NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Started Aug 19, 2017 | User reviews
Wolffn Regular Member • Posts: 169
NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
2

As mentioned in a previous review of the $399 AF-P version, I bought this lens on the advice of a salesman at a well known store.

When I put it on my D3400 it worked well mechanically. However I had trouble getting the expected sharpness. Sometimes good but many times not good.

I compared it over an extra long distance with my old Coolpix P510 that has a 1000mm equivalent focal length. This lens did not come near the P510 for sharpness. It would focus extra fast but the end result was very blurry. I suppose it's not fair to judge a 300mm lens against a 1000mm lens at long distance but it seemed to me that I had wasted my money.

The problem for me was that I got variable results at 50 meters; some good, many bad images.

As I then read the reviews I learnt that this particular iteration of Nikon 70-300 was tested and found to lack sharpness at the edges when extended to 300mm. Ken Rockwell in particular noted this, as well as other not so well known people who suggested that putting it on a DX body might help. It didn't on my D3400.

Some people said it's good to 200mm. Well! if that's what it does, as far as I'm concerned it's of no more use for 300mm than my used A-FS DX 55-200 VRII that I bought for $129.

I know that 300mm on a DX is equal to 450mm on an FX; but the issue is this lens doesn't give it's all at maximum extension. Or rather; it's all isn't enough for me.

Note that my main use of a 300mm focal length is for bird photography. Most birds in USA are rather small hence I mostly operate at full zoom.

After 15 days, the maximum allowed, I took it back and replaced it with the AF-P version which does give good results at full zoom and is a lot smaller and lighter.

Why would a manufacturer make a product to a certain specification and I (and many others) cannot get it to perform to it's stated specs?

Did we all use it incorrectly? Did I get a bad one?

I don't like giving ratings because particularly, for me it's a personal opinion based on my own experience; which is limited. The rating can only be interpreted within the limits of lenses I have used.

I wonder, does the latest version ($749) of AF-P 70-300mm make the grade? All I can read into it is one extra coating costs $250 extra. Maybe there's more I can't see.

 Wolffn's gear list:Wolffn's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D3400 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +13 more
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
Telephoto zoom lens • Nikon F (FX) • 2161
Announced: Aug 9, 2006
Wolffn's score
3.5
Average community score
4.4
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Nikon Coolpix P510 Nikon D3400
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BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 8,033
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

I obviously cannot answer your question regarding why your lens didn't perform as expected - but I can tell you that my experience with this model was somewhat mixed. I had two that were terrible and were replaced by Nikon under warranty (one apparently had a defective VR unit and the other I don't know). The third one, which I own currently, is very good, but focusing at 300 mm is not as precise as I would wish. This could be mistaken for lack of sharpness at 300 mm quite easily, but I know the lens is quite capable because careful focusing in live view mode yields reasonably good results.

In any case, enjoy your new AF-P DX purchase.

lac111 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,488
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

This lens was always very good for the money. I still have mine. Unfortunately as with most zooms in this range it's not maximized for the long end. There is always going to be copy variation, but these claims of it not being good beyond 200mm I have always found hard to believe. This lens is best backed off a tad and stopped down a little on the long end.

It's a big disadvantage not to have a body with AF Fine Tune, to be able to tune a lens to a particular body. That can make a world of difference.

The new AF-P version is supposed to be sharper at all focal lengths, especially on the long end, with faster AF. Have to wait for the reviews to come in. Good that the DX version is working out for you.

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Lora
Profile is wrong, I've been on Dpreview since June 2006.

OP Wolffn Regular Member • Posts: 169
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Yes, when I bought the lens it was with a D3400. I then bought a D7200 body and traded the $499 70-300 for a 200-500. Instant success - great combination.

The AF-P DX 70-300 goes with the D3400 and between them they do a great job with little birds close up.

 Wolffn's gear list:Wolffn's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D3400 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +13 more
m1964 Contributing Member • Posts: 627
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
1

Wolffn wrote:

As mentioned in a previous review of the $399 AF-P version, I bought this lens on the advice of a salesman at a well known store.

When I put it on my D3400 it worked well mechanically. However I had trouble getting the expected sharpness. Sometimes good but many times not good.

...

Why would a manufacturer make a product to a certain specification and I (and many others) cannot get it to perform to it's stated specs?

Did we all use it incorrectly? Did I get a bad one?

I believe you got a bad copy.

I have no problems with mine- it's sharp at any zoom setting inlcluding up to 300mm.

Below are some samples:

just my 2p

 m1964's gear list:m1964's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VR Tamron SP 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD Nikon AP-F 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E
OP Wolffn Regular Member • Posts: 169
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Maybe I did. A lot of people have complained about this. I can turn it around and suggest that you have a really excellent one. Of course those who had a bad one will complain most.  Makes one wonder about the quality control regime in these Asian factories.

 Wolffn's gear list:Wolffn's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D3400 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +13 more
lac111 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,488
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Wolffn wrote:

Yes, when I bought the lens it was with a D3400. I then bought a D7200 body and traded the $499 70-300 for a 200-500. Instant success - great combination.

The AF-P DX 70-300 goes with the D3400 and between them they do a great job with little birds close up.

The Nikon 200-500mm seems to have excellent IQ, but.......it's not a light weight hand holdable solution for many people. Like me. 

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Lora
Profile is wrong, I've been on Dpreview since June 2006.

OP Wolffn Regular Member • Posts: 169
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Yes, It gets a tiring after a couple of hours. One is very aware of it pushing down on the ankles and heels. I take a rest every so often. But that's the price of a better photo.

The 70-300 AF-P DX VR on the other hand is like a walk in the park.  Very comfortable and compact.

 Wolffn's gear list:Wolffn's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon D3400 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +13 more
Fortunato New Member • Posts: 12
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

I'm reading just now. I have the AF-S 70-300, all my shots are out of focus and the shots contain a strong chromatic aberration. This is strongly evident after 200 mm. I'm trying to use more closed diaphragm. BUT I'm afraid of increasing chromatic refraction. I will send you the shots.

BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 8,033
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
1

Fortunato wrote:

I'm reading just now. I have the AF-S 70-300, all my shots are out of focus and the shots contain a strong chromatic aberration. This is strongly evident after 200 mm. I'm trying to use more closed diaphragm. BUT I'm afraid of increasing chromatic refraction. I will send you the shots.

You're shooting through a lot of atmosphere at a very distant target, or at night. There are better ways to test a lens.

Fortunato New Member • Posts: 12
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
1

Forgive the wrong horizon in the previous image, I cannot see it in the dark and the level of the camera is not precise.

Send another test.

BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 8,033
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Fortunato wrote:

Forgive the wrong horizon in the previous image, I cannot see it in the dark and the level of the camera is not precise.

Send another test.

Given these shots, there's a fair chance your lens is broken, though a mistake on your end cannot be excluded.

Tootsall
Tootsall Senior Member • Posts: 1,772
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

f20!? f40!!?? Why? No wonder you are getting gross underexposure. I use this lens originally on D5300 and now on D7200 and will not go over f11.  (Unless your exif is being incorrectly reported)

 Tootsall's gear list:Tootsall's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon Z50 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II +9 more
Fortunato New Member • Posts: 12
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

I tried to min and max aperture. But what you think? See similarities with your lens? Thanks

Fortunato New Member • Posts: 12
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

What kind of mistake?  Thanks

BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 8,033
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Fortunato wrote:

What kind of mistake? Thanks

Your test is using poor subjects and strange settings, some photos are obviously underexposed. This indicates that you may not be familiar with how to do this in a way to get meaningful results, and that mistakes on your side (hand holding technique, focusing) cannot be excluded.

Michael Benveniste
Michael Benveniste Veteran Member • Posts: 5,285
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
1

While your examples are not ideal, I suspect you've run into the limits of this particular model.

This lens was released a dozen years ago. Like many 70-300mm lenses of that era, it's not at its best at 300mm. In my use, I found that optical quality gradually declined as one zoomed in from 200mm to 300mm. Resolution decreases at longer lengths, even at the "sweet spot," and control over chromatic aberrations is "meh" at best.

This isn't a lens for pixel peepers on modern dSLR's. It was designed to produce reasonably nice overall results in amateur handheld use. I can't say if my copy was better or worse than yours, but perhaps my expectations from this lens were less than yours. While it met those expectations, I feel no remorse in my decision to swap it out for a Sigma 100-400mm.

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Light travels at 2.13085531 × 10^14 smoots per fortnight. Catch some today!

 Michael Benveniste's gear list:Michael Benveniste's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 995 Nikon D800 Nikon 1 V2 Nikon D7200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 +40 more
Tootsall
Tootsall Senior Member • Posts: 1,772
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)
1

No similarity with results at all. First of all, the D7200 seems to max at f32 so I don't know how yours is reporting f40 (5th picture your first post). What I generally do is look at the "lab tests" on various websites and note the sharpest range of f-stops for any particular lens (it is rarely, if ever, above f8) then try to always use that lens within that range....f 5.6 to f 8.

For the telephoto zoom range this lens covers I have been very happy with it. I've carried this lens through Indonesia, Cuba, Costa Rica and throughout the West Coast of Canada and am happy with the results. It may be that some people complain about loss of sharpness at the edges and corners but I find that on a DX body that loss of sharpness is not really noticeable. As with any consumer-level telephoto (and particularly zoom), it performs best with decent light; I'd never try to take night-time shots with it. All photos are hand-held. If the subject is "still", I'll use A mode (f5.6-f8); if it is moving then S mode...birds in flight 1/2000, mammals 1/500-1/1,500 (more or less). Other stuff sometimes P mode, NEVER "AUTO".

With D5300:

Indonesia:

Borobudur Temple, Java

Ubud, Bali

Cuba

Malecon, Havana Cuba

Camaguay, Cuba

West Coast, BC

Port Hardy - Prince Rupert BC Ferry

Prince Rupert, BC

Other stuff: with D7200

Lisieux, Saskatchewan

At home

At home

 Tootsall's gear list:Tootsall's gear list
Nikon D7200 Nikon Z50 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II +9 more
BasilG Veteran Member • Posts: 8,033
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

Michael Benveniste wrote:

While your examples are not ideal, I suspect you've run into the limits of this particular model.

This lens was released a dozen years ago. Like many 70-300mm lenses of that era, it's not at its best at 300mm. In my use, I found that optical quality gradually declined as one zoomed in from 200mm to 300mm. Resolution decreases at longer lengths, even at the "sweet spot," and control over chromatic aberrations is "meh" at best.

This isn't a lens for pixel peepers on modern dSLR's. It was designed to produce reasonably nice overall results in amateur handheld use. I can't say if my copy was better or worse than yours, but perhaps my expectations from this lens were less than yours. While it met those expectations, I feel no remorse in my decision to swap it out for a Sigma 100-400mm.

From what you wrote, chances are your copy was substantially worse than mine. But neither my copy nor yours would give results like his second shot (in the second post), I hope.

Fortunato New Member • Posts: 12
Re: NIkon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF VR ($499.95)

everything is on a tripod, or underexposed deliberately to be able to close the diaphragm to the maximum, without compromising speed.

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