No matter what skill level you are at as a photographer, at some point you’re going to need some long glass for one of your subjects. Whether it’s sports, wildlife, or portraits, zoom lenses help us get the frames we want. The Nikon AF-S VR Zoom 70-300mm lens does a great job of this.
Image above courtesy of Nikon USA.
Suitable for both DX and FX formats (as well as film), this lens has an awesome zoom range that allows the photographer to get the framing they’re after. The optics are excellent, however the lens exterior is made of plastic which to me feels a little cheap for it’s price tag. It won’t be quite as rugged as say Nikon’s 80-200 f2.8 zoom. The lens feels solid, but it isn’t too heavy either. I carried it around for about 4 hours on my D90 and I hardly noticed it. I guess I expected it to get in my way or annoy me after being around my neck for that long, but it didn’t.
The bokeh is really nice when you have the lens racked all the way out to 300mm. You can easily make your background nice and soft by shooting at the long end at a lower aperture. Now, f5.6 is this lens’ maximum aperture so it won’t go as soft as an f2.8 lens but it’s still very nice.
The the Silent Wave motor in the lens makes autofocusing quick and crisp. If you get in super low light it wants to hunt a little, but that’s to be expected. You also have the option of manual focus override with this lens even when you’re in autofocus mode.
The VR works really well, however you’re going to know that it’s there for sure. With VR on in Normal mode, you can feel the VR working through the camera body. It’s a little noisy too but not enough to even bother me. I think of it as knowing that the VR is working if I can hear and feel it.
The zoom on this lens feels soft and smooth which is great for making subtle changes. Yet it’s firm enough that the lens won’t creep on you while you’re carrying it around. Because it’s an Inner Focus lens, you can throw a graduated neutral density filter on it and not have to worry about adjusting it as you focus.
Out of the box the lens comes with a petal lens hood, a nylon case, and front and rear lens caps. You can pick up one of these lenses from B&H for $449.00. (B&H’s website shows $549.95 until you add it to your shopping cart, FYI.) The minimum focus distance is 4 feet so I wouldn’t plan on using this for shooting macro with really small subjects, but it should cover most anything else.
I would recommend this lens if you don’t already have a telephoto zoom in this range. If you want to shoot sports of your kids, portraits, or wildlife this lens will more than fit the bill. You will be happy with the images that you get as well. Since it is AF-S it will autofocus on the D40, D40x, and D60 cameras as well. The VR is REALLY nice to have, especially when you’re shooting at 300mm.
All-in-all, this a great mid-priced zoom for photographers who are looking to add a little reach to their lens arsenal. I’m thrilled with mine and I’m going to continue to shoot it for a long time to come. To see images I shot with this lens, check out yesterday’s post.