Which Nikon 300/2.8?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tom_boston|1, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. I want a 300/2.8 and VR is out. It's simply too pricey for my pocketbook.
    The only choices I'd consider are the AF-S version 1 and the AF-S version 2.
    I know that version 2 is a bit lighter and focuses a bit closer. Otherwise, what kind of difference is there in the optics of these two beasts? I really couldn't find any reviews differentiating them.
    Or maybe I should go for a new Sigma 120-300/2.8 and get OS to boot.
    This is mostly to satisfy a bit of NAS. Practical applications for would be for some youth & school sports, local wildlife including the domestic variety. Maybe some portraiture though that would be overkill as I already have a 70-200.
    Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
  2. Just consider as you mentioned wildlife, that Birds... 300mm is too short.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Among Nikon long telephotos, the first AF-S version was introduced in 1996 along with the F5 and the second version were introduced in the early 2000's. Optically the corresponding lenses are identical between AF-S and AF-S II, but version II can focus closer and they have more carbon fiber in the barrel so that they are lighter.
    Generally speaking, the difference is small between those versions.
  4. Regarding wildlife, the interest is chiefly city wildlife. Backyard cats and that sort of thing. I wasn't planning on going safari with it. Also, I already have a TC-14E II, and then putting it on a DX body gives sufficient reach for what I want to do.

  5. Shun, confirmation that the optics are the same is exactly what I was looking for.
    So how much difference in the AF-S speed is there? Does the increased speed come from the lighter mass being moved?

  6. By the way, both of the above photos are with a 300/2.8 I rented 5 years ago. I don't know whether it was AF-S I or AF-S II, but I really enjoyed using it.
  7. For my D300s, I recently bought the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 HSM OS non-USB from Roberts Camera for $2500 US, and also got a Kenko 1.4X teleconverter for $225. I think it's a great lens and a great deal, and you can find it used for about $1500. The lens and teleconverter combination gives me a lens kit that goes from 180mm f2.8 to 640mm f/4.
  8. One thing to consider when buying a used lens that is over 1,5 decade old : If you need service, are the parts still available ?
    Those type of lenses are often ( not always) heavely used by pro's so be very critical when inspecting a specimen that you consider to buy .
  9. Or maybe I should go for a new Sigma 120-300/2.8 and get OS to boot.​
    We not rent it and try it out. Would certainly be my first choice if 300mm was long enough.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I own the first version of the 300mm/f2.8 AF-S; I bought it new back in 1998. Optically it is still excellent today and AF is very fast, certainly faster than the 300mm/f4 AF-S and the new 80-400mm AF-S VR. That is mainly due to the f2.8 maximum aperture, letting more light into the "eye" (i.e. AF module).
    However, I have never used any one of the subsequent 300mm/f2.8 AF-S lenses from Nikon, including AF-S II, AF-S VR I, and the current AF-S VR II. Therefore, I don't have any comparison.
    I do have some newer Nikon super teles with Nikon's latest optics and VR, and I consider my 300mm/f2.8 AF-S version 1 just as good as any one of them. Personally I don't need VR on such lenses and tend to switch it off anyway.
  11. I have the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 DG HSM and use it exclusively to shoot sports. I find it to be very sharp and to have good AF speed and accuracy. I use it on my D300 and on my D4 and have not had anything to complain about optically. It did have to go back to Sigma after 5 years of hard use for a minor adjustment which they did for free.
    The newest version of the Sigma which is supposed to be an amazing lens would be my choice.
  12. Hi Tom, for what it's worth I was in the same boat as you and wound up finding a super clean pre AF-I AF Nikkor 300 2.8. When soothing sports, I always use a monopod, so VR really wasn't an issue for me, another strongpoint of this lens is no internal focus motor. Maybe not a big deal for some folks, but I see it as a bonus. The only downside is that I had to also pick up a third party T/C to keep AF with this lens when I already have a TC14E. Here is an image taken with it. [​IMG]
  13. lwg


