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Thread: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

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    Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    I never got to use my 400 2.8 and traded it in for a 600 f4, which I received last week.

    This is one amazing lens. The weight is less than what I expected, though still more than what I can casually walk around with. However, I can definitely hand hold it for a few minutes. It focuses quickly as expected, the images are super sharp.

    What really blows my mind is how good it is with Sony's TCs. I had used the 1.4x with my 100-400 but felt it did affect the sharpness a tad. And I never really used the 2X because my experience with the Canon versions was so bad in the past.

    I just did some very quick tests in the backyard and the results are quite impressive. See if you can figure out which one is at what focal length. I focused on the left eye of the figure and what is also interesting is that the camera used eye-AF to do this, even though it is not really a living human.

    One is taken with the lens at 600mm (bare lens), another at 840mm and the third is at 1200mm. Can you tell the difference?

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    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    I never got to use my 400 2.8 and traded it in for a 600 f4, which I received last week.

    This is one amazing lens. The weight is less than what I expected, though still more than what I can casually walk around with. However, I can definitely hand hold it for a few minutes. It focuses quickly as expected, the images are super sharp.

    What really blows my mind is how good it is with Sony's TCs. I had used the 1.4x with my 100-400 but felt it did affect the sharpness a tad. And I never really used the 2X because my experience with the Canon versions was so bad in the past.

    I just did some very quick tests in the backyard and the results are quite impressive. See if you can figure out which one is at what focal length. I focused on the left eye of the figure and what is also interesting is that the camera used eye-AF to do this, even though it is not really a living human.

    One is taken with the lens at 600mm (bare lens), another at 840mm and the third is at 1200mm. Can you tell the difference?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    First off congrats Pradeep on getting your new 600mm Sony lens...I am looking forward to seeing your future wildlife images with that particular lens, I am sure you will get the very best out of it - ENJOY

    I honestly have absolutely no idea which lens is the bare lens and which ones had what TC added to the 600mm...It's a bit of fun, so I will start the ball rolling with a wild guess.
    The third image looks just a tad bit sharper than images 1 and 2 to my eyes and I mean just tad it's really hard to see the difference when pixel peeping...The 1st and 2nd images look very similar in sharpness and I can't tell the difference...image 1 looks like it has slightly more vignetting than image 2.

    First image 1 of 3.................600mm with a 2.0x TC added
    Second image 2 of 3.............600mm with a 1.4x TC added
    Third image 3 of 3................600mm without a TC
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Congrats on the lens Pradeep, I'm sure it will do great in your hands

    Now with regard to your quizz:
    I can't see any real difference in sharpness on the eye/face, however I can see some slight dof differences, looking at the mortar and bricks
    However a cropped 600 mm will have a slightly bigger dof when used at the same f-stop, but this phenomena will be reversed if all three images are shot wide open.
    So my question (if you want to tell ) is if these were all shot at the same f-stop or not.

    But anyway, I think your point is that the converters hardly influence sharpness, and that's a good thing no matter what
    My Pics
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Thanks guys.

    Barry, you are absolutely correct. The images are indeed in that order, the 1200mm shot (lens pous 2x TC) is the first, the 840mm (lens plus 1.4x TC) second and finally the 600mm. The vignetting was not noticeable on my screen, but the light was changing as the sun was going in and out of the clouds, the 1200mm image was taken about 10 minutes after the 600mm and even though I had adjusted the shutter speed accordingly, the light was still not enough.

    Pieter, all three were shot wide open but of course the TCs make it f5.6 and f8. I did crop the images to have the same fov, so the 600mm shot is cropped a little more than 50%.

    What is interesting for me so far is that in my very limited testing there is almost no vignetting, unlike with my 100-400 which even at f10 shows vignetting with the 1.4X.

    Here are a couple more pictures, I don't get much birds in my backyard on account of living on a very busy road (cars going 60mph in front of my house) and being an urban area, but I have a feeder set up and do see an occasional blue jay or cardinal apart from the usual sparrows.

