How do I click super sharp images of birds with the Nikon D500 camera and the 200-500mm lens? In this video, I’ll teach you all the camera settings that go into clicking awesome photos of birds and wildlife.
I’m Girish Menon and I just show up on your screen and start talking about photography. I offer you free photography tips that will help you to click better pictures. And I release a new video every week, so please subscribe so that you don’t miss out.
Are you wondering if the Nikon 200-500 lens is relevant in 2022? Then stick around, because in this video I’m going to tell you more about the Nikon 200-500 mil lens and why it’s still one of the best lenses you can lay your hands on, even in 2022.
Ok, so you want to click wildlife, and are watching this video to find more about the Nikon 200-500 lens. You’re in the right place!
There are 4 main points that I wish to explore. The build quality, autofocus speed and accuracy, image stabilisation performance, and last but not the least… sharpness.
The build quality is good, with basic weather sealing, but doesn’t compare to Canon’s 100-400 Mark II lens where even the switches are weather sealed.
The autofocus is good, I’ve never had a problem with it, even in difficult situations where there are twigs and leaves in the way.
The image stabilisation is exceptional, now I used a bean bag while clicking these photos… still the shutter speeds were as low as 1/60th of a second at 500 mil on a shaky boat. So full marks to the stabilisation.
I never found the sharpness to be lacking in any way. It somehow gets the job done, even though… it doesn’t have the fluorite element that the Canon 100-400 Mark II does.
Now Nikon has a slight edge over Canon. Canon does not have an affordable 500 mil lens for their DSLR cameras whereas Nikon have two, a 200-500 mil and the 500 5.6 lens that costs less than half the price of the 500 mil f/4 lens.
However, the 100-400 lens is 100 mil wider, and at 38.4 inches has a ridiculously minimum focusing distance.
But when I go out to click birds, I prefer the Nikon 200-500 because of its extra reach. However when I go on a tiger safari, I prefer the wider 100 mil focal length for times when I get the opportunity to click tigers that are close to me. But sooner or later, once you become more committed to wildlife photography you can get an additional Nikon camera with a 70-200 mil lens. That way you’ll be covered from 70 right up till 500 mil which is beyond the reach of any affordable Canon lens for DSLR cameras.
Wildlife photography is challenging, so you must make sure that your gear is best suited to your style. Please see links in the descriptions to videos about the Canon 7D Mark II and Nikon D500 to get a better idea about these cameras and find out which brand will suit you better.
I’m Girish Menon please subscribe to my blog/channel to watch a new video every week that will help you to become a better photographer!
Is the Nikon D500 relevant for bird & wildlife photography in 2022? Bird & wildlife photography needs gear that’s fast enough to meet challenges. In a world of mirrorless cameras, are DSLR cameras such as the Nikon D500 and Canon 7D Mark II good enough to click sharp pictures of birds and wildlife?
I have a 5-point checklist to decide whether a camera is good enough for wildlife photography and they are, the number of autofocus points, autofocus speed, burst speed, buffer size and image quality.
Now before we talk about each of these in detail, I want to tell you that the camera has excellent build quality. It is weather sealed. So you can use it briefly in light rain, and its’ dust resistant.
If you read the specs, they’ll tell you that this camera has 153 focus points. And that 99 of them are cross type focus points.
But what you should know is that only 55 out of those 153 points are selectable by the user. And only 35 out of those 55 are cross type focus points.
On the other hand the D500’s biggest rival, the Canon 7D Mark II has 66 focus points, all cross type.
Cross type focus points are able to focus faster and more accurately than non-cross type points. You can rely on them to nail focus every single time.
I always choose my autofocus area as “single point”, and select the relevant point where I want maximum sharpness. I align that focus point with the eye of the subject.
You must also know that the focus points on the D500 that fall along the rule of thirds are not cross type. Which is a bummer when I want to align something along the thirds. But it’s not always that the eye of the bird needs to be along the thirds. And even though there are no cross type focus points at the thirds, we have non-cross type points there. That’s better than no focus points at all.
The autofocus speed is fast. With some practice, you should be able to nail focus on your subjects even in challenging situations.
The camera has a 20.9 megapixel sensor. And can click 10 frames per second which is exceptional.
It has a buffer size of 200 RAW images. So as long as you have a fast enough card, which you should when clicking wildlife, your camera shouldn’t slow down because its buffer is full.
When clicking pictures of birds in flight, for example, we need shutter speeds in excess of 1/2000th of a second, sometimes even 1/4000th. That means higher ISO values. The image quality is exceptional, even at 1600 ISO.
The Nikon D500 camera checks all boxes and that’s why it’s still one of the best cameras you can lay your hands on, even in 2022.
The thing that makes it most appealing is the Nikon 200-500 mil lens. This lens has a fixed maximum aperture value of 5.6 through the entire range of focal lengths. The 500 mil focal length is extremely essential when clicking pictures of birds. Canon, unfortunately never considered providing an affordable 500 mil lens for DSLR cameras whereas Nikon offers two, the 200-500 and the 500 5.6 prime lens.
But the Canon 100-400 Mark II lens is much smaller and lighter, ideal for jeep safaris if you’re going to click tigers, leopards, rhinos, and other mammals.
