Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Review

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is a high-performance telephoto lens that was created for use by professional photographers and people who are passionate about wildlife photography. It blends cutting-edge optics with cutting-edge technology to give superb image quality along with a wide range of application possibilities. This lens is ideal for photographers who want to maintain image quality without sacrificing portability due to its lightweight and small construction.

In this in-depth analysis, we are going to delve into a variety of aspects of the lens, including its performance, autofocus system, vibration reduction, build quality, handling and ergonomics, image stabilization, shooting experience, image quality, teleconverter compatibility, comparison with its rivals. In addition, we will go through the benefits and drawbacks of using the lens, as well as its cost and availability, and we will finish off by providing an overview of its primary characteristics.

Key Specs

  • Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal Length: 500mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: f/32
  • Format: FX/35mm
  • Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 3°10′
  • Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 5°00′
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.18x
  • Lens Elements: 19
  • Lens Groups: 11
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
  • ED Glass Elements: 3
  • Phase Fresnel: 1
  • Fluorine Coat: Yes
  • Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  • Internal Focusing: Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 9.8 ft. (3.0 m) from the focal plane
  • Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto
  • Filter Size: 95mm
  • Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  • Compatible with Nikon AF-S Teleconverters: Yes (refer to the product manual for details)
  • Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 4.2 in. (106 mm) x 9.3 in. (237 mm)
  • Approx. Weight: 51.2 oz. (1460 g)


In a wide range of shooting settings, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens consistently offers superb performance. Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass components are used in its optical design, which helps to limit chromatic aberrations efficiently and ensures high-resolution pictures with superb contrast and color accuracy.

Additionally, the lens is coated with Nikon’s cutting-edge Nano Crystal Coat, which considerably cuts down on ghosting and flare produced by stray light. As a consequence, the photographs produced by this process are crisp and unblemished by unsightly artifacts.

Autofocus System

Because it is quick, precise, and trustworthy, the autofocus (AF) technology of the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens makes it an excellent choice for photographing subjects that are moving quickly. It makes use of a Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which guarantees a speedy and silent focusing performance. This is especially helpful while capturing sporting events or animals since it keeps the photographer undetected.

In addition, the lens has a full-time manual focus override, which provides photographers with the ability to make fine corrections even while the autofocus mode is engaged. Additionally, the autofocus tracking feature of the lens is quite efficient, and it is able to keep the subject in focus with remarkable precision even when the subject is moving in an unpredictable manner.

Vibration Reduction

The revolutionary Vibration Reduction (VR) technology that is integrated into the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is a game-changer for photographers because it enables them to take handheld photographs with increased stability and confidence. Because the VR system can provide up to 4.5 stops of image stabilization, it can correct for camera shake and provide clear photos even when the shutter speed is set to a slower value.

This function is especially helpful when working in low light or when employing longer focal lengths since it allows for more precise focusing. The performance of the virtual reality system is fluid and seamless, which enables photographers to capture precise details and reduces the possibility of blurred photos produced by shaking hands or unsteady shooting settings.

Build Quality

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens features a sturdy construction that is not only weather-sealed but also very long-lasting. During lengthy shooting sessions, its lightweight design, which is made possible by the utilization of Phase Fresnel (PF) lens elements, makes it much simpler to manipulate and transport the camera.

The structure of the lens is made of magnesium alloy, which not only keeps the lens’s weight to a minimum but also gives it a greater overall strength. In addition, the lens barrel is resistant to dust and moisture, which ensures dependable operation in harsh outdoor settings. Because dust, water, and smudges are repelled by the fluorine coating applied to the lens’s front element, cleaning and maintaining the lens is much simpler.

Handling and Ergonomics

Comfort for the user was a primary focus throughout the development of the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens. It has a design that is nicely balanced, and the focus and zoom rings are positioned in an accessible manner for simple manipulation. Because of the ring’s silky smoothness and pinpoint accuracy, photographers are able to make minute adjustments with relative ease.

