Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Review

Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Review

“Great optics for a low price”

nikon nikkor 70-300 f/4-5.6G

First off, let me tell you that this lens only works fully with the latest Nikon SLRs because it has no aperture ring to set f/stops. You must do that electronically using a D100, D2H, D70, N80, N75, F5 or F100. However, Nikon does provide a nice compatibility chart telling you how to use this lens on older Nikon cameras. So you can use this lens on S and P modes with the N90s, N8008s, N 6000, and N4004. This backward compatibility of lenses and bodies is one of the strongest points of the Nikon system. Even a 24 year old lens can be used with a new Digital SLR, to some extent.

The lens is very light for it’s zoom range. It has a reasonably substantial feel, unlike some of the Sigma lenses I’ve used. It’s made of polycarbonate, which is the same stuff the F117 Stealth fighter is made from.

If you shoot lots of portraits, this is the lens to get. The telephoto allows you to throw the background out of focus with relative ease. The lens has a 9 bladed iris, so out of focus elements are rendered in very subtle and beautiful forms. The Japanese call this “Bokeh” and much has been written about it. It’s very nice that the Nikon engineers took this aesthetic principal into account when designing this economy lens. Once again, Nikon proves to be a design driven company.

The zoom ring has a nice feel with good manual dampening. Zooming is precise with no “slop” or wobble. Manual focus is about average for a lens of this caliber. It’s possible, but no great joy. Since I’m used to the silky feel of Nikon’s old AIS lenses, I doubt anything could rate higher. Autofocus for this lens is much better, and seems to be quick and precise. About the only time it balked was when shooting delicate cloudscapes. This is common for AF lenses and simply requires you to quickly disengage the AF on your camera body and rack the lens to “Infinity” setting.

My D70 DSLR made this lens handy to grip and insanely light. The great thing about using this lens on a DSLR is that you end up with a 450mm zoom lens! great for bringing in distant objects. Watch out when shooting against strong backlight, however. This lens seemed to have more than a little “Purple fringing”. Shots done in normal lighting conditions exhibit zero fringing, and superb sharpeness. So that’s the good news.

Overall this lens is a great bargain and worthy of the Nikkor name. Don’t let the low price fool you. Although it’s not a Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 by any means, this lens is highly capable and a great second lens for your D70 Digital SLR or N series 35mm SLR. Nikon USA offers a 5 year warranty FREE if you mail the registration postcard in within 10 days of purchase. So be sure to get that in the mailbox right after buying!

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Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6G Review By R. Rosener "Photomatic" (St. Louis, MO United States)
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