38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2007
Nikon's 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S telephoto lens is a excellent value and an excellent choice for shooting Sports, wildlife and portraits. At 3.17 lbs., it is very mobile and easy to hand hold. With extra low dispersion "ED" glass and fast, silent internal focusing, it is capable of producing photos that rival much more expensive lenses. When coupled with teleconverters, focus is not as sure and some shots may be missed while autofocus is hunting for the subject. For those needing additional range, after November 2007 Nikon will be introducing three new fast autofocus vibration reduction "VR II" super telephoto lenses:
AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR, AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR and AF-S 400mm f/2.8G ED VR.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2013
Previously I was using the capable consumer 55-300mm for telephoto. The 55-300mm gets soft at full tele, yet that's where I often found myself using the lens. After hitting the limits of what that lens can do, it made sense to get something better. I chose this 300mm f4 prime.
I also considered a 70-200, but decided instead to get a dedicated telephoto instrument. I wanted a scalpel, not a Swiss Army knife.
I am using this lens primarily for birding and wildlife photography, although with a focus distance of around 4 feet, it's surprisingly useful for flowers and the like. You might think that a 300mm prime is limited, but it's actually a versatile lens.
The most obvious plus is that this lens is TACK SHARP. In fact, it's insanely sharp with no purple fringing. If you want to see fine feather detail when birding, this is your lens.
Bokeh is GORGEOUS.
I find the focusing to be quite speedy with my D7100. And by the way, I like the built-in lens hood very much.
I sometimes pair this lens with a Nikon AF-S 1.4 Teleconverter. This extends the reach 40% (to 420mm, albeit at f5.6) with almost NO negative impact on image quality. You can (and should!) read about the 1.4 teleconverter here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KBC1WUY/?tag=loloho-20
If you come to this lens from any consumer telephoto lens, prepare for your first good shots to deliver some exciting "WOW" moments. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said about obscenity: you'll know it when you see it. This lens is incredibly sharp.
The lens is a little on the heavy side for anyone coming from consumer lenses. Sure, compared to the bazooka f2.8 telephoto lenses it's rather svelte, but I find it at the limit of what I care to handhold on a walkabout. I usually use some form of support with this lens. You need a robust tripod for rock steady shots.
Without VR, your handholding technique is critical. Of course you will have better results at higher shutter speeds. I usually shoot at 1/500 or faster when handholding the lens.
Build quality is good. Unlike the older built-like-a-tank Nikkor lenses, this AF-S model is a little plasticky. It feels solid in the hands, but needless to say, I don't wanna drop it.
I am very pleased with this purchase, and frankly wish I'd bought the lens years ago. If you are thinking about it, and you are ready for it in terms of your photographic skill, go ahead and get it! Life is too short for mediocre lenses.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2013
Excellent lens so far. I was able to handhold it much easier than I had expected, even with a 1.4x teleconverter attached. The images were very clear. I have only had the lens for about 1 month but am glad I purchased it. I will probably leave the teleconverter on most of the time for birds. Birds do still have to be fairly close. For small or distant birds, I think a 500mm or 600mm lens would be better, but they are much more expensive and heavier. I do not miss the vr so far.
I have now had the lens for many months and it has become my favourite lens for birding. Even handheld without vibration reduction and a 1.4x teleconverter attached, my photos come out clearer than my 70-200 vr1 lens handheld. I have not given it much of a try on a tripod. Tripods don't seem too practical while hiking through the woods looking for birds that are hopping continuously. Very glad I purchased this lens. It will be one of the last to leave my lens collection.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2006
This is a superb lens, without the bulk or the much higher cost of the f/2.8 version. With the money you'll save, you can buy a replacement tripod collar for the lens from Kirk Enterprises, which is a vast improvement over the somewhat flimsy collar which comes with the lens.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2011
I am merely a hobby photographer and I will not attempt to make any more detailed review of this lens' performance. I leave it to those more qualified. There are several professional reviews available on the internet and I find that they are in good agreement that the lens is very good, except possibly for a somewhat weak tripod support (I use it freehand or on a monopod so I have no problem with that). My main use of the lens is nature photography, preferably animals and birds. After using it some time on my d5000 I have noticed that the success rate for my photos (i.e. the photos I like to save and display) is noticeably higher compared with most other lenses I have. I have learned to appreciate the lens also for portraits of my family members, especially the kids (i.e. fast-moving..). The lens is tack sharp also on f4 (no need to say), but it also makes a very nice and even exposure over the whole object. There is a nice "light" in the whole photo. I don't know why, but with my other lenses there is a stronger difference between bright and dark areas. They look like if subject to harder jpg compression. I would think this should be up to the sensor and the camera settings. It is like if this lens suddenly make use of the "active d lighting" of the camera, or something like that. It also suppresses the background wonderfully, not only by a lovely bokeh, but also through its nice control of the exposure throughout the image (e.g. an even dark or an even bright background fills up behind a perfectly exposed object). I admit my ignorance, but it is like magic how the lens "helps" me to take better photos!
My other telelens is a Nikon 55-200vr that I like very much. However, I found myself too often cropping the photos to a level where I pushed the capacity of the lens too far. Thus, I wanted something with more range. I was not interested in another zoom. I prefer to use my feet or to simply let the lens decide the frame (Is the duck too close.. then, well, I take a photo of its head instead). I also wanted a fast lens for low-light shots. Indeed, I have been out when the sun has dived well below the horizon and still the 300f4 gives me fast shutter speeds without that I have to push the ISO higher than 1000.
