Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 28mm Center
As can be seen from the below crops, the Nikon 28-300 performs better than the Nikon 18-200 on DX sensors, especially at focal lengths above 105mm. There is a slight issue with softness when shooting wide open, but the 18-200mm also has the same problem. Bear in mind that at 28mm, the Nikon 18-200mm is at f/4.0 compared to 28-300mm’s f/3.5 – hence the slight difference at short focal lengths when shooting wide open.
The 18-200mm is clearly superior at 28mm f/4.0 than 28-300mm at f/3.5 in the center. Stopping down 28-300mm to f/4.0 improves sharpness and by f/5.6 both lenses perform equally well, with a slightly better performance by the 28-300:
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 28mm Corner
I can’t see much difference in sharpness when both are stopped down to f/5.6, although the 28-300mm looks a little better at f/8.
There is slightly more pronounced color fringing on the 28-300mm, but not by a huge margin.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 50mm Center
At f/5.6, the Nikon 28-300mm takes the lead:
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 50mm Corner
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 105mm Center
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 105mm Corner
The performance of the Nikon 18-200mm at 200mm is very similar to that of 105mm, with 28-300mm taking the lead at all apertures.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 28mm Center (DX)
I know that it is unfair to compare the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G to the legendary Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, but I think the 24-70 is a good benchmark lens to test against. The sharpness tests in this review are kind of useless without such a comparison. Since the Nikon 28-300mm is designed to be an FX lens, I had to run two comparisons – one on FX and one on DX.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 28mm Corner (DX)
The Nikon 24-70mm performs incredibly well on DX. The corners at f/2.8 are as sharp as at f/4.0 and as you can see, the Nikon 24-70mm easily outperforms the Nikon 28-300mm.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 50mm (DX)
At 50mm, the Nikon 24-70mm is one of the sharpest lenses out there and can be used as a benchmark for other lenses. Its performance at f/2.8 is much sharper than f/4.5 (largest aperture) performance by Nikon 28-300mm. By f/4.0, the difference is even bigger:
By f/5.6, the Nikon 28-300mm starts to shine a little, showing much improved sharpness, which is comparable to that of 24-70mm:
The corner performance on the Nikon 24-70mm at 50mm is also sharper at f/2.8 than 28-300mm at f/4.5.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 70mm Center (DX)
As you can see, the Nikon 24-70mm beats Nikon 28-300mm at f/2.8 when the other is at f/5.0! The Nikon 24-70mm at f/2.8 is on par with the Nikon 28-300mm at f/5.6.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 70mm Corner (DX)
In summary, the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR does not stand a chance against the Nikon 24-70mm at focal lengths between 28mm and 70mm on a DX sensor.
What about FX?
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 28mm Center (FX)
Again, the Nikon 28-300mm is not even close to the Nikon 24-70mm – the difference in sharpness is huge.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 28mm Corner (FX)
While wide open there is not a big difference between the two, at f/5.6 and beyond, the Nikon 24-70mm is a much sharper lens in the corners.
One thing about the Nikon 24-70mm lens, is that it is a little soft in the corners at short focal lengths under 35mm, as can be seen from my Nikon 24-70 Review. At 35mm and beyond though, it performs extremely well both in the center and in the corners. At these focal lengths, the Nikon 24-70mm is similar to the 70mm performance below.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 70mm Center (FX)
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm @ 70mm Corner (FX)
The situation on FX does not look good for 28-300mm when compared against the 24-70mm either – the Nikon 24-70mm beats the Nikon 28-300mm at f/2.8 both in the center and in the corners.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-200mm @ 105mm Center (FX)
Here is another unfair comparison, against the professional Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. I’m only providing this comparison to show how well the Nikon 28-300mm performs at long focal lengths.
At 105mm, the Nikon 28-300mm is good enough, but still suffers from softer images wide open. Here is how the 28-300mm at f/5.6 compares against the Nikon 70-200mm at f/2.8 (Left: Nikon 28-300mm @ f/5.6, Right: Nikon 70-200mm @ f/2.8):
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II is so good wide open, that there is no visible difference between f/2.8 and f/5.6!
