Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.55.6G IF-ED VR £430, $500

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

What’s good: Great handling char­ac­ter­is­tics, multi-mode VR, fast au­tofo­cus, bril­liant im­age qual­ity. What’s bad: The older-gen­er­a­tion VR is less ef­fec­tive than the sys­tems built into the lat­est Nikon lenses. Our ver­dict: This is our favourite budget tele­photo lens, for both DX and FX for­mat Nikon D-SLRs.

The high-per­for­mance Nikon AF-S 70-300mm VR com­bines a solid build qual­ity and re­fined handling with fast au­tofo­cus, ef­fec­tive sta­bil­i­sa­tion and im­pres­sive im­age qual­ity. It’s the only full-frame com­pat­i­ble Nikon lens on test, but it’s also the best choice for DX for­mat bod­ies, in which the sen­sor only cov­ers the the cen­tral re­gion of the len’s im­age circle, where op­ti­cal qual­ity is at its best.

The Tam­ron 70-300mm VC USD runs the Nikon a close sec­ond, with sim­i­larly high-end fea­tures. The ‘VC’ op­ti­cal sta­biliser is bet­ter for static shots, but the Nikon’s VR has the edge for pan­ning and for shooting from an un­steady plat­form.

Nikon’s DX for­mat AF-P 70-300mm VR feels flimsy and ba­sic by com­par­i­son to the lead­ing FX for­mat lenses on test, and its lack of com­pat­i­bil­ity with many cam­eras can be an is­sue. We pre­fer the older 55-300mm VR if you’re af­ter a DX-spe­cific lens, or the re­tract­ing 55200mm VR II if you want a space-saver.

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