Monday, March 2, 2009

Nikkor 70-300mm VR AF-S f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED

Yes, I know, that's a lot of acronyms. And I'll admit I've typed them all out any number of times since this past Friday, when I picked up this awesome new lens. Well worth the price, it replaces/upgrades my 55-200mm less which was part of the kit when I first bought my D80. Let me say again, this lens is awesome!

First of all, it reaches 300mm (compared to 200mm I had before). Second, it's an FX-format lens, so it will work with the D700 camera body I'm planning to purchase soon. Third, it's so much more robust than the 55-200 lens - not just bigger/heavier, but better quality optics and better VR (Vibration Reduction). And of course, because I'm still shooting with a D80 (which is DX format), I actually get a magnification factor of 1.5x. Meaning its max reach is effectively 450mm.

But that's not all. Until now, for long shots like ball games or wildlife, I was shooting 200mm with a 2x teleconverter (aka the poor man's telephoto). But the downside of the teleconverter outweighed the extra reach. 1) You lose 2 stops worth of light. 2) You can't use AF, so you're trying to eyeball precise focus on something a hundred yards away. I can't even count the number of images I've discarded due to softness around the edges, because I was off by less than 1-degree on the manual focus ring.

Alas! No more! My reach is effectively increased, with no loss of light, better optics, and the ability to use AF. Baseball Spring Training here I come!

And last but not least, for the acronym nerds among us, here's the breakdown:

- 70-300mm = Focal Range of the Lens
- VR = Vibration Reduction
- AF-S = Autofocus w/ Silent Wave Motor
- f/4.5-5.6 = The Lens' Maximum Aperture (Variable)
- G = Aperture Settings Controlled Internally
- IF = Internal Focusing
- ED = Extra Low Dispersion Glass

For more on what any of this gobbledygook actually MEANS, read more here.

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