Since making my switch to Sony, the 200-600mm G lens has rapidly become a favourite of mine. In fact, I can’t wrap my head around how this lens is so affordable! If you’re a budding wildlife photographer I honestly cant’ think of a better lens, although I probably don’t need to tell you all of this… If you’re looking at this article then there’s a good chance you have already ordered this lens.
As soon as I get a lens like this, which I’m sure is going to be a part of my kit for a very long time, I like to accessorize it a little to help protect it and to help me maximize its potential in the field. In this article, I’ll show you the things I got for my 200-600mm G that have been most useful to me.
Wimberley MH-100 Monogimbal Head
“Whoa! What the heck is this?!” I hear you cry. This, my photography loving friends, is the MonoGimbal from Wimberley. Yes, it’s a mini gimbal head for your monopod, and you want one!
The Sony 200-600mm G isn’t a light lens if you’re going to be swinging it around all day. I like to have a monopod with me to stabilize the lens for more static subjects which allow me to use a slower shutter speed, and even when I’m waiting and not shooting, it takes the weight off my arms or shoulders.
The MonoGimbal fits to the top of your monopod using a 3/8 thread or an Arca-Swiss clamp. Then you connect your lens foot to the gimbal clamp using the screw-knob Acra-Swiss clamp. By sliding the lens back and forth in the clamp you can balance it in such a way that the lens doesn’t immediately swing forwards or backwards when you let go of it with one hand. Of course you still need to hold the monopod with the other hand to avoid a complete disaster, but the whole setup is just so smooth and fun to use! Honestly it has got me using my monopod more often and I’m sure that has been a benefit to my photography. By using the fore-aft tilt of the gimbal and the rotation of the tripod collar on the lens you have total control over lens direction.
Sony 1.4x Extender
I certainly wouldn’t recommend a 1.4x extender for all zoom lenses of this range and aperture, but in my testing I have been very impressed by the quality of the 200-600 G when paired with the Sony 1.4x extender.
This combination definitely produces useably sharp images, and certainly when paired with newer cameras like the A9 II and A7R IV, the autofocus speed remains pretty good. In fact with the A9 II I would class it as very good, and still capable of tracking things like birds in flight. Of course you should still use best extender practices as outlined in this extender guide, but this is certainly something worth considering.
LensCoat Lens Cover
I’m sure you’ll have seen LensCoat Lens Covers on the telephoto lenses of many wildlife photographers. They offer added concealment when photographing wildlife in the field – especially for big white lenses like the 200-600 – and also protection to your precious lens while you’re crawling around in the dirt for that perfect low angle shot. Or… when you smack the lens on your door while exiting the car. Yep, been there, done that.
LensCoat make all their products in a huge range of different colours and camo patterns to suit your needs or the current season. Personally I usually go for the Max5 pattern for general usage, but take a look at the options and make sure you get the one that suits the plans you have for your lens. I never use a long lens without a LensCoat Lens Cover!
The TravelCoat is a neoprene sleeve that protects the lens when its in your bag. I like to use these because it means you can really stack other items around the lens when its packed into your pack for travel. Cylindrical lenses don’t usually make great use of the cubic internal shape of a bag, but with the lens protected by a TravelCoat I can really jam extra items all around it and take much more with me in my carry-on bag.
Of course being a LensCoat product its available in many different patterns and colours. Personally I have a bit of a system going with my LensCoat gear and I like to use Digital Camo for all my Travel Coats, and Max5 camo for the actual Lens Covers.
Think Tank Photo Emergency Rain Cover – Medium
The 200-600 is weather sealed but that doesn’t mean waterproof. If you have to stand and shoot in prolonged rain or snow, you’re going to want a good rain cover. The Emergency Rain Cover (Medium) from Think Tank Photo is a great choice. There’s a clear back to allow you to see the screen and controls, and a clever attachment method that utilizes the hot shoe on the camera. At under $60 I think this is a no-brainer, and 100 times better than trying to use a garbage bag on your $4000 camera+lens setup.
One thing to be aware of is that the Medium size of the cover does not have an opening for a tripod head or gimbal on the bottom. If you think you will be using it with either of those, you should opt for the Large size of the cover which has a full length zipper on the underside to open it up for placement on a tripod or monopod. I actually have both covers, and the Medium is a slightly better fit, but the Large one has that extra feature.
Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 150
The Digital Holster series from Think Tank Photo is a useful bag that can be used as a shoulder bag for a camera and lens combination, as well as being mounted to a belt or backpack. The most recent addition to this lineup is the Digital Holster 150 which just happens to be the perfect size for the Sony 200-600 G with a camera body attached. If you’re out on a nature walk, this really might be all you need! A zippered pocket in the lid is large enough for spare batteries and a memory card wallet, while the side pocket is specifically designed for extenders. With the Sony extenders being so small, you can fit both the 1.4x and 2x extenders in there if you want to.
There’s also an elasticated pocket on the front which is a handy place to stash the aforementioned Emergency Rain Cover, and another zippered pocket that will fit a polarizing filter. Side straps even allow you to attach a monopod with a head on it like the Wimberely Monogimbal. In fact… this bag will fit you 200-600mm lens and every recommended accessory from this list Perfect!
Really Right Stuff LCF-102 Replacement Foot
At some point you are going to want to mount this lens on a tripod or monopod and that will mean making it compatible with an Arca-Swiss clamp. You can get plates that screw onto the existing lens foot, but I much prefer to use one of the replacement feet from RRS. For the Sony 200-600 G, the foot you need is the LCF-102.
Not only is this a lighter setup because you aren’t using both a foot and a plate, it also acts as a sacrificial base for the lens. Let me explain… Over the years I have found that taking care of your gear will get you a lot more money when you decided to sell it. The lens foot is usually the thing that goes on the ground first when you put your camera down, so naturally it gets most of the scratches. By using an RRS replacement foot you can save the original Sony foot from damage. When it comes time to sell, simply switch in the “mint condition” original foot and along with the protection that you got from your LensCoat your lens will be in great shape to get a great price.
Breakthrough Photography Circular Polarizer
One of the great things about the 200-600 G is that you can actually put screw-on filters on the front of it, unlike many other large telephoto lenses. Although you do need a rather large 95mm filter, you can still get these from a few different companies.
My favourite screw-on filters are from Breakthrough Photography, and I never go out shooting without one of their X4 circular polarizer filters. For wide landscapes I might take some ND filters as well, but these are of little use on a longer lens like the 200-600 G. If you’re using this lens for wildlife on the water such as whales or gators, you’ll find the CPL filter will be very useful for removing foreground highlights in out of focus areas. If bird photography is more your thing it can do wonders for making background blue skies really pop behind a perched bird, or enhancing feather colours when the sun is causing highlights on the shiniest areas.
If you need a reminder about the amazing ways in which a circular polarizer can help your photos, check out this previous article on the subject.