Nikon 70-300 VR Review

Nikon 70-300 VR Review

“Very Nice Lens But it Has its Quirks”

nikon nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G

After exhaustive research on many lens, I finally decided to plunk down the $500+ (at the time this was written) to purchase this lens. It may not be the best on the market but it compliments my Nikon 18-70mm DX lens nicely. I was looking towards Nikon’s 18-200mm DX lens, however; the price pushed me to choose this one (as it was nearly half the price and my two lens can nearly cover all the range of the one 18-200mm).


build quality is cheap yet sturdy… the plastic is a little chinky but cuts down on the weight. My Nikon D200 has no problem handling the lens weight, however; I have heard (unconfirmed) reports that this lens is a little heavy for the lighter cameras (D80, D70, D40, ETC). The Ring Connector is metal and has a rubber gasket on the outside so as to provide minor protection (for the lens mount) from the elements.

You also have to keep this in mind, when discussing weight, quality & price; the bulk of the price of this lens is going into the glass elements (all 17 elements of them). It gets expensive when you place that many high-quality optics into a tube. I’m really not that surprised a the price, although $400 price-range would probably be more suitable for this lens


Focusing can be quite fast… at times. You’ll find, at the Max 300mm focal range, that the lens has a pretty hard time auto-focusing in on a subject. At times it would focus pretty quick, at the 300mm range, while at others it cannot focus at all. You can get around this quirk by bringing the subject into near focus (manually) then letting the auto-focus take over; it works every time. I find this focus problem disappointing especially given the price of this lens.

The quality of the Bokeh (Out of focus areas of the photograph) is very nice and pleasing. The images are sharp, vignetting (dark areas in the corner of your photos) is hard to find and lens flare rarely a problem.


All I can say is that it works… it can come in handy. It’s not going to stop the image guaranteed for you; it’s only meant to slow down the rate at which the camera moves (vibration from holding). You can notice the difference; with it off you’ll see that the image (at say 300mm) really bouncing around; then you flick on VR. It takes a sec or two but then the image smooths out, it still wobbles around, but much more slowly.

With VR enabled, you can usually go 2-3 (sometimes 4) stops down, then what you’d normally be able to do when hand holding.


I haven’t “shock tested” my lens yet (IE dropped it) but I have heard (again unconfirmed reports here) that it holds up pretty well to a drop… although I would never recommend testing that out.


The 70-300mm range should be noted: Although the lens states that it is a 70-300mm zoom, this lens was intended for a 35mm camera or full-frame CCD/CMOS sensor Digital Camera. All (or at least the majority) of Nikon’s DSLR (D200, D80, ETC) are NOT Full-Frame sensors. They are approximately 1.5x factor of a full-frame sensor (due to the smaller sensor size).

What does this all mean?

Well it’s simple, since this is a 35mm lens and not a DX lens (ie built to account for the 1.5x factor in most nikon digitals) you have to apply the 1.5x conversion. This means that the Nikon 70-300mm on a Nikon DSLR will give an apparent zoom equivalent to a 105-450mm lens. I actually do not mind this apparent zoom and this should also cut down on vignetting; as what the lens projects onto the sensor is larger then the area of the sensor itself. In short: parts of the image spills over the sensor, since this lens was meant to project onto a full-frame sensor/35mm film.


Pleasing Bokeh
Fast Auto-Focus (when working properly)
Vignetting is minimal
Image Stabilization (VR)
Flare is minimal
1.5x factor (105-450mm) makes for nice zoom
Colors are very good

Plastic Casing
Near Inability to Auto-Focus at 300mm range
Price (even though it is cheaper then the 18-200mm DX)
1.5x factor (105-450mm) might make it more zoom then you need
Lens could be faster (F/4 would have been nice)

I love this lens, even for it’s quirks, however; you may want to wait till it drops in price a little more (it falls almost bi-weekly). It may not be the fastest on the market, but it’s size, optics, image quality and VR make this a must have lens for Serious Nikon users!

More Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Reviews from Amazon:

Check out for more reviews of Nikon’s 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, it has more consumer reviews and reports than any other site online:

reviews of nikon 70-300mm

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Nikon 70-300 VR Review By Jeffrey Bower
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