To me, the lens is less easy to use for birds in flight: It is not that it is any problem using it hand held during daytime, or any problem with the autofocus, it is fast enough when using the focus lock (>3m), but simply the narrow field of view that comes with the high magnification makes it difficult to locate the bird fast enough. For this my 55-200 is easier. However, with some training I may improve.
I am glad the 300f4 does not replace my 55-200vr, but instead complements it. The 55-200vr is much more portable and is good enough for many purposes. The 300f4 is bulkier, but takes better photos especially when one can be more stationary observing the wild life.
To make the 300f4 more portable I have connected it to a harness: I put a strap tightly around the lens just behind the focus ring where I obtain good balance with the camera attached. On the strap there is a ring. To this ring I connect the carabiners of a harness originally bought for a pair of binoculars (Bushnell). In this way the camera and attached lens hang comfortably across my lower chest. No strain to the back whatsoever. When an object appears the camera is ready in a flash. The elastic straps of the harness, when stretched out while the camera is held in front of the eyes, help to reduce vibrations (i.e. similar to the effect that can be achieved with a hunting rifle when applying the carrying sling in a certain way around the arm before the shot).
I am very satisfied with this lens. It was exactly what I had been looking for. It is a bit heavy, but I feel I solved it with the harness (so no risk it ends up unused at home). And the photos it generates are like.. magic. With this lens I will develop as a photographer and have great fun along the way.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2012
I got this lens to supplement my Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens for daytime outdoor sports. The lens is sharp and a bargain and should be in your bag if you shoot distant subjects. Used with the Nikkor TC-14E II (1.4x) Teleconverter AF-S, there is no loss of sharpness which pleasantly surprised me. The only issue is the open area at the mount which could possibly allow dust into the aperture area. With the TC-14E II mounted on the lens, the issue vanishes. The f/2.8 version is something like four times the price of this gem, so it is certainly worth the bucks. VR would help when this oldish D lens is updated, but it would make it heavier and not as easy to use hand held. I do use it mostly with a tripod or monopod.
Update 6/5/2013: I recently bought the new Nikkor 80-400, figuring it would be even better because of the newer design and lens coatings plus the Vibration Reduction. Well, I took that out on a seal watch photoshoot for the North Fork Audubon Society (Long Island, NY) mounted it onto my D800 and began blasting away as soon as the first seals were spotted. Within an hour of heavy shooting, I was wishing I had instead brought along my trusty Nikkor 300mm f/4. I am now thinking of selling the newer lens because of the inconsistent sharpness, heavier weight, longer length, etc. Plus this 300mm is a prime lens with constant aperture settings. Buy this one if you are confused.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2013
I have this lens, a 70 to 200 vr2 and the old version of the 80 to 400 vr. The 300 f/4 afs is my favorite. The 70 to 200 is too short for birds in most circumstances. The old 80 to 400 focuses too slowly and is not sharp enough at f/5.6 and is not as sharp as the 300 f/4 at any f stop.
I thought of selling my 300 f/4 to help cover the cost of the excellent but very expensive new 80 to 400 afs vr2 but ruled that out after a serious look at the new lens. The new 80 to 400 has issues at close focus distances and is only 400mm at longer distances. The 300 f/4 really shines at close distances making it great for dragonflies and hummingbirds so the 300 f/4 will be an excellent compliment to the new high priced lens.
I find that the 300 f/4 is sharp enough that I'm usually better off cropping an image taken with it rather than using the old 80 to 400 at 400mm. I do not hesitate to shoot it at f/4 and only stop down if their is tons of light an a fast shutter speed is not an issue. It's very sharp at f/4! In addition to my slr I use it with a Nikon V1. It really brings out the potential of the V1, great 810mm equivalent photos. If the 300 was at all soft it would show up with the V1's 2.7 crop sensor.
The 300 f/4 is missing only 2 things that the more recent Nikon lenses have, newer, faster afs focus motors and vr. I find its focus motor fast enough but faster is always better and vr would be nice but with birds I like to shoot at 1/500 or faster most of the time anyway. Nikons recently updated lenses in this category are over $2000 and climbing with each update so I'm not even sure I'd replace the lens if a new version came out.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
Excellent lens. I bought this to go beyond the 18 - 200 mm that came with my D300. What a contrast! The 300mm is one of the sharpest lenses I've ever owned. It does an outstanding job of getting you close to your subject and takes a great image. The 300mm gives far more detail than does the kit zoom and gives you the maximum performance you can expect from your camera.
One thing that you have to keep in mind when taking pictures of moving objects is that you will get motion blur unless you set your shutter speed quite high. I tried the 1/focal length of the lens formula for hand held lenses on pelicans flying by, and caught quite a bit of blur. I set the shutter speed to 1/2000 and that got rid of the blur.
If you're worried about not getting your money's worth, don't be. This lens is worth the cost and besides it's still a lot less expensive than the 400mm f/2.8
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
Amazing results. I was considering the 300/2.8AFS VR.. but it costs a whole lot more ( ~$5K), and its too heavy to lug around. The 300/4 AFS is affordable and can be easily hand held. The images from this lens, obviously, cannot match the f/2.8 lens, but they are close. Everything considered, the AFS 300mm f/4 Nikkor is a better value than the 2.8 VR lens.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2012
This lens is a well made. It is quick focusing, very sharp and relatively easy to use on a well matched camera. Like all well constructed lenses there is a heft to this one. Many will hand-hold this lens buy I see myself using a tripod where ever I can. This is a must have for birders and wildlife photographers.