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AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED

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Poll: Rate this lens (39 member(s) have cast votes)

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#1 ChrisLilley


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Posted 23 April 2010 - 01:19

If you have used this lens please share your experiences with us in this thread so that others interested in it have a concise pool of reviews to guide their choice.

This thread is about the AF-S 300/4. If you have experience to share about a different 300mm lens please use the appropriate thread.

Kindly keep your review comments within our guidelines and note that comments made outside of the guidelines may be deleted without notice.
Camera (ˈkæ mə rə), n. Device for taking pictures in bright light
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#2 joemcbroom.com


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Posted 23 April 2010 - 02:16

In my personal opinion this is the best value for the money that Nikon has provided... I am uploading a lot of shots from this lens to show it's diversity.

It is sharp as a tack!!

There is a learning curve with it because it is not Nikon's fastest lens... but for 3000.00 US dollars less than the alternative it is great!!!! It is also tack sharp with tele converters.

If anyone has any question about this lens, please feel free to PM me.

Following the guidelines... I have owed the lens for about 6 month's... I bought it for more reach with Florida birds.... and I would recommend this lens to anyone that is advanced in there skills,... This lens is not going to make a poor photographer better.... It takes a certain skill level to master this lens because it is not a "program auto" type lens.

Cheers, Joe

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My worst fear is that I die and my wife sells my camera gear for the dollar amount that I told her I paid for it. Joe


#3 RC51



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Posted 23 April 2010 - 02:20

I had the 300mm AF f4 which I liked very much + Tamron 1.4X which I liked less....
So I bought the AF-S version to use the TC-14E II and they are a superb pairing. The new lens in very similar in performance (excellent) to the old lens. But the closer (5ft) focus is a real plus and 77mm filter thread.

#4 PatrickO


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Posted 23 April 2010 - 16:34

Joe, great shots!

I have to agree that this is a superb lens - tripod collar notwithstanding. Sharp, focuses relatively quickly and it is light enough to walk around all day with. Add a TC1.7 and you have a 500mm macro (well, almost  :)) for sunny conditions. It also takes extension tubes quite well, although not particularly brilliant with the Canon 500D (closeup lens)(may just be my technique).

With better and better ISO coming out of the camera, the smaller aperture of this lens becomes less of a problem.

My contribution from last weekend...  (D700, 300mm AFS f4, f/8, 1/160th, handheld, no TC or tubes)

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#5 Mark English

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 12:14

I am in full agreement with the previous posts.  This lens takes crisp clear shots and is light which is important while trekking through the bush.
It only comes off the body when doing portrait and sometimes street.

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Best Regards,

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#6 aisnikkor



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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:51

I bought this lens when switching back to full frame (D700) from a D300s.  I had owned a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens since 2004, which I sold to get this lens and facilitate purchase of the more expensive body.  I have the 'light grey' version - I live in southern California, shoot a lot of sports in the summer when its hot - seemed like this might help when in full sun for extended periods.

In short, this has been one of the best Nikkor lenses I have used from an optical standpoint - absolutely awesome optical performance.  Past experiences with similar Nikon 300mm's (f/4 ED-AF, f/4.5 EDIF AiS) required stopping down to get best optical performance.  Not so with this lens - performance wide open is first rate.  AF speed (with my D700) is fast enough to keep up shooting youth soccer, but it is noticeably slower than other lenses I have used in the past (200-400mm AFS, 300mm f/2.8 AFS).

I have been using it with the TC-17e, and it performs extremely well with this converter.  It is even quite sharp wide open with the converter, which I think is tied to the stellar wide open performance of the lens by itself.  The TC-17 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR I used to have was not even close in performance, and was definitely lacking wide open with the TC.  AF speed on the 300mm with the converter is about as fast as without, but can hunt for focus more frequently.  I have had good success with AF and this TC combo in good light conditions.

Also of note with the TC-17e is that Bokeh quality of the lens is maintained at a high level.  In my past experiences with Nikon TC's, this has never happened before for me - TC's have always added a harshness to the bokeh quality of the image.  I have used the 300mm f/2.8 AF-S with the TC-14E, and while a very sharp combo, it had noticeable degradation of the bokeh with the converter added.  Not so with the TC-17e + 300mm f/4 AF-S combo - very smooth backgrounds with this setup.

Tripod collar is a definite shortcoming for the lens.  I replaced it with the Really Right Stuff model, which is noticeably stiffer than the original (its amazing how much flex is in the original collar!), but I still have problems in the 'danger zone' (as noted by Bjorn on his website), even with the RRS collar.  I get a low percentage of keepers, if any good shots at all, shooting at ~1/10 second or so.  This is on a fairly beefy tripod setup (Gitzo 1325 CF with large Markins ball head).  I did not want to go with the Kirk collar, as I have RRS flash bracket which needs the extra dovetail on the RRS mount.  The RRS flash bracket (B87b) is really useful with this lens.  Kirk does not have this extra dovetail, nor would it be easy to retrofit without some custom work on the Kirk bracket.  The Kirk collar does look like it would solve the stability problem though.  For now I am looking for a suitably sized rubber cork to push in the gap and try that 'solution'.  Funny enough, I cannot find a plastic film can (often suggested for this purpose as well) anywhere in the house at the moment - its been five or six years since my last roll of film.

Overall, this has been a remarkable lens with the D700 - I am very satisfied with the purchase!  The loss of the 70-200mm hurts at times, but the results with the 300mm have made the change for me more than worthwhile.

