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Nikon 70-300 vr - is it any good?

Steve Manzon , Oct 25, 2009; 12:38 a.m.

I'm just looking to get some general input from users of this lens. From all reviews it seems decent. maybe not 300mm zoom but certainly usable. I shoot on DX and i can't justify spending 2300 on 2.8 70-200 (though i would if i had the cash)! I use mostly my 16-85; 55-200 does not do it for me :0; more to the point, I probably will not do alot of low light shooting. Mostly I'd use it during day for some landscapes, zoo animals, flowers and maybe some day sports. So the questions i have are is the lens
1) relatively sharp at large focal length
2) is autofocus fast enough to keep with kids, animals, birds, i.e well moving subjects
3) how is the contrast and color rendition

Thanks in advance for your help!


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Hector Javkin , Oct 25, 2009; 01:11 a.m.

I'm attaching a 100% crop of a photo taken at 300mm and f/5.6, to which I applied no sharpening. I've already put up the hummers in flight which I've captured with this lens, so I didn't want to add them here, but yes, the AF is fast, even on lower-end bodies. I've used it with a D50, D90 and a D300.

Nikon 70-300mm VR lens at 300mm f/5.6, VR on, no sharpening in post

Mark Esposito , Oct 25, 2009; 01:16 a.m.

For what it is, an affordable consumer zoom, it gets good reviews.

Take a look at Bjørn's review.

It's also a good lens on FX body's.

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Kent Staubus , Oct 25, 2009; 01:20 a.m.

It sounds like it matches your needs well. It takes the same 67mm polarizer as your other lens too. For what it costs, it is a good value. You could put something like a Canon 500D on it to take close ups of flowers.
Kent in SD

Ronald Smith , Oct 25, 2009; 04:49 a.m.

The AF-S 70-300mm VR is the perfect companion for the 16-85mm VR. I have made many tack-sharp 16x20 aerial photos with this lens, it's almost the ideal combo of performance and price. Like any zoom, it works best stopped down a bit, although I have had no issues shooting near maximum aperture. The AF is swift and positive, the VR allows you to get sharp images even down to 1/20th second.

I regularly use the 500D close-up lens on the 70-300mm, works wonderfully.

David Haas , Oct 25, 2009; 06:04 a.m.

The only drawback I found to this lens is the lack of speed. I do a ton of shooting where flash is not allowed and speed is of the essense.

For daylight / bright light shooting - It's a great lens.


William Pahnelas , Oct 25, 2009; 06:30 a.m.

it's a great lens, whether on DX or FX, and it's usually in my bag. it's sharp at any FL, in my experience -- the limiting factor is whether there's enough light to obtain sharp focus. that shouldn't be too surprising. when i need to shoot in worse light, i use an 80-200/2.8. it lacks VR but costs @ 60 percent of what the 70-200/2.8 does (talking new).

John Crowe , Oct 25, 2009; 10:06 a.m.

This is where you have to ask if you want the convenience of the optically okay 70-300 VR or the superior imaging and wider aperture of a similarly priced used Nikon ED AF 80-200/2.8 D. You will have to do some research to see if this older 80-200 will work on your camera. You can then later add a TC-14E to get even further reach at an effective f4 aperture.

If you have the 55-200 you could even consider simply adding a used Nikon ED AF 300mm f4, again for about the same price as the 70-300, and get really superb image quality. You would have to see if this older lens is comatible with your camera.

Steve Manzon , Oct 25, 2009; 10:38 a.m.

Thank you all for great responses and I appreciate the image sampler. 80-200 is also a great lens although lack of VR is a biggy for me since I rarely get a chance to use my tripod. I shoot on D300 so I'm pretty sure it is compatible. Thanks again enjoy decent weather finally in northeast!

Josh Loeser , Oct 25, 2009; 11:18 a.m.

I have seen some terrific shots taken with it on various D700s. It seems borderline spectacular on FX cameras when put in capable hands.

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