November 24, 2009
The Nikon 70-300mm VR is the last upgrade of the popular 70-300mm zoom from Nikon. The 70-300 D ED was a great performer for the price. In the last version Nikon has upgraded pretty much everything of the lens. It now features ED-IF, VR and AF-S. The optical formula has also been changed, from 13 elements in 9 groups (1 ED) to 17 elements in 12 groups with two ED glass elements. The AF-S is a great update, as the old ED version of the lens was quite slow on the AF. VR is another nice addition to this lens. There is no doubt that VR works, it does not replace good camera handling though. One thing all these upgrades has done though is increasing the weight of the lens. The 70-300mm D ED version was about 515g the new VR version is 745g. It is by all means still a fairly lightweight lens, especially if you compare it to the pro alternatives.
|| 17 elements in 12 groups (two ED glass elements)
||34°20’ - 8°10’ (35mm/FX) [22°50’ - 5°20’ (Nikon DX format)]
|Minimum focus distance:
|| 1.5m (4.9 ft.)
||67mm Snap-on front lens cap (LC-67)
Rear lens cap LF-1
Bayonet hood HB-36
Flexible lens pouch (CL-1022)
80 x 143.5mm / 3.1 x 5.6in
|| 745g / 1.6lb
|| 9 rounded blades
- Performance, Contrast and sharpness is great throughout the zoom range(on the D3 the corners needs some stopping down).
- VR, works and on a tele-photo lens like this it helps out a bunch.
- AF-S focus is quite a bit faster then the older ED version. It also makes the lens compatible with all the Nikon Dslr's on the market.
- Size. Compact lens, should fit in most bags/backpacks.
- IR performance. No hot-spot was detectable at any aperture.
- No DOF scale, as usually with AF zooms the lens does not come with a Depth Of Field scale.
- 300mm. It is still a bit soft at 300mm and wide open. It is far better then the D ED version, stopping down to f/8 and performance is more then acceptable, both on the DX format as well as the FX format.
- Filter size. Not a huge problem these days, unless you are a heavy filter user. It would be nice to see a more consistent filter size between the lenses though.
- Zoom and focus rings are switched around compared to the "old" days.
The 70-300mm VR is without a doubt a great upgrade over the Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED The new VR version outperforms the older one without a problem. It's sharper, has better contrast, has VR, and the rubber seal around the mount of the lens. As far as CA is concerned the lens controls this very well. You might see some on the long end of the zoom in high contrast situations. I only saw this in a few of my test pictures. The D3 pretty much took care of it 99% of the times. The lens starts softening up due to diffraction around f/16, it doesn't really bother me un til f/22. Either add some sharpening in camera or in post processing and you can get ok results even on f/22. IR performance is quite good, no hot-spot at any aperture and focus shift is on the low side. To get the most out of the lens, stop it down to f/5.6 on 70mm and f/8 on 300mm.
This lens is so close to perfect, on the FX format there is some softness in the corners at wide apertures this is the main reason for the 4/5 on the performance on the FX format.
If you are looking for a modestly priced tele zoom with great performance, the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED should be on the top of the list.
This lens really delivers, not much more that can be said about it.
Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED $519.95 USD*
Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days(including the lenses used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.
Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Price: $164.95 USD
Sigma AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Price: $209.00 USD
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Price: $729.95 USD
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Price: $729.95 USD
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Price: $719.95 USD
Nikon AF 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D. Price From: $1,079.95 USD
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8D G-AFS ED-IF VR. From: $1,949.95 USD
Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Price: $2,319.00 USD
*Prices and rebates are subject to change. Listed price is from March 7, 2010
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