70-300VR or no VR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by emma_rice, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. hi, i am in the process of upgrading my D60 to a D300s and i am looking at the nikon 70-300mm lense. the only thing i am stuck on is the difference in price between the VR and non VR option.
    does the VR really make that much difference??? it is about $400 difference between the two and i dont want to fork out all the extra if its not that necessary.
    any help would be greatly appreciated! thanks!
  2. I would seriously consider the VR option, as this gets lots of good reviews. Until recently, I owned the "G non VR" version, and this was very soft from 230-300mm, and suffered from CA-problems.
  3. Get the VR if you can afford it.
  4. Emma,
    I have used the AF-D 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED lens (a non VR lens) and found it performed well on my D70. This lens is another alternative to the two lenses you mention in your posting.
    The current VR 70-300mm Nikkor has a good reputation. I think it would work very nicely on a D300.
    I'd avoid the non VR 70-300mm 'G' lens, mine lived up to it's reputation of being a cheap lens, it's image qualities were lacking in my experience.
  5. I would go for the VR option even if you never use the lens in low light. In comparison to a a 70 - 300 D the colours are much more vibrant. I noticed it especially on the blues.
    Its a great lens for the price, I don't tend to shoot longer lenses very often so this is a great one to keep in my bag for the odd occasion.
  6. Get the VR model. Most xx-300mm zooms are only mediocre in quality, this Nikon 70-300mm is special, it seems to be the perfect combination of performance, weight/size and price. To boot, you can shoot at 1/30th sec, hand-held, and get sharp images.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There are three versions of the 70-300mm Nikkor; two are f4 at 70mm and the AF-S is f4.5:
    • 70-300mm/f4-5.6 AF-D with ED element. That is the only one with an aperture ring.
    • 70-300mm/f4-5.6 AF G lens. That is the one with a plastic mount.
    • 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR G lens.
    I assume Emma is talking about Australian dollars. But still, when you are talking about a $400 difference, you may be talking about the plastic mount version. I would avoid that one and, for that matter, if you can, I would avoid any Nikon lens with a plastic mount if you are planning on taking it to a 12-month, around the world trip. The construction quality is too iffy, and that is also why I thought the D60 is not durable enough for such a trip.
    If you can afford it, the AF-S VR one is good and the 2nd choice is the older one with an aperture ring and ED element. The D300S can AF with either one but the D60 can only AF with the AF-S version.
    Recall that Emma is going on a 12-month backpacking trip: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00VL97
  8. I bought the 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR G recently, and am very happy with it. I've heard many people are not so happy with the non-VR version. I bought a used copy that was "like brand new" for $400 (US), so you might check the used market. Many seem to have bought the lens based on great reviews from people like Moose Peterson, Thom Hogan, etc., and then didn't use it because they don't really didn't need a telephoto. I know I do (and especially if I was going on a trip like yours). You're going to need that focal length and the VR will be invaluable for shooting wildlife. It's not a heavy lens either, so I don't think you'll regret it. Have a great trip!
  9. Hi Emma, I do have the VR option lens and I am extremely happy with it. Thom Hogan evaluated this lens as one of the consumer lensed that we should keep in our bag. Matter of fact, he is keeping one of them in his own bag, believe it or not, and he is a pro. This lens is superb. Most of my pictures have been taken with this lens. I will not change it for any other except for the Nikon 70-200 mm VR f/2.8 which I am thinking to buy this year, but again, the VR option, ( personal opinion ), is a must have feature because you can shoot upto 1/20s without a tripod. Never let me down and the only lens on the side that I use, is the other superb lens, the Nikon 16-85 mm VR. Go for it and you will not look back !! Have a happy shooting.
  10. Emma,
    If you must have this lens get the less plastic VR version. Performance at the 300mm end of this lens is mediocre by most accounts. Consider instead, a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 D or AF-S lens for your trip. You can bring a 1.4x tele-extender for a longer reach. The Nikon 80-200mm is heavier, but performance and durability are far superior to the Nikon 70-300mm. I'm passing on this advice based upon my experience of backpacking around the world for a year, 40 years ago. Don't buy junk. It will not hold up, no matter how hard you try to take care of it.
