Ageing 300mm f2.8 VR or 300mm f4 PF?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mike_halliwell, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. I have the former and it's beginning to suffer from noisy focus and VR..... and I suspect not as sharp as it once was.

    When it's mounted on my Z6ii, via FTZ, it's VR is always ON when the camera is powered up, and is getting kinda noisy/whirry.

    I suspect the service/repair bill (if it's even possible regarding spares) will be prohibitive for the 2.8.

    I know I loose a stop, but any other downsides?
  2. Well, it is not as old as my 300/2.8 AFS version 1 not VR! My example produces really nice images with a sharp/soft look that I like. I don't use it that often, it is not very portable. So, maybe get the 300PF as a second lens for it's size & weight advantage, and send the 2.8 off with your fingers crossed for reasonable cost repair. Then keep both.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  3. The 2.8 has nicer backlight rendering and produces a bit more contrasty images. The bokeh is nicer as well. For long distances the 2.8 works best stopped down slightly whereas I felt the PF images have a bit faded appearance at distance. At close to mid distances, if the subject is colorful and contrasty, the PF can excel. I sold my PF lenses and got the VR 300/2.8 II. I haven't noticed any misbehavior or undue noise from focusing or VR. In fact I feel with the Z6II the VR really excels. The PF has newer SWM and newer VR technology, for sure. However, it's not the optical equivalent of the 2.8. I have generally been happy with the 300/2.8 but it is a bit of a beast to handle and while the weight is similar to that of the 200/2, I do find the latter to be much easier to use hand-held. I usually use the 300/2.8 on a gimbal head or Acra Long Lens Head. Occasionally I do hand-hold it for brief periods.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  4. I still shoot with Nikon DSLRs, D 500 and D850. I own and use both Nikon 300mm f4 pf and the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm F2.8G ED VR II. I bought the f2.8 first.

    I will likely sell the 300mm f2.8 as I do not use it enough now that I have the much lighter 300mm f4 pf which also focuses at closer distances than the 300 f2.8. I do love the creamy bokeh of my 300mm f2.8 and use it when I know that controlling backgounds is a must. But if I am close or closer to a nature subject, and I have to stop down for depth of field purposes, like eyes and beak both in focus, the 300mm f4 pf is my lens of choice.

    When I use my 300mm f2.8 I am on a tripod so VR is usually Off. I rarely have it on when I use the f2.8.

    My advice--rent the 300mm f4 pf first and test it out the way you shoot. Then decide if it meets your needs.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  5. My 70-200/4 went in to Nikon for a VR repair.
    $500 later it works, but that was $500, just for the VR.:(
    From that, you can make a guess on your repair.

    If you shoot in LOW light, the f/2.8 is better than the f/4.
    I shoot high school sports, and the f/4 is barely adequate for my high school field.
    I went to another high school, and it SUCKED. Their field was 1 to 1-1/2 stops dimmer.:eek: I really could have used the f/2.8 lens there. I'm not going back to shoot at that school, at night.

    But as was said, the f/2.8 lens has a weight penalty for that extra speed, over the lighter f/4 lens.
    In my older age, I decided that I did not want to lug the extra weight for 5 hours, so went with the half lighter 70-200/4.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  6. Likely the $500 involved replacing the whole optical system including SWM and VR systems in one piece. I had a VR issue in a 70-200/4 and they basically replaced everything but the outer barrel of the lens.

    Unfortunately, Nikon might not have parts to repair the VR system of the VR 300/2.8G (1st version) at this point, but it doesn't hurt to ask their opinion if there is a malfunction and if there is, what can be done.
    mike_halliwell likes this.

  7. When I started in the newspaper business, the 180 f2.8, and, later, the 80-200 f2.8 was the bread-and-butter lens and was the standard Friday night (high school) football lens. After that were the various 70-200 f2.8 lenses. I finally acquired a very used and beat-up 300 f2.8, a great Friday night football lens. I carried it on a monopod so it wasn't so bad.
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  8. Back in my early news days the 80-200/4, a 55/1.2 and a 28/3.5 went everywhere and a 135/2.8 was a night high school football lens. When I got the 180/2.8 I was in heaven. While I have updated a few lenses like the 80-200/2.8 I still keep the others available just because I like them. As for the 300/2.8 it produces great images but I donโ€™t feel like hauling it around unless I need it specifically.

    Rick H.
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  9. I think the issue of sheer bulk means I don't use it as much as I should. I like the focal length though, particularly for bigger BIFs.

    I recently took delivery of the 500mm PF, and am impressed with the whole package. VR is very good for handholding and some reports say the 300m PF is better. The 300mm 2.8 VR by contrast has pretty poor VR, by today's standards.
  10. I can't comment on the 300mm f/2.8, but I own the 300mm f/4 ED IF AF-S, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's about as sharp a lens as I've ever owned. That stated, I'd take the chance on the 300mm PF, if I had to start from scratch. Don't know what Nikon did, formula-wise, but they seem to be sharp from f/4, onward.

    Losing the extra stop hasn't been an issue for me. I normally shoot @ ISO 400, so a one-stop change is not a whole lot. Granted, for wildlife, 300mm is at the low end of utility, but it's an outstanding lens.
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  11. For me the main reasons I went from the f/4 PF to the f/2.8 were that I do figure skating photography and felt the images from the PF were slightly washed out when the background is bright ice (although there is frontal lighting also from the overhead LEDs, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was flaring a bit) and the "conventional" lenses gave higher contrast though admittedly the ones I had to compare were shorter focal length (70-200 mm and 200mm). I look forward to finally trying the 300/2.8 on figure skating early next month.

    Another reason was that I frequently photograph deer in the forest and wanted to minimize the need of ultra-high ISO (25600, 12800) so I wanted the 2.8. Though like others I feel the weight does make it less practical to use than one might like. I guess for deer and general wildlife, the 180-400 would also be a great choice, but for figure skating I felt its f/4 aperture along with vignetting would make it less than ideal, basically putting me to shoot ISO 6400 which is a little on the high side although still high quality. Another possible lens would be the 120-300/2.8 but it isn't any lighter than the 300/2.8 prime and is about twice as expensive which just didn't work for my budget. The 180-400 is similarly priced but has a broader range of applications, especially for wildlife and birds. Neither zoom is especially great for hand-holding though people do say the FL elements make them less front heavy and more hand-holdable, but the absolute weight is not exactly low. ;-)

    For travel and general use the 300/4 PF is a great (especially for travel).
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