Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR
The budget lens that comes closest to one of Nikon’s more professional optics
With a price of £440/$590, this lens isn’t as ‘budget’ as others in the group. Indeed, the Tamron 70-300mm VC USD is a significant step down the price ladder, even though it has an almost identical set of features. You have to look quite hard to see where the Nikon lens has any extras.
One such extra is on the mounting plate, which features a rubber weather seal, as also fitted to the 55-300mm VR DX-format lens. This is lacking on the Tamron lens. And where the Tamron includes one LD (Low Dispersion) and one XLD (Extra-low Dispersion) element, the Nikon has two ED elements. Even so, it lacks the additional HRI (High Refractive Index) element that’s fitted to the Nikon 55-300mm lens.
Overall image quality is excellent, edging ahead of the Tamron lens. The ringtype ultrasonic autofocus is quicker, and full-time manual focus override works a treat. While the Nikon’s VR system is officially rated at two and a half stops, in our tests it matched the performance of all other stabilisers for static and panning shots. In fact, it goes one better with an ‘Active’ VR mode, which boosts effectiveness when shooting from a vibrating platform such as an idling car.