Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P vs Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
To truly appreciate the performance of the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P, we can take a look at how it compares to its predecessor at different focal lengths. Let’s first take a look at the performance of the lens at 70mm:
It is clear that the new Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P outperforms its predecessor by a wide margin. While the center performance is only slightly better, we can see a visible difference in corner performance between the two. Let’s take a look at how the two lenses perform at 100mm:
At 100mm, both lenses perform somewhat similarly at f/5.6, but there is a visible difference in wide-open performance, with the newer AF-P model showing better overall resolution, especially in the corners. Next, let’s take a look at 200mm:
Both lenses show decreased performance at 200mm, but the new AF-P model is still visibly better, especially in mid-frame and the corners. These differences pretty much disappear with both lenses stopped down to f/8 and smaller though. Lastly, here are both lenses at 300mm:
Once again, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P leads the way with much better wide open performance. The differences get smaller as lenses are stopped down, but the AF-P version still shines in the corners at all apertures.
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR vs Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR
Let’s take a look at how the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR compares to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR at 70mm:
We can see that the lens starts out a bit sharper in the center and visibly sharper in the extreme corners. Stopped down to f/5.6, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR looks sharper in the center, but still lacks a tad in the corners. Both lenses do very well at f/8 and smaller apertures.
Zoomed in to 100mm, we can see that the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR shows better overall performance. It outperforms the 70-300mm VR at the maximum aperture and shows visibly better sharpness at f/5.6 and smaller apertures.
The same pattern can be observed at 200mm, with the 70-200mm f/4G VR demonstrating better overall performance across the frame.
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR vs Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR
You might be wondering how the lens does when compared to the most recent pro-grade Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR lens, which almost comes at 4x the cost, 2x the weight and a significantly larger body. Here are both lenses at 70mm:
While the 70-300mm shows respectable performance wide open, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR is still visibly sharper in the center frame, especially when stopped down. It was interesting to see that the Nikon 70-300mm produced better corner detail in comparison at wide apertures, something I did not anticipate to see from a cheap lens.
Zooming in to 100mm, I got the following results:
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR takes off with incredible center and mid-frame performance, even at f/2.8. However, stopped down to f/8, both lenses produced similar results in the center and the mid-frame, while the cheaper 70-300mm showed better corner performance. It is important to note that this behavior on the 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR is mostly due to its visible field curvature. If the center frame is slightly defocused in favor of the corners, it is possible to reach very high edge detail on the lens.
Lastly, here are both lenses at 200mm:
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR starts out just a tad weaker this time at f/2.8, but at equivalent apertures, it is way better across the frame. This is expected from a professional-grade lens.
Overall, I found the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P to be a surprisingly sharp lens when compared to other lenses. It is definitely quite a bargain for its $750 price tag!
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