Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S Nikkor zoom lens is being heralded as an excellent all-in-one lens for Nikon’s full frame (FX) cameras. Its stunning 28-300mm focal range makes it one of the most versatile lenses around. This lens also comes with features such as Vibration Reduction (VRII), aspherical and ED lens elements, Nikon Super Integrated Coating, and a zoom lock switch.
This lens is comparable to the Nikon 18-200mm VR, another hugely popular zoom lens with a large focal range. While the 18-200mm is for DX cameras, the 28-300mm is built specifically for FX cameras. It is equally versatile and feature-rich. Also, like the 18-200mm, the 28-300mm is predicted to fly off the shelves as the demand for it increases.
Latest Update: The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR is Now on Sale at Amazon.com
Design and Construction
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S lens is made up of 19 elements in 14 groups. Among these 19 glass elements, there are three aspherical elements and two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements. The elements are given Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating (SIC) treatment which improves light transmission, color consistency, and resistance to flare.
The lens is large even for a zoom with this kind of range. It has a diameter of 3.26in (83mm) and length of 4.5in (114.5mm). It weighs approximately 28.2 oz (800g). Most of the exterior parts are made of plastic, which is a good thing as it shaves of some weight from this hefty lens. Even with the large amount of plastic components, the lens feels solid and substantial because of its weight and bulk.
Apart from its huge size, this lens is easy to operate. The switches for focus mode, Vibration Reduction (VR) on/off, and VR mode are located at the end of the lens closest to the camera body. They sit on the left hand-side of the lens barrel and are easily accessible without having to take the eye from the viewfinder. Moving towards the front end of the lens, you will see the focus ring, distance scale, and zoom ring. Both the focus and zoom rings are coated with rubber. They turn smoothly when the correct amount of force is applied. The zoom ring is more than two times as wide as the focus ring. Between these two rings, is a zoom lock switch for the prevention of zoom creep.
“I’ve owned Nikon DSLR’s and lenses for the past five years, always upgrading as I make new purchases. I use a Nikon D300 camera body. I bought this lens to replace the Nikon 18-200mm, even though I gave up some range on the low end. As soon as I opened the box I could tell by the weight and feel of it that it is a high quality lens. I started taking a variety of shots of my dogs, inside, outside, and in a park. I was very happy with the results. I used it last night, in the dark, zoomed all the way out to take a few shots at an outdoor symphony concert, with the ISO set at 3200. I didn’t use a tripod since there wasn’t room; I handheld it so I didn’t expect good results. I’m amazed at the sharpness of the images.The results were crystal clear and exceptionally fast set at ISO 200, even zoomed out to the max. Although it weights more than the Nikon 18-200mm lens, it’s a fair exchange for the speed, reach, and clarity that result. This lens is well worth the price; I highly recommend it.” – M. Makowski (VA)
The main selling point of the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G lens is its wide focal range. It is capable of achieving up to 10.7x magnification with its focal range of 28mm to 300mm. This makes the lens very versatile. It is extremely useful on trips where luggage restrictions limit the number of lenses you can bring. With the 28-300mm, there is little need for constantly switching through multiple lenses just to select one with a suitable focal range. You no longer have to carry lenses like the 16-35mm and 70-300mm when you have a 28-300mm in your arsenal. It is indeed an all-in-one solution for your general photography needs.
This 28-300mm lens is equipped with Nikon’s latest Vibration Reduction technology (VRII). It compensates natural hand movement to allow for shots to be made at slower shutter speeds. With VRII, you can shoot with the shutter set up to 4 stops slower than what is normally possible. Hand-held shots will still remain sharp. This removes the need for packing a tripod on normal shoots. Combined with the lens’ large focal range, VRII adds to the practicality and versatility of the 28-300mm. Shots can be made without much of a set up. With the 28-300mm, you will less likely see the need for switching lenses or mounting a tripod.
Chromatic and other aberrations are kept in check by the specially-treated lens elements. This lens contains 3 aspherical and 2 extra-low dispersion elements. They help to maintain sharpness and color consistency especially at wide aperture settings. Additionally, the Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enables light to be efficiently transferred as it enters the lens. This significantly reduces flare and keeps color integrity.
The 28-300mm produces images of generally good quality for a consumer-grade lens. There are slight variations in sharpness depending on focal length. Images shot at the far end look softer. This characteristic is expected of zoom lenses with such a large focal range. Yet as a whole, the sharpness throughout the range is adequate and is on par with pro lenses at certain focal lengths. Compared to the 18-200mm, this lens performs better in terms of sharpness.
The autofocus system is powered by Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor. It is quiet and accurate, and works well even in low-light conditions. There are times when the autofocus gets lost especially after a huge change in magnification. When this happens, it will take slightly longer than normal to focus. You can speed things up by manually adjusting the focus ring. The autofocus will take over once it is near the optimal range.