In addition to this, the lens features programmable function buttons that provide direct access to often-adjusted parameters. Because the tripod collar can be removed, there is more shooting freedom available, as the lens may be mounted on a tripod or used hand-held. Because of its small size and low weight, the lens is a delight to hold and transport, which is especially beneficial while working long hours behind the camera or going on extended trips.

Image Stabilization

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens boasts very exceptional image stabilization features, making it an excellent choice for professional photographers. Because it is able to correct camera motion properly, the VR system enables photographers to shoot at slower shutter speeds without sacrificing the quality of their images.

When shooting handheld or in other circumstances when using a tripod is impractical or impossible, this function is quite helpful. Image stabilization offers clear and blur-free photographs, making it possible for photographers to confidently capture critical moments in a variety of situations, including when capturing animals, sports, and other fast-paced subjects.

Shooting Experience

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens offers a delightful shooting experience that will please both experienced photographers and those just starting out in the field. Because of its lightweight construction, the lens is very simple to handle and carry, which helps to reduce the amount of tiredness experienced during long shooting sessions. The lightning-fast and pinpoint-accurate focusing mechanism enable exact subject tracking, and the user-configurable function buttons facilitate easy access to several key settings.

Because VR technology guarantees stability and clarity, it enables photographers to push the limits of their creative potential in a wide variety of shooting environments. The lens provides an immersive shooting experience that encourages photographers to explore new angles and produce breathtaking photos, regardless of whether they are photographing sporting events or photographing animals in action.

Image Quality

The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens has an impressively high standard for the picture quality it generates. Images that are crisp, high-resolution, and have great contrast and color accuracy may be obtained as a result of the innovative optical design of the lens, which incorporates components of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and Nano Crystal Coat.

The lens has low levels of chromatic aberration, distortion, and flare, which helps to ensure that the captured photos are accurate representations of the real world. The lens creates appealing bokeh, which consists of out-of-focus patches that are silky smooth and nicely isolate the subject of the photograph. It is possible for photographers to get a shallow depth of field and excellent backdrop separation by using this lens, which works very well even when the aperture is wide open.

Teleconverter Compatibility

Because it is compatible with a selection of Nikon teleconverters, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens offers photographers an increased focal length as well as more shooting options. When combined with a teleconverter that is compatible with the lens, such as the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III or the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III, the focal length of the lens may be effectively extended, enabling photographers to record more distant scenes in greater detail.

It is important to keep in mind that the usage of teleconverters might have a somewhat negative influence on the maximum aperture and focusing performance of the lens. However, the lens is able to keep its high standard of picture quality even when used in conjunction with teleconverters, making it a flexible choice for photographers who require a longer reach.

Comparison with Competitors

When compared to other lenses in its class, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens stands out because of its lightweight and small construction. As a result, it is much simpler to manipulate and carry about, even during extended periods of photography. Its optical performance, which includes the use of components made of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and Nano Crystal Coat, assures that the image quality will be of an exceptional standard with a minimum of aberrations and flare.

The autofocus system of the lens is both quick and precise, and the Vibration Reduction (VR) technology offers superb picture stabilization. The combination of these attributes makes the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens an appealing option for photographers who are looking for a telephoto lens that offers a high level of performance.


Mount TypeNikon F-Bayonet
Focal Length500mm
Maximum Aperturef/5.6
Minimum Aperturef/32
Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)3°10′
Maximum Angle of View (FX-format)5°00′
Maximum Reproduction Ratio0.18x
Lens Elements19
Lens Groups11
VR (Vibration Reduction) Image StabilizationYes
Diaphragm Blades9
Nano Crystal CoatYes
ED Glass Elements3
Phase Fresnel1
Fluorine CoatYes
Super Integrated CoatingYes
AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)Yes
Internal FocusingYes
Minimum Focus Distance9.8 ft. (3.0 m) from focal plane
Focus ModeAuto, Manual, Manual/Auto
Filter Size95mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-on
Compatible with Nikon AF-S TeleconvertersYes (refer to the product manual for details)
Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length)4.2 in. (106 mm) x 9.3 in. (237 mm)
Approx. Weight51.2 oz. (1460 g)

