Thursday, March 2, 2017

Nikon 300mm f/4 PF Lens Review

Image © NikonUSA

Background

Looking for something on the long end of the Nikon line...why stop at the 300mm f/4 PF?

I'm not running 2 "pro" kits anymore.  I was wanting the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system to work for me...but it just did not work out in the end.  Olympus makes good cameras and lenses, however there were some short comings that made me eventually say that I was going to stick with Nikon for all my paid assignments.  I'll get more into that in a later blog.  However, I will tell you that the Olympus gear went toward the lens you see above.

This review was almost one line and a bunch of images.  That one line would have been, "The images will speak for themselves."

However, what fun is that?   Then you would not get a chance to hear me blather on about gear stuff.  lol

All images in this article taken with the Nikon D500.

1/500, f/4.5, ISO 250

Handling/Weight/Size

 This is one of the great things about this lens.  It is relatively the same size as the Nikon 24-70/2/8.  Yep, that's right.  My understanding is that the PF or Phase Fresnel element in the lens helped to reduce the weight and length of the lens.

Years ago, I had the old 300/4 non-AF-S lens with the aperture ring.  That lens was long and an all metal construction.  It was not something you brought along "just because".  You brought it because you knew you would need it.  That old lens did not have VR either.

Now, this lens is hand holdable.  It doesn't even come with a tripod collar (although one can be purchased for it).

The 300mm balances well on each of the camera bodies I've tested it on (D700/D500).  It's control layout is similar to most modern Nikon lenses, so all the switches and rings are where you'd expect them to be.

The VR has 3 modes, Off, Normal and Active (used for panning).

The AF switch has a/m, m/a, and m modes.  This lens also allows for full tiem MF override just by turning the AF ring.

The animal images you see here were taken at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
1/800, f/4.5, ISO 100

Image Quality

This is where the rubber meets the road and boy, do we have a sweet set of tires!!

At f/4, this lens delivers.  Stopped down shows a slight improvement.   Honestly, unless I need more depth of field or to block out a strong light source, I'm happy to shoot this wide open all the time.

Other reviews have stated that the IQ suffers little with a Nikon TC14E III teleconverter.

On a D500 with the APS-C sensor - you are looking at a field of view with just the lens being 450mm.  Add a 1.4 TC to that and you are into 600mm field of view territory.  You've got a very capable setup to reach out there.

The sample images throughout the article are showing you what this lens has to offer.

1/125, f/4, ISO 4000 VR Normal active
1/320, f/4, ISO 1250 VR active
1/320, f/4, ISO 280

1/320, f/4, ISO 720

1/320, f/4, ISO 2500

Auto Focus

Quick, as you'd want it to be.  I've had no complaints from it on my initial outings.  I'm shooting a sports festival soon, so I will be able to test out the AF-C performance there and will post image from that outing.

I checked the AF accuracy and my copy was spot on.  No adjustments were needed.

Heck, I even used this lens for some street photography!!
1/1000, f/4, ISO 100

1/1000, f/4, ISO 125

1/1000, f/4, ISO 800

Bottom Line:
This is not an inexpensive lens.  You are not getting cheap optics either.  If you need a 300mm lens and f/4 is enough for you, then this is one of the best lenses in its class.  For me and the work I do this lens is looking to be the one long lens that I will bring with me just in case and not only when I know I will need it.

This is one of those lenses where you can believe the hype around it.  Is it perfect...well no, but it will disappoint you rarely and only if you go looking for issues.

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