Ive always had a fascination with sand casting and finally decided to just jump right into it. After taking the time to learn the basics I jumped right in. The first major hurtle to get over was making the foundry. If you havent already, feel free to check out the video I put together on how to build a propane heated foundry.
With the foundry out of the way, I now focused on making the pattern for my part. I made mine out of wood. The part I am casting will wind up as a miniature axe head made from brass.not for chopping, just for decoration. The pattern did not really take long since it is mainly just a tapered wedge.
I then focused on making my own green sand. Green sand is available for purchase but I wanted to try to make my own a first. I used THIS video tutorial to help with making my first batch of sand. Unfortunately, my sand did not come out very good but did work for my first casting.
The flask is the part of the operation that actually receives the molten metal to make the part. It is basically a box that is made up of two halves. The top half is known as the cope and the bottom part is the drag. You can find these pre-made online but theyre easy enough to make on your own if youd rather go the DIY route.
An important thing to note about the flask is that the two halves need to come together perfectly flat without any spaces between them. I made mine from plywood and sanded them afterward to ensure they were nice and flat.
The other important feature of the flask is that you build in some kind of locating feature for the two halves so that they come together correctly every time. I built a simple male/female feature along the sides which worked really well. A dowel and socket approach would work also.
Heres where the rubber meets the road. I placed my pattern for the axe head in the dragand cover it with green sand through a fine sifter. The part gets placed in the dragwhile it is in the upside down position. (once the cope is packed with sand it gets turned back over).
The first layer of sand around the pattern gets sifted so that the sand in contact with the pattern is as fine as possible. This will ensure the surface finish of the casted part is as fine as possible.
After sifting, I then packed the sand around the pattern. Youll need to be careful to not move the pattern around during this step. After the first layer is good and packed in, I continued filling and packing until the dragis full of packed green sand.
With the pattern all packed into the drag, I turned it over to where it was right side up and get to see the back side of the pattern tightly held in place by the compacted sand. Im now looking at the top of the drag. The top of the draggets a little bit of baby powder sprinkled on it to help with releasing the copewhich is about to go on.
The copenow gets placed onto the dragand a sprue and riser are created. The sprue is the fill hole where the molten metal comes in and the riser is basically a vent to allow gasses to escape as the mold is filled. I used a short piece of aluminum tube (about .5 in diameter) for the sprue and a pencil for the riser.
Carefully holding the pencil and tube in place, I packed sand around them so they are held firmly in place and then gently removed them after the cope was completely full of packed sand. The copeand dragnow get pulled apart and we are almost ready to pour some material into this little flask.
With the cope and drag separated, I cleaned up the holes just a bit from removing the pencil and the aluminum tube. Once I was happy with the shape of the two holes I set the copeaside for one last touch on the drag.
The dragstill has the pattern in it and will need to be gently removed.I predrilled a small hole in the back of my wooden pattern (before beginning this process) so I could thread a wood screw in (by hand) and then carefully remove the pattern using the screw as a hand hold. After the pattern is removed, I carved in a couple of gates.
The gates are a just small veins in the green sand where the molten metal flows from the the molten brass to make it from the sprue to the pattern and vent. If youre looking at the top of the dragwhere the part was just removed, you can see where the pencil and the aluminum tubing were in contacting the dragin the form of two small circular impressions. The gates get carved in the sand from these little impressions to the void in the sand where the pattern was held. They do not need to be very deep but it is best if they have nice smooth edges after they are carved in so take your time.
Time to heat up some material! With the cope and drag built up they get joined back together in the same orientation from when they were first put together. Obviously, this is to keep the sprue and the dragproperly aligned. Now lets fire up that foundry : )
The foundry needs to heat up to operating temp before dropping in the brass material. With the crucible placed down in the foundry, I let my unit heat up until the crucible is a bright orange glow and then add in the brass. With a medium size crucible filled to the brim with chopped up brass door handles, it took about 30 minutes for the brass to become fully melted and ready to pour.
Now is a perfect time to address some safety concerns. If you are recreating this process, you are operating at your own risk so please be careful. Steel toe leather boots, jeans, leather gloves, long sleeve jacket, and a face shield are the bare minimum safety attire needed for this process. If you have some leather chaps, use those as well to better protect your legs. Its best to perform this operation over dirt and not concrete. Concrete can pop and make tiny little explosions if it comes in contact with an 1800 degree crucible or molten brass. Again please be very safe!
Back to the melting process. When the brass is fully melted, I sprinkled about 1/3 of a cup of boric acid (aka roach killer found at the dollar store) in the crucible. The boric acid not only helps gather the slag but it also helps to prevent the zinc from burning out of the brass. After adding the boric acid, I waited about 5 more minutes and then got ready to remove the crucible and pour the material.
I broke up a cheap pair of stainless serving tongs and used one side as my scooping tool to remove the slag off the top of the melted brass. Moment of truth time to remove the crucible and pour the brass.
Using a large pair of steel tongs, I lifted the crucible out of the foundry and slowly poured the brass into the sprue hole of the foundry until I saw the brass coming out of the vent hole. This lets me know that the entire pattern is full.
After carefully setting the crucible back in the foundry, I let the part cool in the flask for a second then opened the flask to find my completed part how exciting is this! You can see the extra material from the sprue, gates, and vent are still attached and will need to be cut off. Other than that, Id call this first part a complete success!
Ill say this is by far one of the most fun little projects Ive done and has been a real eye opener for me. I cant stress the importance of good safety measures though..as you can tell by now there are many safety risks working with melted material so please please please be safe!
All and all I am very happy with my miniature axe. If your are interested in purchasing one of these little gems, feel free to check them out HERE. Since these are custom made, the lead time may be longer than some of the more standard stock items.
In this short article, if I can call notes about my humble experience an article :) I'd like to show how I casted 614 gram (1 lb. 5 oz.) round brass ingot. For many people who start melting and casting metals, it can be hard to melt brass, bronze, copper after for example, lead and aluminum. The main problem is high brass melting point.
I used charcoal as usual but added several pieces of coal. It gave me nice temperature and very quickly. In fact, it took me approximately from 10 to 15 minutes to melt brass. I used still crucible, so there was a risk that it could start melting.
Crucible was very hot, steel became white and it meant that the temperature reached approximately 1200 (2192 F). Nevertheless, it withstanded and didnt burn through. As a mold, Ive decided to use an empty steel coffee can. It worked fine with aluminum but I cant say the same about brass.
Finally, I can say that I am very satisfied with the results. I had several attempts with my old air supply system and couldnt melt brass. Thats why I was very glad to make this round ingot with my new blowpipe.
If coal a problem inyour state than maybe try to search coal or charcoal briquettes. I think that even charcoal briquettes will work much better than simple charcoal. If this is also an issue than I think propane is a good alternative.
