300mm PF or 70-300mm AF-P for Z6 ???

Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
4
Hi,
I recently acquired Z6, with 24-70mm f4 lens. I don't shoot usually in tele range and I am not pro. But whenever I shot for (large) birds, animals, far objects (more than 200mm) I would need a sharp tool. My expectation is lightweight and sharp.
I am coming from Olympus, so I am spoiled by 75mm f/1.8, 40-150mm f/2.8, and 300mm f/4. I didn't like Olympus 70-300mm comparatively. I have been reading some options and can see 2 options, i.e. 70-300mm AF-P and 300mm PF.
I have been reading a lot of old posts. Some posts dictate that IQ, color rendering, and sharpness of 70-300mm AF-P is very close to 300mm PF. But usually, primes are always sharp and better by standards, from what I saw in Olympus (75mm f1/.8 v a zoom lens in that range). While some other posters suggest that prime would always beat and the difference in picture quality will be clearly visible.
I am struggling to decide between both lenses, which one to pick. Users, who have experience with both lenses, can shed some light on it and suggest, please?
If I need to choose 300mm PF, I will pick a used copy for around $1200.
Other lenses are not fitting into the criteria. Upcoming 100-400 S is not sure when it will come and what would be its weight and price. Sigma looks big. 200-500 is very heavy for me.
Thanks
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
20,161
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
The prime lens sells for $2000 new. The zoom lens sells for $600 new. For that price difference, if the prime lens doesn't deliver noticeably better images than the zoom lens at 300mm, something is very, very wrong. The corollary is that at that price difference we shouldn't expect the zoom lens to deliver the same quality as the prime lens, especially at the zoom's longest focal length. Also consider that the prime lens is compatible with Nikon's teleconverters and the zoom lens isn't.

If you would regularly use the zoom at its medium to shortest focal lengths, that's a whole other consideration to take into account.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,813
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
I have both. The 300PF is an f/4, the 70-300 is a 5.6 at 300. The 300 PF takes TC's very well. As far as I know you can't add a TC to the 70-300. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

The micro contrast and overall sharpness are still an edge to the prime. The 70-300 is about convenience. I will say though that it is probably one of the best telephoto consumer zooms I've ever used in terms of sharpness and AF speed.

2 big things to consider.

1) Aperture. Can you live with f/5.6 at 300mm?
2) Convenience. Are you living at 300mm and possibly beyond? If so, 300mm PF. If you need the convenience of having the 70-300mm range, well...

Samples:

Nikon 300mm PF f/4 E

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E AF-P
 

Butlerkid

Cafe Ambassador
Administrator
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
23,730
Location
Rutledge, Tennessee
Real Name
Karen
I have the 300 PF and LOVE it! While zooms seem to offer advantages, most folks tend to use them at their longest focal length. The fact that the 300 PF takes a 1.4 tele so well is great news as a walk around large wildlife lens. However, the same can be said of the 500mm PF, which I also have. With limited use, it doesn't seem that the 500m takes the 1.4 tele very well.

You need to seriously determine your desired focal length. 70-300, 300-420 or 500 mm.

Determine your NEED, then buy accordingly.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
4
Andrew, you are right 70-300mm doesn't take TC.

I can live with f/5.6, as most of the time I will be out during good light. Price is also not a big factor here. If I have to go to 300mm, I will pick a used copy.

Focal length? I had Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 (m43) and I was happy with 150mm, so I guess I should be good with 30mm. Even if I don't use TC, I am good.

On another side, when Andrew says "I will say though that it is probably one of the best telephoto consumer zooms I've ever used in terms of sharpness and AF speed." I go deeper in dilemma ...haha. If zoom is so close in terms of sharpness, color rendering, etc, then better I should pick 70-300mm? In Andrew's samples, I can see 300mm is very sharp and I can see the same in 70-300mm too.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 7, 2005
Messages
946
Location
MN, USA
Andrew, you are right 70-300mm doesn't take TC.

I can live with f/5.6, as most of the time I will be out during good light. Price is also not a big factor here. If I have to go to 300mm, I will pick a used copy.

Focal length? I had Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 (m43) and I was happy with 150mm, so I guess I should be good with 30mm. Even if I don't use TC, I am good.

On another side, when Andrew says "I will say though that it is probably one of the best telephoto consumer zooms I've ever used in terms of sharpness and AF speed." I go deeper in dilemma ...haha. If zoom is so close in terms of sharpness, color rendering, etc, then better I should pick 70-300mm? In Andrew's samples, I can see 300mm is very sharp and I can see the same in 70-300mm too.

