Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nikon 200-500 F5.6E VR Zoom

Nikon 200-500 F5.6E VR Weight : 2300 gms 

Last autumn, Nikon introduced the 200 -500 zoom at a very attractive price point. Nikon has a professional model 200-400 F4 lens which sells at around  $7000 so this lens is an attractive proposition for wild life and sports shooters. It gives up one stop as compared to the pro lens but is much lighter and costs a great deal less. The competition in this range comes from Tamron and Sigma both of whom have lenses going upto 600 mm with a 6.3 aperture and are a shade lighter. On a DX body the lens becomes a super tele going upto 750mm without a tele convertor. Photographers considering this lens should also look at the combination of the new 300 F4 E VR with TC 1.4 which would be excellent for mammals but a little short for birds.

 The Sigma has two lenses in the same range - S for Sports and C for Contemporary. 
The Sports  is designed to offer a higher level of optical precision and contains 24 elements in 16 groups, with two FLD and three SLD elements to control aberrations and distortions. It has a minimum aperture of f/22, minimum focusing distance of 8.5', and maximum magnification ratio of 1:5. The lens measures 4.8 x 11.4", and weighs 6.3 lb.

Contemporary version contains 20 elements in 14 groups, with one FLD element and three SLD elements. It has a minimum aperture of f/22, minimum focus distance of 9.2', and maximum magnification ratio of 1:5 and shaves some dimensions off the Sports version to measure 4.1 x 10.2".

The pros and cons of the Nikon  as compared to the Sigma and Tamron zooms of similar range are:

The Tamron and Sigma have a greater zoom range 150-600 compared to the Nikon 200-500
Both the Tamron and the Sigma C lens are cheaper by around 20% as compared to the Nikon
The Tamron is the shortest in length of the three 258mm compared to 268mm of the other two lenses though the difference is not significant
The Nikon has a 2.5 x zoom 

The Nikon has a fixed 5.6 aperture as compared to the F5-6.3 of the other two lenses
The Nikon focuses closer 2.2 m against 2.7m and 2.8m of the Tamron and Sigma respectively
The Nikon has weather sealing
The Nikon performs well with full frame cameras even wide open i.e. f 5.6

However, despite the pros and cons if you are a long term Nikon user and looking for wildlife and sports lens without breaking the bank then this may well be the lens for you!

Street Prices
Sigma 150-600 C $989
Sigma 150-600 S $1799
Tamron 150-600 $1069
Nikon 200-500 $1397


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Phyang to Hundar Trek | Videos

Snowfield below Lasermo La pass
South Col Expeditions trekked the unspoilt route from Phyang to Hundar in September 2015. Here are some videos from the trek covering the view from Lasermo La and the crossing of a stream near Nuru Dok on the first day's walk.

For more information on this trek do visit:

Part I

Part II

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nar Phu Trek | Video from Kang La Pass (5320m)

This is a  short video shot from just below the pass of Kang La which links the valley of Nar to the Annapurna circuit in Nepal.

South Col Expeditions trekked this route in October 2015.

The list of peaks from Kangla is given in this screenshot below:

For the detailed route of the Nar Phu trek do visit

For photographs of the region do visit

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tibet | February 2016

There were  two news items recently in the Tibet Post which merit attention.

The first published on 31st January 2016 mentioned that Tibet will be closed to foreign tourists from February 25th and possibly reopen on March 30th. Though the report does not specifically mention this it seems that China is not wanting any tourists in Tibet around March 8th which is the anniversary of the 2008 protests which left 150 people killed. There is also likely to be a huge security build up in Tibet by Chinese troops during this time.
The link to the article is below:

The second news item reported that the Chinese have ordered the Tibetans to stop displaying the photos of the Dalai Lama.  The notice put up by the Chinese is below:

The report mentions that:

"Tibetan shopkeepers in Drakgo County, eastern Tibet (Ch: Luhuo County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) have been ordered by Chinese authorities to hand over all photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. "Anyone violating these directives will be severely punished according to the law," Ngawang Chenrab told the Tibet Post International, citing local sources".

The link to the report is below:

Sadly the situation is Tibet is not looking good and one hopes that it does not spiral out of control.

For more news on Tibet please do visit:


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