Look for them used here
Nikon 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF, set to 75mm. It gets longer at longer focal lengths. (62mm filters, 30 oz. /850g, 5'/1.2m close focus, about $200 used). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this direct link to this lens at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), or at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.
This is the original 75-300mm AF zoom. I don't think a D version was ever available.
This lens was introduced in 1989 and was available new through 1999. It sold new at discount for around $425 in 1991, $575 in 1995 and closed out at about $370 in 1999 (mail-order prices). In July 2002 it goes for an average of $225 used.
It was replaced in 1999 by the 70-300mm f/4-5.6ED AF zoom, which is a much cheaper, lighter, and smaller plastic lens. This original version is by far the better lens; I presume it just cost Nikon too much to make to be able to sell it profitably at what the market would bear today.
The lens reviewed here is mostly metal and is very similar in construction quality and style as the 35-70 f/2.8D and 70-210 f/4-5.6D AF push-pull AF zooms of the same era. Only the 35-70 f/2.8D is still sold new today.
This lens has thirteen elements in eleven groups.
It focuses down to about 5 feet or 1.2 meters.
It weighs 30 oz. or 850g.
It is a push-pull zoom.
It has a great built-in tripod adapter that cannot be removed, and does not get in the way of hand holding.
It's 2.8" (72mm) around. It is 6.5" (165mm) long at the 75mm setting and 7.7" (197mm) long at the 300mm setting. This is the extension from the lens mount with the the lens focused at infinity.
It has a great nine-bladed diaphragm and stops down to f/32 at 75mm to f/40 at 300mm. Your camera may indicate a little differently for minimum aperture.
Distortion is the lowest I've seen in a zoom, and therefore exceptional for a 4x zoom. The new 70-300 by comparison has awful distortion.
75mm: slight barrel
200mm: vanishingly low pincushion
300mm: very slight pincushion
Falloff of Illumination
There is little to no darkening of the corners, even at full aperture. Shoot wide open if you want; this is better, even at the same f/number, than the performance of the 80-200 f/2.8 lenses.
200mm little falloff
300mm some falloff
It's pretty sharp all over at all apertures and focal lengths.
It is softer at 300mm, and much softer at 5 feet at f/5.6 at 300mm. It's much better at 300mm at f/8. At far distances it's as sharp as other Nikkor 300mm lenses.
This is great, I have nothing to whine about here.
Flare and Ghosts
I saw none shooting straight into the sun. This again is great performance.
It is very well made. It has all metal innards. This is much better than the current plastic 70-300.
Accuracy: It's dead on. This is very good, since you'll be shooting at almost full aperture most of the time.
AF is slow! One turn of the AF screw focuses the lens from infinity to about 48.' This is one-quarter as fast as the AF 70-210 f/4-5.6D and AF 80-200 f/2.8D. It also is about 30% slower then the newer 70-300mm f/4-5.6ED AF zoom.
The cut of the zoom cams squeezes the zoom range between 200 and 300mm into a small range, making precise adjustment tough between 200 and 300mm.
It's long and light, so that if you have it on your D1 it is not heavy enough to keep the whole thing pointed down. Therefore you'll have a constant woodie poking straight out from your body if you carry thing around your neck.
The non-removable rotating tripod collar is excellent.
The zoom tension is light enough that the lens slides out to 300mm whenever the camera is pointed straight down.
Another reason you always should buy Nikon: this lens, introduced in the 1980s, has all the encoders into it so that all the focal length setting data is recorded by today's D1H camera!
By all means find one of these over the new 70-300. Personally I use the smaller and faster focusing70-210 or much more expensive 80-400 because I actually own them. This 75-300 was loaned to me by a fan for testing.
This is an unusually well made, well performing lens available today for a bargain price.
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