?: Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR vs. 300mm f/2.8 VR II

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by greyhoundrick, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. greyhoundrick

    greyhoundrick

    17
    Mar 26, 2016
    Hello everyone!

    I was wondering what thoughts you have on the 300mm f/4 PF in comparison to the 300mm f/2.8VRII.

    Obviously the cost is much lower for the f/4 version, but the thing that interests me the most is overall sharpness given everything else equal. Does the PF version stack up to the f/2.8?

    I know sharpness is a large encompassing term and there are many variables (i.e. hand holding skills, subject movement, settings etc.) but do you think that the f/2.8 is priced at its amount due to the fact that it is a faster lens, has better IQ, better build etc? And if so, how would you compare the 2 side by side for IQ?

    The only pro lenses I have ever tested side by side were the 70-200mm VR I vs. the 300mm f/2.8non VR and even though the 70-200 was superb, I felt the 300mm overall was just a step up. Was wondering if the same incremental performance might be similar with the 300mm PF VR vs. the 300mm f/2.8 VR.

    Thanks so much for your opinions! They are very helpful :)

    best,

    Rick
     
  2. BLev65

    BLev65

    4
    Oct 5, 2017
    I am not sure if this will help, but I can offer insight based on my own decision. In July of this year I owned and shot the following lenses... 70-200mm f/2.8VRII, 200-500mm f/5.6VR, 200-400mm f/4VR and the 300mm f/2.8AFS II. The 300mm f/2.8 AFS II has the same optical formula as the VRII, but lack nano-coating, VR and the VR element that moves within the lens. I was heading out for a 9 day photo workshop in British Columbia with a total of 6 photographers (myself included). All of the photography was to occur on a sailboat and zodiac. Our focus was marine mammals in Johnson's straight between Vancouver Island and the mainland. About two weeks prior to my trip I was frantically searching for a used 300mm f/2.8VR lens. I had intended on selling my equivalent non-VR to get the image stabilizing tech. Sadly, I could not find the lens I wanted. Knowing that I did not want to bring all of the big glass I had, and recognizing that my wife and I would be shooting together with some heavy and some lighter options, I threw caution to the wind, sold my 300mm f/2.8 and purchased the 300mm f/4 pf. While it does not have the biting contrast of the 300mm f/2.8, it is very sharp, extremely hand-holdable and has a good VR system. I produced pictures that I would not otherwise had, were it not for petite nature of the pf lens.

    So... is it as sharp as the 300mm f/2.8VRI or II... no. However, if you need a light and manageable lens, it is a great option... especially if you tend to travel or carry bigger glass.
    cheers,
    bruce
     
  3. From Brad Hill's blog...
    Natural Art Images: Voice: Brad Hill Blog
    (search for "300mm"...way down the page)

    "
    Very High Optical Quality. VERY close to the 300mm f2.8 VR in overall optical performance, and sharp when shot wide open (yep, a LITTLE sharper at f4.5 and f5, but not by much). And...with real sweet bokeh (don't forget the importance of the out-of-focus zones!). How sharp is this lens? You have to be an extreme pixel-peeper to see any difference in image quality between this lens and the Nikkor 300mm f2.8 VR. And without doing carefully controlled head-to-head tests in the field most users (including this user) would never notice the difference. It's that good.
    "
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. I knew Brad Hill liked the 300PF but didn't recall his comments about its excellent bokeh. Here's a few snaps from the garden with the 300PF that I took over the summer. I do think the OOF areas are quite good...not f2.8 good, mind you, but quite good for a f4 lens. I'm happy with mine anyway.

    All photos reduced to 2048x1152.

    D810 + 300PF @f4
    23563359948_dcd74cbb29_k.

    D810 + 300PF @f4
    37401242671_ab06867e89_k.

    D500 + 300PF @f5.6
    35685610360_51bbb10877_k.

    D500 + 300PF @f9
    35266850873_4feec03ec9_k.
     
  5. Great shots, Gary. The detail is wonderful. I must say I love the 300PF, one stop down it is really sharp. Big thing for me is that it is hand holdable and can be carried anywhere. it is almost always in my bag.

    Cheers,
    alexis and Georgie Beagle

    "I put it on my D850 just to make mom jealous of how sharp my shots are, the 300PF is so light even a beagle can carry it" - Georgie Beagle
     
  6. BLev65

    BLev65

    4
    Oct 5, 2017
    Here is a shot taken with my D500 and 300mm PF w/ the 1.4x converter. I was in a zodiac and we were looking for dark water in which to contrast with the otter. This required fairly wide-open shooting, high ISO and VR.
    cheers,
    bruce.
    SeaOtter81617-9486-Edit-Edit.
     
  7. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    NICE! Wonderful pose and fine details. What was the ISO?
     
  8. Exactly Georgie -- my 300PF is always in by carry bag...it's just too convenient to leave at home even when I'm not planning to use it. In comparison the 200-500VR, if I owned one, would not get out as much.
     
  9. BLev65

    BLev65

    4
    Oct 5, 2017
    Thank you! The shot was at ISO 900 and f/10. I was using auto iso, as the light was all over the place that afternoon.
     
  10. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    Thanks! Auto ISO is wonderful in such conditions. ISO 900 is not really that high. These days many consider up to 1,600 very usuable, even on the D500.
     
  11. BLev65

    BLev65

    4
    Oct 5, 2017
    I thought it was higher than 900, but I wanted to check the exif. During that day I shot quite a few at 1600, and I just assumed that the otter was at a higher ISO.

    cheers,
    bruce
     
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