Second the propane/LNG option!! Sure it's a little costly but it's also super-clean, has fairly low sulfur contamination risk and you get to have the fun of building a burner (Ron Reil's Mongo burner is a pretty good example) that can melt everything from pot metal to cast iron! :D
If you can secure a coal (ideally anthracite) supply, coking it is easy enough --the process is similar to making charcoal via distillation method. Alternately, you can start a coal fire in a container and when the coal you can see on top of the fire turns white, dump the whole mess into a tub of water. Give it a rinse and once it dries out, you'll have a good grade of coke. Or, you could take the lazy path and just get a lid for your crucible. ; )
About the author's mention of charcoal briquettes; they do win out over lump charcoal in terms of ease of acquisition but they also produce much, much more ash relative to volume consumed, have the potential clog your furnace mid-run and to produce slag (coke and coal are much worse when it comes to clogs/clinkers) at brass melting temps due to the presence of clay binders used to hold the briquettes together. Long story short, all four fuels will do the job with minor variations in what you'll need to do while the furnace is running so it's going to come down to a judgment call on your part. Good luck and happy casting!! :D
I am sure they could help you out with starter coal, or a solid lead on where to buy it. Personally, even being from Illinois (lots of coal here, not all smithing grade though), It's hard to beat some of the internet pricing for 50lb bags of coal. When i take a trip near the mines, I swing in and pick up a couple hundred pounds, But if I am running low, amazon is just a click away, and a heck of a lot faster than planning a long vacation weekend
I suggest that if you intend to continue with further projects in your foundry, you try and acquire some personal protective gear, at a minimum wear long legged jeans and leather boots, additionally a long apron is useful too. While they are far from ideal, the are much superior to sneakers and shorts.
Thanks. Completely agree. Of course I try to do everything safely. I don't use jeans and leather boots because of hot summer. Now it's September but still +27 C (80 F). It'll be colder soon, so I can use some protection :)
I understand. I melt and cast aluminum here in Florida U.S., where heat and humidity are legendary, still though I suit up, but do have a blower salvaged from an air conditioner situated to cool me down some, and also plenty of water to drink.
I don't anticipate a major catastrophe like a crucible failure dropping a half- liter of ally on me, but it's the minor splashbacks that can really cause personal injury and dangerous disorientation during handling that I'm mostly concerned with.
I see and I'm from Ukraine. In October-November it'll be much colder. Of course not as cold as, for instnce in Alaska or Canada but much colder than in Florida :) How guys in Game of Thrones say: "Winter is coming". :)
I'm in awe of you guys from the Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, you do so much with so little and get great results. I watch YouTube videos all the time from there, no need for translation, the craftsmanship speaks for itself.
You might want to look at the brass knife bolster I made on this i'ble: https://www.instructables.com/id/Bowie-Knife-2/ This knife is pretty rough, but that was the look I was going for. Here is another knife I made that's much nicer: https://www.instructables.com/id/Hunting-Skinning-Knife-Made-Easy/. I heated the scrap brass in an aluminum can with oxy/acetylene torch.
It's a pitty that I couldn't see the process of melting brass by oxy/acetylene torch. I've never seen how it works. You really did it in aluminum can and it didn't melt or burned through. Are you sure that it wasn't a steel can? First time I tried to melt down aluminum in a steel can and it burned through when aluminum started to melt: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Crucible/
Thanks Indromac. Yep, that's charcoal + coal (black coal or hard coal) + air = brass ingot. :) I couldn't rich enough high temperature with pure charcoal. It was enough for aluminum but not enough for brass! I added just several pieces of coal. Coal gives much higher temperature than charcoal.
I have a friend who is in a vintage motorcycle club, and he sometimes asks me to cast parts for him which are no longer obtainable. This is the description of the casting an intake elbow, which had cracked and broken. It is a hollow casting, and I thought it might be instructive to show how I went about casting it.
The part was to be cast in brass, rather than in the original alloy. One of the problems was that the walls were thin (2 - 3mm). It is hard to cast brass into thin sections, as the metal often sets before the mould is filled.
To increase the wall thickness I fitted 1mm thick plastic rings in each opening and moulded wax up to the level of the rings, making the walls about 5 mm. This allowed more space for the metal to flow, and also provided some machining allowance.
With the wall thickness increased, cardboard extension tubes were put on each end of the elbow (more on this later) the inside was coated with vaseline and silicon putty was used to get an impression of the shape.
The flour is mixed in until the sealant and the flour are a homogeneous malleable mass, which is then quickly pressed into the part, trying to minimise holes and bubbles. This must be done quickly, because the putty becomes unworkable in about 10 minutes. It sets completely in about 1 hour and can be pushed out of the mould because it is still flexible.
An impression of the core shape is then made. I used plaster. I found a small plastic container which I modified it with cardboard so that the casting used the least possible material, but still held together (more on this later)
The plaster, was mixed, minimizing bubbles by vibrating and vacuuming and then poured into the mould until it came half way up the silicone pattern. After it set, the surface was trimmed, any bubbles were flattened out, then some registration marks were made so that after the mould is split apart, it will go back together in the correct way,
If you were making hard sand cores using sodium silicate, it might be possible to mould the core in this plaster mould, but I use baked sand cores, and the baking tends to destroy the plaster, and the sand is often difficult to get out of the plaster moulds, so I use the plaster as a pattern for an aluminium mould, which overcomes these difficulties. (see photo) It means having to mould them in sand and cast in aluminium, but it isn't a huge task.
This is why I try to minimise the amount of plaster in the mould, Plaster wastage isn't an issue, but when it's cast in aluminium, large areas of metal with different thicknesses can cause shrinkage, which is undesirable.
I use a mixture of 20 parts of fine sand to 1 part (by volume) of corn flour, moistened with water containing 15% molasses by volume. The inside of the aluminium core mould was coated with grease and the 2 halves clamped together with a G clamp, ensuring that the inside edges line up properly.
Core mix was then mixed with molasses water to make it damp and crumbly but not wet, then rammed into the core mould. After this a piece of 4mm steel rod, was used to make a ventilation hole down the middle of each leg of the core, being careful not to let the rod touch the inside edge of the core mould. Without this hole there is a risk that the gases in the core will cause bubbles inside the casting. Optimally, each hole should meet inside the corner of the mould. (See Photo)
All casting cores must be able to be positioned accurately inside the shape of the pattern, and cores almost always extend past the pattern so that they can be held in the sand while the metal flows around them. In the case of this elbow, to prevent the core falling in to the bottom of the mould, it had to have one very long leg to counter-balance the other end. - hence the long tubes when the initial core pattern was made.
The silicone core pattern needs to be placed back into the elbow so that when the sand is rammed around the pattern, the ends of the core pattern stick out and form a core print for the sand core to rest on.
To avoid stress fractures, I ran a bead of silicon sealant around each edge where the core pattern stuck out of the elbow, and to save ramming and preparation time, I used some silicone putty to mould a cube-shaped in-gate/riser against the core where I wanted the metal to enter the pattern. (See photos) If the gates and risers are all rammed up with the pattern, there is less loose sand and less mould collapse than if you cut the gates and risers later.
When the metal was almost ready to pour, the cores were put into the moulds and a butane blowtorch was used to char the part of the core that would be inside of the actual pattern. This is just another precaution to expel as much moisture as possible and avoid core blow - bubbles and imperfections in the pattern. It is also important at the ramming stage to ensure that there are good vents where each end of the core will be, to allow escaping gases to vent out to the atmosphere. (see photo of gas venting)
After the cores are inserted in the flasks, the boxes are clamped together, the metal tested for liquidity and temperature, and about 50 grams of zinc is added to each 3 Kg of brass, to allow for zinc losses caused by vaporisation and to clean the metal. The metal is then poured steadily into the moulds.
