A lens that is less easy to find than the AF 70-300mm G, to which it is often compared. Is the comparison a fair one? Is the ED element the magic ingredient that makes it all different? I got one just for reviewing purposes, because I realized there is a great number of prospective buyers who want to know whether it is worth it. Let's cut to the chase!
+ compared to the G version (and the AF-S VR as well), it's the only one with an aperture ring
+ splendid image quality until 200mm, at all apertures.
+ good selling value! Like with the G version, they all sell for about the same money, so you can be sure to get at least 85% of your money back if you decide to sell it.
- like it is often the case, it is somewhat weak at 300mm and wide-open. But still better than the G version, and stopped down a couple of stops it's still good.
- no VR means tripod/monopod is a MUST at slower shutter speeds
- build quality doesn't inspire confidence (but nothing wrong with it either).
|At 300mm the quality is fine, as long as you can afford to stop down couple of stops.|
- those seeking an affordable tele, but don't want the bottom of the barrel.
- a travel zoom. It's light and smallish
- Thanks to the aperture ring, a great tele zoom for mirrorless
- entry-level bodies. It won't autofocus without a focus motor
- birds or fast action. With f/5.6 at 300mm, autofocus can be slow, especially in lower light
- shots without tripod/monopod in lower light. Forget it.
It's cheap, still, but it's somewhat better than the G version. Between 70-200mm it is a great lens even wide open, but if you stop down to f/8 or f/11, it's excellent - matching much more expensive lenses. After 200mm, it gets weaker, and at 300mm stopping down is almost a must - but it's better than the G, and stopping down helps.
- Compared to the AF 70-300mm G:
Better, no questions asked. The difference might not be visible in all conditions, but when those come, the ED version has a clear upper hand.
- Compared to the AF-S VR 70-300mm
This one is trickier. Obviously, the newer model has faster and more silent autofocus, and VR. In image quality terms, the difference in the 70-200mm range is almost nonexistent. After 200mm, and particularly at 300mm, the AF-S VR has a clear advantage. Is the difference worth the extra money? If we compare only image quality, I'd say no, it's not. But considering the VR and AF-S bonuses, then the answer must be: yes, it definitely is worth it.
So, in conclusion, my personal preference would most definitely be the Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
(If you're a DX user, you might also want to take a look at the Nikkor AF-S VR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G )