Tech articles My thoughts on the gear I use for photography

Nikon 300mm f/4 PF VR: Quick Thoughts

I was pretty intrigued when the Nikon 300m PF VR was introduced. I carry my 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4X teleconverter mounted on a body as a second combo even when shooting with the 600mm, and trust me all that weight adds up! The 300 PF looked like a great option to reduce weight without sacrificing image quality or shutter speeds. On top of that, when paired with a 1.7X or 2x teleconverter, it seemed like a reasonable primary lens on hikes where light weight and a small footprint were primary considerations. So I decided to pull the trigger a couple of weeks ago...


Nikon 300mm f/4 PF VR on Nikon D4 body

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the lens to be in stock, I finally received a call that a camera store had one in hand, and whether I wanted to buy it. My quick answer was "Of course I want to buy it, can you overnight it?!". The lens was in my hands on March 27th 2015 and I've now had it for a couple of weeks. While I haven't done enough shooting with the lens to write an in depth review, I thought I'd put together a few thoughts for those of you on the fence about buying one:

Size & Weight
Damn this thing is tiny (for a 300/4)! In size and weight, it's comparable to my 24-70mm f/2.8. It's slightly longer and slightly heavier, but not a significant difference at all. Definitely the lens to carry when small size and weight are a priority. The picture below shows how the 300 PF compares to the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2, 300mm f/4 PF VR and 24-70mm f/4 VR compared

Build Quality
I would compare the build quality as closer to my 16/35mm VR than my 24-70. That is, from a distance it LOOKS like a metal tank of a lens, but as soon as you pick it up you figure out that the lens is mostly plastic. However, this is in keeping with the 'smaller & lighter' ethos of the lens so I can't say I fault Nikon for making this choice. That said, it does hurt a little that I just dropped close to two grand on a plastic lens :)

Image Quality
I haven't had a lot of time to shoot with this lens, so these comments are going to be very superficial. The image quality seems to be pretty good. However, I do see more chromatic aberration when images are zoomed in to 100% in Lightroom. Not sure if this has something to do with camera and/or Lightroom  not correcting automatically for CA as the lens is too new to have a profile for it, or because the lens simply has more CA than some of my other lenses. More details will follow over the coming weeks as I get more time with the lens.

So far, I'm reasonably happy with my purchase and can't wait to shoot some more with it! I'll post a detailed review over the next couple of months after I have a lot more hands on experience...

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