Once the metal has cooled, it comes out of the sand, and goes into a bucket of water. After the core has been scraped out of the pattern, the sprues and any flashings are removed, and the pattern is wire brushed to remove as much sand as possible, - sand blunts cutting tools in an instant.
Very well written article. It never ceases to amaze all the various techniques different people use to arrive at the same end. Like GregS278 I would have loved to see the casting after cleaning and fettling but no doubt that is in you friends hands. He's lucky to have a mate like you.
Wish you would have shown the finished piece! Even better show it in use on the bike!and a video of the molding steps and the pouring of the brass I guess it was a good jobhad to tell from the last picture!
I agree with what you say. I was too absorbed in the job to do a video, but yes, that would have been nice. Right now, the piece hasn't been machined. I gave it back to my friend, who built a special jig to hold it in a lathe chuck, and now he has handed the whole setup back to the guy who wanted it in the first place. He will bore and machine it to specification and with any luck, it will all work out. I am hoping for a photo of it once it is finished, and if I get one, I will post it.
"This is the description of the casting an intake elbow, which had cracked and broken. It is a hollow casting"I don't understand . It looks like an alloy casting originally and these days most of those can be TIG welded . but the "hollow casting" has me tricked?
The guy that wanted it cast didn't have access to TIG, and he wanted it in a stronger metal. I have a feeling that he also wanted to polish it and/or chrome plate it, hence brass. As for "hollow casting" it is a bent tube, which by definition is hollow. I suppose it could have been cast as a solid mass and machined out, but this would be the hard way to do it. The main point of this instructable was to demonstrate the making of a core to fit an existing pattern.
There are many types of casting methods, such as sand casting, die casting, lost foam casting, permanent mold, continuous mold, lost wax investment casting etc., but sand casting process is still the most common casting process. Sand casting process means the main molding material is "sand". According to the different sand materials, it can be divided into green sand, resin sand, and shell molding processes. Herein, we will try to elaborate their difference. 1. Green Sand Green sand casting uses a kind of humid sand mixed with black clay. This sand is cheap, and can be used repeatedly. So, it is suitable for manual molding, machine molding and automated machine molding.
In the past, many foundries used hand molding (manual molding), the foundry workers used simple tools to punch the foundry sand to make sand mold tight, however, the casting quality is unstable, and surface quality is not very good. Therefore, this traditional molding method has been replaced by machine molding and automatic molding.
2. Resin Sand Resin sand casting process uses furan resin sand as the molding material. After burning, the resin sand can become hard sand, so it is also called as hard mold casting process. Resin sand can be used repeatedly either, however, it needs to replenish new furan sand constantly. Because the furan resin material is costly, so the resin sand castings become costly. Resin sand casting process is suitable to produce large iron castings with unit weight from 50kg to 2000kg.
3. Shell Molding Shell molding process uses a kind of yellow phenolic resin sand. This sand is more costly than furan resin sand, and phenolic resin sand can not be used repeatedly, so it is one time molding sand. Therefore, this process is more costly than furan resin sand.
However, shell molding process can meet higher requirements to the rough casting surface quality, more complex inside structures, and higher casting dimensional tolerances. So, it is widely used for producing small iron castings with high requirements. In China, we normally do not use shell molding process to produce steel castings, however, in other countries, they do.
Normally, the buyers can not, and do not need to choose casting process by themselves, the foundry will choose the suitable one accoridng to the dimensional tolerance, technical requirements and their experience.
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Tamron recently released its longest-reaching lens for the Sony E-mount camera system with the 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD. After two packed weeks of glorious bird photography, theres a lot to be said for this new telephoto zoom.
This may technically be the first of its kind for Tamron, but the company does have a history of similar zoom lenses for DSLR mounts. Weve seen the popular 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens released in 2013 with a well-received second-generation model launched in 2016, plus the 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 which was introduced in 2017. Now, Tamron hopes to take what it learned from those past successes and make a next-generation telephoto zoom for the most popular full-frame camera system on the market.
My first impression of the 150-500mm is that its a great-looking lens. I appreciate the black semi-matte finish on the plastic exterior which blends in much better than the off-white that is not uncommon for these focal lengths. The removable tripod collar is metal and has a texture that matches extremely well with my trusty Sony a7R III camera, which I used for this review.
This lens does extend physically as it zooms. At the short end, its 8.3 inches (209.6 millimeters) long and all the way out its 11.1 inches (283 millimeters). In total with the tripod collar included, the lens weighs 4.1 pounds (1.86 kilograms). Overall, it has a comfortable balance and throughout my shooting time with it, it was only used handheld (aside from aperture tests). Even more modestly-sized camera backpacks should be able to fit this in with the hood reversed and camera attached.
Starting at the outer end of the lens, theres a large, rubberized zoom ring that can move from 150mm to 500mm in a 75-degree twist. While there is a zoom lock switch on the side for 150mm, what is less noticeable is what Tamron calls the Flex Zoom Lock. By just pulling out the zoom ring, it can lock at any focal length.
This might be my favorite feature of the 150-500mm. I cant tell you how many times Ive inadvertently nudged the focal length out of where I intended it to be with my Sony lens. Before I know it, Im missing out on over a hundred millimeters of zoom that I now have to recover with cropping. With my Sony lens I made a workaround where I overlap two pieces of neoprene to give the zoom ring some added friction, but what Tamron has done with the Flex Zoom Lock is very smart and extremely handy.
Another great aspect of this zoom lens is the impressive variable aperture breakdown. My testing shows that from 150mm to 237mm, the camera displays f/5, from 238mm to 386mm its f/5.6, from 387mm to 479mm its f/6.3, and only in the final 20mm of 480mm to 500mm is it f/6.7. This makes the 150-500mm some good competition to the standard 100-400mm lenses that break down similarly but only zoom so far.
Aside from the zoom lock switch I just mentioned on the righthand side, theres a panel of switches to be found on the left. These include a focus limiter switch, focus mode switch, vibration compensation (VC) on and off toggle, and a VC mode switch. The switches on this lens are the best tactile experience Ive had when compared to any Sony or Canon lens. Because of the perfect tension and size, even the three-stage switches easily set to the middle without accidentally skipping to the next setting.
Ill go over vibration compensation in a more detailed section below, but right now I want to point out the focus limiter. Most focus limiters Ive seen have three modes: One is for the full focus range, one is for infinity to a certain distance, and the last is for close focus to a certain distance. In contrast, the Tamron 150-500mm forgoes that last close focus option for a second infinity-to-distance mode, which means it offers the full range and either infinity to 15 meters or infinity to three meters.
As a bird photographer, focus limiters are a tricky matter that I dont ever really use for a few reasons, but paramount is the fear I might miss something spontaneous. What Tamron has done here I believe is a nod to sports photographers who always have absolute certainty where their subjects will be. If theyre shooting from the sidelines of a game, they will likely need to be back at least three meters for safety. If theyre shooting from the stands, thats a guaranteed 15 meters away. These are just a couple of easy examples, but taking away a close focus limiter speaks to the type of photographers the company either worked with closely while designing this or the type of shooter it envisioned using the lens.
