There has been one lens in the Nikon catalog that I've been salivating over, for the past five years. Just recently there has come to light an opportunity to get that particular lens. Needless to say, it will be an investment (not an easy investment, that is...as $6500.00 is not cheap, but still it is $4,100.00 less than I would have paid going for a brand new AF-S VR 600mm f/4 G IF-ED lens. Even without the VR, I should have no problems, as the Nikon 600mm f/4 D ED-IF II lens is far too heavy to hand-hold for more than thirty seconds at a time. This particular lens came up for sale as a result of a friend picking up an 800mm f/5.6 FL VR G ED-IF, Nikon's brand new 800/5.6 lens, thus having to put his 600mm f/4 for sale. I just could not pass up on the opportunity as the monies saved will go towards the purchase of a 300mm f/2.8 VRII which is the only other wildlife oriented lens that I planned to pick up in my wildlife photography arsenal. My friend has taken absolutely superb photos with the Nikon 600mm f/4 D ED-IF II lens and I'm sure that I will be able to handle the complexities of super telephoto photography with it. This lens will be well-cared for in its new home and I certainly hope that the photos that I take will be of close calibre.
Of course, this lens will require a substantial tripod and gimbal to be used properly in the field. The Gitzo brand of tripods - the Systematic tripod system is the benchmark for the type of support required by lenses of this size. The particular tripod (the legs) that I plan to place the 600mm on is this: a Gitzo GT5542LS.
To balance the 600mm f/4 lens on top of the tripod, the best head to use would be a gimbal, either a Wimberley gimbal or a Jobu BWG-Pro 2 gimbal head. The gimbal is pictureed here. Why? Because of the balance required by placing a large supertelephoto lens on top of a spindly three-legged contraption requires the balance point of the lens to be in its center. In order to do this effectively the gimbal allows the lens to rotate around its axis. bringing the weight of the lens balanced on its leg mount directly down on the center of the tripod thus balancing the lens so that it doesn't tip over and crash to the ground, thus necessitating a very costly repair bill (needless to say, I could not afford to pay that kind of a repair bill at this moment).
This lens has been the culmination of a lot of years of hoping that the "fates" would align. And in the end, it has all been worth it. And it is thanks to a friend who has allowed me to plan a purchase arrangement that will benefit my photography and save me enough funds to not only purchase his lens, but add another much needed lens to my arsenal of lenses that are required for wildlife photography. I owe him a great deal of gratitude for his contribution to my photography.