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(AI, manual focus)
© 2004 KenRockwell.com
look for a used one here
Unlike all the other lenses reported on, I've never used or seen one of these. Unlike the rest of the Internet, I avoid handing out advice on things I haven't used personally. This is an exception. I mention it to help clarify what lenses I am reviewing because Nikon has probably made a half-dozen different 300mm f/4.5 lenses.
This is the primitive non-internal focusing (note lack of "IF" in the name) predecessor to the 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF.
As soon as the IF version came out no one wanted this lens because of the inferior focusing and bigger size. This entire lens has to move in and out a lot as you rotate the focus ring, unlike the IF lenses that only require flicking a ring while the lens stays put. Some wanker was trying to move one on ebay a while back, which the only place I've ever seen one. I don't think they ever made it to the USA.
I try to avoid giving advice on things I haven't used personally, however in this case I suggest you avoid this lens because the wankers have wanked up the price. Some idiots confuse rarity with value. This lens is rare because no one wanted it compared to the ED-IF, so few people bought it, which explains why they are rare. You can get a faster-handling ED-IF for less money, so go for that instead.
Of course I haven't shot with it. There is the possibility that it just may be (or may not be) sharper than the other 300mm lenses, in which case for still subjects it could be a good lens. On the other hand, there are plenty of 300mm f/4 AF ED-IF lenses out there used at about $650 US, and those are great lenses and work on every AF and manual camera Nikon has ever made, making you future-proof.
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