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Spencer Clark's picture

Which Lens for wildlife? 400 or 600 Prime?

I have finally saved up enough money to purchase my first big prime lens. I am stuck between a Sony 400 f2.8 or the Sony 600 f4. I would like the best all-around lens, which I feel the 400 would be, but I'm not sure about wanting to use teleconverters to get the reach the 600 has with losing a stop of light. I don't want to regret not having the reach a 600 has.

Does anyone have any experience with either or any recommendations? Can you still easily fill a frame with the 400 rather than the 600? I have trips planned to Antarctica and Africa. Thanks for the help everyone!


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Manuel Estacio's picture

I use a 600 which works great for me. Reach is more important for me as I want to distance myself from wildlife - especially when shooting apex animals like bears or wolves. I also use a second body with a 70-200 2.8 for when animals are too close. With a digital crop, I get 300mm 2.8 effectively. Eitherway, 600 or 400 primes will blow you away. They're awesome. Good luck!

Spencer Clark's picture

Thank you for your insight. I will be running my A7r4 as my backup so I can crop in with those 61 megapixels. I will use the 100-400GM as my secondary so I'm thinking 600 may be the way to go. Thanks!

Normunds Bartkevics's picture

I have Nikon 600mm f4 Now i have for 2 months. Definitely good investment. Traveling is a problem. Big and super expensive. Get 600mm . You can always return

Spencer Clark's picture

I'm hoping it'll fit into my Peak Design Backpack with the large packing cube. The dimensions look like it'll fit in theory, but we'll see when it comes in person.

Tom Reichner's picture

If I were you, I would get the 600mm for my big prime lens, and then get the 100-400mm lens for times when I need more versatility and not so much focal length.

I used a 400mm f2.8 as my main big prime from 2007 to 2014, and I regret having done so. I would have gotten a lot more quality wildlife photos during those years if I had had a 600mm instead.

If you get the big 600mm f4, you will probably find yourself taking most of your images with the 1.4 teleconverter on it, and then you will say to yourself, "I am so glad I got the 600mm instead of the 400mm!"

nitinchandra's picture

Personally, I would prefer more reach. If you plan on getting close to larger animals, then, the 600mm would be too long. Might be an idea to have something shorter around for those moments.

Ziggy Stardust's picture

I faced the same choice and opted for the FE 400 2.8.

There are example shots on flickr of the 1.4 and 2x TC with it and the results are plenty sharp. https://www.flickr.com/photos/154088944@N03 - you need to cut and paste the address.

So that gives you 3 focal lengths. 400 is great for when you can get close and 800 is great, and still handholdable, for BiF.

Brian Allan's picture

Have you taken a serious look at the FE 200-600? I use one with a 1.4x teleconverter and it is excellent!

Ziggy Stardust's picture

Have you compared the IQ with one of these primes coupled with a TC?

Ziggy Stardust's picture

Murphy-Racey addresses the choice in a vid.
For birds I've found little problem so far getting background blur with the 400 using positioning.