Moving toward the lens mount, theres a focus ring that I have a couple of negative feelings about. First is its thinness. The least Tamron could have done about that was to make the ribbing on it rubberized and more pronounced, but sadly its even flatter than the zoom ring and plastic.
Secondly, it is not a smooth operator. It has a cheap glide like theres sand in it, and at times in the rotation, there are high notes of crunching that make me question if there literally is debris trapped. It makes its use more finicky than it should be.
Closest to the lens mount is a removable metal tripod collar that needs to be acknowledged. Tamron has already been doing it in previous telephoto lenses, and this one too features a built-in Arca Swiss tripod plate on the foot. Nothing is more insulting than when lens manufacturers skimp on this and instead ship out a completely useless foot.
The Tamron 150-500mm does have an image stabilization mechanism Tamron calls its technolgoy Vibration Compensation and offers three different modes that are controlled by a switch on the side of the lens.
Traditionally, Mode 1 would be full compensation vertically and horizontally, Mode 2 would be for panning and compensates only for vertical movement, and then Mode 3 only activates horizontal and vertical stabilization at the moment of capture and does not compensate until only then.
With this lens, Mode 2 is unchanged and is still the mode to use for panning shots. Modes 1 and 3 are different, and a little strange. Mode 1 acts as described above, however, its strength of compensation is not very impressive, especially when shooting at 500mm. I think of it as a soft image stabilizer that allows for a lot more play with the lens and doesnt tie you down to always making sure youre in the right mode for the shot.
Mode 3 gets really weird. The level of compensation in both directions is extremely good. Its much, much better than Mode 1. However, its active all the time. Even without half-pressing the shutter or using back-button autofocus without touching the camera at all its on. As you can imagine, this is not ideal for a long-lasting camera battery to be walking around with the lens in Mode 3, but as noted its also the mode to be in for the best compensation. So, generally, I used it. Ideally, I would like to see Mode 3 only active when Im ready for it.
One last note is about the constant noise of this lens. Many stabilized lenses have some sort of hum that is produced once that image stabilization kicks in. Oddly enough, the Tamron 150-500mm is noticeably whirring away all the time and only quiets down a touch when its stabilizing. After two weeks of getting used to it, Ill admit its a little less obnoxious now, but it was almost unbelievable when I switched over to this lens initially.
Inside, the lens uses 25 elements in 16 groups including one extra-low dispersion element, five low dispersion elements, and two hybrid aspherical elements. Theres also Tamrons BBAR-G2 coating. In all, its a concerted effort to control aberrations, ghosting, and flaring while promoting edge-to-edge sharpness.
Upfront, I can say that the Tamron 150-500mm image quality holds up beautifully for real-world use and my proof of that is in the photos littered across this review. I did not encounter any sort of aberration or flaw that became an issue in the field or that needed any sort of labored correction in post-processing. Below are a couple of backlit shots with high contrast and there is no dramatic color fringing. The very little I see is either unnoticeable in the full photos or can be solved with a one-click fix in post-processing.
As a telephoto lens, vignetting is certainly something that exists. Personally, I embrace it, but its always good to know where to expect an even exposure across the frame. Shooting at the 150mm end, I find f/7.1 shows vignetting only on the edges of the frame, and then by f/9 its around the corners only, and at f/13 its largely under control. On the 500mm end, f/9 is when it encroaches the edges only, f/10 its just around the corners, and by f/16 its under control.
Overall, Im very satisfied with the sharpness of this lens for my bird photography. It has the resolving power to achieve fine feather detail and allows for considerable cropping without the photo falling apart.
Peak center sharpness at both the 150mm and 500mm ends is at f/8, according to my comparative testing. Its worth mentioning to other wildlife photographers that there is no steep falloff of sharpness shooting wide open at 500mm, and in fact, theres not much difference at the center between 500mm f/6.7 and 500mm f/8.
At the corners, the lens does need some more room to right itself if the details there are important to you. At the 150mm end, peak corner sharpness is at f/14. At the 500mm end, peak corner sharpness is at f/11. To simplify my findings between its vignetting and sharpness, Id just remember to shoot the lens around f/11 if I wanted the best compromise of edge-to-edge image quality for landscape photography and the like.
First introduced in the 70-180mm f/2.8, the 150-500mm also uses Tamrons VXD linear autofocus motor. Throughout my review period, I found autofocusing to be snappy and largely reliable for tracking birds in flight. Due to vignetting, autofocus does become less responsive as subjects move towards the extreme edges of the frame. For typical rule-of-thirds style compositions, however, this did not become a noticeable issue.
The minimum focus distance at the wide end is 23.6 inches (0.6 meters) and all the way zoomed in its 70.9 inches (1.8 meters). Considering the lens itself is 8.3 inches, that means at 150mm the subject can be a little more than a foot away and still sharply focus.
Below you can see two full-frame shots of a skipper butterfly that was about the size of my fingernail, one at 150mm close focus and one at 500mm close focus. As you can see, both produce a subject that is very comparable in apparent size although it is slightly larger when close focusing at 150mm than close focusing at 500mm.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that Tamron made something special with the 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD. It bridges the gap between 400mm zooms and 600mm zooms and is still relatively portable and lightweight for a telephoto. There is no hiding any sort of poor light-gathering performance behind the variable aperture numbers, though it is actually only f/6.7 for the last 20mm of zoom and can do f/5.6 almost all the way to 400mm. The Flex Zoom Lock feature is a very welcome addition and I wish every telephoto zoom had it. Other little things about the lens were great to see as well such as the built-in Arca Swiss tripod plate that shows the company is willing to take those few extra steps to make its products stand out.
Based on the features of the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7, the priority on compactness in the design, and its aperture breakdown in the focal lengths, the lens is most closely related to the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS and Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary.
The Sony 100-400mm is in the premium G Master line of lenses and costs $1,000 more than the Tamron. Compared to Sony, Tamron loses 100mm at f/4.5 but gains an extra 100mm at the longer end at the cost of some more light loss. On the other end of the zoom, Sony is f/5.6 at 400mm whereas Tamron is neck-and-neck, able to do f/5.6 up to 387mm. The bonus here is that Tamron keeps going, something that users of these mid-telephoto lenses are sure to value a great deal. The $1,000 difference is going to primarily show itself in higher-quality optics and better autofocus performance.
The Sigma 100-400mm is the low-cost option of the three, and costs around $500 less than Tamron is asking. The Sigmas benefit is that its a pound lighter. The Tamron blows past the Sigma in terms of light gathering, though, where the Sigma is already down to f/6.3 at 235mm when Tamron is still wide open at f/5 at that point. Once again, Tamrons added benefit is that it keeps going after 400mm as well, which makes a big difference for photographers putting in the effort to carry larger lenses like these.
One question I initially had, which Ive noticed is shared among those who ask online, is why Tamron cut off 100mm from the 150-600mm DSLR lenses it makes. They question why we are losing 100mm and paying more for the privilege.