    This guy was sitting on the tree near the feeder. Taken with the bare lens at 600mm - first one and then with the 2X attached - second image. And yes, the TCs from Sony are not only smaller and lighter, but also sharper than what I had from Canon. This too is a huge bonus for birders and wildlife shooters.

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    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Thanks Pradeep, the changing light explains what looked like possible vignetting and exposure differences between shots...I did study the images at great length, assuming that all 3 images were taken WO at whatever the corresponding aperture was with or without a TC attached. I realised that you would strip the exif metadata of each image, so as not to make it easy for us

    Anyway it's looking excellent for you or anybody else in the market for that tele lens, which is great news...Your Blue Jay stands out well against the background...nice one...Cheers Barry
    Last edited by Barry Haines; 6th September 2019 at 16:42.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    +1 Pradeep. Congratulations.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Which camera body did you use for these tests?

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Thanks K-H.

    Hi Doug, it was the a9.

    I have an a7r4 on order and can't wait to try that one out. I can imagine how one could use the 600 with 2x on the a7r4 and then crop deeply into the image to get even more reach. Great for birds and even larger animals that are far away.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    What's your impression of the size & weight? Is it manageable? Can you hike with it?

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    What's your impression of the size & weight? Is it manageable? Can you hike with it?
    I have only had it for a few days, and just used once so far. I am barely 5'5" and not muscular at all, so it is going to be hard for me any way. However, compared to say the Canon 600 MkII and the 1DX2 combo which I did use for a while in the past, it is much easier. The heft seems less, although I think the 400 2.8 was lighter overall, perhaps being shorter and less bulky.

    If you can carry a full size DSLR and say a 300 2.8 this too should be manageable. It feels about the same in weight and heft. The lens of course is much longer but the a9 is so much smaller than say a 1DX2, it makes up for it. The balance is also easier, being more towards the back of the lens.

    I am not much into hiking myself. In the end, most people who are going to use this will not be hiking with it for long distances and unless you are a big guy, hand holding for too long is also going to be tiresome. Most will use it on a tripod or bean bag and sometimes for BIF in a hand held mode.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    I had an opportunity to get a few seconds of hands-on time with the 600 a few days ago and it's not the unmanageable beast I had imagined. The owner was using it with the a9 and needless to say he was very happy with the weight and performance of the combination. His previous experience had been with Canon's Big Whites.

    My remaining concern is what do I do with it on long hikes. Some of my hikes are day-long events at extreme elevation, or overnight; taking it with me will slow this 67-year-old body or limit its range, the alternative of leaving it buried in the camper subject to heat and break-ins isn't appealing.

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    I had an opportunity to get a few seconds of hands-on time with the 600 a few days ago and it's not the unmanageable beast I had imagined. The owner was using it with the a9 and needless to say he was very happy with the weight and performance of the combination. His previous experience had been with Canon's Big Whites.

    My remaining concern is what do I do with it on long hikes. Some of my hikes are day-long events at extreme elevation, or overnight; taking it with me will slow this 67-year-old body or limit its range, the alternative of leaving it buried in the camper subject to heat and break-ins isn't appealing.
    Doug, for you, the 200-600 may be a great option when you are hiking. I've not tried it myself, but although bigger than the 100-400, it is said to be much easier to hand-hold for a long time and is definitely smaller and lighter than the big 600 prime.

    Having said that, most people who hike long distances are really looking to reach a beautiful spot for a great landscape shot, not sure you will need a big tele-zoom for that, rather a wide-zoom or prime perhaps.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    Doug, for you, the 200-600 may be a great option when you are hiking. I've not tried it myself, but although bigger than the 100-400, it is said to be much easier to hand-hold for a long time and is definitely smaller and lighter than the big 600 prime.

    Having said that, most people who hike long distances are really looking to reach a beautiful spot for a great landscape shot, not sure you will need a big tele-zoom for that, rather a wide-zoom or prime perhaps.
    Some of the high-elevation critters live far from roads.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Just received the Sony 200-600mm lens; the Sony A9 will be ordered shortly. Next I will educate myself on the menu system, and hopefully I will have some images in a few weeks.
    Having had years of experience capturing images of flying birds, I am very interested in how this a Sony rig measures up to my Nikon experience
    Stanley
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by stngoldberg View Post
    Just received the Sony 200-600mm lens; the Sony A9 will be ordered shortly. Next I will educate myself on the menu system, and hopefully I will have some images in a few weeks.
    Having had years of experience capturing images of flying birds, I am very interested in how this a Sony rig measures up to my Nikon experience
    Stanley

    Well, good luck to you. There are 2 different menu systems. Both are useful, the comprehensive one, but also the one that gives access to a dozen or so primary functions.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by stngoldberg View Post
    Just received the Sony 200-600mm lens; the Sony A9 will be ordered shortly. Next I will educate myself on the menu system, and hopefully I will have some images in a few weeks.
    Having had years of experience capturing images of flying birds, I am very interested in how this a Sony rig measures up to my Nikon experience
    Stanley
    Yes, that will be an interesting exercise. Several of my close photo buddies are Nikon shooters and swear by everything Nikon. I've never had a Nikon system, but did not believe it would be a lot better than the Canon 1DX2 which I owned and used in the field quite a bit.

    For me, the a9 is definitely a better choice in terms of AF capabilities, sensor, frame rate and overall convenience.

    Would be good to hear your experience Stanley.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    Some of the high-elevation critters live far from roads.
    Yes, that is true. Perhaps the 200-600 then.
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    A bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

    The difference in weight between the 600/4 + carbon fiber Series 5 Gitzo and the 500/4.5 FD + aluminum Series 5 Gitzo I used to hike with is negligible.
    The local dealer will have a 600/4 in the store on Monday.
    The local dealer has my telephone number.
    The piggy bank is sufficiently funded.
    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    A bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

    The difference in weight between the 600/4 + carbon fiber Series 5 Gitzo and the 500/4.5 FD + aluminum Series 5 Gitzo I used to hike with is negligible.
    The local dealer will have a 600/4 in the store on Monday.
    The local dealer has my telephone number.
    The piggy bank is sufficiently funded.
    I'd say - you're game, Doug !
    Bart ...

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    Yes, that will be an interesting exercise. Several of my close photo buddies are Nikon shooters and swear by everything Nikon. I've never had a Nikon system, but did not believe it would be a lot better than the Canon 1DX2 which I owned and used in the field quite a bit.

    For me, the a9 is definitely a better choice in terms of AF capabilities, sensor, frame rate and overall convenience.

    Would be good to hear your experience Stanley.
    I have the camera and lens now and presently struggling through the menu system. Difficult to understand how obviously gifted engineers can produce such a disjointed menu system, but I will master it and report my impressions soon
    Stanley
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by stngoldberg View Post
    I have the camera and lens now and presently struggling through the menu system. Difficult to understand how obviously gifted engineers can produce such a disjointed menu system, but I will master it and report my impressions soon
    Stanley
    Good luck Stanley. Itís just a matter of getting used to.

    Gifted engineers have no problem with this.
    But mere mortals benefit from a better user interface.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by stngoldberg View Post
    I have the camera and lens now and presently struggling through the menu system. Difficult to understand how obviously gifted engineers can produce such a disjointed menu system, but I will master it and report my impressions soon
    Stanley
    Gifted engineers specialize in disjointed menu systems. A good UI is REALLY hard to make. The biggest problem is that there is no measurement to be optimized.

    True story: A billion years ago (1989), I was asked by the developers of IBM's symbolic mathematics system, Axiom, to try it out. I was then a frequent user of MACSYMA, Mathematica, and Maple. The system had some really nice features (for that time). You could manipulate infinite series, use Roman Numeral coefficients (Exp[x] = 1 + x + x^II/II + x^III/VI + x^IV/XXIV +...) and other fun things. In normal use, pressing the Shift-C meant "compute". But if you were in a different level of the program, Shift-C would reboot. These guys had put thousands of serious Engineer hours into this thing, but ?

