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Question to Nikkor 200-500 /5.6 users:
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Feb 1, 2019 17:24:53   #
Greer Loc: South Georgia
 
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.

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Feb 1, 2019 17:37:54   #
vonzip Loc: cape cod
 
Not too heavy, I'm 68. It's easy to haul around by the lens foot or just cradle it in one hand. I vary holding techniques as not to get too tired from just one carrying method. The VR works great. Some of my best shots are hand held with the VR on. vz

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Feb 1, 2019 17:42:47   #
LWW Loc: Big Blue Nation
 
I am also 62 YO, 5-11, 196#, can bench over my weight for 30 reps.

I don't have this lens because it is almost 1 ft long and weighs over 5# ... I have an 80-200 f2.8 AFD and a 300 f4 AF that I nearly never use because they each weigh not quite 3# ... I once owned a 300 f2.8 that weighed not quite 6#.

I don't need another shelf queen.

If you have to have one I would rent one and tote it around for a day before I paid the freight on it.

Although its a really cool lens, with todays pixel count cameras I would grab a 300 f4 first.

My $0.02, YMMV, I hope this helps.

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Feb 1, 2019 17:48:46   #
swartfort Loc: Evansville, IN
 
A very valid question. I have, in a camera store demo'd a Nikon 200-500 right next to a Tamron 150-600. While both can be hand held (I am 55, a bit out of shape, but not weak), I found I was concerned with the weight of both. The Tamron was lighter, but still relatively heavy. I then rented the Tamron (granted a G1, but very similar in weight) for a week's trip to FL.

I found that yes, it can be used hand held, but at maximum focal length it was very difficult to keep the single focus point I use for wildlife directly where I wanted it. I did find significant relief using a good monopod (sans any type of head), and got great images. I found that carrying the "rig" over my shoulder ala the image of a hobo with a stick over his shoulder, was a very easy way to transport the camera and lens on trails.

So, the answer is complicated. I will own one of these long zoom lenses, but I realize that my monopod will be a fairly constant companion while that combination is in use.

Here are a couple of examples:
On a Monopod
On a Monopod...
(Download)
Handheld in low light/higher ISO
Handheld in low light/higher ISO...
(Download)

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Feb 1, 2019 18:10:25   #
Bill_de Loc: US
 
Just turned 69 and in reasonable (not great) health. The Nikkor 200 - 500 is easily handholdable for me.
There are people who call it a beast.

Goes to show that only you can answer this for you.

Based on your post, one thing in favor of this lens, even if you find it a little heavy, is that you are not planning on hiking all day with it ready to shoot.

--

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Feb 1, 2019 18:14:47   #
Thomas902 Loc: Washington DC
 
Greer I have been shooting the AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6 VR for over three years...
It is excellent optically however there is an issues with the lens mount ring in as Nikon states it must be locked down while in use... I actually had the lens jump out of it's "grove" and lockup... Since I shoot soccer this is a problem since it precludes quickly switching from horizontal to vertical... My work around now is simply to shoot horizontal and crop as necessary.

btw, I use a heavy monopod to hold this lens (Sirui P-424) with a Sirui L-10 head. This works extremely well for me in as I've shot up to 3 match a day (8 hours) non-stop without fatigue... I'm a dozen years older than you albeit have a daily Yoga practice which has been a god send for my physical well being...

Since you mentioned shooting from a ground level blind a monopod might be an option.
I've hand held this lens and like others have mentioned at 500mm it gets heavy fast...
I also use an AF-S 200-400mm f/4 IF ED VR when shooting soccer commercially... that lens can not be hand held other than for a brief moment... A monopod is literally mandatory with that lens for me.

Below are several images taken recently with the AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6 VR...
Hope this helps... I wish you well on your journey Greer
.


(Download)


(Download)

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Feb 1, 2019 18:22:22   #
speters Loc: Grangeville/Idaho
 
Greer wrote:
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind ... (show quote)

I always say, unless it ways over 100lbs, its easy to hold by hand!

