Shootout Comparing 28-300mm, 70-300mm, 18-200mm, 55-300mm

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May 2, 2005
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You might interested in a quick comparison on 2 of the new lenses in Nikon's lineup.

In case you are interested:
I tried to provide a somewhat reproducable setup.

  • Camera mounted on Gitzo 3540 (D3 for FX and D300 for DX)
  • Both bodies set to manual exposure. Whitebalance set simple to sunlight (avoiding some influence of the auto setting)
  • Mirror lock-up (ca. 5 sec)
  • VR set off with all lenses
  • 3 photos per lens (f5.6, f8 and f11)
  • The additional light for stopping down the lenses was compensated with the studio flash (Profoto D4)
  • The 100% are taken from the unprocessed NEF's of the 4 lenses.
  • For your further "analysis" all 12 NEF's (4 lenses x 3 f-stops) are available for download.

As the focal range of the lenses differ significantly at close range, you will find different focal ranges in the EXIF. The tripod was at the same position and I tried to get somehow similar sizes.

The Profoto system delivers quite a stable light. You might use the NEF's to compare the contrast of the lenses as well.

My initial take on the lenses:
  • Wide open (not completely correct. some lenses weren't at their longest focal length) both Ttelephoto zooms are significantly better than the superzooms. The difference between the 70-300mm VR and the 55-300mm DX VR is in my view marginal.
  • Both superzooms are vsiually softer, the 18-200mm DX the better one in this comparison.

Is this important for a purchasing decision?
IMHO no, but some discussions in internet forums need some material for further debate :smile:

Here are the 12 NEF's:<please click here>

Have fun,
Andy

PS:
My earlier thread on:
AFS 55-300mm DX samples: https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=282205
AFS 28-300mm samples: https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=282241


Completely unprocessed 100% crops from the original NBEF's files:

AFS DX 18-200mm VR (type I)
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AFS DX 55-300mm VR (new)
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AFS 28-300mm VR (new)
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AFS 70-300mm VR
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Agreed - the 55-300 is very impressive. But this certainly dispells any suggestion that the 28-300 is as sharp as the 70-300.

-Chris
 
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Thank you, Andy, for your pragmatic comparison, which confirms my initial ("gut"), but unsophisticated, assessment. I have ordered the 55-300 for my D90 and have now devoted the 70-300 exclusively to the D700. This becomes germane only when my wife joins me on a shoot/trip and "borrows" the D90. A prime example was a fortnight ago when we went on a whale photo shoot, and I utilized my 300/4 on a most shaky vessel, bouncing all over the place. I did not get one decent capture, either with or without the use of a monopod, whereas my good wife, using the 70-300 got some very good shots. We will now start with a somewhat even slate.
 
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Wow.. this is really helpful, Andy. Thanks!

I think 55-300 VR is the best !
Next is 70-300VR

The worst is 28-300 VR ( in my eyes, 18-200 VR I is even better, so shame on Nikon for their super zoom design).
 
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Thanks for the effort you put into this. While I was not contemplating purchasing any of the new zooms, it's still useful to know when others come asking me for purchasing advice.
 
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Newcastle, Wa
I just looked at the full size NEF for the 55-300 and the 70-300 at f8. It is hard to judge, I also noticed the focal points were different. Look at bar on the cart in the foreground (or whatever that is).

It is really hard to get tests like these accurate. I find using live view and zooming in to get focus dead on helps.
 
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Thank you for all your replies.

Just wanted to provide some evidence for discussion and self assessment.

Considering the list price, the most bang for the buck for me is with the new AFS DX 55-300mm. Interestingly, it does not seem, that many people have either considered it to complement the basic (but very good) 18-55mm VR - given the lack of attention in intenet fora.

We should also not forget that this lens, manufactured in China, is part of the basic lens lineup of Nikon. This lens definitely raises the minimum bar for future lenses across all price layers for Nikon (which is good for us). Its current introductory price will most likely fall and trend towards the price point of the 55-200mm, widening the difference to the 70-300mm VR lens again (this lens had already its price shift down).

Another positive, very small, but still positive thing on this lens - Nikon introduced with this lens a new bajonett for the lens hood. At first it feels quite shaky, but it is way more efficient than all the older lens hood mounts Nikon had for its lenses. It just works. Nice little aspect.

Another one is size. It just feels right for the smaller DX bodies, like the D40 series, D60, D3000 and D5000. So, its one of those few new lenses which helps us to get again smaller lenses in our bag (at least when you are travelling with a DX body and a 70-300mm VR)

Most other Nikkor lenses tend to grow with each version. If you look at size increase of the old to the new Available-Light dream team, it is quite evident.

The "old" AL-team
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The "new" AL-team
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regards,
Andy
 
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Why is the picture taken with the AFS 28-300mm VR (new) smaller?
 
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Sep 27, 2008
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Why is the picture taken with the AFS 28-300mm VR (new) smaller?
Here ya go:


As the focal range of the lenses differ significantly at close range, you will find different focal ranges in the EXIF. The tripod was at the same position and I tried to get somehow similar sizes.
EDIT:
Sorry you're right, the 28-300 is downsized a little more, but the NEF's are available anyway for comparison.
PS I'm impressed with the sharpness the 55-200mm VR has.
 
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I find this all very interesting. It is like discussing accuracy with gun people. How much is enough? How much accuracy are you willing to pay for?
 
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