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Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR Review

Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR Review
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Nikon 1 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR Review

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Long Range Goodness

Everyone likes adding fine glass to their collection - I am no exception.  Following the delivery of the lens, I had a couple of hours of good sunlight to make a few test shots and get a feel for how this performs.

Build Quality:  While in the non-operational mode the lens is somewhat compact (4.25 inches or 108mm) and weighs in at 1.23 lbs or 560g.  The mount, zoom, and focus appear to be all metal and feels solid, while the filter threads are plastic.   In operational mode the lens will extend exposing the lens barrel, making the lens overall length slightly longer made up of metal and plastic.

Operation:  To operate the lens a small "button" needs to be depressed while turning the zoom ring until it extends into place, this process also turns on the camera, and turns off the camera when the lens is fully retracted.  The lens is both a manual and or automatic focus lens by turning the focus ring (you must enable en camera) or slightly depressing the shutter release. The lens also has a handy full / limit switch allowing restriction of near or far objects. To zoom the lens you rotate the larger zoom ring and the lens extends and retracts during zooming.

Outdoor use: Although the lens is best suited to be used outdoors on bright sunny days, the absence of weather seals that I can tell, it is a solid performer, see below.

Optical Performance:  The lens has very good to excellent optical performance and in my honest opinion is on par with zooms in this range for even as compared to the Pro Nikkor lens. Overall I was very pleased with the images this lens produced; but to obtain the best images this lens has to offer it should be used on bright sunny days and on a steady tripod if your shooting on the long end, this is basically true with most lens above f/4.5. With the VR enabled you can expect to get reasonable results down to 1/100s; remember the rule of thumb? shutter speed equal/greater than the focal length your shooting with VR you get a slight advantage.

My images overall were very pleasing, with good sharpness and contrast, worthy of comparisons to Nikon's top-shelf lens costing thousands more. 

Crop Sensor: The Nikon 1 uses a CX  sensor thus the crop factor is 2.7 x making this lens appear as a 189 - 810mm field of view. Now before you get all giddy with excitement - using this lens @ 810mm /extended handheld is a bit tedious but doable especially in good light and with the VR mode turned on.(Series 1 has the VR in Camera). If you never used a long lens you may not have a sense for what I mean - when fully extended the slightest movement of the camera is amplified a dozen times - It just takes some practice to keep it all steady, like any long lens.

Side by Side 
 Nikon 1 V3 and 70~300mm   Nikon D7200 & Nikon 400mm ED FL
Red Tail

Red Tail

I been stalking this guy all summer, then early one morning - I got my opportunity, perched and sunning himself; Nikon 1 V3 & 70-300MM
Red Tail Hawk

Red Tail Hawk

This photo was taken using a Nikkor 400mm f2.8 ED FL lens on a DX with 1.4 tc = 840mm Distance was slightly further than the CX setup.


What I liked: Solid Feel, long reach, smooth zoom, smooth focus, limit switch, optical performance

What I don't like: The price, extends/retracts during zoom operation, no weather seal, zoom ring is finely textured  (transfers every bit of dirt from your fingers), I wish it a just a bit more course to repel embedding dirt, but just a nitpick. not a problem.

My Comments: Using any long lens on a mirrorless camera can take some time to adjust too due to the electronic lag in the sensor, as technology improves this hopefully will change and provide a near real-time viewfinder. This is not a show stopper nor a problem with the lens - but the long lens and mirror-less combo can make tracking objects (birds) tricky.

How about the question:  Why not use the FT-1 and mount your 300mm f/2.8? IMHO that works fine with stationary objects when using a mono or tripod; due to the balance between that heavy front end glass of the 2.8 - It makes it hard to hand hold.  With the series 1 lens, the entire package can be carried around and balances much easier for hand holding and shooting. See my other review of 2.7 crop with a 400mm.

Overall:  I really like the lens and what it brings to the Series 1 table - offering a long telephoto option with good optical performance in a light 1.3-pound package. It provides me an excuse to leave the house and still enjoy lightweight photography; it is all about setting your expectations.  So, If you are in need of a telephoto - I would recommend taking a look at this lens.

If you compare the price to a Pro level lens like the Nikon 400mm and the results you get with this lens on a Nikon 1 body, it is simply amazing.  I highly recommend you have one if you shoot with the Nikon 1 system.


  • Mount: Nikon 1
  • Focal Length: 70-300mm (189-810mm equivalent)
  • Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 3.3 – 5.2 ft (1.0 – 1.6m)
  • Lens design: 16 elements in 10 groups; Super ED Glass Element; Nano Crystal Coating
  • Diaphragm: 7 blades (rounded)
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Filter Thread Size: 62mm
  • Dimensions (diameter x length): 2.87″ x 4.25″ (73mm x 108mm)
  • Weighs 1.23 lb (560 g)
  • Optional Tripod Mount


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I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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Norberto Isidro GarcĂ­a

Muy buen artículo. Al hablar en Español seguramente me pierdo algo con la traducción.

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Ojalá pudiera ofrecer varios idiomas en los artículos del sitio web TrueToad y la revisión, voy a mirar en una herramienta de traducción de idioma nativo para el sitio web. Gracias por tu comentario.

I wish I could offer multi languages in the TrueToad website articles and review, I will look into a native language translation tool for the website. Thanks for your comment.


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