    M
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Well M, a gifted engineer wouldn't have had a problem with that.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Well M, a gifted engineer wouldn't have had a problem with that.
    It is true. I am not a gifted, or any other kind, of engineer.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by MGrayson View Post
    Gifted engineers specialize in disjointed menu systems. A good UI is REALLY hard to make. The biggest problem is that there is no measurement to be optimized.

    True story: A billion years ago (1989), I was asked by the developers of IBM's symbolic mathematics system, Axiom, to try it out. I was then a frequent user of MACSYMA, Mathematica, and Maple. The system had some really nice features (for that time). You could manipulate infinite series, use Roman Numeral coefficients (Exp[x] = 1 + x + x^II/II + x^III/VI + x^IV/XXIV +...) and other fun things. In normal use, pressing the Shift-C meant "compute". But if you were in a different level of the program, Shift-C would reboot. These guys had put thousands of serious Engineer hours into this thing, but ?

    M
    I would say that was a brilliant piece of engineering--you still remember after all these years! That is known as transference.

    When I was working for Minolta, we were writing the instructions for a new function. The screen had a series of messages for the user to take them through the process. There were about five steps. Step two had you connect a USB cable. The problem is that connection would turn off the monitor--it was hard wired and nothing the firmware could change. The firmware engineers were unaware until we pointed it out--actually, we were confused because the screen went blank and thought there was a firmware problem. System are complex and information is always limited to each subgroup.

    Speaking of Sony menus, I was involved in some of the wording and design with Minolta cameras that would carry over to Sony products. My greatest victory was removing the "Dating" option from the menu as it might have caused user confusion. Language is complex.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by MGrayson View Post
    It is true. I am not a gifted, or any other kind, of engineer.
    But you are a mathematician! They are always my favorite movie characters!!

    Good Will Hunting
    Hidden Figures
    The Man Who Knew Infinity
    Will

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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Well you all probably know the joke about an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician trying to figure out 3*7.

    Easy for the engineer, with slide rule he gets 21.01, so 21.
    The physicist takes a bit longer, series expansion gets 20.99, so 21.
    They don't hear anything for awhile from the mathematician.
    He finally declares, gentlemen there exists a solution!


    Sorry if I offended anyone with this inside joke.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    But you are a mathematician! They are always my favorite movie characters!!

    Good Will Hunting
    Hidden Figures
    The Man Who Knew Infinity
    and

    'A Beautiful Mind'..
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Well you all probably know the joke about an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician trying to figure out 3*7.

    Easy for the engineer, with slide rule he gets 21.01, so 21.
    The physicist takes a bit longer, series expansion gets 20.99, so 21.
    They don't hear anything for awhile from the mathematician.
    He finally declares, gentlemen there exists a solution!


    Sorry if I offended anyone with this inside joke.
    Sometimes I used to get accused of “crushing the souls” of the engineers when I would make comments like “the problem with engineers is that they are rarely operators.” Well this was in my Program Management and my Givernment Services life... probably was some truth to the soul crushing but it perplexed me that people would design systems based on requirement statements without end user feedback before the bulk work began.

    Well as hurtful as it may have been for many, it’s true and what’s needed is probably a UX designer (and NOT an engineer) that sits with a variety of end users to discuss and design charts of various workflows. Personally I don’t find Sony menus nearly as bad as some make them - they’re just different and require learning new nomenclature and setting up the camera for the individual user. They’re generally designed with the professional hybrid user in mind and thus provide greater freedom to work how you want to work... though I understand this freedom adds a layer of depth to the setup. Many of the photo features simply don’t require much depth but the video features almost always do.
    Visible Light & IR Photographer
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Well M and Tre,

    Of course I agree with you on the importance of a well conceived of and executed UI. It took the genius and perseverance of Steve Jobs to actually lead an army of engineers to implement his vision successfully.

    I am familiar with the UIs of cameras from Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, and Fujifilm, in some cases multiple slightly different versions from the same maker. Often small changes in the haptics and menus significantly improve the user experience IMHO.