Highland, California

#7 Gastronauta


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Posted 04 January 2011 - 09:38

I whittled off most of the mushroomy head of a sparkler cork to produce a slight concavity where the lens barrel would have a snug fit. Improvement is noticeable though the actual look of the setup is pathetic. I mean pathetic as in "For the price and looks of a fancy tripod head, D300, and 300 AF-S you'd expect not to have to resort to clumsy DIY". Or maybe even pathetic as in "Somebody in Japan--with legendary knife skills--should have done this, not me".
Still less reliable than I'd like it to be (vs the performance I'd expect from the dedicated Kirk) but certainly cheaper. As I limit tripod use with this lens to moon shots with TCs, it is not a dramatic issue for me, but still...

#8 Cloudmaker


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Posted 04 January 2011 - 11:12

I bought this lens about three & a half years ago - specifically for a trip to Antarctica and to use with the TC14EII & TC17EII where I expected to be shooting wildlife for the first time, but did not want the bulk of a faster 300 or longer focal length.

Having read Bjrn's tripod collar blues, I also bought the Kirk bracket at the time and have never used the original collar.

In short, it has met and exceeded my expectations:
  • it's light and 'back-pack-able" for the focal length
  • as others have mentioned (and so wonderfully demonstrated), the optical results are great
  • it pairs well with the TCs; and
  • the close focusing is a real bonus

I use mine for landscapes, close-ups and wildlife - which to me summarises one of it's great strengths: versaility.

I've got no complaints.

Michael Larkin  www.cloudmaker.com

#9 Gastronauta


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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:08

Ouch, as for the remaining aspects of real use with the lens, I have no complaints whatsoever. Best 1200 I've ever spent. But a real invitation to further expenses, of course: once you try this IQ level there's no turning back.
It is perfectly handholdable for hours (yes, there is a price to pay, but it IS possible to HH for six hours, and I never rely totally on the neckstrap). Mounted on the D300 the combo fits (TC included, if you wish) inside my Flipside 400 AW, and if I want to go light there is enough room for the unmounted camera, lens, TC, and a 35 f/2 inside the Slingshot 200 AW. The cap I rarely use, as the telescopic hood is a blessing, protecting the front element (Skylight filter in my case) from raindrops etc outside, and scratches inside the Flipside (Ido need the cap for the Slingshot, as the hood needs to be retracted there).
I used it with a Kenko Teleplus 1,4x for roughly one year. Autofocus was a mess, but IQ did not resent the TC as much as I had expected. Now I've bought a proper Nikon TC (1,4. I did not have the courage to go for the 1,7) and have high hopes for the AF. Will report back on its performance... in winter light...

#10 splitpin



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Posted 14 February 2011 - 00:07

I use full frame cameras and its the best lens buy i ever made it has the nikon tc 1.4 on most of the time [i dont like it with the 1.7].
i use it for birds,wildlife and even portraits.
great lens dont hesitate to buy one.

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#11 Colin-M


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Posted 31 March 2011 - 21:37

I wanted this lens for a long time, couldn't afford it so bought a second hand 300mm f4 AF. Despite being really beat up, it helped me capture good images. Eventually I saved up, sold the AF and bought the AF-S.

There were some immediate benefits from the upgrade. Better close focus, snappier AF.
Other things I like about this lens:
  • Light weight (compared to other options), and surprisingly portable
    You could carry it around all day, on a long hike and still be ready to capture a bird or animal if it suddenly appeared
  • The lockable retractable lens hood
  • The quality of the results
  • You may find it is good enough not to need the 300mm f2.8 (see below)
And what about the famous issue with the tripod collar? Well, I did replace the Nikon one with a Kirk one. However I haven't so far used this lens at low enough shutter speeds for any wobble factor to affect my shots. The BIF and sports shots I use it for are generally above 1/300th to freeze the action. However other people like Ronnie Gaubert take remarkable shots with it, often at very low shutter speeds - here I'm sure the supplied tripod foot would really make a difference.

I don't believe I'll reach the standard of the images above posted by Joemc for a very long time.
In the meantime, here are some of my images (all hand-held)
(1) Red Kite wheeling over the Brecon Beacons
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(2) Van Niekerk rampaging towards another try for Toulon
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(3) Red Kite cruising for lunch over the Brecon Beacons
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Last point, I've always wanted the 300mm f2.8 and other people certainly get some fantastic results out of it.
I finally got a chance to rent one in February and try some BIF shots. The end results I was able to achieve were actually not significantly better than I'd previously managed with the f4. It was also much heavier and somewhat harder to handle than the f4. I'm sure that with more practice, I would get better results, but I wonder if it's really £3,000 better?

Final comment on the f2.8 version: I always hoped I'd be able to afford a second hand one, maybe without VR but I could live with that.
Guess what impressed me most about the one I rented?
The VR! :blushing:

Edited by Colin-M, 31 March 2011 - 21:45 .


#12 Fons Baerken

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 10:51

A wonderful lens indeed

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#13 Fons Baerken

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 11:07

I like to add one more... wonderful boke, right!


#14 maljo


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Posted 23 April 2011 - 20:55

One of Nikon's jewels, the 300 f4 AFS is excellent optically.
The focus mechanism is squeaky.
The tripod mount has been criticized for being a bit wobbly.

I really enjoy using this lens.


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