Nikon 70-300 vr - is it any good?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steve.manzon, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
    Signature URL deleted per Community Guidelines -
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. I have seen some terrific shots taken with it on various D700s. It seems borderline spectacular on FX cameras when put in capable hands.
  11. In my experience with the 70-300, it is optically excellent (not just OK). I've shot philharmonic concerts in questionable light, and even with the slower aperture, I get some very good shots hand held.
  12. This is one lens that I would strongly recommend trying for yourself. Either people who love it lack objectivity; I'm extremely unlucky with this particular lens; or it has the widest range of QC tolerances of any lens I've heard of. I read about it, and looked at webshots, and decided to give it a good for what I was doing...then another (people told me about the "good copy/bad copy deal)...same thing. To date I've had three of them and did not care for the output above 250mm and/or wider than 7.1 for large prints (>8x10ish). It's also terribly behaved on a tripod (of any size), which in its's not designed for. If my applications were different I would have enjoyed keeping it, and I may try another some day. It is easily portable, well-made, and has decent AF speed. I thought I could replace a 2.8 zoom with one...I couldn't. Anyway, try one and you may love it. If not, it should be cake to sell because it is a very popular consumer lens.
  13. I should add that my experience is strictly DX with this lens.
  14. I shoot sport with this lens. I record dismissals in cricket. The shooting data for the following examples are D300 at 300 mm @ 1/400 sec ISO 200 at f/5.6 with UV filter and lens hood attached and shot using a tripod. The shots were recorded horizontally as RAW files, cropped vertically and saved as TIFF files. Shots 1 and 2 were taken 55 m away and Shot 3 was taken 75 m away. The results are reasonable and the cost of the lens is even more reasonable. So overall, very good value for money (in my opinion).
  15. Here is Shot 2.
  16. Here is Shot 3.
  17. I bought the 70-300 as a companion to my 16-85 (which I love) and find myself the lone dissenter here. While I have gotten great shots with lens, I don't consider it a great lens. In comparison with either 200/4 Micro or 200/4AIS at 200mm the 70-300 lacks the contrast and crispness, and past 200mm I find it's just too slow to focus quickly enough for wildlife and the dof and contrast simply do not take pictures with the impact of lenses like the 300/4 (at 300mm) or better. I wish it were as good as the 35/1.8, a real bargain. I'm planning on biting the bullet (size and $ wise) and getting the 70-200/2.8 and one of the longer telephotos (300 or above) as budget permits.
  18. For every photographic subject you list you do not need VR. You say no low light, and mostly daytime daylight shooting of landscapes, zoos, and some sports. The daylight photos with an f2.8 lens will easily get you the 1/250 to 1/500 you need to handhold the 80-200/2.8. You do not need a tripod. For sports VR is useless since you need fast shutter speeds to stop the action.
    I do not know why you say the 50-200 does not do it for you, but you should know that the image quality of the 70-300 will not be much better. It is easy for people to be happy with the lenses that they have until they try those that they do not. I've gone through 20 lenses over the past 25 years in improving to my current system of 8 lenses. All the lenses that I was happy with faded when compared to the ones I replaced them with.
    You ask about contrast and colour rendition as well, and you have an extremely capable camera in the D300, so I do not want you to dismiss lenses of superior image quality for the wrong reasons. Another lens that would fit well with your current lenses is the Nikon ED AF 180/2.8 and again you could add a TC-14E later.
  19. On a DX body, this lens can be excellent (just like the 55-200). My first 70-300 was badly decentered, and I sent it back immediately. The second was moderately decentered only in the the 150mm range. 300mm was really sharp, as was 70mm. I kept it for about a year. Bokeh is so so, focus speed is OK, VR is quite good. The lack of a tripod collar is a small problem. Contrast is good.
    The build quality on this lens is mediocre (but the price is low). You may have to try several to get a good one. Since the 70-300 and 55-200 are small and light, I sometimes think about buying four or five to get one really good one, but I am slowly going all FX.
  20. Nikon's 70-300mm VR is in reality their sharpest current production telephoto zoom, excluding the 200-400 f/4. It is even sharper than the much more expensive 70-200 f/2.8, and much sharper at apertures from f/11 to f/32. In comparison to the 80-400 VR, it is noticeably sharper, more contrasty, and doesn't suffer the significant optical vignetting of the longer lens. It is also sharper than Canon's 75-300IS, 70-200 f/2.8IS, and 100-400IS. Note: I do not own this lens, though I used to use it on loan and know several other pro nature shooters who have bought it specifically for these reasons.
    Obviously, as others have mentioned, quality control plays into this, though Nikon QC is generally excellent.
    FWIW, the only comparable lens that may be better is the Sony 70-400mm, which is truly an exceptional tele-zoom.
  21. I must say that the 70-300 VR easily beats my Nikkor 24-70mm at 70mm, same aperture.
  22. I am waiting for Nikon to come out with a 70-200 f4 with a tripod collar. Until then, I will continue to use my 70-210 4-5.6 which will probably be forever.
  23. I had 70-300VR, bought used 70-200 and sold 70-300VR day after. You can shoot 70-200 @200mm at 2.8, crop, and get better results than 70-300VR at 5.6 or f8, not to mention 2.8 shallow DOF effect, build quality, fast AF, low light shooting, user of TC's etc...

