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.

Or check out more Paul Sears Photography pages on MySpace, Facebook, or Flickr


gatorgirl said...

Hi Paul -
I see that you got the D700! I was wondering what you thought about this lens with the D700? Have you tried that combo out yet? I have a D700 and was thinking about getting this lens... is it sharp? Fast enough?
Thanks for your advice!

Paul Sears Photography said...

@gatorgirl - I love this lens with the D700 for shooting sports, wildlife, zoo animals, etc. Anything where I would need a little more reach.

It's a good lens, moderately priced, nice and sharp, and small/lightweight enough to carry in my bag. My only complaint might be the mid-range aperture (4.5-5.6), but so far that hasn't held me back too much.

I looked at the 80-400mm FX lens, but it's enormous - 10lbs or more. Plus I read that particular lens was created almost 10 years ago and hasn't been updated since.

I think there is a 80-200 f/2.8 if you want faster aperture. For me, I really enjoy having the extra reach 300mm offers so the tradeoff is OK.

Overall 8 or 9 out of 10, paired with the D700. Definitely recommend!


gatorgirl said...

Wow Paul - thanks for the quick reply! Jean sent me your facebook page and I love your stuff! Always looking to meet local LA photographers to talk with since I'm starting out.
Yeah..the Nikon 70-200 F/2.8 lens is awesome, but a monster to work with (heavy/big)..wouldn't want to carry that around my trip to Europe coming up. It's like yelling "hey look at me - steal me!" :-) I'm glad you are very happy with the 70-300 lens - I too want that extra reach. I have a tamron lens 28-300 around f/5-f/6.. I like the range, but find the lens not as sharp as nikon.
I'll check this lens out! Thanks again!