts: 958Member
    @photobunny: If you know that Z is your choice of mount then the only concern I would have is how well an FTC and a TC works together. But, it sounds like your big desicion is which mount to choose. I am in a similar situation although I don't need any new gear right now. I don't think Nikon has proven itself as a good choice for mirrorless wildlife due to the complete lack of Z mount long primes, and therefore I think I would currently choose Canon RF. But, if possible, wait and see is of course also a good choice.
  • trolleytrolley Posts: 157Member
    Why not hire a 500 pf & FTZ & try it? Scotland's open now :)
    I had a brief go with that combo last year at Bird Fair & it worked fine - but that's no guarantee. And maybe try asking Ricci at Nikon UK - he's done a lot of playing with the Z series for wildlife
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,242Member
    I don't see a problem with the 500PF. If purchased now it will work on F and Z mounts so you have flexibility in body choice . The problem is not with Nikon lenses but with the AF on the Z hopefully to be corrected in the Z7s series
  • photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
    edited July 2020
    Thank you for all the great opinions guys.

    @WestEndFoto and @TC88 I think my main concern is paying £3500 for a lens and then a native Z version pops up. Frankly the 500mm PF should have been a Z lens in my opinion, it fits those tiny cameras so well.

    @snakebunk The RF 100-500 is really tempting, except its IQ is currently an unknown and it has the 100-200mm range I have never used. I start at 200mm and feel Canon could have done a fixed aperture 200-500 L build lens instead.

    @trolley I can hire a 500mm PF but I can not hire a FTZ adaptor from https://www.lensesforhire.co.uk as they only rent out the FTZ with the Z bodies which makes that expensive. I got my Z6 for just under £1400 without the adaptor thinking that the adaptor would be £99 like the Canon one. it is a soar point that that thing is quite expensive and ugly(Aesthetics aren't important to IQ I know, but it is an expensive toy).

    @Pistnbroke aye I guess there is nothing wrong with the lenses, though am I mistaken in thinking the AF in the Z lenses is designed a little differently to account for how mirrorless cameras find focus?

    An a general answer to timeframe. November 2020 or April 2021 will be purchase date. I have all but missed this year for baby animals from my favourite spots.
    Post edited by photobunny on
  • trolleytrolley Posts: 157Member
  • photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
    trolley said:

    @photobunny you could try these: https://lenspimp.com/search?q=FTZ
    They have both in stock

    Didn't know they existed thanks!
  • trolleytrolley Posts: 157Member
    I've no idea what they're like, mind. But the pricing's about the same as everyone else. And they're still in business, so I presume they're doing something right
  • MrFotoFoolMrFotoFool Posts: 182Member
    In my opinion the 500PF is the best long telephoto lens ever made. In fact it is the main reason I switched to Nikon one year ago after twenty years with Canon. Though I originally had only the D850 (the best SLR ever made) I now keep my 500PF lens permanently attached to a D500 I bought a couple months ago. (Sometimes I use it with the TC14eiii). The crop factor of the smaller sensor D500 gives the extra reach I like in a telephoto and the 10fps sometimes helps with wildlife.
  • photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
    @MrFotoFool I look forward to trying one out early next month. I am going to rent it for the week and take some time of work (You know to go from my desk to my couch for a week).
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,305Member
    I just pulled the trigger on a 500 PF today. Circumstances aligned and I bought it.

    It's real purty!
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
    @dissent enjoy it! It is indeed a wee cracker.
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,242Member
    Although the new flange distance is 16mm I cannot see this affecting lens design in the long focal lengths. The throat diameter will make short focal lengths easier so I would not worry about the 500 PF if you are happy to use the FTZ maybe in the future
  • photobunnyphotobunny Posts: 326Member
    edited February 8
    Things I am looking for from the Z version are the native function buttons, 'mirrorless' AF (the Z lenses like the 70-200 just hit the target as if they know where it is), the Z ascetic, perhaps loosing a inch from not needing the FTZ, lens balance(moving more weight to the body), one set of TCs, and the firmer feeling the Z mount lenses have on the camera.

    Basically, it is QOL improvements that are wanted. And it is looking like the 500 is the only F lens I will ever own and the only F lens I hear any other photographers talking about when coming over too Nikon. They aren't even considering F bodies, they want a Z6/Z6ii with the 500mm PF.
    Post edited by photobunny on
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,190Member
    edited February 13
    I know it's a lost cause at this point, but am I weird to say that I'm kind of curious to see what Nikon had done with AF-P and PF FX lenses had there not been a pandemic and accelerated the switchover to mirrorless?
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,892Member
    Nothing, I imagine. I don't think the pandemic accelerated the switchover. If anything it slowed it down.

    Judging from recent interviews there seems to be widespread awareness at Nikon that they were late coming over to mirrorless.
  • webmastadjwebmastadj Posts: 197Member
    @NSXTypeR Maybe they will release some PF lenses with the Z system. Probably some time away though.

    @mhedges I agree. But I think if they come out with some killer lenses and make some major jumps in their Z camera bodies, they will catch up quickly.

    I do find it funny how after all the current roadmap Z lenses are released, their lens line up will actually mirror Sony's. Then we will see those more 'special' lenses come out...like the PFs...if they do it.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,190Member

    @NSXTypeR Maybe they will release some PF lenses with the Z system. Probably some time away though.

    @mhedges I agree. But I think if they come out with some killer lenses and make some major jumps in their Z camera bodies, they will catch up quickly.

    I do find it funny how after all the current roadmap Z lenses are released, their lens line up will actually mirror Sony's. Then we will see those more 'special' lenses come out...like the PFs...if they do it.

    I hope so, seems like an honest advancement in lens design.

    I mean, there are only so many focal lengths that people want. It's no surprise it would overlap with Sony's.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • bcmmikebcmmike Posts: 6Member
    My wife's favorite lens for her Z7 is her 500 PF. Until Nikon decides to make a 500 PF for Z mount, the F mount is still a great performer on the Zs. Just my opinion, YMMV
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