This lens is an Internal Focusing (IF) lens, which means all focusing is done internally through the movement of the lens elements. To enable focusing on close objects, the lens will shorten its effective focal length. For objects placed around 1.5 feet away, the effective focal length will be approximately 130mm. This is a clever feature because most situations only call for the 300mm focal setting to be used at infinity. There is little need for such a large focal length at close distances. By shortening the effective focal length, this lens allows you to focus closer than conventional 300mm lenses would allow. However, do note that the EXIF data will record the actual focal length even when the effective length is used.
There are some drawbacks from having such a high magnification. Due to the wide focal range and glass element arrangement, the lens produces some obvious distortion. Barrel distortion is most noticeable at 28mm. It gradually gets lesser as you move up the focal range and disappears at around 35mm. Pincushion distortion appears to be strongest at mid-range. It is also present at the telephoto end in moderate levels. Additionally, there is a considerable amount of vignetting. The good news is that both these problems can be easily corrected with software.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S lens is indeed a very versatile lens. It is the Swiss Army knife for FX cameras. Due to its zoom range, anti-vibration features, and responsive focusing, the 28-300mm can handle many types of situations. This lens is able to pick subjects from afar as well as get up close for basic macro shots. Thus it is an ideal ‘walkabout’ lens.
Do keep in mind that the 28-300mm is not a specialist lens. It is targeted towards the average consumer. Although this lens is not the best in terms of optics, its large focal range gives it an edge over many other lenses in its category.
Actual User Reviews:
• “An amazing lens! I have a number of camera bodies and a lot of lenses. I shoot mostly professional glass and bought this because of the close focus ability. It is not a 24-70, 70-200 nor a 200-400 but for a thousand bucks it’s one of the best deals going. On a DX sensor it can do near macro at 1:1.5 and quite sharp. In fact at 300 it looks nearly as sharp as my 300 F4 costing 50% more and close to my 70-200 with 1.4 TC costing nearly three times as much. I have shot a few hundred pictures on both FX and DX. I did a nighttime shot on FX of a lighted builing at F5.6, ISO 6400 and 1/4 second exposure (hand held) with acceptable results. ” – P. Loria (USA)
• “I can’t tell you how excited I am for this lens. Let me start by saying that I shoot FX only with my D700 and I love shooting with mainly primes only…my currents are 24mm 2.8D, Voigtlander 40mm f/2, 55mm 2.8D AF Micro, 50mm 1.8D, 105mm 2.8 VR Micro. But, I’ve been waiting for Nikon to release some new FX zooms with longer focal range for when taking one lens is more ideal than taking all my primes. I wanted a good lens to shoot events and take when traveling or just taking my kids to the zoo, park, etc. I was torn between this one and the 24-120mm f/4 when it was announced and actually pre-ordered the 24-120mm. When I started seeing the samples on this one and was able to test it out in the local camera shop…I was sold. I was having a hard time justifing paying $1300 for a fixed f/4 that only reached 120mm (although 24mm on the wide end would be nice, but I’d rather have my 24mm prime that doesn’t take up any weight/space).
This is a beautiful zoom. It creates great rich colors, great contrast and really great sharpness. The build quality is exceptional and the zoom ring is tight and there is a zoom lock switch for when it loosens. The close focus ability (1:3 Macro) on this lens is a major plus for me…and the images are sharp when zoomed to 300mm. The VR really works. I used to have the 16-85mm on my D300 before I switch to FX. The 16-85mm is an awesome lens for sharpness/quality/colors/etc and this lens reminds me of it for FX. There are distortions (it’s a 10x zoom lens!) but I feel like they are well controlled considering. So, as a prime shooter, I needed a zoom-do-everything lens for FX and this one has not dissappointed at all…a very nice lens that I highly recommend!” – JBM (Stillwater, OK)
• “Whenever I travel, I always take 2 or 3 lenses to experiment and take shots with. Cumbersome as it is, I don’t mind because the end results are worth it. I hate being in a situation in which I wished I had a lens to take a unique photograph. However, I did not have a zoom lens with such a range. I love photographing people but not all cultures/people are comfortable with having their photos taken up close (something I would do with a portrait lens here at home). I researched and was going to buy a much cheaper Nikon lens (Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Zoom), but then a few days ago Nikon released this one. I looked for user reviews but didn’t find any. I decided to take an expensive gamble and bought the lens. I put it on my camera and went shooting the same day I received it. I was very happy with the range, the weight felt right and the lens was extremely responsive when changing subjects. I was utterly pleased with the results when I got home. I got some beautiful shots of people working in an open market whether in the sun or under shade. I never expected such crisp photos from such a long range. Overall, I highly recommend the lens for anyone who is willing to make the sacrifice to purchase such an expensive lens during these difficult times. However, it is definitely worth it. Not only will it end up being the only lens you will carry but you will also be wowed by the results.” – Bill K. (New York)
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