Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR Overall
Build, specs, features and image quality warrant its relatively high price
The Nikon 70-300mm packs in all the tricks you could hope for, rivalling a fair few pro-grade lenses that cost much more to buy. The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is fast and efficient, with the luxury of full-time manual override. Vibration Reduction includes both regular and ‘active’ modes and, most importantly, image quality is excellent. That said, our lab results for sharpness on a D5300 body weren’t overly inspiring but, when shooting real-world tests on a large range of DX and FX bodies, it consistently came out on top.
The Tamron 70-300mm VC USD is almost as good, with a nearly identical set of features. Image quality is only let down by the fact that colour fringing is a bit high. If you’re a stickler for DX-format lenses, the Nikon 55-300mm VR offers the best blend of compact build, powerful telephoto reach, and convincing image quality.
What’s good: Superb image quality; fast and efficient autofocus; dual-mode VR.
What’s bad: It’s considerably more expensive than other ‘budget’ telephoto zooms.
Our verdict: It’s the best you can buy without spending two or three times as much.