The 500 is a fantastic lens. I have been using it now for a couple of years and I am 100% in love with this lens. It is great for wildlife.
I use this lens for birds and wildlife on a Nikon D800, sometimes with a 1.4 Nikon teleconverter and also without it. It is a fast focusing lens even on the D800. I mounted it on a friends D3 and it is superfast! I love the lens and am glad that I went ahead and made the investment.
Used for sports photography (football) daytime and at night with a Nikon D3 camera body. During daylight the lens performed perfectly at f up to 22 at 400 ISO. At night under lights I cranked the ISO up to 6400 with good noise reduction from the D3 and used f4 aperture preferred. The shots were incredibly clear even with the fastest action when well focused and stabilization enabled. Auto focus was not really helpful during fast action shots but very quick over all. Very well balanced on the monopod mount using the D3.
I have been using plenty of long tele lenses already, primarily zoom lenses, including the Nikon 200-400 VR, so I thought that I knew what excellent contrast rendition and sharpness looks like. Obviously I have been mistaken! The Nikon 500mm VRII is even better than I have expected. I am using it with my Nikon D7000 and J1 for birding, moon shots and sports photography and I am still amazed at the details that can be rendered, even with tele converters or my J1 + FT1 adapter, having a pixel density of roughly 70MP FF. The autofocus foccuses nearly instant and is very accurate and the handling is not much different from my Nikon 200-400 VR. I can use it hand-held and the VRII is even more effective than VRI has ever been. I hope Nikon will produce professional cameras without mirror in the future, because the only problem using such long prime lenses is the mirror causing vibration. With my J1 I do have 1350mm and each movement, even a minor one, has adverse effects on sharpness, but due too the J1 being mirrorless, I can get better results than with my DSLR on far off subjects. Speaking of distance shots, the Nikon 500mm VRII is far better than the Nikon 200-400 VR in this regard, although the Nikon 200-400 is better for macro photography. I wish the closest focusing distance would be similar, but one can use extension tubes for that purpose anytime. All in all I am very pleased with this lens and I am looking forward for a 500mm VRIII.
I've been waiting for years to be able to acquire this lens, and as I had hoped, I am thrilled with the results. Its well worth the wait and the weight. If you're serious about sports/ wildlife photography, there is none better.
Very fast focus, extremely sharp, and the VR allows for hand held photography of flying birds. I have owned several long lenses and this is the fastest focusing and sharpest lens I have owned.
Very wll made. Well Balanced Sharp, fast, great color saturation. Love the bokeh at lower f-stops. My experience using a tripod is great, except when tracking birds too far off center. For that, I hand hold, to avoid tripping over the legs. My hand-held shots are incredibly sharp, and I love this lens no end. The image below was shot at ISO 400 f/4 1/125 1-1/3 overexposed. I wanted to see what it would do with poor light and hand held at the above settings.
I wanted some long glass that I could wield on a monopod. This fits the bill nicely. I can hike all afternoon with this lens on my monopod with the D7000 attached. It's not light but it's a whole lot lighter than the 600f4. The focusing is super fast...even faster for birds in flight when I set the focus limiter. I get tack sharp images easily when on a tripod and a high percentage of sharp images on a monopod at 1/800 sec. It works great with the TC1.4eII. I see no loss of quality in prints or on the computer.
Great lens except for one thing. After using this lens for the first time the mounting ring cracked. After the fact I then found out from others that this is not an uncommon problem with the original equipment on the large Nikon lens. Nikon would not warranty it saying that it was improperly used. I was not happy but had to pay for a new tripod mounting ring. I shoot along side several other photographers that use their long lenses in the same way that I use mine. I have been using the 500mm lens with the new ring for over a year now and the new ring is performing as it should. Nikon said that the lens should never be picked up by the tripod mount or left on the tripod when moving the camera and attached lens. I have never seen a photographer do it any other way.
Lightweight for its focal length and rock steady in the VR mode. Extreme clarity, excellent light management and fast focus make this a must for any nature/wildlife photographer. Outstanding performance on the D3x and the D3. Tack images with tons of resolution. Just superb.