  11. "Performance at the 300mm end of this lens is mediocre by most accounts." Which version of the lens are you referring to?This is simply not true for the VR version. I own it and it is extremely sharp, especially at 300mm. Unlike the previous versions, there is no purple fringing - color and contrast are comparable to the 70-200mm.
    "It will not hold up, no matter how hard you try to take care of it." Are you serious? I have yet to break a lens or camera, ever. I own numerous consumer lenses and they all look and function like new. I have only had one lens failure and it was the 70-200mm and was repaired by Nikon under warranty.
  12. I never owned the "G" version, but I had the [superior] ED version (non-VR). Compared with the VR version, it's a dog. If you can possibly afford it, get the VR version. Yes, it is slightly bigger and heavier than the other versions, but sturdy and optically excellent for the money (even if you are being ripped-off by local distributors, as here in the UK, it is still relatively excellent!)
    If you try one and find it too big/heavy for travel, you may have to rethink your strategy, as I don't think you'll easily get a smaller or lighter optically-competent zoom of similar reach.
  13. Elliot,
    The Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 is a very slow consumer grade lens that many find lacking in performance at the long end. I hear if you stop down far enough when shooting at 300mm, you can get acceptable results, but stopping down would require boosting ISO in other than optimal lighting conditions. I would not be supprised, shooting under the same lighting conditions, if croping into a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 image shot at 200mm would give you a better image quality than that produced by the Nikon 70-300mm shot at 300mm, especially if the Nikon 70-300mm image had to be captured at a higher ISO. However, I'm just guessing about that.
    I'm not guessing about the difference in build quality between the two lenses. There is no comparison.
  14. Robert, you need to be specific as to which of the 3 lenses you are referring to. The latest version, the only VR version, is excellent in every way except perhaps its low light performance due to its aperture.
    While I would agree with your 'cropping' comment with the older versions, it would not hold true with the VR version. The VR version is extremely sharp, especially at 300mm.
  15. I'm not guessing about the difference in build quality between the two lenses. There is no comparison.​
    Robert, there's no comparison in price either. Emma seems to be price conscious, so the question was pertaining to whether the VR version of the 70-300mm was worth the extra money. She'd have to spend twice as much for the 80-200mm f2.8. Heck, if money wasn't a factor, I'd buy the 300mm f.2G VR since I tend to shoot at 300mm more than any other focal length with this lens (I'd say about 80% of the time). Many times we have to buy what's affordable for our budget, and for many of us, that means "consumer grade". Until I win the lottery, I'll continue shooting with the 70-300mm VR. If I do win the lottery, I might keep it anyway. :)
  16. I am referring to the VR version. If you have a sample of the Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR matching the performance of your Nikon 70-200mm f2.8, then I believe you have a truly remarkable sample of the Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 or an unfortunate sample of the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. In any case, I would prefer to carry a faster, better built lens on an extended trip such as the one proposed by Emma. We are not talking about a stroll down the Champs-Elysees. Emma is planning a one year backpacking trip through some inhospitable territory as far as camera equipment is concerned.
    If I had the choice between driving a Honda Pilot or Toyota Land Cruiser on an African safari, I would choose the Land Cruiser.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you haven't done so, please take a look at Emma's previous thread from like 2 weeks ago: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00VL97
    She was still using a D60 then and is now planning to upgrade to a D300S, and she is going to backpack around the world for 12 months. I don't have the impression that she is extremely demanding about image quality, and most likely overall weight will be an issue. Meanwhile, she needs something reasonably durable for such a long trip. If my assumptions are inaccurate, I am sure Emma can provide more accurate information.
