In advance of my upcoming hands-on review of the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom lens I thought readers may like to see some sample bird images. It is late in the season in Southern Ontario and many birds have already migrated. Never-the-less I was able to get a few different species captured in flight.
My early impressions of this lens are very positive. The build quality is very solid and the zoom operation is quite smooth.
The CX 70-300 features Super ED glass and Nano Crystal Coat, similar to the professional grade of FX Nikkor lenses.
Unlike most 1 Nikon lenses the CX 70-300 features an external focus ring. This can be activated by half-depressing the shutter when AF is engaged. In order for the focus ring to work properly users should upgrade their firmware.
Weighing only 19.4 ounces (550 grams) the lens is extremely easy to carry and shoot hand-held. The lens features a full/limit focusing switch.
With an equivalent full frame field-of-view of 189-810 mm this lens will cause a lot of people who have not considered the Nikon 1 system in the past to give it another look.
Watch for my full, hands-on review of the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom lens later this month.
Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.
Don’t tell Betty that she’ll toss a fit.
Excellent bird photos!Some of these little birds I had years ago as pets. I love your photography. Keep these wonderful articles coming!
Glad you liked ’em! :-)
Wonderful photos Thomas. Thank you.
Glad you liked them! :-)
As usual very fine images. I’m look forward to the review. Thanks a lot.
Thanks for the positive feedback…glad you enjoyed the images!
Back to work on the review……
Insane! I am so jealous! I might have to turn to crime to satify the craving I have now for that very expensive lens:-)
Btw, I recently send a private message that I received a Mark of Excellence for a flower photo on I SHOT IT, shot with my much beloved Nikon 1:-) Go Nikon1!:-)
Congratulations on the Mark of Excellence…great news!
:-) if you have a craving for the 1 Nikon 70-300 based on the bird images in this short article…the fact that this lens is also a very interesting one to use for flower photography may further increase that craving!
Nooooooooo! You pushed me into crime! Just recently I replied to an article here that stated ‘thou shall not superzoom’ with: no, though shall not superzoom, though shall hyperzoom! And this looks quite like it came true:-)
Oops, that should have been thou… busy doing more than one thing….
I hope you look good in stripes if you’re going on a crime spree!
I always find it interesting when folks discuss gear and the pro’s and con’s of various camera bodies and lenses. At the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice and what gear is the best match for the work we individually do and how an individual photographer likes to shoot.
I remember reading a “what’s in my bag” article a few years ago by Bob Krist who is one of the world’s leading travel photographers (he does a lot of work for Nat Geo Traveler mag and Nat Geo). I’m not sure what he is shooting with today, but at the time of the article (2011 I believe) he was shooting with 2 D7000 bodies, three zoom lenses (if my memory serves they were Nikkor 12-24, 16-85 and FX 70-300). When he needed some fast lenses he carried 35mm and 85mm f/1.8 primes.
Not so good in horizontal stripes…. and orange, which is the new stripes, doesn’t go well with my complexion.
That Bob krist most have developed some muscles….
Funny thing is after getting rid of the old dslr, because it was too heavy, I feel I’m now ready for my first grown up dslr and am looking into the Nikon D3300 or 5300. You were surprised recently when I said I often prefer the Nikon 1 files over the Olympus OMD EM10, and I still do. There are so many blocky skies etc on the OMD RAW files, and the pictures just always look too digital for me, if this makes any sense. The Nikon looks better even with more noise, so I suspect I like the 3300 or 5300 even more .
And those lenses, the 35 and 85 are exactly the ones on my wish list, and so affordable and also useable on the Nikon 1. Very tempting.
I’m not sure if you have seen this article before: photographylife.com/telep…85mm-f1-8g
It features a few bird images taken with the 85mm f/1.8 mounted on a V2 with the FT-1 adapter.
It’s always interesting when our equipment needs change and the thought processes we all go through when we wrestle with that kind of decision. Here you are looking to go back to a DSLR and I’m currently contemplating selling all of my FX gear and moving to M4/3.
Yes, thank you, I had seen it before and responded to it. You posted it just while I was looking into the 85mm and converter for use on the Nikon 1!
OH MY GOSH!!!!
