Golden Monkeys of Volcanoes National Park – part 2: Nikon D4S & 600mm f/4E FL combo

Usually there are a good couple of weeks between my posts, or (unfortunately) sometimes even months: as I’m only a part-time (pro) photographer I do need to spend some time earning enough money to pay for that (too) expensive Nikon equipment… In this case I went through all my Golden Monkeys, both shot with the D500 and the D4S in one go, so therefore the short timeframe between my previous post and this one.

In my previous article I wrote about the D500/new 70-200mm f/2.8E FL combo, pretty much the latest & greatest of what Nikon has to offer. Yet the full frame D4S with the 600mm f/4E FL super telephoto lens isn’t too bad either. In fact, this may be the very best Nikon combo for wildlife photography, although I wouldn’t mind to have the few extra megapixels of the D5 (not its poorer DR at base ISO!). The bokeh on the 70-200mm f/2.8E FL is very, very nice, yet I was even more impressed with the bokeh in the images shot with the 600mm. There is just a different ‘soul’ to these images; bit difficult to explain…


But, before we go there, let’s have a look at the typical set of camera gear you can consider when going on a safari trip. On the left, a D750 with the 70-200mm zoom this will take care of any closeup shots or nice landscapes. In the middle, the D500 with the 200-500mm zoom attached. This set is a bit like your ‘insurance policy’: it will cover all sorts of animals within all sorts of ranges, however it’s not a ‘fast’ combination: the 200-500mm is only f/5.6 and the D500 is a crop frame and will cost you that bit of extra noise. So like with any DSLR/lens combo, there is a ‘ price’. And on the right your ‘flagship’ combo: full frame DSLR, low noise, very high DR across the ISO range, and a fast, telephoto prime/pro-lens with that: a 600mm f/4. This combo is pretty much the best there is, yet the ‘price’ is that this works better for static rather than fast-moving (from/towards you) objects, where you’ll have to revert to your backup DSLR and zoom combination.


Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D4S, f/4, 1/800 s., ISO 320, -0.7 exp. comp.

Last but not least, you’ll need a very good bag to help you store all that gear in; in my case the F-stop Sukha which stores just about anything. One additional comment on that one: forget about that bag being waterproof… When I walked around in the Rwandese jungle in torrential rain, water absolutely entered the bag and got some of my equipment wet. You’ll need a special waterproof cover to do the job, just saying… Oh, and very last and certainly not least: you’ll need a nice hat for that needed protection from the sun, which is positioned just about right on top of you in Tanzania or Rwanda at noon. Because of their soft edge, boonie hats are really useful in that you don’t need to rotate them on your head like you have to with a baseball cap for example, when switching from landscape to portrait mode.


Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D4S, f/4, 1/800 s., ISO 400, -0.7 exp. comp.

On some of my previous images I wasn’t always happy with the bokeh of the new 600mm f/4E lens. However for whatever reason, in this case I was totally impressed. Perhaps it was the ‘ideal’ range between the foreground (monkeys) and background subject (leaves), but I just really liked how to 600 made the monkeys come out against the soft and blurry jungle background. What a lens!


Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D4S, f/4, 1/800 s., ISO 250, -0.7 exp. comp.


Nikon 600mm f/4E FL on Nikon D4S, f/4, 1/1000 s., ISO 280, -1.0 exp. comp.

Stay tuned for my next post!

Please note that these images are protected by copyright and are not allowed to be used in any commercial way. If you’re interested in personal use only (like using as personal desktop/tablet/mobile background) then that’s fine; however any other use is prohibited by law.

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2 Comments on “Golden Monkeys of Volcanoes National Park – part 2: Nikon D4S & 600mm f/4E FL combo

  1. Hi Henk

    Amazing pictures!

    I totally agree, that the 600 FL is just somehow magical.

    Looking forward to your next post ;-)

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