Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens that was released in December of 2009, along with the TC-20E III teleconverter. When it comes to telephoto lenses, the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 line of lenses has always been a metric of sharpness, contrast and acuity. The Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II is no exception – it sports top of the line optical design and technology that are capable of resolving tons of details, delivering outstanding results for any kind of long-range photography. The Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II was released as a minor update to the existing Nikon 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED – the optical design stayed the same, with the exception of Vibration Reduction II (VR II) technology and a new A/M focus mode. In this review, I will not only provide general information about the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II and its performance, but also how it works with all current Nikon teleconverters (TC-14E II, TC-17E II and TC-20E III) and how it compares to other telephoto lenses of similar and lower classes.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II

Although the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II is primarily marketed for sports, action and wildlife photographers, it is also an ideal lens for portraiture. Its magical optical design beautifully renders the background elements known as “bokeh“, while retaining maximum sharpness on the subject. The large maximum aperture of f/2.8 is very useful for low-light environments and coupled with the VR II technology, allows photographers to capture tack-sharp images hand-held without introducing blur to the images due to camera shake.

The Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II works equally well on both FX and DX sensors, with a 1.5x narrower field of view on DX sensor, which is equivalent to 450mm. All current Nikon teleconverters are known to work exceptionally well on this lens, even the 2x teleconverter, which is known to significantly degrade image quality on most other Nikon lenses. The Nikon 1.4x TC-14E II teleconverter increases the focal length of the lens to 420mm while increasing the maximum aperture to f/4.0, the Nikon 1.7x TC-14E II teleconverter increases the focal length to 510mm and maxumum aperture to f/4.8, and the Nikon 2.x TC-20E III doubles the focal length of the lens to 600mm and stops down the lens by two stops at maximum aperture of f/5.6. What this essentially means, is that while you get more total focal length with the teleconverters, you end up losing some light at the same time.

The two letters “ED” in the lens name stand for “extra-low dispersion”, as explained in my Nikon lens naming convention article, which means that the lens delivers superior sharpness and reduced “chromatic aberration” or color fringing in photographs when compared to non-ED lenses. In addition to the Silent Wave Motor (SWM/AF-S) that provides fast and quiet auto focus, the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II also features the Nano Crystal Coating technology, which reduces ghosting and flare. When it comes to weather sealing, the Nikon 300mm easily withstands dust, moisture and tough weather conditions – usual environments for nature and wildlife photographers.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G Image Sample

NIKON D3S @ 300mm, ISO 560, 1/1250, f/2.8

1) Lens Specifications

Main Features:

  1. Fast-aperture of f/2.8, professional telephoto performance, optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness for both FX and DX-format Nikon D-SLRs – perfect for action and sports photojournalism, wildlife photography and more.
  2. Exclusive Nano Crystal Coat further reduces ghosting and internal flare for even greater image clarity.
  3. Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) delivers fast, accurate and quiet autofocusing.
  4. Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) enhances light transmission efficiency and offers superior color consistency and reduced flare.
  5. Features enhanced dust and moisture-resistance, magnesium die-cast barrel construction and a protective meniscus front lens.
  6. Fully compatible with Nikon TC-14E II, TC-17E II and TC-20E II (III) Teleconverters.
  7. 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.
  8. Three Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements offer superior sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration, even at wide apertures.
  9. A/M mode joins the familiar M/A and M modes, enhancing AF control versatility with fast, secure switching between auto and manual focus to accommodate personal shooting techniques.
  10. AF Memory Recall allows instant return to a predetermined point of focus.
  11. Close focusing to 7.2 feet in manual focus or 7.5 feet in autofocus, enabling striking image perspectives.
  12. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image areas.
White Pelicans

NIKON D3S @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/1600, f/3.2

2) Technical Specifications

  1. Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  2. Focal Length: 300mm
  3. Maximum Aperture: 2.8
  4. Minimum Aperture: 22
  5. Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 5°20′
  6. Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 8°10′
  7. Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.16x
  8. Lens (Elements): 11
  9. Lens (Groups): 8
  10. Compatible Format(s): FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film
  11. VR (Vibration Reduction)/Image Stabilization: Yes
  12. Distance Information: Yes
  13. Nano Crystal Coat: Yes
  14. ED Glass (Elements): 3
  15. Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  16. Autofocus: Yes
  17. AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
  18. Internal Focusing: Yes
  19. Minimum Focus Distance: 7.5 ft. (2.3m) AF / 7.2 ft. (2.2m) MF
  20. Focus Mode: Auto, Manual, Manual/Auto, Auto/Manual
  21. Filter Size: 52mm
  22. Accepts Filter Type: Slip-in
  23. Dimensions (Approx.): 4.9×10.5 in. (Diameter x Length), 124×267.5mm (Diameter x Length)
  24. Weight (Approx.): 102.3 oz. (2900g)
  25. Lens Case: CL-L1
  26. Lens Hood: HK-30
  27. Supplied Accessories: 52mm filter holder, 52mm Nikon NC Filter, LN-1 strap, HK-30 Slip-on lens hood, CL-L1 semi-soft case, Slip-on Front lens cover, Rear lens cap

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.

Nikon 300mm Sample - Coyote

NIKON D3S @ 600mm, ISO 640, 1/500, f/8.0

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