This will pick up where Part 1 left off. I've only had opportunity to get out a few times since then due to work and weather but I'll say right up front that I'm enjoying this lens quite a lot for its focal range, image rendering, sharpness, and focus accuracy.
The days I've been out shooting have been very overcast and sometimes with a lot of fog, too. Regardless, focusing on my intended subjects has not been a problem at all and each time I view the image on the camera's display I constantly say, "wow", unless I mess up the shot. In these less than ideal conditions the lens has hunted a couple of times but once I reacquire focus it locks on and does the job.
These trumpeter swan were shot in very foggy, dark conditions but they came fairly close so as to mitigate the effects of the fog. The lens had no problem with focus acquisition or tracking. One of the things I mentioned in Part 1 about being curious over was birds-in-flight (BIF) and the ability of the lens to keep up. That has not been a problem as I now have several BIF and have been quite pleased with the results.
Of course, the birds have been bigger than song birds thus far because that is what there are most of right now. These photos of the swan shows the dark, foggy conditions this particular day. No enhancement of the image has been done. If you look close enough you can just make out the trees in the background of both. I heard these swan well before I was able to see them and had but a brief window in which to capture them before they disappeared again but had no trouble with the lens in doing so.
This Ring-billed gull was among the numerous tundra swan and provided an opportunity to shoot a smaller bird. Again, the lens kept up admirably as long as I did my part.
I tracked this one until he made his play for a meal and acquired a series of in-focus photos in the process, however, I'll only show these two here.
This chickadee was moving around quite rapidly from stem to stem and I was able to get a lot of good images of it which proved the lens was up to the rapidly changing distances.
The frog was shot because, well, here we are in the middle of December in Ohio and the frogs are out. We are enjoying unseasonable warm weather so far this year. After the last couple brutal winters this one has been welcomed by many human and animal alike.
The turtle was photographed for the same reason as the frog. The last two years at this time we had a lot of snow and ice on the ground. Frogs and turtles were nowhere to be seen. This year, they're out in numbers so I had to record it.
And last, this woodpecker helps to show the accuracy of the lens. I purposely shot it this way because of the small window in which to obtain the image but it was not a problem. I've done this several times in different situations and have come away with a sharp image every time except one. Of course, I know the camera's focusing system plays a big role in all of this but the lens has to be able to work in conjunction with it to obtain the desired results.
Bottom line, this lens seems to be a real winner. It wasn't expected by me to be this good at the price Nikon is offering it for. From 200mm to 500mm it is sharp and renders OOF areas very well. I've got Nikon's 28-300mm from when I first got into photography 5 years ago and it gets very soft at 300mm and have read many reviews that state the same with almost all zooms so I've thought that's just the way it is with zoom lenses. It's part of the reason I've been shooting with primes almost exclusively for the last couple years. Not so with this one.
As a bonus, it pairs really well with the TC-14EII making for an effective focal length of 700mm on full-frame or 1050mm on a DX camera. The image below was shot on the D750 w/TC and flash. Yes, it was another overcast, dark and windy day. Shot handheld at 700mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 1250. Bird and feeder were swaying in the wind but the flash helped to freeze the motion. This was exported from LR with all defaults in tact save for Sharpening which I have set to 40 for almost all my image processing. When viewing this at 200% on the iMac I find no fault at all. It is sharp and once again the OOF areas are smooth and pleasant.
Two more things before signing off. 1) All shots have been wide open at f/5.6 throughout the focal range or f/8 when paired with the TC and I've seen no reason to have to stop down to improve image quality. 2) I've seen some reviewers refer to this lens as a "beast". While it is certainly larger than the 300mm f/4 I've used for the last few years I'm actually surprised how small and light it is given its focal range. It's easy to handhold and carries well on a holster all day. I have no complaints.