Monday, May 14, 2018

Nikon 300mm f/4.5 AI Lens Review

Background

I already have a great 300mm f/4 lens, so why did I get this one?  Good question readers!  The newest Nikon 300mm f/4E PF lens is a fantastic creation.  Much sharper than I could imagine, focus' fast.

What I cannot do with it is adapt it to my mirrorless cameras and I could never get this lens as cheap as I can the 300/4.5 AI.

Handling/Size/Weight

You'd think a legacy 300mm lens would be heavy.  To the 300/4.5AI's credit, it has a noticeable weight to it, but it is not something that is off putting, even on a mirrorless camera.  It did originally come with a removable tripod collar.  Hopefully if you find one of these in a store, the lens collar will still be with it.  I was lucky enough to find one with the tripod collar.

The aperture ring is what you have come to expect with a Nikon of this age.  Positive clicks by the numbers.

The focus ring is smooth, but does have quite a long throw to it.  I noticed it can be a bit picky to get precise sometimes, however, this is an old, used lens so I'm not sure if that is just a symptom of use/abuse or if that is the way it was from new.

Image Quality

Many reports that this lens is a decent performer wide open.  Stopped down, as with most lenses it is supposed to really start shining.   Do those statements from others hold true?

On the Nikon Df:
1/500, f/4.5, ISO 100

1/500, f/4.5, ISO 100

1/1000, f/8, ISO 450

1/320, f/4.5, ISO 1800

1/320, f/4.5, ISO 2200

1/320, f/4.5, ISO 1250


Focusing

Manual focus and pretty decent.  Not the best I've ever used with the Nikon 180/2.8 ED AIS and 105/2.5 besting it in feel.  It was a little bit of a struggle at times trying to balance the weight with my left hand and also turning the focus ring.

Bottom Line

For the $50 I nabbed this for I can't really complain too much.  With my Olympus Micro Four Thirds kit, you have very few options at the longer end. A handful of 300mm zooms that are not very fast (f/5.6-6.7) and the ones that are fast like the Olympus 300mm f/4 prime are $2500+ USD.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing the IQ of the Olympus to this legacy Nikon.  But this is a decent way of getting that 600mm field of view for not a lot of money if you don't mind having to manual focus.

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