Review: A Week with the 28-300 VR (D800)

Started Jul 15, 2012 | Discussions thread
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InTheMist
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Review: A Week with the 28-300 VR (D800)
Jul 15, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Questions about the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR seem to be very common here, so I thought I would write a mini-review.

I bought this lens because I have vacation coming up and I don't want to take the whole trilogy with me.

About Me

I'm just a normal photography enthusiast who found weaknesses with the D7000, which I love and still use as a backup for things like extreme sports where you don't want to be changing lenses. I always have a camera with me in case something interesting happens. I have about 8000 shutter activations on my D800 and take pictures every day. I don't print big often, but share photos that I consider art on my Flickr page, and print small 5x7 prints often. I'm not a prime snob, but I do own a 50 1.8 and 85 1.8 because I know when they're the best way to get the shot.

Sharpness

Sharpness is a common question, and we all know you need the best glass to make the D800 really shine. Lets get this out of the way, the 28-300 isn't a really sharp lens and the corners are mush. There is also a lot of coma.

However, as an every-day walkaround lens, it gets the job done, and can be pressed into more demanding service in an emergency. Obviously, one should get to know a new lens, so I took it last weekend along with my normal 70-200 VRII to test it out during some motorcross.

Focus Speed and Accuracy

Well, as you could see from the previous images, it works pretty good, surprisingly. Its not blindly fast, and it struggles in low-light. Its probably the only lens that I have that with the D800, it hunts and sometimes just gives up. Still, I was able to get some decent results when the light is decent.

Brightness
Yes, its dark. It vignettes and bokeh is kind of ugly.

Color
It seems OK, but there is really horrible coma.

Size and Mechanical Quality

I have to say, I'm not disappointed by the mechanical quality, but I would have liked to have a locking hood. Speaking of hood, it extends a LONG way at 300mm. And its a BIG lens. This is not a lightweight lens. Also, it has a lock at 28mm because if you leave it hanging on sling, it can extend on its own.

Vibration Reduction
Yep, this has modern, agressive VR - probably the best feature of this lens.

Some Positive Surprises

  • It can focus quite close. I like that.

  • It has both normal and active VR. I should have known, but I wasn't expecting that.

Conclusion

So, who is this lens for? In my opinion it is for someone who can have (or has chosen to have) only one camera on them for various reasons when you don't know what kind of shot you'll have: daily walkaround, vacation, grab and go.

  • Would I take it with me if I had planned to go somewhere to shoot something particular? No. I would take something better: primes, f2.8 or f4 zoom in that case.

  • Would I take it with me if I was going somewhere cool and maybe I would get a chance to shoot? Yes.

  • Would I take it on vacation? Of course.

  • Would I take it to a museum or concert or dance recital? No. Way too dark and slow to focus in poor light.

  • Would I take it for my backup body if shooting outdoors? Yes.

  • Would I take it on a casual photo walk around the neighborhood or on a hike? Yes, in the day time.

Unlike a certain guy with the initials KR, I do not believe that this should be your primary lens for the D800, but it is a great do-it-all lens when you can't, didn't, or won't take f1.4, f1.8, f2.8 or f4 main lenses, or changing lenses or bodies is not an option.

Is it lightweight, sharp, bright, flare and distortion free and fast to focus? Nope. Does it do what I expected and am I keeping it for times when a compromise is in order? Absolutely

Here are some more samples:

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 InTheMist's gear list:InTheMist's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon 1 AW1 Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED +9 more
Nikon D7000 Nikon D800 Pentax K-r
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