A National Geographic photographer using an APS-C sensor camera. The shame of it.
Just goes to show you when can be done with consumer goods in the right hands.
Wow!!! Excellent snaps. Absolutely breath-taking… The sharpness, contrast, iso, everything is “picture perfect”. Looking at these images simply makes me wish that my photos were this good. But am absolutely certain that one day, they will. Btw, this site is absolutely amazing. I got to learn most of the basics of photography here.
Thank you for your most generous words…much appreciated! I’m glad you enjoyed the images.
Keep it up and I may convert to the V2 but not the V3. I have a friend who just doesn’t like the V3 as much as she likes the V2.
Always good to hear from you! I’ve just started dabbling with this new CX 70-300 lens so it will still take some time to really understand its capabilities and how to shoot with it properly.
I really enjoy shooting with the V2 and as you know I recently bought a second (used) body. I actually have a couple of items for sale/trade on Kijiji up here in Canada (Zacuto 3X Z-Finder Pro, as well as a smaller set of CF studio lights) and I’m looking to possibly trade for a third, good used V2 body. Yeah…I like the V2 that much I feel I could actually use three of these little puppies. As second and third video cameras for my client shoots they are very nice indeed.
I’m hoping Nikon ‘fixes’ some of the mistakes with the V3 when the V4 comes out down the road (no mini SD cards, built in viewfinder, built in grip, common battery with DSLRs, improved dynamic range and colour depth with the sensor). Until then I’m happy with my V’s.
The focal length, weight and size of this lens on the 1Nikon really sounds intriguing. One of the reasons I bought the Nikon 600mm f4 was to be used on my D7100 and then to drop down to 1/3 crop from the APS-C size to give an effective focal length of about 1100MM. Although I am totally unable to hand hold that combination. If I combine the 600 f4 with a 1.4 TC and do the drop down I can get about a 1600mm length although the images are not really that good, just fun to produce. I even hold my breath using this combination and a remote shutter release. LOL
The single, biggest advantages of this lens with a V-series camera is its size and weight. I could literally walk around shooting with it all day long and not even break one bead of sweat! Heck, this set up can actually fit in the pocket of my cotton cargo pants.
I can appreciate the sentiment to wait for the V4. However, Nikon’s design history is to needlessly break things that are working while fixing existing design problems. The inability to use EVF in combination with a flash, for example, was an inexcusable step backwards in the V3. I’m still happy to hold onto my V1 until Nikon does CX mirrorless right.
I agree 100%! The inability to use the EVF in combination with another accessory (in my case a shotgun mic) was a definite step backwards with the V3. It’s one of the reasons that I bought a second V2 for my business.
Hi Thomas, thank you for the first impressions, and the nice pictures.
What I’m really interested in is the autofocus in real life, and I would appreciate if you could describe your experiance.
When I use from time to time my wife’s V2 and the 10-30 kit lens, I don’t always have the focus where I wanted it to be (e.g. not on the eye’s but on the nose) . The high DOF due to the small sensor size sometimes makes it less appearant, still the maximum sharpness is not there. Nikon seems aware of this as you decribe that the CX 70-300 is having a focus ring.
Some time ago I tried the Nikon V2 and adapter with my 200/2.0, but even with the limitation to the central AF-Point (enforced by Nikon-Design) I often got AF-Errors – e.g. the V2 focused on a branch or leave in front of the bird, where my D4 stayed very reliable on the bird behind.
During vacation I also tried manual focusing using the V2 with adapter and e.g. the manual Zeiss 135/2.0 ZF.2. My experiance was again that it is very diffcult to reach maximum sharpness (to high lag of the EVF ? too low resolution of EVF ? ). With the same lens and the D4 I got much more reliable results.
So again, the ability to get sharp pictures is certainly one major point, and I would appreciate your comments in the upcoming review!
Thanks for sharing your experiences with the V1! It is still early in my testing/shooting with this lens, but my initial impression is that my D800/Tamron 150-600 focuses faster and more accurately than does my V2/CX 70-300 combination. As a result I’m not surprised by your experience with your D4.