Ive found that this is a flawed comparison. I really dont think Tamron made this as a mirrorless version of the 150-600mm, and its also not a direct competitor to my all-time favorite lens, the Sony 200-600mm. In fact, what Tamron has done is added 100mm to the traditional 100-400mm lenses and made the resulting optic its own thing, then understandably charged more for that. The company has made similar adjustments to traditional zoom lengths before such as the 24-70mm becoming the 28-75mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm becoming the 70-180mm f/2.8. Obviously, this is more than a tweak of a few millimeters, but Tamron has a history of thinking outside the box when it comes to zoom ranges. Heck, I believe it was Tamron that pulled off of the 150-600mm first too, years before Sigma and Sony did versions of it.
Yes. Tamron manages to make a highly sharp and reliably fast autofocus lens in the 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD. Overall, my experience was positive and theres considerable attention paid to much of the lenss design. This is one worth checking out.
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Brass is made by combining copper and zinc at high temperatures. Brass can be cast into many things like house numbers, door knobs etc. It can be a bit of a complex process to melt the brass, but casting it isn't too difficult. You just need some instruction.
Before casting brass, put on heat-safe clothing to protect yourself from the hot metal. Next, make a pattern of the shape you want using styrofoam or wood, or buy a pre-made pattern. Then, mix sand, clay, and cornstarch together in a box, and push the pattern into it. After youve made the mold, pour the melted brass into it and allow it to cool for an hour. Once the metal no longer looks molten, pour cold water over the mold, then let it sit overnight to cool completely. To learn how to safely melt brass, read on! Did this summary help you?YesNo
This is an overview of the Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF VR lens. It has been four years since I sold my favorite Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4D lens. Since then, bird photography for me was just a waiting game until I got a new lens. My only lens which allowed me to taste bird photography in the mean time was the Nikon AF-S 70-200 f/2.8G VR II along with 1.4x TC II a makeshift combo for larger birds. When Nikon announced the 300mm f/4E PF VR lens, I thought about getting it together with the 1.4x TC III, but knowing that reach is always an issue with little birds, my dream was to get the exotic 500mm f/4E FL VR. However, budget was an issue for such a hefty purchase, and on top of that, the weight of 3.1 kg was also a rather big negative factor. Although a number of budget-friendly lenses with good reach potential like the Nikon 200-500mm, Sigma / Tamron 150-600mm came out in between, none of them were able to match the quality I am used to getting from my Nikon 300mm f/4D. So, it was more a waiting game and I continued to try to survive in the genre with my makeshift combo
Then come August 2018, Nikon announces the 500mm f/5.6 PF VR wonder lens one stop slower than the conventional 500mm f/4 model, yet only 1460gm in weight and about 9.5 inches in length! This time, it was a PF lens, similar to Nikons 300mm f/4E PF VR lens. The specifications, as well as the price excited me greatly, but I was very skeptical about the Phase Fresnel element and diffractive optics in general. Generally they are not as good as, refractive lenses this is what I have been told.
After reading a few reviews, I decided to purchase the PF lens over the 500mm f/4E FL VR. But availability of this lens was a great problem. After waiting 6 months, I managed to get one with the help of my good friend. So I decided to share my thoughts about the lens on Photography Life after happily using it for a month. For a more scientific review with data, graphs and other useful information, I suggest to wait until Nasim gets a sample in his hands. But in the meantime, I hope you find my field experience with the 500mm f/5.6E PF VR useful.
First of all, I would like to point out that my thoughts are based on my hand-held set up with the Nikon D810 and the lens, without any teleconverters attached. Performance with newer bodies like Nikon D5, D500, D850 and with TC 1.4 III is yet to be seen on my end to come to any serious conclusion. I am not a full-time professional and I havent been spoiled by such exotics as the 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4 and 800 f/5.6, so do accept my review of the lens with a pinch of salt.
The build quality is very good just like all modern pro lenses. The lens looks gorgeous! The curves on the lens remind of its big brother. To me this is one of the few best-looking lenses in Nikons line up.
This lens has all the nifty features from other gold ring telephotos, such as memory lock button, 4 focus buttons up-front in different directions, AF-L and AF-ON switch etc, though I have not used these buttons yet.
The lens is claimed to be fully weather sealed, it has a rubber gasket on the rear mount and has fluorine coating on its front element to keep the debris and droplets away. Although I havent used it yet in very rugged and tough conditions, it should be able to handle those conditions very well. I like to mention here I opt not to put any protective filter (95mm) up-front for two reasons: first, due to probable impact on lens IQ and second, with this lens being a PF lens, another glass element might add more flare to images.
The hood is actually very good and has a lock mechanism like the 70-200mm f/2.8 but more robust than that. Having said that, I have seen pretty bad hoods like that of the Nikon 200-500mm, which is so frisky that it comes out on its own sometimes. The hood in my opinion is enough to protect the front element, if used carefully.
The tripod collar is the same old Nikon technology without Arca-Swiss compatibility. From the reports of few photographers, I came to know about the loose tripod collar, but after I tightened it with quite a bit of force, I have not seen it loosen once. I will see if it happens after prolonged use in the future, but in the mean time, I am taking precaution regarding that issue and I keep checking the collar intermittently.
The lens is a joy to use! After using it for a few days, my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8G VR II seemed heavy like a brick. The design makes it feel lighter although this lens is just 80 grams lighter than my 70-200mm. The diameter of the barrel of the lens near the mount is narrower and gradually broader to its end, whereas the 70-200 is the same diameter throughout. The lens makes you more agile as a photographer and working with this lens makes you faster in the field. Until now, I have used it for hours on stretch and hiked for hours without any fatigue. Even when I wait for the moment to capture action, I can hand-hold it for a longer period of time than any other lenses I have used before. Only in certain conditions like in a hide or where repetitive action happens, you might need to use a tripod. For general day-to-day use, I dont feel like the combo needs a tripod or a monopod for support.
Autofocus is blazing fast in good light. How fast? By my rough estimates, it is as good, or better than the old 300mm f/4D and far faster than the 200-500mm when used without the limiter switch (Full i.e. to 3m). Both focus acquisition and tracking are excellent, as well as the focus accuracy. To be honest, I was not expecting an f/5.6 lens to focus this fast. When the focus limiter is set to to 8m the focus speed is blazing fast, particularly in group AF focus on the D810, both in terms of acquisition and tracking (although not as good as the 70-200mm f/2.8, but still very close). The accuracy seems perfect for birds in flight in the distance, although I have not yet gotten an opportunity to test any close action yet. I have not experienced any hunting whatsoever.
In less than ideal conditions, I mean in overcast / poor light, contrasty backlit object or when shooting under very shaded and dense canopy, the focus accuracy suffers and the focus speed gets slower, as expected. The lens also tends to hunt when shooting through grass blades or in extreme backlit conditions, just like any other lens would.
My only reservation is in regards to the minimum focus distance of the lens 3 meters is bit too far for my taste. However, long super telephoto exotics have even worse minimum focus limitations. Sometimes when the subject comes too near, I just cannot shoot I struggle to fill the frame at or just above 3 meters with smaller sparrow-sized birds with my full frame camera.