Do you print or mostly look at your images on a computer/monitor? Do you pixel-peep or crop a lot?

I have both lenses. The 70-300 even stands up to the resolution of the Z7 well enough. The 300PF focusses faster (it's my BIF lens) and is sharper but not dramatically so and frankly with birds, you can almost never get close enough. If I was seriously into wildlife I'd either buy or rent the 500PF.

Look, if you want a general lens that's good for picking out details in landscapes or occasionally photographing wildlife, the 70-300 gives you flexibility in framing with very good image quality. If you want a higher quality lens that is going to allow you to add TC's and get you to 400mm at a reasonable aperture, then the 300PF is a solid choice.

But to the first point, if you mostly look at your images on a computer/monitor, I'd bet that you couldn't tell the difference between an identical image taken with the two lenses.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
20,161
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
Consider two rental options to help you make an informed buying decision:
  • Rent the zoom lens. If it's good enough, don't bother paying the higher cost of the prime lens. If it's not good enough, buy the prime lens.
  • Rent the zoom lens and the prime lens. Decide which one is a better fit for you.
Rent from a company such as LensRentals that will offer you a purchase price of the lens you rent. Let them know in advance that if they have various copies that would be offered at different prices, they should send you a lens that makes it possible to offer you a price in the low end of their range of prices. Rent on a holiday weekend, as you might get the day of the holiday for free.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Messages
2,886
Location
Winter Haven, florida
As others have noted above, there is no RIGHT answer.
What do you do with your images?
If your images primarily are used for facebook, internet, or small prints- get the lighter, cheaper, more convenient zoom. The 70-300 is a very nice lens.
If you are shooting fast moving objects or pushing your images to large prints- the 300 prime wins.
As I noted above, there is no right answer, there is also no wrong answer.
If you are just starting out shooting longer glass- I would personally go with the 70-300. Save your pennies- as you will want the 500mm pf before you know it.
gary
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
18,771
Location
Hong Kong
Real Name
Phil
I think:
1. If you need the zoom function quite a lot, then the choice is obvious.

2. Let's say you are using 300mm most of the time, then we are comparing a 300/4 and a 300/5.6. One is much more expensive and heavier, with better IQ and faster. The other one is more portable and less expensive. I would say for most people and for most situations, 300/5.6 is good enough.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
4
@MNglass : I don't print, neither I do pixel-peeping. But I was able to see the difference between a photo of Olympus 70-300mm and Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 and I preferred the later one. That is my concern if Nikon 70-300mm will fall into the same category as Olympus 70-300mm.
I would expect better isolation between the subject (be it big birds or animals or general landscapes) and background.

@gchappel / @Phil : 500mm PF is great and on top of my wishlist. But I am afraid it will not be used much as of now, until I switch heavily into wildlife/birds. I had Olympus 300mm f/4 Pro. It was very less used, but in that range, I was never able to use any other lens due to its superiority. So, at this stage, when I wanted a general-purpose tele lens, I thought if 300mm PF is in the same league as 500mm PF in terms of sharpness/color rendering/subject isolation, so let's take this mini-300mm PF which should serve a variety of purpose. But when I started reading about it, 70-300mm was greatly praised too. Now that developed my confusion among both.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,553
Location
Los Angeles, USA
I'm a big fan of Olympus glass and the 300mm f/4 PF VR is the way to go. The 70-300mm AF-P FX VR can't touch the 300mm f/4 PF VR in regards to sharpness, contrast and the ability to use TCs. I'm using the older TC-14E ver. I (same as ver. II, different exterior) and performance with the 300mm f/4 is still very good. The 300mm f4 is still quite light even with a 1.4 TC attached. I owned the 70-300mm and sold it here on the cafe. The 300mm f/4 is just too good. It balances very well on my Nikon Z5 as well!

BTW - If you want more reach beyond 300mm, maybe take a look at the Sigma 100-400mm C. I've seen used copies go for less than $500, that might be another option for a compact telephoto zoom.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
4
Thanks. I guess now Sigma 100-400mm C is also in option. How is 70-300mm in its comparison, if I ignore 300mm to 400mm benefit, in terms of IQ, sharpness, color?
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,553
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Thanks. I guess now Sigma 100-400mm C is also in option. How is 70-300mm in its comparison, if I ignore 300mm to 400mm benefit, in terms of IQ, sharpness, color?

I only used the Sigma 100-400mm C in-store, but 400mm appeared quite sharp at f/6.3. The 70-300mm VR has the smooth AF-P motor though, making it function similar to a native Z mount lens. The Sigma felt more robust though. The Nikon 300mm PF VR is special though.
 
Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom