First outing the Nikon 800mm Z

Published March 29, 2023

After some (ok, a lot) of back and forth, I decided to swap my 500mm f/4 out for the Nikon 800mm Z f/6.3 lens. My main reasoning was that I used the 500mm f/4 with the 1.4 TC an awful lot, and 700mm f/5.6 was really comparable to 800mm f/6.3 and I could get a lighter, slightly longer lens.

So I pulled the trigger and finally the fateful day arrived. My first outing with the lens was a pond I had never been to before, but that I knew held ducks. It was an overcast day with on and off snow, but was about 40 degrees which was kinda weird. This ended up being a pain since above freezing + ice / snow = heat shimmer! Not the best way to test a lens, but I was able to mitigate it overall.

I had some good luck with goldeneye ducks and this was my first "real" image with the lens.

I had never photographed these ducks before so I was really happy with this image! I have others of a single male or female in the snow, etc, but getting the pair taking off at a pretty low angle was great.

Some observations from my first outing -- 

(1) The lens is really light and fun to use

(1a) I'm pretty out of practice so my little noodle arms still got a little sore

(2) I needed more shutter speed than I thought. This actually surprised me. I'm so used to 700mm I didn't think 800mm would be *that* different, but I had motion blur more than I thought. I guess the extra focal length combined with the high megapixel camera needs a bit more than I thought. With that said, maybe these guys were just boosting

(3) The Z9 + 800mm is just awesome. I felt like I acquired focus faster and kept the bird in the frame better even while laying down.

All in all, so far I really enjoy the lens. Hopefully more to come now that I'm (hopefully) carving out more time for the blog.

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