AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
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A specially designed Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element enables a remarkably shorter, lighter design and offers new levels of sharpness and clarity with virtually no chromatic aberration or ghosting. With Vibration Reduction (VR), compatibility with Nikon teleconverters, a durable Fluorine-coated lens front element and more, the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR can change the way fashion, portrait, nature and sports professionals work.
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AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
Based on 26 Reviews
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I purchased this lens directly from the Nikon store in April of 2015. My reason was due to availability and confidence that the VR issues with this lens had been corrected. I own a lot of Nikon equipment. This lens was of great interest as a replacement for the Nikkor 300mm F2.8. I loved this 6.4 pound lens, but the weight and size was becoming a real issue for me.
Upon receiving the Nikkor 300mmF4 VR lens, I checked it out first for sharpness and focus, then for any VR problems.
Let me first say that this lens is sharp, sharp, sharp even wide open. It totally equals its larger 2.8 cousin at every aperture. This lens also focuses accurately and quickly.
At first, I thought I did not have a VR problem. It was only after many shots I notice a problem. I would get a double horizontal line between shutter speed of 1/80th to 160th second. Please note that this was only noticeable on horizontal lines, not vertical lines. The degree of what I called astigmatism, was from 2 to 4 pixels. This occurred on all my camera bodies (D800, D750, and D7200). Iso Values higher than 1600 often masked the problem. To make the problem most visible, I would photograph road signs. The abrupt white to black transition on the sign printing made an easy way to evaluate the degree of the problem.
After my May trip to South Africa and the Kruger National Park, I sent the lens back to Nikon with detailed photos of the problem. The lens was returned a week later with a statement saying that the lens was within their specifications. No detailed analysis was provided.
After some thought, I tried a different approach to the problem. I did a lot of internet research as to Nikon VR systems in general. One thing stood out in my research. The weak point of most VR systems is around 1/125th second exposure. Why, I am not sure. Interaction with the mirror, shutter, or something else? Also, the low weight of this lens coupled with its high IQ is unique. Most all systems of equal quality would weight at least twice as much.
I tried various techniques such as gripping the lens and camera body tighter, bracing my arms, using a monopod, etc. all with no success.
By chance I then tried just holding the camera loosely and not gripping the lens at all. For the first time, I was able to get a good, sharp shot at 1/125th second. My success rate was about 33% of photos taken. My best result was with the D7200, even though this camera magnifies the telephoto ability of this lens to 450mm.
Although this seemed counter to what one should expect, it did start to make sense when I researched further. Thom Hogan had a great article that helped explain the workings of VR and the problems with tripod mounting and shutter speeds in the 1/125th range.
During these experiments, I was also corresponding with a well known Canadian nature photographer, who was not having any problems with this lens in regards to VR. I did discover that he used the extra grip attachment on all his Nikon cameras, whereas, I did not. The grip attachment for the D7200 was recently on sale so I thought I would give it a try.
I can now tell you that, with the Nikon MB-D16 grip attached to the D7200, the 300mmF4 VR worked flawlessly at 1/125th second as well as all other shutter speeds in the questionable rearm of 1/80th to 1/160th. Only one caveat here: you still must keep your hands completely off the lens itself.
Why the extra grip works so well I do not know. It could be the extra mass, or the better balance, or the extra area for your hands. All I know is that it works well, even when I attach the TC 14EII tele-converter.
I am now so pleased with this lens. For bird photography, I use this lens with the 1.4 tele-converter on a D7200 with the extra grip attached. That gives me a hand holdable 600mm (35mm equivalent) F5.6 lens in a combo that only weighs 4 pounds! This allows for quick response, which is really useful on birds in flight. The images I get are stunning. In some ways I can do better than those guys with the 10 pound lenses. I have no need for a tripod, monopod or any other contraption to hold the lens.
I hope others can benefit from my experience and can repeat the results I found above.
I never had a status symbol kind of lens. Always bought nice mid range zooms and have tolerated the weak telephoto sharpness in every single lens. And I have had many lenses... Traded 80-400 and 18-300 in on this one. The 300 is premium. Fast, light, sharp, and takes great 300 mm photos without compromise. if you want the best... get it. The downside is it will make all your other lens look weak, heavy and old.
Just got back from a 3 week trip to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, where I made over 10,000 images with this lens. I was blown away by it. It is super sharp and super light, a dream to use all day. I compared images I made of a far-off leopard with both this lens handheld, and the 200-400 f.4 VR well supported on the window ledge of my vehicle, and there was simply no contest. The 300 PF was much sharper at distance. As the trip wore on, I pretty much stopped using the 200-400, which was previously my lens of choice for wildlife photography, giving up the zoom´s versatility and extra reach for the sharpness and lightness of the 300 PF. Also, because it is so light and focuses very quickly with 3D tracking, it was really easy to shoot birds in flight with great results. You will love love love this lens. I don´t shoot sports, but would imagine this lens would also be superb for that too, because of how quick it is and with lovely bokeh. I don´t know whether it is technologically feasible, but a similarly super sharp and light 500 F.5.6 using the same PF technology would be fantastic.
Focus is very quick and it is the first lens i have used with video. The only lens I have used that you can manually focus and see how it just snaps.. into focus. Looks 3D almost. Also very bright, and of course i am used to el cheapo 18-300 and 80-400 lenses. The attached pic is from the 80-400 and is not as good as the 300 pf can do... Anyway i traded the two lenses noted and added $1280 to it... including tax.
I never had a status symbol kind of lens. Always bought nice mid range zooms and have tolerated the weak telephoto sharpness in every single lens. And I have had many lenses... Traded 80-400 and 18-300 in on this one. The 300 VR PF is premium. Fast, light, sharp, and takes great 300 mm photos without compromise. if you want the best... get it. The downside is it will make all your other lens look weak, heavy and old.
Lens In A Small Package
I was really hesitant about this lens at first after hearing of the issues with the VR. However, after speaking with a Nikon rep about the specifics I learned that the issue was in the software of the lens and reacted only to these particular camera models. So, that meant that it wasn´t an issue with the lens itself. This lens operates flawlessly with my Nikon Df and I couldn´t be happier with it. It is a machine and worth the money at twice the price. The new F/4 VR is much more compact and lightweight. The focus is incredibly fast and this lens is TACK SHARP! I have used for wildlife, sports and even some macro photography and couldn´t be happier with the results across the board. If you are looking for a prime telephoto lens and want a huge bang-for-your-buck, this lens is the way to go.
Waited to get this lens to see the reviews. This lens is nothing short of spectacular!
I use it daily!
After using this lens in a variety of conditions for just over a week, I am very pleased with the quality. At a size/weight less than my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, it´s easy to transport in the field. I´ve used it in lower-light applications (the zebra picture was taken close to dusk), fast action applications (the dog jumping), and applications where I couldn´t get any closer to the subject (the green heron). All turned out great. I haven´t experiences any issues to date with the VR while using this lens.
Photography has been in my life for many years and as photographers we desire excellence in our products. All too often the hype draws us in and we make the purchase then find out the product is not what was expected or conveyed. This new 300mm f/4 pf lens upgrade if you can call it that is a hugh improvement on every front for a prime lens incorporating most of Nikon´s latest lens technology, the results is simply spectacular.
Half the size and weight of the older 300mm - This lens is less than 32 oz, it is under 2 pounds!
Vibration Reduction - Works, and works well, see my photos
SWM - the lens focus motors are quite and fast, no more chatter.
Electromagnetic Aperture Control - Removes the ´´mechanical´´ coupler of the aperture control - this is the future - you will need this when your new camera is shooting 20fps or changing apeture while doing live video.
Plus the extreme joy of using the lens in the field - you actually want to carry it with you because it works so darn well.
I like outdoor nature and wildlife, so I am biased to that aspect. The moment I rotated this lens onto my camera body I was hooked, like driving a sports car! Fast and Nimble.
Sharpness - Very Sharp, well above my expectations (i also shoot a Nikon 400mm FL 2.8), this lens rocks sharpness.
Contrast and clarity for this lens is very good, makes your photos pop not to mention the Bokeh, which is excellent.
Focus is fast and accurate; birds in flight are easy pickings.
Durability and weather protection, I had mine out in the rain (with a cover) without issues, this lens has a rear rubber seal just like all Nikon professional lens do.
Phase Frensel Element - in some very odd shooting arrangements I experience minor ring flaring, Nikon updated the NX-D software with a 300mm pf profile to reduce the effect in post This ring flare can occur if your shooting into specular lighting situations which most of us will never do. Most lens don´t handle it well so its not a big deal, only if your trying to include a bright beam or sun in your photo.
If your in the market for a Telephoto around the 300mm range this lens will not disappoint on any aspect of lens technology to date. This is a lens everyone will try to copy because it increases the number of images you keep - because it works. This lens is everything you been asking for and Nikon Delivered It!
Over the last five years I have bought just about all of Nikkor´s high end lenses for use with my D4S and D810. I have come to rely on the company´s quality standards and excellent optics. It concerns me greatly however Nikon is manufacturing this new lens in China. I do not trust any product coming from China. The quality standards of that country are sketchy at best. This lens is very good and I am happy with its performance. But I am unhappy that a $2000 Nikkor lens is not made in Japan where quality standards are consistent and superb. I am not happy Nikon.
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