    In case of Olympus it was for me an extra level of grouping of menu functions. In Sonyís case the addition of the My Menu. In both cases one also has to figure out how to switch between the primary and secondary menu system and their interaction starting from the current active selection.

    My Sony IBIS cameras are setup with two things in mind:

    * easy changes to IBIS for native and adapted lenses without having to scroll any menu system, requires setting up 3 buttons.

    * easy switching between Eye-AF for humans and animals with the help of My Menu. Here I have also included, formatting cards, sensor cleaning, live view settings, etc.

    Fuji has an interesting touch to their haptics as one can not only turn wheels but also toggle them by pushing in to switch functions.

    Which one do I like best? Well the one I am most actively using with my muscle memory intact.
    With best regards, K-H.
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  31. #31
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    My first impressions: much lighter than I expected, even hand-holdable in some circumstances. Excellent balance with the a7rIII. First pics at first light in the morning.

    EDIT: it seems my backyard 'avian portrait studio' was built with a 400mm lens in mind

    the blind's viewing port size and location assumes a lens with a smaller diameter and the perches are much too close for the 600's MFD, even with extension tubes. I'll have an opportunity to use the lens in the 'wild' later this week. Image quality and stabilization are great, and I expect I'll be best friends with the DMF switch.
    Last edited by doug; 5th November 2019 at 09:18.
    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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  32. #32
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions







    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Finally had an opportunity to try my new Sony a9 with the 200-600mm lens. The camera locked on focus with flying birds and held the focus wherever the bird flew. There are several options on this camera for following a bird or any other object in focus; I chose the zone option, but as I become more familiar with the camera I may use one of the flexible spot options.
    Does this camera lock on and hold focus better than my Nikon 850 with the 200-500mm lens attached?
    The comparison is a close call with the edge going to the Sony for perhaps more rapid acquisition.
    The 20 frames/second with the electronic shutter is amazing, but it’s almost too much and obviously a card gets filled rather Quickly!
    The camera with the additional battery pack attached with the lens is a bit heavier than the Nikon D850 with the 200-500mm lens attached.
    I estimate the Sony rig I used today weighs in the neighborhood of 7 pounds, but the weight is well balanced so I was able to hold the camera comfortably while shooting long bursts.
    I wish the camera produced more than 23 mpx, but with the 20 frames per second, I guess the trade off is acceptable. The resolution for this type of image is acceptable IMHO.
    Today was overcast and it occasionally rained here in Florida.
    I painted in the white sky on one of the images because I wanted to demonstrate the focus on a head shot and disliked the white sky that was captured. The images if I recall are mostly full frame
    All of these images were taken at 600mm.
    Stanley
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  35. #35
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions





    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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  36. #36
    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Stanley
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Becoming more proficient using the Sony A9 together with the 200-600mm lens
    Stanley
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  38. #38
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by stngoldberg View Post
    Becoming more proficient using the Sony A9 together with the 200-600mm lens
    Stanley
    Bird identification: Great Blue Heron, Tricolored heron, Pied-billed Grebe.
    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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  39. #39
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions


















    all: a7rIII, 600/4 GM
    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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  40. #40
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    I've been using the lens for a month now.

    My impressions? Keeper. keeper. keeper. keeper. I intend to get every last penny's worth out of this lens.














    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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  41. #41
    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Sony A9 with 200-600mm lens
    Stanley
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    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    Wood Stork in Flight
    Stanley
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  43. #43
    Senior Member stngoldberg's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    American White Pelican
    Stanley
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  44. #44
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    So many great posts.... It's not likely I would ever own a long lens such as used for these images but it sure is great to view the results from posters that have taken the plunge.

    Just Great.....

    Victor
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  45. #45
    Senior Member doug's Avatar
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    Re: Sony 600mm f4 GM First Impressions

    The 600/4 GM plays nicely with the 1.4x extender. Technique is a little more challenging but focus acquisition & lock, and image detail are great.







    Doug Herr http://www.wildlightphoto.com
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