What to look for...

Ex­tend your tele­photo re ach with­out blow­ing your budget

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

DX Vs FX

Apart from the 55-200mm VR II lens, Nikon’s DX-for­mat tele­photo zooms aren’t phys­i­cally smaller than the ma­jor­ity of their full-frame com­pat­i­ble coun­ter­parts.

Zoom range

All lenses on test run to 300mm, again, apart from the com­pact 55-200mm VR II. At the short end of the zoom range, the dif­fer­ence be­tween 55mm and 70mm is of barely any con­se­quence.

Aper­ture

One thing you won’t get in a budget tele­photo zoom is a ‘fast’ f/2.8 con­stant aper­ture. In­stead, the widest avail­able aper­ture typ­i­cally shrinks from around f/4 to f/5.6 as you zoom in.

Close-up

The min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance of most 70-300mm lenses is around 1.5m. The older Tam­ron and both of the Sigma lenses on test have a 0.5x macro fa­cil­ity, with a shorter 95cm min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance.

Au­tofo­cus

Some lenses on test have a ba­sic elec­tric au­tofo­cus mo­tor, oth­ers have a ring-type or mo­tor-based ul­tra­sonic sys­tem, and there’s also Nikon’s new AF-P sys­tem (see jar­gon buster, op­po­site).

Op­ti­cal sta­bil­i­sa­tion

Sta­bil­i­sa­tion is a hugely help­ful fea­ture for hand­held pho­tog­ra­phy, and can also be very use­ful when us­ing a mono­pod, es­pe­cially in dull light­ing con­di­tions.

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