Osprey shot with very old lens

I have this very old Nikkor mirror telephoto lens – 500mm, F8 (fixed, of course) manual focus (of course).
I decided to see what it could do mounted on my Nikon D7000, because I like its compactness and light weight. Also, I got some great shots with it back in the day. Also, I like the way the envious looks I get when I remove the leather lens cap. Yes, leather, with hand stitching. Also, an equivalent focal length of 750mm is quite handy for shooting birds, and f8 at that focal length is not to be sneezed at.

Anyway, here is the result, and I am quite pleased with it in every respect. However: we are definitely needing a tripod. The lens has a mount, but I had to remove it because some of the camera body protrusions prevent it from being mounted. So, I have to use the tripod mount on the camera body, which works out OK. However: I have two heads. One is a heavy duty Manfrotto pan and zoom head. Nice and solid and smooth, but it can’t point up nearly far enough. The other is a Manfrotto pistol grip with a ball. It is not steady and it is not smooth. I think I hate it. It, also, won’t point high enough.

So I am thinking to get either a gimbal type head, or a nice big solid conventional ball head. I am worried about the gimbal head, it seems I will have operate the camera upside down? I could live with that, I suppose. I am more worried about the freedom of movement on the ball head.

Any advice would be appreciated.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any and All

Any pertinent technical details:

Nikon D7000 with 500 mm Nikkor Mirror Telephoto at F8, 1/1000

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

This is a nice sharp image of an Osprey. It is not a Bald Eagle.

You question on a tripod / head. If the biggest lens you’re going to use is the 500mm f/8 reflex, you don’t need a gimbal head. That’s just overkill. I don’t understand your comment about operating the camera upside down with a gimbal. A solid Ball Head with an Arca Swiss mount will be enough. If you are planning to get a conventional 500mm f/4 and up size lens, then you should consider a gimbal.


I like the position of the Osprey in the shot and it looks like you hit focus. Looks like the lighting conditions were harsh which is hard to deal with. I’m wondering how much of a crop you did from the original.

There are several mobile apps for identifying birds. Audubon has one. But my favorite is an online website by Cornell University which you can find here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

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Thank for correcting the identification, and also for the advice on the tripod head. I misunderstood the way the way the lens mounts on the gimbal, hence my upside down comment.

Thank you for the advice on identification. I still struggle with the North American birds, having spent most of my birding in Southern Africa.

Here is the original uncropped image for comparison

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Your crop looks good and you managed to get a fairly nice image with this old mirror lens. You might be able to get a little more details from those shadows with post processing…Jim

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Good detail and well composed/cropped. Bonus getting the fish.

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Nice sharp image, Pieter. I remember reading some of the bird photography books from the era when these were the only really long telephotos available. They’re rather neglected now, but this shows that they can still produce some fine results.

With that lens, I think a good ball head would work fine. If you want a gimbal effect you can add on the Wimberley Sidekick, though if you’re mounting directly to the camera you’d probably want to use an L-bracket.

Thank you, Dennis. I am going to start with the ball head, and evaluate my next step(s) based on my experience and results. Very useful feedback from all. Thanks again.