Please see www.girishmenon.com to know more about the bird and wildlife photography workshops and tours that I teach and organise
We see little bird activity early in the morning, especially when it’s cold. Waders i.e. water birds are always on the lookout for fish and other creatures that waggle between their legs. But other birds must wait until the sun rises and the ground is warm enough to drive insects out of their burrow slooking of food. This can be a frustrating time for photographers, waiting for songbirds to emerge, having already clicked all the possible photos of waders.What do you do? Wait?
This video shows you what that’s like! What would you do in such times? Please watch and lmk
I all began in December 2020. I started putting together short videos about my wildlife photography experiences. I used to stay up all night to record my narration videos.
Up until that point, I had never stayed up all night ever. Not even if I had an exam the next day. Consequently, I fell ill. Once I had recovered, and that took a while, I had to figure out alternate ways of recording my voice-over.
So I went into the nearby jungle and filmed with an OSMO Pocket. You see, my apartment is on the first floor of a noisy street. So recording during the day isn’t an option.
There are many challenges with using an OSMO Pocket. The lens isn’t wide enough. So I have to use this wide-angle lens adapter that sits over the main lens via magnets. The audio adapter that lets you connect external microphones to the OSMO Pocket is out of stock. So they gave me a third-party adapter. I only just realised that it doesn’t work! The on-board mics did the recording, which turned out okay, but not as well as a directional mic would. I just got a mic that connects directly via USB-C, so that’ll solve that problem next time I’m out filming.
If you’re into vlogging, I recommend getting the GoPro HERO 10 Black. It’s a bit pricey, but will serve you well for at least a decade.
I put together this video, it’s the second video with my narration recorded on the OSMO Pocket. I recorded 2-3 videos that morning. I think they’re all still very sketchy with things that need to be ironed out. But I wonder if that’s really required or if I’m over thinking. I reckon this is my worst video production till date—it’s a behind the scenes look at me clicking a bee eater.
What’s your favourite subject in wildlife photography? I’ll tell you mine… clicking pictures of small birds gives me more satisfaction than any other subject. Because it’s very challenging to photograph these small birds. You need to bring in all your knowhow… your composition skills, your artistic ability, you need to bring all of that to the table to get successful photographs.
But when I get successful photographs of small birds, good setting, good light, nothing gives me more joy!
This is a behind the scenes look at photographing small birds such as Bushchats and Stonechats from a boat in Kumbhargaon near Bhigwan. Photographing small birds is always a challenge because they are always on the move. So we need to be technically sound to get sharp photos of small birds. In the video I talk about focus point selection and the use of a bean bag for photography.
I teach photography courses via Zoom. You can participate in my courses from anywhere in the world. See https://www.girishmenon.com/ to know more about my photography courses for beginners and semi-professionals.
I had a Nikon D7200 camera with a 200-500 lens — and not a single photo was sharp. I had shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second, I tried holding the camera in different ways, using a monopod, adjusting my stance, pressing the camera harder against my cheek but the photos did not improve. The stabilisation on the lens couldn’t be faulty, could it?
In spite of being kitted out in thermal innerwear, a warm jacket, two pairs of gloves on each hand and a faux fur aviator hat on my head, I was still cold.
Bhupendar showed up outside my hotel on time, at 6 o’clock. It was still dark and we were the first people to roll into Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary that morning. There was a thick fog in the air, and we couldn’t see very far into the distance.
There was no bird activity anywhere around us. Birds start getting active once the sun is out—because that’s when insects start coming out of their burrows to feed and birds can prey on them!
The occasional creaking sounds of Bhupendra’s pedals disturbed the silence as we continued to roll along the thoroughfare waiting for the sun to come out.
When it got brighter we saw a spotted owlet sitting inside a hollow branch of a bare tree.
It looked very comfortable sitting there, and seemed unlikely that it would come out on a morning like this. I stood there making a few photos hoping that it would hop out—even if it were for a few seconds. I stood there under the tree and turned in the opposite direction to look at some green pigeons.
“LOOK…LOOK…” there was a buzz in the air!
Our little owlet had flown out and perched in the open on the adjacent tree. And I gathered my wits and started clicking some photos, it did a little jig, as if it were grooving to a dance number of the nineteen nineties.
Wonderful! However my photos were not!
I had a Nikon D7200 camera with a 200-500 lens—and not a single photo was sharp. I had shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second, I tried holding the camera in different ways, using a monopod, adjusting my stance, pressing the camera harder against my cheek but the photos did not improve. The stabilisation on the lens couldn’t be faulty, could it?
It was a beautiful day for photography but I couldn’t make a single decent photo—and I couldn’t understand why! All my photos were out of focus.
A few months later, I went to Bandhavgarh National Park to see tigers — and even there I couldn’t get the sharpness that I expected out of my lens—no matter what I tried.
It was only when I got back from this trip that I realised what the problem was—it was the poor quality ultraviolet filter! I cannot tell you enough how important it is to use a good quality UV filter—what’s the point in using cheap filters on good lenses? It’s like driving around in a Ferrari with flat tyres!
I teach photography online via live video calls—not pre-recorded videos that you sit and watch by yourself. You can be based anywhere in the world, own any camera, and still learn photography from me—HOW COOL IS THAT!