To get the best focusing out of the V2/CX 70-300 combination I’d suggest using single point auto focus. Since that single point can be moved to 135 different focusing locations with a V2 (and likely your V1) it does provide more targeted focusing capability. When the focusing ring is engaged on this lens the image in the viewfinder is magnified to aid in the manual focusing adjustment. As long as you keep the shutter half-depressed the enlarged image will not go back to its regular size until after your shot has been taken. This feature allows the user to focus more precisely and helps to eliminate some of the focusing errors you mentioned in your post.
Your compositions are nice, and the big bird close-ups, e.g., the mallard, have good enough detail and contrast to make me question the point of carrying heavier equipment. That is also my experience using a V1 and a Sigma 120-300. But several of the shots of smaller birds and BIF and birds at infinity focus wouldn’t be keepers for me because of noise and low resolution/contrast. This is particularly evident in the images on your YouTube reel that didn’t make the cut for your presentation here. I’ll look forward to your full review to get a sense of the situations in which the differences between the performance of this CX combo vs. the big iron that serious bird photographers typically use are big and obvious. In other words, if you own both, when will you be kicking yourself because you brought the Nikon 1-70/300 instead of the Nikon D7100-500mm?
Thanks for your comment and insights on your experience using the Nikon 1 V1. I like to push my Nikon 1 V2 to see what it will do and some of the images in the video were taken at very high ISO’s (i.e. 6400) and the sharpness does suffer. Some of the images in the video show that quite clearly.
I can give you some input on particular situations based on my initial impressions of this lens. First, I would consider it a ‘good light lens’ in terms of its use for serious bird photography. I also found it better and easier to use for more static subjects. Capturing birds in flight can be done but it is more challenging than when using a DSLR. There is some lag with the EVF as the image transfers from the back screen which can cause missed shots. Also the EVF is not nearly as bright as is experienced with a DSLR so you simply don’t see as well through the viewfinder. I haven’t shot with a V3 so I can’t comment if the EVF is significantly better than the V2.
The CX 70-300 is also prone to some hunting under lower light situations where my D800/Tamron 150-600 would snap and grab focus almost instantly. In terms of overall resolution and cropping potential, using a D7100 with a long telephoto would give a photographer much more latitude than using a CX kit. Overall, in all lighting conditions my D800/Tamron 150-600 focuses faster and more accurately. This is particularly apparent in lower light and with moving subjects.
The advantage of the 1 Nikon 70-300 is in its size and weight. When attached to my Nikon 1 V2 and in its collapsed state the lens/camera combination is only 6″ (15.25 cm) long. I often wear cotton cargo pants when out shooting and my V2 with this lens attached can be dropped into my pants pocket. For many people having a camera/lens combo with an efov of 810mm in their pocket is quite an attractive proposition.
The VR on this lens is quite good and even when extended to 300mm (efov 810mm) it is possible to get decent results at slow shutter speeds. I need to do more shooting with this lens in this regard, but based on my first few days with this lens I wouldn’t hesitate to try and capture static subjects at 1/60th with the lens fully extended.
Thanks for the detailed and useful response. Unfortunately you’ve reinforced my conclusion that the current crop of enthusiast-level mirrorless cameras doesn’t have focus tracking systems that are good enough to reliably handle moving subjects, particularly birds. I don’t know whether this is a limitation of their sensor-based focus technology, or if Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus et al. just haven’t invested in the R&D necessary to bring their mirrorless cameras up to at least the level of mid-level DSLRs in predictive autofocus. In any case, my Nikon D7100 and D800E seem to know where the bird is going, whereas my Sony A6000 and Nikon 1 are clueless. Until this is fixed, I think the allure of a light and relatively inexpensive kit for wildlife and action sports photography will be fool’s gold for those who care about their keeper rate.
You’re welcome! I will be doing quite a bit more shooting with the V2/CX 70-300 combination in preparation for my full hands-on review. Part of the issue could certainly be my lack of familiarity shooting with this particular lens. I did get a few nice AF-C bursts with the set-up…some with the bird approaching which can often be a challenge for a camera.
At any rate I’ve only been playing around with this new lens intermittently over the past few days. I’m planning to spend a couple of days this week dedicating a lot more time to it. I’m hoping to have the full review done by mid November.
Wow, such amazing images.
Thanks for the positive comment! I’m glad you liked the images.