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Nikon Lens Comparison

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9 Dec 2012 - 7:33 PM

How much of an improvement in picture quality could be achieved by shooting with a NIKON NIKKOR 300mm f2.8 ED AIS, as opposed to a NIKON NIKKOR AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 ED ?
Would the margin be dramatic or merely incidental?


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9 Dec 2012 - 7:33 PM

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Dramatic. The difference between consumer lenses and professional lenses has to be seen to be appreciated.

The pro lenses will need better handling and support, aka better technique, but used correctly will provide stellar results.

9 Dec 2012 - 7:42 PM

At the extremes of performance - e.g. in low light - you may find it easier to get a good image from the fast prime lens. It may also seem marginally sharper at the edges of the frame.

Otherwise, if you are merely viewing images on a computer monitor or printing up to about A3 size, it is unlikely that you will notice any significant difference. And, of course, image quality also will depend upon you being able to manually focus accurately with the AIS lens.

When that old 300mm lens was first produced, there probably was not a zoom that would match it for image quality. In those days there was a significant difference between primes and zooms. But much of that difference has been eroded in recent years.

9 Dec 2012 - 7:51 PM

Interesting. Two apparently diverse replies. (if I understand them correctly)
I ask, because I have the f4-5.6 70-300 zoom. I have been offered the opportunity to purchase the 300 f2.8
At the outboard (light-in) end it has a glass like a frying pan. Whilst my zoom has a corresponding piece of glass 62mm dia.
The prime certainly looks the business.
But I don't want to spend a comparatively significant amount of money on the lens, only to wonder why on earth I did so GrinGrin

Last Modified By strokebloke at 9 Dec 2012 - 7:52 PM
cameracat  108578 forum posts Norfolk Island61 Constructive Critique Points
9 Dec 2012 - 8:12 PM

If you have been asked a significant price, Leave it where it is, This prime has been around since 1977 and it manual focus, Weights a ton, Try finding a filter for that frying pan on the front end.

If you bolted your current lens to a tripod, Then did the same with this monster, Chances are you might see some image variations dependant on aperture etc etc.

In day to day hand held use, Its likely to be hit and miss depending on many factors, Just how fast can you manually focus when in a hurry.....?

I have the Nikon 70-300mm ED VR etc and would not do a straight swap this lens......Its that simple.

Last Modified By cameracat at 9 Dec 2012 - 8:12 PM
9 Dec 2012 - 8:15 PM

This was taken with the zoom, which itself is approaching pensionable age Wink, on a tripod, manual focus, remote and with a 5 second timer setting.

9 Dec 2012 - 8:17 PM

Thank you. All.

I think my reservations have been answered Smile

9 Dec 2012 - 9:49 PM

Quote: Interesting. Two apparently diverse replies. (if I understand them correctly)


You do understand them correctly. That is the beauty of a web chatroom like this - you will get different views based upon different types of experience. Neither is necessarily right or wrong. You would note that when I gave my opinion (based on 55 years of solid experience), I made some qualifications, such as:

if you are merely viewing images on a computer monitor or printing up to about A3 size,

If you were needing much larger prints (or very heavy crops), then the other view might have merit.

As with so much that is discussed on the Forum, it is very much "horses for courses".

I use both a Nikkor 600mm f/4 AIS and a Sigma 150-500mm zoom on my D800. Both are excellent horses when ridden on the appropriate courses.

LenShepherd e2 Member 62505 forum postsLenShepherd vcard United Kingdom
11 Dec 2012 - 8:41 AM

The 70-300 VR (which I own) is very good at 300mm - for a 70-300 zoom.
For critical work (big prints etc) a 300mm prime (I also own the 300mm f2.8 VR) is significantly better.
You can check out Nikon's MTF for each lens at Nikon's official site http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/index.htm
Canon rate 60 on the right hand side of of the chart (extreme corner on FX) as good quality and above 80 as excellent.
At 300mm wide open at f5.6 the zoom is 90 for red (appoximation of contrast) and 70 for blue (approximation of fine detail).
If the figures for the cheaper 70-300 G (not VR) are still shown - they are clearly lower.
The prime is 95/80, 2 stops faster at f2.8 confirming for critical work it is the better option,
The G none VR is optically the weakest - confirming in this case you get more optical quality for the extra money.
That said with good technique at f8 I find it near impossible in a 10x8 inch print to separate the 2 VR lenses.

11 Dec 2012 - 10:20 AM

Than you Leonard.
It is good to be able to see where the money being spent is a benefit in terms of what is produced.
Your information (& Nikon link) is very helpful in terms of understanding.

I did let the offer pass me by.

I am going to FoI in March 2013, and will save my hard earned cash until then; where there are often some significant bargains to be had, providing the research int the product to be purchased has been done beforehand. Grin


LenShepherd e2 Member 62505 forum postsLenShepherd vcard United Kingdom
12 Dec 2012 - 9:33 AM

Quote: Than you Leonard.
It is good to be able to see where the money being spent is a benefit in terms of what is produced.
Your information (& Nikon link) is very helpful in terms of understanding

A small observation - MTF in isolation does not comment on build quality, AF speed or optical distortion - there can be more to choosing the right lens for your needs than the full aperture MTF figures.

annettep38 e2 Member 3188 forum postsannettep38 vcard France32 Constructive Critique Points
21 Dec 2012 - 12:02 AM

I had the 70-300 and was very happy with it to the day I bought the D3x.With my D2x I took nearly 4000 shots with the zoom and never moaned. On the 'new' body it showed some flaws in the outer, FX areas, notably a lot of CA. I can't stand CA, but that is my personal taste. And no, correction is a nice thing but is does not always work. I've got an old, MF 300 2.8 from Tamron and a 600 + a 500mm. all those are MF and really good, flawless. I do enough nature shots to confirm that you don't really need all the bells and whistles you get with a modern lens.
Frankly, all 3 lenses have been together less out of my bank than one AF lens Smile and I know why I keep them all. No zoom came ever close to the quality.
If you want something bright and a sharp zoom, try the 80-200 2.8 AF. Mike Otley recommended it and I don't regret it, it is the ideal winter lens. Does everything except birds.

21 Dec 2012 - 1:06 AM

Annette, I am presently watching two 80-200 f2.8's.
As a lens it seems to be very good - receives splendid reviews and is very cost effective in comparison with the 70-200 f2.8 VR.
One of the items I'm watching has not been used - but even new are priced at around 600 which is almost a 1/3rd of the price of a 70-200.

21 Dec 2012 - 10:38 AM

I've had an 80-200 AFS for something over 10 years and it's a fine lens. She-who-must-be-obeyed has the Mk1 70-200 which is great for DX format but somewhat fuzzy at the corners when used on FX. There was a good reason for Nikon to introduce a Mk2 when the D3 hit the streets becuase the new version is a lot sharper in the corners.

21 Dec 2012 - 10:49 AM

I confess that I really do like what I've researched about the 80-200. Not simply because of the price.
Many of the reviews rate it very highly. And your assertion reinforces that view.
If the unused one goes for close to full price I will probably purchase new. Warranties etc Grin
I am also considering a 70-200 from a local photographer, and don't know whether this is a Mk I or Mk II.
I shall have to enquire Smile

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