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Feb 1, 2019 18:25:27   #
PixelStan77 Loc: Vermont/Chicago
 
Greer wrote:
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind ... (show quote)
Have a Nikon 200-500. Turned eighty and can hand hold. I don't find it heavy. For a long time out looking for wildlife, like waiting for Eagles to leave the trees to go fishing in the Mississippi, I use my Carbon Fiber Monopod.Welcome to the forum.

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Feb 1, 2019 18:39:24   #
DavidPine Loc: Midland, TX
 
If I was 62 I think I could hold a cannon. I use the 200-500 and the 300mm f/2.8 and I'm 5'6", 150 lbs plus I'm 76.
Greer wrote:
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind ... (show quote)

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Feb 1, 2019 18:58:27   #
Greer Loc: South Georgia
 
Thanks for so many good comments. Thomas902, I will definitely look into those products. And swartfort, your idea sounds great but need a bit more discription to understand fully how you carry this. PixelStan77, will go carbon fiber for sure. That will about Tao me out so no chance for anything more expensive. Thanks everybody.

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Feb 1, 2019 19:03:29   #
MT Shooter Loc: Montana
 
Greer wrote:
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind ... (show quote)


Its a little over 5 pounds PLUS your camera. No one can say what your load capabilities are but you. I am 64 and use it on a heavier D500 body, but thats me. Maybe you can go to a camera store and try it out there. Or rent it first to try before you buy. Either way I am sure you will love the lens.
The Tamron 150-600 G2 should also be considered. Lighter, longer reach, and $100 less money.

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Feb 1, 2019 19:58:52   #
photogeneralist Loc: Lopez Island Washington State
 
You have a ground level blind. Why not use a tripod with a gimbal head? The ground should be adequate for solid support of the tripod legs and the gimbal head would give easy flexibility in aiming with the business end of the lens poking out through slots in the blind.

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Feb 1, 2019 20:14:58   #
Katydid Loc: Davis, CA
 
I am by no means a small or delicate woman, but I don't choose to hand hold unless on a small walk from the car and something to lean it on (rail). For me is too heavy and hard to keep steady despite the VR being great. But I wouldn't be without it on my auto tour drives through the refuges or wildlife areas.

If I am going to be walking around I use the Tamron 18-400. It isn't quite as good as the 200-500 but I get some great photos with it, and it feels almost light-weight compared to the other one. (Just an opinion from a newish photographer.)

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Feb 1, 2019 20:15:26   #
larryepage
 
I've been using this lens for a little more than a year. It is manageable handheld, but I'd not expect to use it that way all day long, at least not without a break. I got a Nikon battery grip for my camera, and found that even though it adds a little weight, it makes handling much easier. There is a discussion on this site from last October dealing with some technical questions around photographing the moon which includes a couple of posts from me with handheld shots of the moon.

I'm older than you by about 6 years and am not an athlete by any means.

It is heavy, but the VR works very well. I notice only minimal handling difference when it is fully extended. It is very sharp.

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Feb 1, 2019 20:33:27   #
Mac Loc: Hernando County Florida
 
Greer wrote:
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind from which I see many deer, foxes, bobcat, and beautiful birds. I have been an event/portrait photographer since 2012. With hunting behind me I have developed a desire to shoot wildlife/birds (pardon the pun) with my new D750. While driving I notice birds in flight and beside ponds. I long to get a 200-500 but have a question. The reviews are mostly great and this is the best I could possibly afford. However, some owners complain it’s too heavy to handhold. I am 62 years old and in decent health. Need opinion from those who own (have owned) this lens. Please help. Don’t want to make expensive mistake.
I am a former deer hunter and have a ground blind ... (show quote)


Greer
You have gotten a lot of good advice, I will add my input. I used the 200-500mm for a while and it can be hand held, but carrying it all day adds up. I sold the 200-500mm and replaced it with the AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR. and a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III. The 1.4 TC extends it to 420mm. A 1.7 TC would extend it to 510mm. I have not used a 1.7 with it so I can't speak to IQ.

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