Nikon 300mm f4
Nikon 300mm f4 review
Introduction – Nikon 300mm f4 review
I was very curious about this lens, as I checked many pictures made with this lens on the internet and all look superb. Even some of these pictures looks better than the pictures with the Canon 400mm f/5.6 which is also a superb lens, and many people claim the reason to not switching Nikon. Nikon doesn’t have an Af-s 400mm f/5.6 lens only has the f/2.8 version which is a heavy, very expensive monster. Many people with lower budget aiming high performance bird or wildlife photography interest opt for the Nikon 300mm f4 usually together with the 1.4x converter attached. The Nikon with the converter is more expensive than the Canon, the difference is even bigger if we speak about used lenses.
Official name – Nikon 300mm f4 review
The official name of the lens is Af-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 D IF ED
Newer version – Nikon 300mm f4 lens update
There are many rumors about the internet about a new improved version of this lens(just like in the case of the Canon 400m f/5.6), perhaps with a stabilizer. I cannot judge them, but always there is a possibility that a new version of the lens is coming which can result to better performance on the new lens, or cheaper price of the older version.
Compatibility – Nikon 300mm f4 lens update
The lens is compatible Nikon Fx and Dx cameras as well.
How to attach – Nikon 300mm f4 lens update
Normally lenses with aperture rings must adjust the smallest aperture in order to work on newer cameras (f/32). The copy I checked must adjust to f/8 in order to work properly.
Specifications – Nikon 300mm f4
Focal length range: 300mm
Optical formula: 10 lens elements in 6 groups included 2x ED element
Angle of view: 8 / 5 degree (Fx / Dx)
Aperture blades: f/4-32
Minimum focusing distance: 1.45m (4.75′)
Weight: 1440g (50.8 oz)
Dimensions: App. 90 x 223mm (3.54 x 8.78 “)
Aperture diaphragm blades: 9
Magnification: 1: 3.7
Filter thread: 77mm (non-rotating)
Built in light plastic hood
The 300mm is a little short for birds or wildlife photography, long for classical portraits, best fit to sports or wildlife with teleconverters. With the 1.4 X teleconverter the lens will be a 420mm f/5.6 lens, which is very good focal length. The f/4 aperture is also very good, the lens is not to big or heavy, but still let’s plenty of light in. The 1.45m minimum focusing distance is very nice.
Optical qualities – Nikon 300mm f4 review
The lens has excellent optical quality even with the 1.4x converter attached. The images has very nice colours, contrast and sharpness. Distortion is very low. Some CA can be detected at high contrast scenes, but newer cameras corrects them automatically in Jpeg mode. The lens is very sharp even wide open. All picture below are without post processing, only resized. The pictures looks as sharp as many lenses with additional sharpening. The images were taken in overcast weather, in lower light conditions.
Very sharp wide open Nikon 300mm f4 at f/4 1/2000s ISO 400 Nikon d7000 camera
f/4 1/800s ISO 1600 Nikon d7000 extremely good detail wide open
Sharpness – Nikon 300mm f4
This is a very sharp lens even wide open with the 1.4x teleconverter. Stopping down even increase sharpness, but while Canon’s 400mm is very good at 560mm with the 1.4x converter, the 2x for the 300mm is a little too much.
Nikon 300mm f/4 1/1000s f/4 ISO 800 Nikon d7000 camera
Nikon 300mm f/4 1/1000s f/7.1 ISO 800 Nikon d7000 camera
Build quality – Nikon 300mm f4 review
The lens has very solidly build, with a metal mount. The manual focus ring is very pleasantly can be used. The lens has a built-in-plastic hood which is handy to protect the front lens element. The filter size is 77mm. The lens is internally focusing
Bokeh – Nikon 300mm f4
The bokeh is very nice.
Autofocus – Nikon 300mm f4
The Autofocus is quick and silent ring-type ultrasonic focus. In close focus distances the autofocus is little hesitant, to set the limiter at 3m is a good idea to have decent speed. Not as speedy as Canon’s USM but tracking even flying birds is not a problem, unless we start from close distances without the limiter.
Price/performance – Nikon 300mm f4
The Nikon 300mm f4 is not a cheap lens, optically superb, but a little more reach would be beneficial. The 400mm f/5.6 would be ideal for the folks. On the other hand the f/4 aperture is a big bonus in lower light situations.
In Nikon land there is not a lot of alternatives regarding prime lenses, either you pay much more for the f/2.8 versions, or get the Tamron 150-600 which is a zoom lens with different parameters. There are older Nikkor primes out there, but mostly with manual focusing like the 400mm f/3.5 or 500mm f/4 P. At Canon system there is a 400mm f/5.6 which is also a very good lens. The Nikon seems sharper (more resolution) the Canon is longer and perhaps has better contrast, both lens is excellent but different. The older Nikon 300mm f4 is also a very good lens, but not as sharp with the teleconverters, weaker against bright sunlight, and has slower autofocus. The minimal focus distance is 2.5 on the older lens. (1.45m for the newer) The even older 300mm f/4.5 Ai or Ai-s lenses are not as sharp as the newer lenses. The popular 70-300mm zooms are nowhere near compare to this lens in terms of optical quality at 300mm. The Nikon 70-200m f/2.8 lens is also very sharp even with the tele converters, but I think the prime is sharper at 420mm. The Sigma xx-500mm zooms are not in the same leage than this lens. If your main aim is bird or wildlife photography I wouldn’t advise you these Sigmas. The new Sigma 150-600 will be twice as heavy and no information about optical quality yet. The Tamron 150-600 is a very good lens, but several month or half a year waiting needed to get a copy. Very hard to compare the two lens to each other, because the Tamron is much longer, the Nikon is brighter, but most people interested in the performance of long focal lengths. At 600mm I think the Nikon left no or little advantage over the Tamron except a little brightness. On the other hand the Tamron would not be f/4, the Nikon is much lighter. The Tamron is significantly cheaper, and has an excellent stabilizer. Nikon also has some zooms like the Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6. I would not buy it for the price, weight, and optically the prime is superior. There are two versions of this lens, the older has slow autofocus, the second is optically about on par with the Tamron 150-600, which is much cheaper.
-Excellent image quality,
-silent and quick USM drive,
-built in Hood
-relatively light and small
-well thought out focus limiter
No back lens elements, meaning dust can enter, if no converter on the lens
Verdict – Nikon 300mm f4 review
The Nikon 300mm f4 Af-s is an excellent lens for Nikon FX and DX cameras. The sharpness is very high from wide open aperture, colours are great thanks to the two ED glass elements. Together with the excellent Nikon cameras this lens able to produce stunning results. The lens works very well with converters, I would use 1.4x and 1.7x converters on this lens for sure. Perhaps even the 2x converters. If you interested in bird/wildlife photography, like the focal length, has the budget for this lens, this lens is Highly recommended.