Darin McQuoid Blog Reviews Tutorials River Directory

Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G

Weight: 15oz
Filter Size: 62mm

    Many of Nikon's cheap kit lenses perform amazingly well for their price point. The Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is not one of those. It's the kind of cheap kit lens that gives them a bad reputation. It weighs only two-thirds as much as the 70-300VR and performs a third as well. In good lighting, from 70-200mm it can give decent, but never stunning results. During two years in my possession the lens just didn't find itself on the front of my camera due to a terrible plastic feel and dismally slow auto-focusing. If you want to focus this lens manually don't bother. The focus ring is up front, small, sloppy and has minimal focus throw.

  I'm not one to be scared away from a lens because it's cheap and poorly made. The Nikon 75-150mm is a personal favorite. Let's see how the 70-300G works in the field under friendly conditions.
The lighting is bad but it's plenty bright out.  100% crop from near the center of the frame.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 70-300mm 4-5.6G @ 300mm 1/1250 F10 ISO 250
Not quite wide open and from the center of the frame. I shudder to think of the corners on FX wide open.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 70-300mm 4-5.6G @ 300mm 1/800 F6.3 ISO 400

   The much more expensive Nikkor 70-300VR is not known to be outstandingly sharp at 300mm, but for comparisons sake lets take a quick look at it.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 70-300VR @ 300mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 250

   Let's go even easier on the lens, bright light and 210mm

Nikon D200, Nikkor 70-300mm 4-5.6G @ 210mm 1/1000 F9 ISO 400
  Build: 3/10                  - Cheap plastic, feels like it may fall apart at any moment.
  Handling: 4/10            - Terrible focusing ring and rough zooming action.
  Performance: 5/10      - Modestly sharp from 70-200mm.
  Value: 5/10                 - It's cheap at ~ $100
  Overall: 4/10               - Low cost and performance to match.

Practicality for kayaking: 5/10

  It's cheap, light, and one lens that I have not once regretted parting with. Images never have a crisp feel and the lens never really satisfies in any aspect. I'd save my money on this one and save up for the 70-300VR, or go with a 75-150 Series E, older Nikkor 70-210 or even a similarly priced Tamron 28-300 non-VC, which is similar in size and weight, slightly sharper and has a lot more range.