Pros and Cons


  • Designed to be lightweight and small for increased ease of transportation.
  • Excellent visual quality, boasting both sharpness and color fidelity throughout.
  • A subject may be tracked very well using a lightning-fast and precise focusing mechanism.
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) works well for the purpose of image stabilization.
  • Quality construction that is both weatherproof and long-lasting, making it suitable for use outside.
  • Buttons with programmable functions that allow for fast access to the settings.
  • Enhanced versatility thanks to compatibility with a selection of Nikon’s teleconverters.


  • The price point is quite costly in comparison to other lenses with a focal length that is comparable.
  • The ability to photograph in low light may be restricted due to the maximum aperture of f/5.6.
  • When utilizing teleconverters, there is a noticeable decrease in the performance of the focusing system.

Price and Availability

The high-quality construction and cutting-edge optics of the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens are reflected in the lens’s premium price point, which is offered to consumers. It is designed to meet the needs of professional photographers as well as photography amateurs who need the extraordinary range and image quality that a telephoto lens can deliver.

To determine whether the lens is currently in stock and available for purchase, it is best to verify with an authorized Nikon retailer or an online store.


An incredible telephoto lens that excels in performance, picture quality, and adaptability, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is a wonderful addition to any photographer’s arsenal. Because of its lightweight and small design, it is an ideal companion for photographers who value portability but do not want to sacrifice image quality. Images that are crisp, high-resolution, and have great color accuracy may be obtained with the help of the lens’s cutting-edge optics, which include elements made of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and a Nano Crystal Coat.

The extremely quick and accurate focusing mechanism, in conjunction with the technology known as Vibration Reduction (VR), allows for extremely fine subject tracking and picture stabilization. The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is a top choice for professionals and enthusiasts seeking a dependable and high-performance telephoto lens for wildlife, sports, and other telephoto photography applications due to its durable build quality, customizable function buttons, and compatibility with teleconverters.

Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR FAQs

Q. What makes the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens stand out?
A. The Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens stands out for its lightweight and compact design, making it highly portable without compromising on image quality. It utilizes advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements and Nano Crystal Coat, to deliver exceptional image sharpness, contrast, and color accuracy. The lens also features Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization, allowing for handheld shooting with greater stability. Additionally, the lens is compatible with select Nikon teleconverters, providing photographers with extended reach and versatility.
Q. Is the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens suitable for wildlife photography?
A. Yes, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is well-suited for wildlife photography. With its long focal length of 500mm, it allows photographers to capture distant subjects with great detail. The lens’s fast and accurate autofocus system, combined with the Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization, helps in tracking and capturing fast-moving wildlife. The lens’s lightweight design also makes it easier to handle during long shooting sessions in the field.
Q. Can the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens be used for sports photography?
A. Yes, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is a suitable choice for sports photography. Its long focal length allows photographers to capture the action from a distance, while the fast and accurate autofocus system ensures sharp and precise focus on fast-moving subjects. Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization also helps in reducing camera shake when shooting handheld, enabling photographers to capture clear and crisp images of athletes in motion.
Q. What is the minimum focus distance of the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens?
A. The minimum focus distance of the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is 9.8 ft. (3.0 m) from the focal plane. This distance allows photographers to capture close-up shots of subjects that are within this range, such as small wildlife or details in a scene.
Q. Is the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens compatible with teleconverters?
A. Yes, the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens is compatible with select Nikon teleconverters. By using compatible teleconverters, such as the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III or TC-20E III, photographers can extend the focal length of the lens, providing even greater reach for capturing distant subjects. It’s important to refer to the product manual for specific details and compatibility guidelines when using teleconverters with this lens.



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