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-200mm @ 105mm Corner (FX)
The Nikon 70-200mm is sharper and that’s with a difference of two full stops! Now take a look at the corners at f/5.6:
The difference is night and day…
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-200mm @ 200mm Center (FX)
The corners are the same story as with 105mm – Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G is sharper at f/2.8 than the 28-300mm at f/5.6.
Overall though, the Nikon 28-300mm delivers pretty good sharpness in the center at longer focal lengths, but still needs to be stopped down to f/8 to get sharper images. Corners look rather soft though and only marginally improve by f/8. Don’t get too excited about its performance though – as you will see further down, the results are not the same when shooting distant objects at infinity.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-120mm @ 28mm Center
I don’t have the Nikon 24-120mm f/4.0G VR on my hands yet, but I was able to test the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR against the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. In terms of lens performance, I was never a fan of the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens – it performs quite poorly when compared against lenses of similar class. Let’s take a look at how well the Nikon 28-300mm does against the Nikon 24-120mm.
At largest aperture, the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR performs better than the 28-300mm. By f/5.6, the performance of both is about the same.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-120mm @ 28mm Corner
The Nikon 24-120mm suffers from contrast issues in the corners, as can be seen from the above crops. Sharpness-wise however, the Nikon 24-120mm is superior and has much less noticeable color fringing.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-120mm @ 70mm Center
I won’t bother uploading images from 35mm and 50mm, since the performance is comparable to that of 70mm. Here is how lenses compare at 70mm in the center, wide open and at f/8.0 (Left: Nikon 28-300mm, Right: Nikon 24-120mm):
It looks like both lenses perform about the same at 70mm in the center.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-120mm @ 70mm Corner
Once again, the Nikon 24-120mm is sharper in the corners, with a little more CA than on the 28-300mm.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-120mm @ 105mm Center
Similar to the Nikon 18-200mm, the Nikon 24-120mm also suffers from sharpness and contrast issues beyond 105mm. As you can see, the Nikon 28-300mm here beats the Nikon 24-120mm at both f/5.6 and f/8.0.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 24-1200mm @ 105mm Corner
The corners, however, look about the same, with the 24-120mm having more purple fringing.
In summary, the Nikon 24-120mm beats the Nikon 28-300mm at shorter focal lengths, with the 28-300mm taking a small lead at 105mm and beyond.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-300mm @ 105mm Center
The biggest problem with this kind of a test is to match the field of view for both lenses, since their effective focal lengths differ significantly depending on the subject distance. To get an equivalent field of view as the 28-300mm at 105mm, I had to zoom the 70-300mm to approximately 92mm. For the 300mm test, I was at approximately 180mm on the 70-300mm.
So, how does the Nikon 28-300mm compare against the Nikon 70-300mm lens?
This is true for f/8.0 as well:
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-300mm @ 105mm Corner
The corners on the 28-300mm look a little better than on the 70-300mm, especially at larger apertures.
Nikon 28-300mm vs Nikon 70-300mm @ 300mm Center
The corners are about the same as with 105mm.
When I tested the 28-300mm lens at infinity against the 70-300mm at 300mm, the second lens sample did not have the same focusing issue as the first one – distant objects snapped into focus correctly wide open or stopped down:
The Nikon 28-300mm performs very well against the Nikon 70-300mm. Does it mean that it replaces the 70-300mm though? Absolutely not! First of all, the Nikon 70-300mm gives you true 300mm to play with, while the 28-300mm does not when shooting close subjects. At approximately 2.3 meter subject distance, I had to shoot the 70-300mm at 180mm (the 28-300mm was at 300mm) just to get the same field of view. On top of that, the AF speed of the 28-300mm is slower than the 70-300mm and I found the AF accuracy on the 70-300mm to be better as well, especially when shooting distant subjects.
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