    Only criteria that I think is important is weight/size and price.

    If size/weight is not a problem, consider buying used 80-200/2.8's. They cost almost as new 70-300VR. Much better optics, in daylight you can shoot at 4xfaster shutter speeds wide open than VR lens (1/1000 opossed to 1/250 for example) and get nice shallow DOF effect.
  24. pge


    Watch out Josh Loeser you might have just started a rumour about the new D700s ; )
  25. I'll 2nd, 3rd, etc. what everyone's saying. The 70-300 VR is one of Nikon's best values. As you suggest, it's not as sharp as the 70-200, but it is very very good. Bokeh is among the best I've seen, and color/contrast is great. I've had mine two years, on a D50 and now on a D90, and it's always in my kit.
    At 70mm it's wonderful, nearly equal to my 50mm f/1.8, and very acceptable at 300mm. I find best images are at F/8 that drop off quickly at smaller or larger apertures. I sometimes combine a 1.4x with mixed results, and auto focus hunts sometimes. This a no-brainer, get one!
  26. next post plase : )
  27. Just read this I're better off trying it yourself cuz evaluations are all over the place. I didn't follow that advice when I went down that mistake. There's another site that has posters from time to time who claim that the 70300VR has IQ that is equal to a 300 f4 prime. That's the kind of statement that pretty much dashes your credibility among experienced photographers. Unfortunately there are inexperienced shooters trying to learn, and some of them listen to advice like that. You really can't know if someone's personal criteria is anywhere near what yours is. Get one try it...can't lose that way.
  28. When it was released the gurus of reviewing missed the fact it is better than anything else in that range (and at f4 and up the best of all 70-200 etc.). So till today we are trying to convince each other that it is really good. Stop shopping - just try it.
  29. Hi,
    I had the opportunity to use a 70-300VR over the weekend. I was not impressed with the sharpness, below is a100% crop of a shot taken at 270mm, 1/500 F5.6. I welcome comments if I did something wrong, or is this the level I should expect.
    Thanks for your help,
  30. Figured it out; my sunpack UV filter adds softness to the pictures. Does anybody have a recommendation for another brand of filter, or should I refrain from UV filters in geneal, since most lenses have pretty good UV coating these days?
    Any advice is appreciated,
  31. wmk


    I just replaced my 70-300 ED (which I was never happy with) with this lens and I am pretty impressed. Even aside from the VR, it seems heads and shoulders above the 70-300 ED. Granted, it's no 70-200 VR (or even 80-200 F2.8 ED) but for the money its pretty good. And it is lighter than those two lenses (but heavier and larger than the 70-300ED because the filter size goes from 62mm to 67mm)
    It seems sharp from 70-200, with some softness creeping in above that (but going to F8 makes it sharp there too)
    Autofocus seems plenty fast to me, much faster than the 70-300ED which tended to hunt
    I like the color rendition better than the lens it is replacing.
    Here are a couple of test shots (Exif data etc is also posted)
  32. wmk


    O.K This is a follow up of my comments on the 70-300VR above. I spent a few days with it on safari and I was very impressed.
    Sure, I would have loved a faster lens to throw stuff out of focus, but when you factor in the price difference between this lens and the 70-200 VR + 1.4TC, this lens is a steal. And the VR is phenomenal, works as advertised.
    Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
  33. Being a commercial photographer using Nikon all my life and mostly Prime optics. Well I tested my wifes 70-300vr on my D3X camera and BOY!! was I surprised, from 70 to 200 and at f8, f11, its tack-sharp! yes at 70 mil its even sharper then the bigger brother, the 70-200vr.
    If you dont need fast action optics, etc, dont be a fool, paying three times the price for the 70-200vr.
    This 70-300vr is brillant, light and easy to manage and gives exactly the same results as my 70-200.2.8vr.
  34. Wall and chart shooters like to pick on this lens, or they beat it up for not being a 2.8. It's perfectly adequate for 95% of the shooters out there. It serves a purpose well. For those who demand the best of the best because they feel thier pictures will be better also don't mind paying for it and carrying it around. That's a choice. Jay Maisel and Moose Peterson (and others) seem not to have a problem with the 70-300 (for appropriate applications) and Maisel has taken some pretty amazing pictures with it. What have you done with that $2500 lens?There's definitely a indian/arrow argument on the underside of this debate. A great picture is a great picture, no matter what lens takes it. Ones images are no better because a $2500 lens was used to capture it. A crappy image still sucks no matter how sharp, contrasty or colorful it is. But, this lens is cheap enough to give it a try. I have one because I don't want to always carry my 80-200 2.8 -- it's heavy. Plus, on a bright day when I could use a little extra reach, this lens is fantastic, and it has no equal in its price range.

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