One word: amazing! I previously read some reports regarding VR problems when shooting at slow shutter-speeds with the 300 f/4E PF VR, so I was bit worried if the same issue was present on the 500mm PF VR as well. Here is my quick report on the lens VR. There are three modes of VR: 1. Off, 2. Normal, 3. Sport. When shooting at high shutter speeds say 1/1000th of a second, VR Off is not a problem for me. Sports VR is superb. At 1/60 sec and above, even at 1/2000th, Sports VR does not impact IQ. Thats amazing and it really works flawlessly. Normal mode is where I guess one could encounter problems, which I noticed and this also echoes the same observation in the review of E. J. Peiker. In normal mode, 1/60 sec and less, it works like a charm when used carefully. The lowest shutter speed with which I managed to get a sharp photo was at 1/25th of a second thats amazing for a 500mm lens. But above 1/60th of a second to up to 1/240th of a second, Normal VR produces inconsistent results in my experience. As a result, I decided to keep Sports VR on by default. Anyway, that range of shutter speeds on a 500mm lens probably warrants the use of a tripod and freezing of a subject is not possible, so it is not a big issue for me.
As expected from a modern Nikon super telephoto, this is a very sharp lens. Though the term sharpness of a lens is relative and multi-factorial, I want to point out a few things. The lens is very sharp wide open at f/5.6. I could not find any reason to stop down to achieve maximum sharpness. The only time I stopped down was in good light and to increase the depth of field.
Though corner sharpness is not an issue for me in this type of a lens and for its intended use, I found corner sharpness to be superb for distant shots where the whole frame is in focus, like a distant landscape.
Near subject: From near focusing distance to about 50 feet. The lens is tack sharp depending upon the subject and shooting discipline! The acuity is very good and so is the micro-contrast. It renders fine feather details of birds so good that at times I have to think twice to enhance edge contrast in post-processing.
Far subject: I wonder how this lens renders details of distant subjects further than 50 feet distance. I have never witnessed such sharpness of far away objects in other lenses I have used, provided there is no atmospheric haze, heat distortion and fog.
I am a sharpness freak and believe the 300mm f/4 to be a very sharp lens. Also, I expect that the 500mm f/4 would be bit sharper than this PF at 100%. I have a mixed experience regarding the sharpness of the 200-500mm. Out of two copies I have used, I found one copy to be not sharp enough to satisfy my taste and the other was just good enough. Having said that, this PF lens is ahead of the 200-500mm in sharpness, but definitely not three times better as the price.
In my opinion, its a little sharper than the 300mm f/4 bare and considerably better than the 200-500mm when seen at 100% zoom. But social media spoil those details so much that you have to depend on the subject separation from the background to see the difference of f/4 and f/5.6 lenses.
One observation I have never experienced with any other combo is that the 500mm PF with the D810 body at times produces moir in some particular pattern in the micro-details of feather. Not always, but on more than a few occasions:
This lens produces well saturated, neutral color, like all other modern lenses from Nikon in my observation. I personally like warmer tones from the old G type lenses, but images have very good contrast.
This lens produces very smooth background when used properly. When the background is at infinity and far away from the subject, the Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF VR produces buttery-smooth, uniform background. But when there are highlighted objects, like dried stems or any other contrast pattern in the background nearer to the subject, the rendition becomes harsher for my taste:
In my little use I found specular highlights to be not that smooth in some shots. Highlight have marveling pattern in the body and have a dark highlight circle on the edges. In the center of the image, the bokeh shapes are circular and on the edges of the frame they are like cats eyes. This observation does not affect the final frame as this is visible once you want to see the bokeh balls at 100%.
Overall, I found bokeh and out of focus rendering to be quite pleasing and a tad smoother than what the 200-500mm produces. I found bokeh to be much better than what the 300 f/4 with the TC 1.4x combo can produce from the same distance, which is expected.
Although PF lenses are prone to flare, I have not yet witnessed it in normal shooting scenarios. Once I deliberately point the lens directly towards a bright subject like the sun, I do find ugly polychromatic flare, but thats not a very realistic shooting scenario.
Though these are my initial days of use, if I have to be very critical, then I only have two negative points to bring up. Number one is the one stop slower aperture of light gathering capability, which can be an issue when shooting in low-light conditions. Number two again has to do with the aperture the f/4 lenses have better subject separation capabilities in comparison to this f/5.6 lens.
But I am immensely impressed with the overall output of this feather-weight telephoto. It is a lightweight champion with fast autofocus, great build quality, fantastic image quality, it is a joy to use and it has wonderful out of focus rendering at f/5.6. Truly amazing and definitely worthy of very high praises.
There are better pros in the world to recommend lenses and I will wait to see what Nasim says in his upcoming review. I can only say that I found the lost zeal in bird photography after getting this lens. Every lens purchase is a compromise and no lens is perfect. But for a person like me who wants a lightweight, and cheaper (yes, not that cheap folks) lens, yet one that has the most features of f/4 exotic super telephoto lenses in a small and portable package, there is simply no competitor on the market as of now. The only issue is, you have to wait, because the lens is nowhere to be found Nikon just cannot make enough of these! But trust me when I say that the wait is totally worth it Its a great little super-tele in its own right.
I am a doctor by profession and photo-enthusiast by passion. I am from a small town of Midnapore in India, West Bengal State. Lived my childhood mostly in nature and woods.I am post graduate in Homoeopathy and right now, based at Patna. I have been doing nature photography for quite a few years. Birds and Landscape are my genre of interest. I love sharing my work and my field experience with others. If you would like to check more of my work, please visit my Facebook page and Instagram page.
Thank you for your informative review of this amazing lens. Your photographs are captivating and so beautifuly composed. After a long wait, I received my copy of this lens yesterday, and Im eagerly awaiting hummingbird season here on the South Texas coast.
Nikon should use your images for marketing, Chandan. Love the way youve used the lens and its almost convinced me to buy this instead of a used 600mm f/4 (which will break my back carrying it around all day). I see from your photos that in good hands, even a f/5.6 lens can become better than a f/2.8 lens in 80% of the photographers out there. Excellent and thank you for this.
I wanted to thank you for posting your review of the Nikkor 500PF and for sharing your bird images from Pangolakha Sanctuary. Your images are stunning. So are the birds themselves. They are distinct from those in Oregon, USA where I live.
Your experiences with your 500mm f/5.6 PF lens corresponds with mine. It is a very sharp lens, sharper than the 300mm f/4 PF and the sharper and quicker to focus than the Nikkor 200-500mm. The f/5.6 minimum aperture helps keep the lens small and light compared to the faster Nikkor 500mm f/4, but at the expense of subject separation, higher ISOs, dim light focus acquisition, and, teleconverter utility. The 500mm f/5.6PF lens is revolutionary and compelling; its upsides far outweigh its downsides for users needing a light, portable, sharp telephoto that is hand holdable. It is a game changer for many wildlife photographer.
Im glad that you emphasized how well the lens handles compared to the Nikkor 200-500; the 500mm PFs lighter weight AND the tapering design (with much narrower grip diameter) make it nicer and easier to hold in the hand than the 200-500 lens and very quick and easy to use in the field.
