With internal focusing and a consistent set of MTF curves, this stabilised 70-300mm optic has a lot going for it for Nikon users
Most lenses of this type offer a maximum aperture of f/4 but Nikon’s lens is limited to f/4.5. Despite this, it requires a 67mm lens cap even though its faster f/4 competitors are able to make do with either 58mm or 62mm.
The lens has internal focusing and an impressive AF action thanks to Nikon’s SWM technology. These advantages immediately put the Nikkor in a different class and should render it quiet enough to leave both nervous wildlife and temperamental golfers unperturbed.
The zoom ring dominates the lens barrel, with a narrow manual focus ring located to the rear. Manual focusing can be applied in AF mode. Beneath the AF mode selector is the second-generation Vibration Reduction switch and below that, slightly recessed to prevent accidental adjustment, is the VR mode slider. All of these, plus a focused-distance window, are located closest to the camera body. Overall balance, even with the lens fully extended, is excellent thanks to the size and position of the zoom ring.
Technical testing revealed good consistency but no particular sweet-spot. As is normal for zooms of this type, the 300mm setting produced the weakest MTF results and was also associated with slight colour fringing in high-contrast test-target images (but not in real-life pictures). Sadly, in Nikon’s case the 300mm setting narrowly failed to reach the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level that was the norm for other focal-lengths down to f/16.
This is a well-specified lens that ought to be worth the £400. There is a minor reservation in that the review lens sometimes parked itself at the minimum focusing distance in AF mode and would only move again if you switched off the camera and then reactivated it. This apparent fault may have been caused by careless previous handling (the review sample having arrived unboxed) so our scores for Quality and Performance assume that this is not a design problem. Potential buyers should check their intended purchases for this behaviour before parting with any cash.
17 elements in 12 groups
See sample image gallery
Ring Silent Wave Motor
Yes (VR II)
80 x 143.5mm