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Nikon 300mm f/4 Lenses Compared

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Click any of the photos or links to get to detailed reviews of each.

 

May 2015   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

 

Nikon 300mm f/4 PF VR Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S Nikon 300mm f/4 AF Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF Nikon 300mm f/4.5 AI-s
 

ED-IF

ED

Anni
2015-today
2000-
1987-2000
1978-1999
1977-1979
1969-1998
1964-1969
f/max
f/4
f/4
f/4
f/4.5
f/4.5
f/4.5
f/4.5
Filter
77mm
77mm
82mm
72mm
72mm
72mm
72mm
Threads
plastic
Metal
Metal
Metal
Metal
Metal
Metal
Autofocus
Yes
Yes
Yes
no
no
no
no
Instant Manual Override
Yes
Yes
no
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Aperture Ring
no
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Diaphragm Blades
9 rounded
9 rounded
9
7, later 9
6
6, later 7
6
Optics

16/10

1 ED, 1 Fresnel, IF

9/6

2 ED, IF

8/6

2 ED, IF

7/6

ED, IF

6/4

ED

6/5
5/5
Vibration Reduction
Yes
no
no
no
no
no
no
Sharpness
excellent
excellent
excellent
excellent
excellent
pretty good
Loads of lateral color fringes
Close Focus

1.4m

4.6 feet

1.45m

4.7 feet

2.5m

8 feet

2.5m

8 feet

4m

13 feet

4, later 3.5m

13, later 12 feet

4m

13 feet

Max Repro Ratio
1:4.2
1:3.7
1:7.1
1:7.1
1:10.5
1:11, later 1:9
1:11
Tripod Mount
optional collar
removable collar
fixed collar
removable collar
removable collar
Two ¼-20 threads, later a removable collar
Two ¼-20 threads
New from previous model
Nikon's smallest and lightest 300mm ever, and VR
Much faster and much closer autofocus, instant manual overide
Autofocus
Internal focus (IF) for super close and fast focussing. Lighter weight
ED glass for much less secondary chromatic aberration
An extra element and much better optics
World's first auto-diaphragm 300mm lens
Weight w/collar

26.6 oz.

754g

50.9 oz.

1,442g

46.9 oz.

1,330g

35 oz.

990g

38.8 oz.
1,100g

38.8 oz.
1,100g

34.6 oz.
980g

Price, 1994
n/a
n/a

$850

$900
     
Price, 1/2015

$450 used

   

 

Summaries (click each for fuill reviews)

 

1964-1969: 300mm f/4.5 NIKKOR-P

Nikon's first 300mm SLR lens was the f/4.5 NIKKOR-P.

It had 5 elements (P = Penta = 5) and had very strong lateral color fringes, visible even on 35mm film.

 

1969-1998: 300mm f/4.5 NIKKOR-H to AI-s

Nikon updated the design to six elements in the 300mm f/4.5 NIKKOR-H (H = Hexa = 6), which greatly improved the optics.

Coatings vary somewhat by era; multicoating came along in in the 1970s.

Nikon made many different mechanical versions of this lens from 1969 through 1998 and they all share the same very good optics.

Its optics are far superior to to previous NIKKOR-P.

 

1977-1979: 300mm f/4.5 NIKKOR-ED

The 300mm f/4.5 ED added ED glass for supposed reduction in secondary chromatic aberration, but since the earlier lenses were so good, it doesn't make that much of an improvement.

Thus this lens wasn't very popular; it cost more than the earlier version but didn't do much different.

 

1978-1999: 300mm f/4.5 NIKKOR- ED-IF

The 3 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF is a completely different lens form the previous models.

The ED-IF adds internal focussing, and in doing that, made the lens the smallest and lightest 300mm yet, and let it focus much closer.

Better, instead of the whole lens having to rack in and out to focus, all you do is flick a small focus ring.

 

1987-2000: 300mm f/4 AF

The 300mm f/4 AF (1987 - 2000) has even better optics, and adds autofocus.

It is built like a tank, and has slow autofocus speed to match. You have to move two switches to get from auto to manual focus.

 

2000-present: 300mm f/4 AF-S

The 300mm f/4 AF-S adds ultra fast autofocus with instant manual focus override.

 

2015-present: 300mm f/4 PF VR

The 300mm f/4 PF uses a Fresnel element for less weight. It's the same idea as Canon's DO lenses, which also use Fresnel elements.

Fresnel elements have been used for hundreds of years in lighthouse condensers.

It's also Nikon's first 300mm f/4 or f/4.5 lens with Vibration Reduction.

This is the smallest 300mm ever, and it weighs only half as much as the others!

 

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06 January 2015