The major drawbacks of the lens construction of the 500mm f/5.6 PF is that it has a fragile, two-part barrel and has a failure-prone, quick release tripod foot. This lens, in particular, should not be dropped, but design of the stock tripod foot makes it likely that it will be. The 500mm PF tends to separate at the joint between the two parts of the barrel when dropped; the joint is located about 1cm behind the switches on the lens.
I recommend that the stock tripod foot either be removed entirely (if the lens will be hand held exclusively) or replaced with a non-quick release, Arca-Swiss compatible aftermarket tripod foot. The best that I have used is the newly released Hejnar H129-500. This Arca-Swiss compatible foot will not disengage unintentionally from lens like the stock foot (and other brands of quick-release feet). The H129-500 is the only foot that extends backwards far enough to balance the heaviest Nikon bodies (with teleconverter) on a gimbal head. The H129-500 also extends farther forward than the stock foot, making it easy to grip and carry this lens by foot. The Hejnar H129-500 is made in the USA and is available direct from Hejnar Photo: www.hejnarphotostore.com/produ29-500.htm
I am following your website since it was recommeded to me by a photographer some years ago and I want to say thank you to you and all the guys putting so much time and energy in PL and for everything I learned from you starting from photography basics thourhg to purchaisng decisions.
May be I am wrong but for quite some time PL ssems to focus on all kinds of new stuff like mirrorless cameras and the corresponding lenses, which I can fully understand because it is a technology getting more and more into focus. However, there are quite a number of comments on the website saying more or less that for the nature and wildlife fraction the DSLR will most likely remain 1st choice for quite some time.
We all know that you are incredibly busy with all the things around PL and your normal life as a photographer, but against the background mentioned above it would be really great, if a PL test of the 500 PF would be done and published. After even normal nobodies like me can get the lens within days, it shouldnt be a problem for a reknowned PL photographer to get hands on the required copies these days
I just want to thank you for this article, because to me it was the one of the first available resource for reliable information about this lens from a user perspective that seemed worth being taken in consideration. As you I am still looking forward to see test results from PL itself.
I rewarded myself for the work on a project that kept me away from home and phtotography for quite some time and by buying this lens an believe it or not between the decision to do it and holding it in my hands it took just three days. Sometimes the old school way of taking the phone and calling local delers in the surrounding really helps :-)
Because I got it shortly before XMAS the time to test it was limited. But all I can say is, that it is is a REALLY nice lens and a breeze to use. I own the 500 f4 G as well and all lenses go through AF fine adjustment with both of my D750 bodies before getting to serious use and the results are great. Putting the image quality in relation to the weight and handling of the lens I would actually prefer the 500 PF in most situations, because as John Sherman wrote the priority it is often to get the shot rather than to might have got the shot with perhaps 3% more image quality. The only limitation is that the lens is 1 full stop slower than its big brother which in dim light conditions drastically reduce the number of working AF sensors on the D750 once you have to got to f8 either by stopping down or when using the use of the TC14 on it,
Regarding picture quality with TC 14 I havent had the chance to do much testing, but it looks like the picture quality is still very, very good. The only downside of it is that the number of keepers goes down when lighting conditions become difficult as the lens starts hunting earlier than it f4 counterpart with TC.
I know that this is very subjective and very much depends on the way somebody is using her/his equipment. But I had the 200-500 f5.6 and the 500 f5.6 PF here trying them side by side and I have sent back the 200-500 straight away after a couple of days. The 500 PF is my Xmas present 2019 :-)
Nice write up Chandra. After waiting for 1 year my dealer in Hyderabad, Indian rang me up few days back to say that he can deliver the 500 PF by 06 Oct.I can not wait to get my hands on it for the birding season which has juts started .We just returned from Great rann of Kutch ,India after shooting the passage migrants.Wish we had the lend before that.Both (self & wife) always like to move around for observing & shooting birds & this lens is exactly meant for that
I like John Monforts comments here are mine. I recently obtained my 500E and have only tested it in my neighborhood. (Suffering with a sciatic leg issue.)In my opinion, I think Nikon should have put a slot in the front hood so that you could rotate a 95mm CPL filter while the hood is attached. To rotate the CPL filer you have to remove the front hood. I wonder if anyone will come up with a solution.
The issue of carrying the lens by the foot is a non-issue if you properly tighten the foot screw. Steve Perry did not tighten the foot screw. He may have added that part of his video simply as a reminder to tighten the foot screw.
Next, I put a 1.4 Nikon Extender on the lens and focus was no problem but I did have to grab my monopod. Also, I added a 4 inch rail to foot on the lens for attaching to a RRS head for monopod use. Wow, I found the longer foot to be a help in hand-holding and in resting the lens on logs, fence posts, and such. Hand-holding this lens is doable depending on your age. At 72 I am able to hand-hold for several shots but in the field I will have my monopod handy. If I am going to use a tripod then my longer lens is my choice. I believe the 500E was designed to be hand-held as it is lighter and shorter than other primes and zooms in the 500mm category.
I tried the lens on a D500, and D850 with very nice results. My shooting buddy put in on his Z7 and shot it with and without the 1.4 extender for meny hours. He was impressed and offered to buy my lens telling me that being an NPS photographer I could get another. NOPE! but he is allowed to borrow my lens anytime. All the falloff, bokeh, and sharpness technical issues are not a part of my comments. For that techno stuff go to DXO and read the charts. I prefer to look at my shots on the computer screen and in prints.
Lastly, cost, OUCH 3600.00 is not a small amount by any means thank goodness the stock market is doing well. Whew, I did get this one buy the supreme commander with no problems as I used those points you get at your bank to offset the cost. For the cost conscious I am sure the Nikon 200-500 is a more cost effective lens that will produce nice results.
I was lucky to get the 500mmf5.6 this last March. I also own a number of Nikons other exotic lenses such as the 400mmf2.8 (newest version), the 180-400f4, the 300mmf4 PF, the 70-200f2.8E etc. I also have the D850, D500 and the Z7. I am also crazy about sharpness along other things such as bokeh.
Let me say first, that the 500mmf5.6 is first and foremost, a birding lens. In my case I use it for photographing birds of all types in their natural environment. Birds always present challenges in that they just do not want to get close to us humans. Unless you are in some time of bird hide or have concocted a feeding station of some sort, you will fill find it difficult to get most smaller birds to ever even begin to fill the image of your camera sensor. The large lenses do allow for wonderful photos of those elusive birds, but the weight and size make for difficulties that many of us just dont want to put up with. This lens, coupled with Nikons newest high resolution 45mp cameras, come a long way in solving this problem. Let me tell you how.
First, the 500mmf5.6 is insanely sharp. This allows for extensive cropping if the situation requires. Secondly, this lens has fantastic VR, which helps greatly if the bird is just perching in a tree in dim light. Thirdly, it is so much lighter that it can be carried easily on most any walk or hike. I cannot emphasize how important that is. This is the lens you can almost always take with you. This is the lens that lets you rediscover birds that you would never before bothered to photograph. Sure, a big prime like the 500mmf4 would also do this, but, remember, you left it at home. The lens you have with you is the lens you use, not the one on the shelf.
