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Anyone shooting with the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 ed?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by InLimbo87, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    I'm looking for a replacement for my 55-200mm AF-S DX (non-vr) and am considering going with the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 ED. Just wanted to know anyone's experience with this lens, and specifically how would it compare to my 55-200mm?

    I really like the idea of having the extra 100mm for birds/wildlife (if they're close enough of course), and the build quality definitely looks to be considerably better than the 55-200. Not to mention they're both going for about the same price at the moment (used).

    I have a tripod to use in situations where I don't have the light to use it handheld. What kind of shutter speeds do you need to be able to handhold at 300mm with no VR?
  2. Mike126


    Aug 14, 2008
    Herndon, Va
    I can't comment on the lens but to shoot a 300mm handheld you will need to be around 1/500th. The general rule of thumb is hand held shooting can be done if the shutter speed is the same or faster than the lens size (300mm =1/300th). But I would not shoot it at any thing less than 1/500th. You can also get a gun stock mount to help steady the camera.
  3. I would save your pennies and get the VR version. Quite a difference optically and the VR is a BIG help.

  4. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    Thanks for the info Mike. Good "rule of thumb" to consider it seems.

    Do you have any comparison pictures between the two, or a review of the two compared? I was considering the 70-300mm VR but it would be quite some time before I can buy another lens (just recently bought my whole setup). Honestly, I'm just looking for a quality upgrade with a little extra reach than my 55-200 atm, and I'm hoping this could be it.
  5. I never owned the non VR. But, it is well known to be better than the non VR version. As far as waiting to afford the VR version, well, in my opinion, WELL worth it!!! I would not own the non VR version. Plus with good technique shooting at 300mm handheld is well doable with the VR version.

  6. Pesto126


    Apr 13, 2006
    Northeast USA
    Yes.. I agree with the above posters. I have owned the 70-300 - in fact, I used it for years as my only "long" zoom lens with my N90s film camera... I sold it 2 years ago when I upgraded my equipment but have fond memories of it.

    However, the new 70-300VR is well ahead of that old reliable lens in terms of usability and IQ - the VR alone makes a huge difference.

    Purchasing quality lenses really does make a big difference in the long run in terms of IQ and your image collection.. I'd put away the pennies and get the VR version. However, if you look around, you can find the ED for around $200 used.. you can always buy it and use it while saving for the VR (or even better.. a 300 f4) and then just sell it when you are ready to make the leap. It's what we all do around here... sometimes it takes longer than others to make the jump... but you too will be ready someday.

    Good Luck.. and enjoy whichever lens you get!
  7. Bolts


    May 7, 2007
    Tampa, Florida
    I've been shooting with the 70-300 which I got for less than $200, hard to beat for the price.


    Definately easier to carry around than the 80-400 VR.

    Let me know if you'd like to borrow the 70-300 or we could shoot together if you'd like to make a trip to Tampa.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  8. I never liked the af 70-300 ed version of this lens. It might just be me, but I preferred my non ed 75-300 version.
  9. I bought a used copy of the 70-300 D that I used on my D70s for about a year before selling it and buying an 80-200 2.8D. I subsequently purchased the newer 70-300 VR, which I'm very happy with.

    My 70-300 D was decent from 70-200 stopped down to around f/8. 300mm was soft at all apertures, and the combination of slow AF and barrel creep when hung around my neck convinced me to sell it.

    If a new 70-300 VR is out of your price range, you might want to consider the 55-200 VR, which Thom Hogan gave decent marks to. It is a lot smaller than the 70-300 and has VR and AFS. Obviously doesn't go to 300mm, but image quality on my 70-300 ED at 300mm was poor enough that I didn't shoot much at that focal length anyhow - I was better off shooting at 200mm and cropping.
  10. Well, once again I seem to be the only one in the world who got a good copy of the lens. I had one of these for a couple of years. Yes, it's the 70-300/f4-5.6 AF ED, not the G and not the VR.

    It is definitely not AS sharp at 300mm as it is at 200mm, but here are a few shots at 300mm, all hand-held:

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    The second one was shot with a Nikon 6T on the front. While this attachment has a good reputation, it certainly isn't making the main lens sharper, and it definitely magnifies any errors.

    While the 70-300VR is clearly a better lens optically, and of course it's AFS and VR too, I don't think the 70-300ED justifies the lousy reputation it has. And yes, I know these are small images posted on the 'net. I've seen the originals, obviously - they are easily capable of making good 11x14s. (BTW, these were all shot with a D100.)
  11. zakk9


    May 5, 2005
    The ED is much better than its reputation, but there are weaknesses which have made me write down a few rules:

    - Stay below 250mm
    - Stop down at least a half, preferably a full stop
    - It's better at close range than at infinity

    In other words: at 300mm wide open, focused at infinity, it really sucks, but other than that, it's a very useful lens, and cheap.

    I paid around $150 for mine used, and it's a great lens for sunny days with a lot of light. Here's a sample from last year, 210mm @ f/6.7

  12. The VR version is good enough for all uses except major dof control, which is why a lot of shooters are either selling their 70-200VRs or leaving that heavy sucker at home! In fact, the 9 blade aperture delivers very nice bokeh anyway...

