Nikon 300mm f/4 PF Review Hands On
Ultralight ED AF-S NIKKOR
Nikon has been busy making their newer lenses lighter smaller and better and with this change we find our selves with many difficult choices, last count Nikon has about 92 lens in production, and that is a lot. For starters on this newest 300mm f/4 PF lens we are now seeing Fluorite coatings and elements and continued expansion of electronic diaphragms which no longer depend on a "mechanical" coupling for aperture control and if you ponder this one change you begin to understand what is on the horizon. - Faster Cameras!
This new Nikon 300mm f/4 E PF VR is one fine lens - why? because It will be carried, used and provide excellent results. You no longer have to strain or make excuses why you left your 300 at home, Nikon has make that excuse mute. We now have a fabulous that is light and easy to handle.
This is the first lens Nikon has produced with Phase Fresnel (PF) element for the purpose of achieving two objectives - reducing weight and chromatic aberration. Aberration occur when different wave lengths of light reach focus at different points. As one can imagine this is bad for photography and or astronomy. Doing so, makes objects show a odd color or fringe to them. PF lens use many smaller concurrent rings to nearly remove that aberration but the main downsides of including a Phase Fresnel lens element is that it can cause colorful ring-shaped flares when strong light sources are inside or just outside a frame.
Phase Fresnel Lens Flares occur when the lens is pointed at bright light or pin point lights, this can cause a weird color ring effect and may be difficult to remove in post. I normally don't shoot in such harsh lighting situations, but one should keep that in mind if you are considering this lens. In all fairness I really don't think it will be too much of an issue, as almost all lens have some flare in similar situations, with the Phase Fresnel element it's just different. Nikon has updated their new capture NX software which can help remove this effect. We all worried about
If your a Nikon shooter and have not tried the NX software, I recommend you do!!
Lets talk about this lens. - It is light and easy to carry! That means you will use it and become very good at using this lens because you will enjoy having it in your bag - unlike the other 4 pounders. Trust me on this a lens carried is a lens used.
Other than Light what else do we have? for one I mentioned earlier - the new electronic diaphragm! If your shooting a newer Nikon body you no longer have to worry about mechanical apeture couplings; I have a Nikon 1 V3 and that camera can take some really fast frames per second. Mechanical couplings simply will not be able to keep up. Of my lens about 50% have the newer electronic coupling, but even some of my newer older Nikkors (14-24) dont. Today that is not too much of a problem, but I foresee a day when it will. Next generation high speed cameras - the lens needs to keep up. Remember the old roll film?
Performance of this lens is exceptional: When you have a lighter and more manageable lens coupled with better image quality your shooting experience is much better and results in more great shots. Not forgettnig the new introduction of VR for the Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF lens, that alone will increase the keep rate. I think Nikon has a true winner here and if the trend is using lighter elements or different elements to achieve increased image quality while reducing weight - I am all for it.
Lastly the Bokeh for this lens is very good at f/4, making the background all but disappear from the main subject your shooting. All in all this is a much better package than the older model it replaces. I do recommend if your in the market for a fantastic 300mm this lens is certainly worth the time for a look!
Whats not too like? Nothing I can speak of - Nikon has done everything almost perfect with this upgraded lens if you like the older 300 this new updated model will roll your socks down. Fast, light, compact, and very quite operation.
Is it Sharp? You BET!!
Here are some of the new labels explained:
SIC = Super Integrated Coating: Nikon Super Integrated Coating is Nikon's term for its multi-layer coating of the optical elements in NIKKOR lenses.
E = Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism: An electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism in the lens barrel provides highly accurate electronic diaphragm or aperture blade control when using auto exposure during continuous shooting. With conventional D/G type lenses, the diaphragm blades are operated by mechanical linkage levers. ** This new feature is IMPORTANT for video - because on newer cameras, it allows changing of aperture settings while in live mode while shooting video !!
VR = Vibration Reduction: Common now on all the newest lens; The AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR's Vibration Reduction provides an image stabilizing effect equivalent to a shutter speed increase of 4.5 stops and allows you to capture sharp, clear handheld images in low light, of fast action and more. VR modes specifically designed for Sports & Action and Tripod Shooting deliver specialized image stabilization to match your situation.
July Update: My new 300mm PF arrived today and had an opportunity to take a half dozen quick shots around my homestead. My first impressions is - I love this new lens; I put it on my camera and it felt very predictable with quite consistent performance, with very good focus speed and accuracy. This new PF 300mm is MUCH better than my older 300mm that I never used. WIth such a light and manageable lens I see myself taking this out more often and I am looking forward to it.-- more to come.
All the photos below are quick shots straight from the camera and re-sized / cropped for uploading.