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