The af­ford­able op­tion

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR £400, $500 www.nikon.com

NPhoto - - Ultimate Upgrades! -

Launched back in 2006, this lens rev­o­lu­tionised the pop­u­lar 70-300mm tele­photo zoom cat­e­gory for Nikon pho­tog­ra­phers by adding VR (Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion). It’s ac­tu­ally Nikon’s sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion of VR that’s fit­ted, and it in­cludes both nor­mal and ac­tive modes – the lat­ter for shoot­ing from a vi­brat­ing plat­form like an idling car or maybe a he­li­copter (if you’re lucky).

It’s a no­tice­able up­grade over the DX-for­mat 55-200mm VR lenses, and not just be­cause of its ex­tra tele­photo reach. The build qual­ity feels much more up­mar­ket, and the usual Nikon at­ten­tion to de­tail sees the in­clu­sion of a weath­ersealed mount, a fo­cus dis­tance scale po­si­tioned un­der a view­ing win­dow, and fast, ring-type ul­tra­sonic aut­o­fo­cus.

As such, aut­o­fo­cus is a lot faster and qui­eter than on the 55-200mm lenses, and bet­ter able to track mov­ing tar­gets in sports or wildlife shoot­ing. It also comes com­plete with full-time man­ual fo­cus over­ride in Sin­gle AF mode.

As with other vari­able-aper­ture tele­photo zooms from Nikon, the phys­i­cal length of the lens in­creases at longer zoom set­tings. How­ever, the fo­cus­ing mech­a­nism is fully in­ter­nal, so the front el­e­ment nei­ther ro­tates nor ex­tends dur­ing fo­cus­ing. It’s a bonus when us­ing a fil­ter like an ND grad or cir­cu­lar po­lariser, which needs to be po­si­tioned pre­cisely. Our favourite as­pect of the lens, though, is that sharp­ness and con­trast re­main ex­cel­lent, even when com­bin­ing the long­est zoom set­ting with the widest avail­able aper­ture.

sharpn ess an d con­tras t re­main ex­cel­lent, even when com­bin­ing the long­est zoom set­ting with the widest avai lable ap er­ture

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