This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens that was released in August of 2010 along with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR DX lenses. It is no secret that Nikon released the 28-300mm largely due to the popular demand of the 18-200mm lens. The large zoom range of the Nikon 18-200mm and its generally good performance made it a lens of choice for those, who wanted to have a good lightweight travel lens or only wanted to use one lens on their DSLR cameras. Despite the fact that the lens suffered from some serious issues such as lens creep, heavy distortion and sharpness issues beyond 105mm, some photographers and reviewers praised the 18-200mm so much, that the demand increased significantly, resulting in heavy lens shortages around the world. During this time, Nikon had a hard time keeping the lens on the shelves and the only way to obtain it was to either pay a premium and buy it from Ebay, or order and wait for months until Nikon sent another batch to retailers. I remember this period of time very well, since I had to wait for 3 months to get my copy of the lens. Ever since Nikon released the FX full-frame sensor, more and more photographers have been switching from DX to FX. Since Nikon 18-200mm is a DX lens, an FX camera would fall back to DX mode, giving less than half the resolution – a problematic situation for most photographers that use the current 12 megapixel cameras. Therefore, photographers that made the switch from cropped sensor cameras to full-frame, ended up selling or trading their DX lenses for the above reason, including the much loved Nikon 18-200mm.
In response to the popular demand, this year Nikon released an FX version of the Nikon 18-200mm lens, the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. Nikon retained most of the lens design, but did make some modifications, to reach good performance levels on FX cameras. In this review, I will do my best to provide a detailed analysis of the lens’ performance, including sharpness tests in various conditions and provide comparison tests against the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR II lens and other pro-level FX lenses such as Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a variable aperture lens with 10.7x zoom range for enthusiasts and professional photographers that need a single, “all-in-one” lens for everyday and travel photography. The variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6, which changes from f/3.5 on the widest end at 28mm to f/5.6 when zoomed in, along with the lack of the gold ring on the front of the lens indicate that the lens is not on the same level as professional-grade constant aperture lenses in terms of optics, which is quite understandable, considering what it can offer in terms of zoom range.
Despite being a consumer-grade lens, the Nikon 28-300mm is beefed up with plenty of optical technologies from Nikon. The lens sports the latest generation of VR II (vibration reduction) technology, offering camera shake compensation equivalent to a shutter speed increase of approximately four stops, allowing to shoot at slower shutter speeds without introducing camera shake. In addition, the two “Normal” and “Active” VR modes let photographers choose how the Vibration Reduction system responds to various shooting situations. Equipped with an AF-S silent-wave focus motor, the Nikon 28-300mm lens focuses quietly and accurately in various lighting conditions. Unlike the Nikon 18-200mm lens, the new Nikon 28-300mm has a 77mm filter thread, which is a standard filter size on pro-level lenses, making it easy for photographers to use specialized filters (polarizing, neutral density, etc) on the lens without having to mess with adapter rings. Just like its DX counterpart, the Nikon 28-300mm is equipped with two ED and three aspherical lens elements, delivering overall good performance throughout the zoom range. To prevent issues with lens creep, Nikon provided a zoom lock on the lens exterior, similar to the one on the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G lens.
1) Lens Specifications
- Versatile 10.7x zoom lens with ED glass and VR II image stabilization offers a broad focal length range that’s perfect for travel, landscapes, portraits and distant subjects.
- Nikon VR II (Vibration Reduction), engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens, enables handheld shooting at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, assuring dramatically sharper still images and video capture.
- 3 Aspherical Lens Elements virtually eliminate coma and other aberrations, even at wide apertures.
- M/A Focus Mode Switch Enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation.
- Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) Enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
- Ability to focus to 18 inches at any focal length extends versatility.
- Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both FX and DX-format D-SLRs (DX-format D-SLR angle of view is equivalent to a focal length of 42-450mm in FX/35mm format).
- 2 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) Elements offer superior sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration, even at the widest aperture settings.
- Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.
- Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus without changing the length of the lens, retaining working distance throughout the focus range.
- Zoom Lock Switch secures the lens barrel at its minimum focal length preventing the lens from extending during transport.
- Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image areas.
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
- Focal Length Range: 28-300mm
- Zoom Ratio: 10.7x
- Maximum Aperture: f/3.5
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Format: FX/35mm
- Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 53°
- Minimum Angle of View (DX-format): 5°20′
- Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 74°
- Minimum Angle of View (FX-format): 8°10′
- Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.32x
- Lens Elements: 19
- Lens Groups: 14
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
- VR (Vibration Reduction)/Image Stabilization: Yes
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Distance Information: Yes
- ED Glass Elements: 2
- Aspherical Elements: 3
- Super Integrated Coating: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 1.6 ft. (0.5m) throughout entire zoom range
- Focus Mode: Auto, Manual
- G-type: Yes
- Filter Size: 77mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Dimensions (Approx.): 3.26×4.5 in. (Diameter x Length) 83×114.5mm (Diameter x Length)
- Weight (Approx.): 28.2 oz. (800g)
- Supplied Accessories: HB-50 Bayonet Lens Hood, LC-77 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-1 Rear Lens Cap, CL-L1120 Soft Case
Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.