    VRii is a revelation on this FX capable lens, res'n is very high across the DX frame, contrast and colour are great, and it weighs in at the same mass as the acclaimed 180/2.8. You can see what is happening here - this 'mid range consumer' lens is cannibalising sales of traditional high quality Nikkors, due to its overall usability. Nikkor zooms in this class are getting better fast...res at the short end is especially wonderful, and I expect it to be an even better allrounder on FX for this reason. On DX, 300mm (so, eq. 450mm) is pretty acceptable in the centre of the frame, which suits say, wildlife shooting.

    Don't know about you, but I loathe buying and selling lenses; it detracts from excellence in results, as all lenses have foibles and quirks and characteristics, which one gets better at dealing with over time...I just want a set that flat out work for my usage pattern. Nikon's next assignment is a companion lens of 24-70/f4, weighing 500 grams and taking 67mm filters like this baby. If they had not rushed the D700 out, they could have released it simultaneously to rapturous acclaim by one and all!

    I recommend you save and buy the later VR version; it's a keeper.
  13. I, too, own this lens and would give it a good review. As Brian stated, and I concur with his assessment, that the VR version is a better lens...but not by a great factor. The VR is a plus and the optics are moderately better (others can disagree). I believe you can get this lens for half the price of the VR, or even less. If not on a budget, then definitely get the VR version.

    My gallery has a collection called "Lake John Rookery"...all shots are with the 70-300mm ED and are all handheld (and I use a tripod 95% of the time) and taken from a canoe. I'm just an amateur (not that great at PP) and the composition could definitely be improved. But perhaps the photos will give you some idea of the lens's capability...or lack thereof. I'm also 68, so not that steady with handholding.
  14. I found your reply interesting since it is exactly opposite of my reaction to those lenses. I actually preferred the 70-300 ED to the 75-300 I had earlier. Maybe my 75-300 was just a bad copy, but I could seldom nail a sharp image with that lens.

    Of course, what I did miss from the older 75-300 was the tripod foot.

    I have never shot with the 70-300VR version, so I have nothing to add to that part of the discussion. I can say though, that if I am humping on the trail and want the reach, I always toss in the 70-300 ED. Quite light weight and, with proper technique and enough light to allow for stopping down, it can yield some pretty nice images. Yeah - my 300/2.8 is certainly sharper, but no way I will carry that sucker on an all day hike.

    One last point - not sure if this still applies to the newer VR version, but with the 70-300 ED lens, I always toss in a Nikon 6T diopter; again - on the trail when I am without dedicated macro gear, the 6T on the zoom can yield some pretty decent macro work in a pinch with virtually no additional weight on my tired back.

    Brian - looks like you and I are in agreement about the 6T on the 70-300. Incidentally, the panning shot of the guy in red on the go cart is a keeper for sure. You have just proven once again that, "It is not the equipment; it is the photographer!" Well done.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2008
  15. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    Thank you all for your responses and comments.

    I'm really thinking I'm going to go with the 70-300mm ed. I could definitely afford the VR, but am on a budget with all this photography equip, and think the ED will be plenty for the pics I want to take. After this post, I've seen some wonderful shots with this lens.
  16. It will only be a matter of time that you will want the VR version.

  17. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Ian: I bought the 70-300 ED for my Son' birthday. I picked it used from Keh. Part of the reason was to get back "my" Nikkor 300 4.5 ED-IF AIS he was using. Just to make sure it was up to snuff I took it out for a hour or two and made some captures close to my house. I was very Im pressed with the Images this little lens produced on my D3. For the price it would be hard to beat in a auto focus lens. My Son is happy and I got my classic nikkor 300 4.5 ED-IF back.

  18. A few more comments:

    The 70-300 ED is NOT a fast lens; VR definitely helps. (It's one reason that I use the 18-200VR.) But especially these days with the higher ISO being quite good, it isn't as necessary to have fast glass as it once was. Shooting an f/5.6 lens with Velvia 50 is no fun.

    But most of my point was that even the "worst" Nikon lenses are still pretty darn good if you use them right. Note that this also applies to focusing speed. If you dig around, you'll see a LOT of comments about "the 70-300 ED can't even keep up with my XXX walking" where XXX is a dog, a kid, a cat, etc. And for sure it is nowhere near as quick to focus as the AFS lenses. But I shot motorsports with it, and then if you keep looking you'll find lots of nice crisp shots from air shows, and of course an airplane even at all speed is faster than any animal walking...

    Full disclosure: I don't have this lens any more. I use either an 80-200/f2.8 AFS or a 400/f2.8, and if I have to travel light, I make do with the shorter 18-200VR. Why? They're faster, sharper and have VR. Of course, from this alone, you can also see that I'm spending a lot more money on this than other folks are. But not everyone needs to spend $500-$5000 on a lens. Good enough is, well, good enough. "The best" is not always the best purchase.

    Finally, the fact that this lens doesn't have a great reputation means that you can get one for under $150 - KEH.com has EX grade ones for $119.
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