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Photography and Art

Review: Nikkor 70-300mm ED AF-S VR lens - 1 Sept 2010

Introduction

The Nikkor 70-300mm VR G AF-S lens is a mid range telephoto zoom lens in the current system line up. It is a sturdily built lens for it's price and built to the standards expected from Nikon.

For some it may be considered a large lens. Certainly compared to the lower cost model (55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor) it is a bit of a heavy weight. However in reality it is still a light weight compared to the pro-telephoto zoom lenses. The lens weighs in at 745g and is a little over 14cm in length at it's minimum size.

The Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G AF-S VR IF ED lens (to give it it's full title) is designed for the full frame sensor as it is not a DX classified lens. Placed on a DX camera body such as the D90 or D5000 the lens focal length becomes effectively 100-450mm. The manual focus ring is closest to the camera body. The zoom ring is rather large an takes up what seems like half of the length of the lens body. The focusing distance is given in both metres and feet and is viewed through the a window towards the base of the lens. Also towards the base on the left hand side are the switches for manual focus, Vibration Reduction (VR), and VR mode (normal or active). The lens has a 67mm filter thread and comes complete with a lens hood and a pouch to add some protection (against scratches) whilst the being transported.

Image Stabilisation

Image stabilisation is a necessity with this kind of lens. The high magnification it provides would be difficult to hand hold and achieve steady results.

Nikon's Vibration Reduction technology works by having a group of lenses that move horizontally or vertically to compensate for movement detected by a sensor in the lens. The system employed in the 70-300mm lens is similar to that used in the 18-200mm VR and the 16-85mm VR lens but no doubt optimised for the longer focal lengths.

Autofocus

The 70-300mm VR lens employs the silent wave motor technology to provide quiet and reliable autofocus perform. An additional benefit of the SWM technology is that the lens can be manual focused with switching to manual mode.

Performance

The 70-300mm VR lens in many ways can be seen as a lens to either trade up from the lighter 55-200mm VR lens or a light weight alternative to the heavy pro lenses. It's autofocus performance was fast enough to keep the seasoned professional photography happy. It was certainly fast enough on the D80 DSLR to keep up with and track professional cyclists during time trials with a struggle.

Under lower light conditions the AF can struggle to get a lock especially when the lens is zoomed out to the maximum 300mm focal length. This is no doubt due to the f/5.6 aperture.

The lens aperture value increases with the focal length as follows:

  • 70mm : f/4.5
  • 135mm : f/5
  • 220mm : f/5.6

It was good to see that the lens could be used at wide open until 135mm focal length.
Optical contrast was seemed decent. Images looked lively even under indoor lighting conditions.

Flare was never an issue whether shooting in bright sunny conditions or directly at light sources.

Chromatic Aberration did not appear to be issue with the lens attached to the a D80 DSLR in generally. Some CA did appear towards 300mm but was not aggressive and easily removed with image processing software. It may not appear at all when processing images with Capture NX as this application automatically tries to remove CA as a matter of course.

The weakest performance was towards the 300mm end. There was a bit more softness in evidence that demanded that the aperture be stopped down a little to compensate.

This lens turned out to be very capable and it's steady performance instilled confidence. Whether it was shooting landscapes, sports, wildlife or architecture the 70-300mm VR gave a good account of itself. The VR performed well and it must be noted that with the lens zoomed out towards the longest focal length a slight vibration could be felt from the VR mechanism when it engaged.

The 70-300mm VR lens made a companion to the 16-85mm VR lens. Both provided optical benefits in comparison to the all in one solution of the 17-200mm lens.EA

 

Specification

 

Focal Length 70-300mm (105-450mm when used with DX format DSLR)
Maximum Aperture f/4.5-5.6
Minimum Aperture f/32-40
Lens Construction 17 elements in 12 groups (with 2 ED glass elements)
Picture Angle 34º 20' - 8º 10' (22º - 5º when used with DX format DSLR)
Closest Focus Distance 1.5m / 4.9ft (throughout zoom range)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:4
No. of Diaphragm Blades 9 (circular)
Filter Size 67mm
Dimensions Approx. 80 x  143.5mm / 3.1 x 5.6 inches
Weight Approx. 745g / 26.3oz

 

Mini News

22 November 2012: Sigma 18-250mm now available in Sony's A-Mount

Sigma Imaging UK Ltd has announced that the 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM lens is now available at a suggested retail price of £499.99. Sigma's APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens will shortly be available in Sony's A-Mount for a suggested retail price of £1499.99.

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17 October 2012: Firmware update for Sony NEX 7 v1.01

Sony NEX firmware update provides the following;

  • Addition of capability to enable or disable the MOVIE button
  • Addition of exposure settings of bracket shooting (three frames /1.0EV,2.0EV, 3.0EV)
  • Improvement of response for showing auto review image.
  • Improvement of image quality when using a wide angle lens
  • Improvement of indication when setting “Flexible Spot”.

Visit the link: http://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/product/NEX-7/updates

Firmware updates are also available for the a77, a65, and a57.

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15 October 2012: Purchase Sigma's 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultra wide angle lens and claim FREE 77mm UV DG filter

From Monday 15th October 2012, Sigma Imaging UK Ltd are introducing a short term special offer that enables anyone who purchases Sigma’s multi-award winning 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultra-wide angle lens to claim a FREE Sigma 77mm UV DG filter worth over £60!

A Sigma Ultra Violet filter is the perfect accessory to protect your lens from damage to the front element. Sigma’s DG filters benefit from a special multi-layer lens coating, developed to counteract the highly reflective characteristic of image sensors.

Terms and Conditions apply. Visit www.sigma-imaging-uk.com or ask your local photographic retailer for more details of this offer and how to claim your FREE Sigma 77mm UV DG filter.