    Therefore, there are some tradeoffs among cost, weight, and durability. When I went to Mexico with John Shaw back in October 2008, he brought two D3 bodies and the only telephoto lens he had with him was the 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR. I wouldn't expect that to be the greatest tele zoom around, but most likely it is more than sufficient for Emma's purposes.
  18. Emma seems to be price conscious​
    Where there is a will, there is a way.
  19. Shun is right. I'm talking about what I would bring along on such a trip. We need to hear more input from Emma regarding her photo imaging expectations.
  20. When I went to Mexico with John Shaw back in October 2008,​
    Ok, I'm not only green with envy, but awestruck too. How can one go to Mexico with John Shaw? I live 7 miles from Mexico. Let me know next time, and I'll volunteer to shlep the equipment around...just as long as I can eavesdrop. :)
  21. For under $120 USD at keh.com I'd go for the used Nikon 70-300/4-5.6 ED (you should be able to get it for a great price no matter where you are). Image quality is said to be as good or better than the much more expensive version with VR. Generally speaking this is an outdoor lens that one usually uses during the day. In this scenario you will not likely need VR. It's pretty easy getting 1/500s shutter speed to hand hold it, even at ISO 100. If you anticipate taking a great deal of photos of still subjects with extremely low light then the VR may help.
  22. Bjorn Rorslett
    Two out of three
  23. john, i have the 70-300 ED and wish i had the VR version, mainly because you do need a high shutter speed past 200mm to avoid blur and also because the VR is said to have better IQ at all focal lengths.
    if it comes down to budget, however, that lens is a good deal at $120 used. it's ok wide open and decent at 5.6 but gets much sharper and nicely contrasty at f/8-f/11 suddenly (and somewhat unexpectedly). i prefer it on a tripod rather than as a walkaround lens, though.
    the thing is, for what emma is talking about, if she doesnt really absolutely need 300mm, the 55-200 VR might be better suited for her purposes (and budget). when you travel you need to save weight.
  24. 3sh


    Emma, if you can manage, buy the VR one. This lens is very good and definitely will give you an edge over the non-VR one in low light situation when handheld. Am attaching a picture taken in extremly low light through a very dirty glass window with ISO 200, f/5.6, 185mm, 1/10s handheld with VR on. This situation did not give me a very sharp picture but it didnot show any sign of vibration either. It could never be possible by me without the VR. And you can also see that everyone is recomending the VR. Good luck for your trip.
  25. This is a no brainer, get the VR. Be happy.
  26. Hi Emma -- I just posted a "Blue Moon" photo, made with a D300 and the 70-300 VR G lens on the "Nikon Wednesday pic" forum, details with the posting. Check it out, if you like. It's a pretty nice lens, quite versatile, very useful as you've been hearing in this thread. Happy trails on your trip!
  27. Another vote for the VR. I upgraded from the orignal G version and the difference was like night and day. And one cannot underscore the flexibility that the VR system provides enough!!!
  28. The 70-300VR. Not the 70-300G, not the 70-300ED (not John, it is not better, and not even close). It's not the VR making the difference, but the fact that this is a completely new much improved optical design.
    But are you sure you need a lens this long for the trip? If you want to take wild-life pictures, obviously yes, but for most other things, a shorter lens can be nicer (i.e. Tokina 50-135, though that weighs quite a bit).
    I read in the other thread you will get a 35 f/1.8 (good choice), but what other lens will you bring to cover the wider angles? What kind of photos do you expect to take most? A telezoom to me does not seem the most likely companion on a trip like yours (which, btw, sounds awesome - envy it!).
  29. From everything I've read, the VR is the way to go. I'm buying the 70-300 VR later this month. Also, as others have said, that lens is excellent optically as well. There's a photo in the Nikon Wednesday Pics of a bird in flight shot at the full 300mm and it's sharp as a tack.
  30. VR especially for when at 300, and because of the aperture is small.
  31. VR. I have this lens and when you forget to turn it back on, you notice. It is worth it.
  32. I would go with the 70-300mm. because of the aperture ring and the flexability this allows

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