Wait, there is more. The 500mmf5.6 works well with the 1.4 TC. I mean really well. Yes, it will focus, and if your aim is to get that small bird on that distant branch, you can! And you can do it without a tripod. If you are lucky enough to have a Z7 mirrorless camera, you will also find that focus is actually enhanced over a D850. You are not limited to just a few focal points but most all points across the camera frame. The EVF of this camera makes it much easier to find the bird in the bush as it is much brighter than a DSLR can provide in its optical viewfinder. In short, I can now go on a walk and get bird shots that I only dreamed of getting a year ago.
Hi Chandan Thanks. Comparing the 500 PF against the Nikkor exotics is a harsh test. I find the comparisons get closer (IQ especially) comparing the 500 PF against the 400 f2.8E FL + TC14 III, where the two optics are very close. Yet we know the fast 400 performs very well with all 3 TCs (AF as well as IQ). So does the 200 f2G and 300 f2.8G (although IQ ratchets down to its highest penalty with the TC2 III see the detailed reviews here on PL by Nasim).
On the other hand, the 400 with a gripped D850 weighs nearly 5kg, compared to < 2.8kg swopping out the 3.8kg 400 for the 1.47 kg 500 PF. This really does matter in many situations. Perhaps the best comparison of the sui generis is that the 400 f2.8 is more than a single lens. You get a 560 f4, 680 f4.8 and 800 f5.6 with really excellent picture quality + AF Yet the Nikkor phase fresnel primes are unique. Too often the haptics of the 500 PF capture the fleeting moment.
Yes, the D850 has the AF edge over the Z7, but the learning curve on the Z Nikons is steep. While we wait for Nikon to upgrade the performance, much is set by one's abilities (!) Thom Hogan's detailed Zed book makes this clear, and it's money well spent to optimize Z system, AF especially.
When it comes to owning the best quality glass for the likes of sports and wildlife photography, there is nothing like prime 500mm lenses to deliver the sharpest images. There are clearly many zoom lenses on the market that cover this focal length, but when you specialize in the telephoto range, tracking down a high-quality 500mm lens is a must.
These lenses are also generally more expensive than other types due to their size, amount of glass, and specialist nature. There is the budget option of using a lens converter on shorter focal length prime lenses, which can also work extremely well, but they still need to be attached to high-end optics to get the best image quality. Plus, the aperture is usually reduced and on cheap prime lenses, images can become softer.
Therefore, lets have a closer look at the more renowned 500mm prime lenses currently on the market along with what they have to offer for the money, with features and optics. These 500mm lenses that we have reviewed are world-class, but wont break your photography budget.
Considering the high-end nature of telephoto lenses, the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sport wins out for cost and optical quality, plus its available for a range of camera mounts. Useful on both full-frame and crop sensor bodies (a 750mm equivalent focal length), the lens features 16 elements, with one SLD and two FLD elements along with a Super Multi-Layer coating.
An integrated HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) handles autofocusing, while multiple AF modes are available with focus recall settings. Manual focusing is also available via the standard AF/MF switch and incorporates an MO setting which allows manual focusing when the camera is using continuous AF.
The lens barrel is dust and splashproof and even though it has the dimensions of 144.8 x 380.3mm, the lens is well-balanced and easy to hold, making it a nice lens to work with when youre shooting distance or action shots.
Image quality on this lens is extremely sharp, with rich color definition throughout the aperture range. Considering the price point, this lens delivers a lot of quality from which you should get years of worthwhile images.
The Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM is a lens that is heavy and expensive, but is also the best option at this focal length for Canon users. Useful on both full-frame and crop sensor camera bodies (an equivalent focal length of 800mm), the lens features 16 elements arranged in 12 groups, with two fluorite and four aspherical elements, plus a Sub Wavelength coating.
Optical image stabilization has been included with up to four stops of compensation, which also incorporates three modes of use, depending on your situation. These include standard single-shot mode, panning optimized mode, and a mode that is engaged when the shutter is pressed.
A ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) works with a high-speed CPU for faster and more precise autofocusing, while they focus preset function handles focusing positions and a focus limiter switch limits the focusing to three different ranges.
The lens is a sizeable weight of 3.18kg, with a sturdy tripod collar included being built into the lens. As for overall image quality, sharpness cant be faulted throughout the aperture range, with high levels of detail and fantastic color and contrast rendition. Add in full weatherproofing, and the EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM is a great Canon solution for wildlife and sports photography.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR is another step up in price from the Canon above, but in return, you get excellent optics in a relatively lightweight package for this type of lens. Weighing in at 1460g, the lens features 19 elements arranged in 11 groups, with three ED elements, one PF (phase Fresnel) element, and Nano Crystal and Fluorine coatings.
The lens also features Nikons Vibration Reduction image stabilization system, with up to four stops of compensation. The system also has two modes for sport or quick movements and for use on a tripod. The lens body is dust and moisture resistant, with a removable tripod collar, plus the all-black lens barrel makes it very discreet for wildlife photography with a Nikon.
Plus points on this 500mm lens are the amazing image quality and fine definition of images, with also a fast and accurate autofocus and very helpful image stabilization system. The lens is obviously a pricey offering, but also one of the best lenses in its class.
When it comes to the 500mm lens range for Sony users, there is the large and impressive Sony 500mm f/4 G SSM. This lens has a constant f/4 aperture, which is dust and moisture resistant, consisting of three extra-low dispersion glass elements and a Nano AR coating.
Youre not short of controls on this lens, with an electronic focus range limiter, four focus hold buttons, beep on an off switch, and the usual Af/MF switch. Drop-in 42mm filters can be used, along with Sony 1.4x and 2x teleconverters which extend the range up to 700mm and 1000mm.
While the lens is extremely sharp at f/4, it definitely hits its stride at f/5, with extremely fine detail, colour saturation and contrast. The lens is also extremely fast to focus, produces lovely creamy bokeh, with nice separation between subject and background.
There are lots of caveats with this Bower 500mm f/6.3 lens, but more than anything its to show that this type of mirror lens is available and costs virtually nothing compared to the other lenses on this list. The Bower 500mm lens can be used on full-frame and crop sensors bodies but does require a T-Mount adapter to work with the most popular camera makes.
The compact nature comes from internal mirrors being used instead of a straightforward optical path. This provides a very compact lens, but its not exactly the greatest for ultimate image quality. The lens does, however, have multicoated optics and one of the plus points is the unique out of focus highlights it can produce, if you like that sort of thing.
As youve probably guessed for an inexpensive telephoto lens, the image quality isnt exactly fantastic, but its a great entry point to owning a 500mm prime which wont weigh you or your wallet down.
Buying into a top-quality 500mm lens means a sizeable investment if you want the best image quality at this focal length. But, in return, you will have a lens that will serve you for years and if you specialize in the super-telephoto range, these lenses can give you the top-end quality desired by professionals.
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The idea behind moon sand is that your children get to play with sand right in the comfort of your home. Plus, moon sand is moldable and doesnt dry out. So your kids can use different molds to create blocks and construct sandcastles, or just squish it in their hands!
You can also add a few drops of food coloring to make different colored moon sand. However, since water and oil do not mix, you cant use regular food coloring or liquid watercolors. Try using powdered paint, spices, or oil-based food coloring.