    It doesn't sound like you have a strong need for the faster lens, so you may also want to consider the 300mm f/4 AFS lens. It's very sharp, relatively small, focuses very close-up, and in my opinion is a great bargain. I use it for all the purposes you mention and I'm very happy with it. The only reason I wish for an f/2.8 version is to get faster focusing, especially when using a TC14E in dim light.
  14. I sold a 300/2.8 AF first version screw drive to get a nice used 300/2.8 AFS version 1. The optics are outstanding, AF speed and accuracy are impressive on the AFS. However, at about double the money of the older screw drive version, I sort of wish I had not spent the money.
    I preferred the lens hood of the older lens to the flimsy CF one of the AFS. The screw out portion integral to the lens provided more physical protection to the front element. AF speed was slower, but OK for running people with a D3 or D600. And, I will bet that the old screw drive system will still be working when the motor dies in the AFS someday. Optically, the AFS is better but the difference is small, not significant IMO. Both lenses produce sensational results. One other benefit is that both of the 2.8's seem to actually be f/2.8, not cheaters. Both were more than a stop faster than the 300/4 AFS I used to have.
    I think the older screw drive 300/2.8's are a bargain.
  15. Useful input from everyone, thank you!

    LG - The big selling point for the Nikon 300/2.8 is the sharpness wide open at f/2.8. I already have a Sigma 100-300/4 zoom that I'm not fond off. My Nikon 70-200/2.8 + TC14EII seems to match it for sharpness. I'm a little bit of an f-stop snob and f/4 just doesn't cut it for me. And looking through the viewfinder with an f/2.8 lens is much more pleasant.

    I'd consider the Sigma 120-300/2.8 but the zoom ring turns opposite the Nikon. Yes, that's a minor quibble but it's a deal breaker for me because I'd get annoyed every time I turn the ring the wrong way.

    It does sound like there is little difference in optical quality between the the AF-I and even the newest models. That was really the big question.

    Also going against the third party lenses is that I have a little bit of a collector in me. The purchase is partly to satisfy NAS and Tamron, Sigma and Tokina just don't do it. And though I feel like I "collect" these lenses, I don't worry about using them and trying to preserve the finish for resale value.
    If my TC14EII doesn't work with the AF-I, then that pretty much eliminates that lens makes my choice between AF-S I and AF-S II. I'd have to say I'm leaning towards the older lens right now. I'm not sure the closer focusing distance and the 1 lb weight savings justifies the price difference.

    Thanks again. Now I just have to find something at the best price possible!
  16. Your TC14EII will work with an AF-I lens, it just won't AF with the older screw drive lenses because they are designed to
    work with the internal focus motor lenses. That is the reason I had to pick up a Kenko T/C to AF with mine. Just a heads
    up, I almost went for an AF-I version, but did a search, and apparently parts are extremely difficult, if not impossible to
    find at this point. Good luck with the purchase, and let us know what you choose, happy shooting!
  17. Unless you really need the AF speed, I think you will be fine with a screw drive.
    Last month I bought an old screw driven ED AF 300 2.8 (New) with the solid aluminium carry case, a bundled TC-301 and several drop in filters including a rear mounted C-PL and B+W black and white filter for $1400 including postage. The lens itself is in pristine condition, including the mount. There was a minor rub mark on the lower edge of the hood, that was all.
    On both my D600 and D7000s, hardly the freshest or most expensive cameras out there, the thing focusses quickly, certainly and to all intents and purposes perfectly. I have already used it to capture cyclists along a riverside race track here in Tokyo and it had no trouble keeping up with their 40km+ pace. You could read the warnings on the stickers of their seat posts from 20 yards. Very impressive.
    Mine is enough for what I use it for ( car/boat races, cycling, marathons and my kids' sports days at school and at the swimming centre) and intend to keep it until I can find a decently priced S/H Sigma 120-300 with USB dock which will allow me to get by with one "big" lens per session instead of the two I now have to carry.
    I would recommend a loaner for a few days, you might be surprised at the AF. It's not as bad as the marketeers and Nikon "enthusiasts" make out.
  18. I found an AF-S Mk II, BGN condition (but still decently) clean, for about $2600 at KEH. Best of all, it included the hood that would have cost $300 new!

    Thanks everyone for the help in choosing!!!!

    My copy of the 300/2.8 is not correctly reporting the focal length and aperture change through my TC14E. I am investigating this but KEH has assured me that they will take care of it once I confirm it is an issue.

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