Nikon 70-300 G?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JeffTL, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Hi!

    I'm contemplating a Nikon 70-300mm G lens ($145 or so at B&H) to complement the 18-55 kit lens that came with my D50. The reviews I've seen online are pretty positive about the lens, but I'd still like any input that any of you may have if you have used the lens at all.

    Specifically, I am considering it for outdoor photography, particularly landscapes and plants.

    Thanks!

    Jeff
     
  2. applefan macrumors regular

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    #2
    I have one. I use it. I like it. It's a great value at that price, but for me, it's a little tough to use at 300mm without a tripod, and I rarely use a tripod. I need a fast shutter to prevent blur, so that usually means a high ISO. Trade-offs. But, I have no regrets about getting it at that price. I use it with a D70 in case that's helpful.
     
  3. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #3
    The reason the 70-300mm G is so inexpensive now is that Nikon has just issued the 70-300mm VR. That lens is a bit more money but more than likely would be worth it. It is getting pretty good reviews so far from satisfied users.
     
  4. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601

    Plymouthbreezer

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    #4
    I will be purchasing this lens for my D70s as soon as a find the extra cash - It's a lovely piece of glass for the price, and I've had a number of photographers recommend it for general use.
     
  5. uberfoto macrumors member

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    #5
    The lens is ok. For sure a great value for the money.

    There are three versions of this lens now. The "G", the ED and the new ED version with AF-S and VR. I use the previous version 70-300 ED lens and the only thing I don't like about it is the focus. It NEEEEEEEEEDS AF-S!!! Nikon finally delivered with the new AF-S VR version. I will eventually sell mine for the new version after sales settle down. If I was in the market for this zoom, I would buy the new version with AF-S no question. The older version AF just can't keep up with what I shoot. I always use manual focus to pre-focus my shots with this lens.

    Given the price difference between the G (179) and the new ED (530), if you REALLY don't want to spend the money on the new one, you can make the G version work. I haven't seen tests to show the difference between the G lens and the ED glass version but if the extra $460 isn't worth it, the image quality difference between the two isn't going to upset you.
     
  6. JeffTL thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Thanks for the advice, everyone.

    I'm leaning towards springing for the lens sometime relatively soon. I understand that the ED element in the ED version is not in a location where it does that much good, and the VR version is well outside my price range.
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    The ED version is so much more expensive that it must not be worth it. The "G" version must be worth $150 as long as it works and gets you shots from long distance (which it will). ;) The differences you'll experience will not likely be in the sharpness of the lens (well, not a HUGE difference), but in the amount of chromatic abberation (CA), flare, and distortion you get from the lens. However, I'd think that CA and flare will be the biggest differences between the G lens and the other 2 expensive versions, while the difference between the ED and VR versions of the lens isn't in photo quality at all --- it's just the VR.

    Oh, and you really can't shoot landscapes with a 70-300 mm lens. It's not nearly wide enough. Maybe if you want to shoot nature, maybe some leaves, small animals, etc.

    ALL these lenses are slow. Yes, VR is useful because it makes the lens somewhat hand-holdable. However, it isn't worth its price for me, personally. What if the subject you want to photograph is moving? Your slow lens with VR is still going to produce soft pics. If you're shooting animals in a forest or sports in dark-lit stadiums, this will matter. Otherwise, ignore what I just said. :p

    I haven't checked the American prices (which are usually the best), but it's likely still expensive for what it is.... a lens that can go to 300 mm with f/5.6 aperture. If I were in the market for a Nikon telephoto, I'd try to find a used 80-200 mm f/2.8. It's a fast lens, will give you great bokeh, and is sturdy as hell. Only downside is that it's much heavier than a 70-300 mm G or VR lens, and you'd need at least a monopod.

    In order of what I'd get from the info you gave me:

    - 70-300 mm G lens.
    - a Sigma 70-300 mm cheap lenses and read reviews and user reviews that compare performance.
    - used 80-200 mm f/2.8
    - new 80-200 mm f/2.8
    - 70-300 mm VR
     
  8. b0tt094 macrumors 6502

    b0tt094

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    Sep 2, 2006
    #8
    very good glass... my main lense during soccor season... cant afford 6,000 dollar glass, its nice to have. I have only on complaint though when at full zoom it has a very bright halo in the middle... but u can photoshop it out
     
  9. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #9
    The Nikon 70-300 G is NOT a good lens, not even for its price. You can hardly find a Nikon lens that has worse optical quality and worse user reviews.
    If someone is positive about it, it just means they do not have any better lenses or just are not critical at all and would be happy with anything.

    It is quite ok from 70-150mm.. but at 300mm it is SOFT, lacks colour and contrast in a big way, and has all kinds of optical problems (reflections).

    A bit better, but not all that much, is the ED version.

    The Sigma 70-300 APO DG is your best bet in this category of lenses. Its two weak points are a bit slow AF (on the Canon version at least) and soft edges at 300mm, but it is sharp in the center and performs better than the Nikons (also lacks their extreme contrast fall-off at 300mm).
    It also offers a nice 1:2 macro mode for free, for something between $200-220. And it is better built too.

    Another lens you could consider is the quite unknown Sigma 135-400mm. It is quite good upto 400mm actually, and very affordable for such a big lens.
     
  10. JeffTL thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Coldrain,

    Do you by chance have any photographs showing the issues with the Nikon 70-300 G? I'd really like to be able to see the defects for myself to be able to tell if they're anything that would actually have any effect on my work.

    Thanks!

    Jeff
     
  11. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #11
    Nikon's new 70-300mm VR is getting good reviews and users are quite happy with it. It definitely has much better image quality than the older versions of the 70-300mm.

    ETA: link to a review of this lens by Thom Hogan, one of the most respected when it comes to using/reviewing Nikon gear. Unlike Ken Rockwell, he actually USES the stuff before expressing his thoughts and opinions!

    http://www.bythom.com/70300VRlens.htm

    ETA again to add that it's really important to note whether or not someone has actually had personal experience with a given camera or lens. One of the criticisms leveled at Ken Rockwell is that he will spout off an opinion....without ever even having touched or used the particular camera body or lens in question. Valid point! Unfortunately we have also seen this sort of thing occur right here on the digital photography forum, too, where someone is all too eager to trash one camera body or brand or lens when in fact the person may never have touched one or used it.... If someone writes that "x" or "y" or "z" camera or lens is "crap" while "q" or "r" or "s" are stellar, it's a good idea to read their comments and then check things out elsewhere....especially if it is clear that the person making the negative comments actually has no hands-on experience with the particular item(s) being discussed.....
     
  12. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #12
    clix Pix is of course referring to me in her post. Don't take too much notice of her though.

    As you can see from the review she links to by the way, even the Nikon fan Thom is not very impressed by the most expensive and best 70-300 from Nikon at 300mm. What can I say?

    Sample photos of problems with lenses are hard to come by. Most "reviews" do not contain any photos, and people tend to only post photos they are content with... so photos showing the real shortcomings of lenses are very rare.

    It is hard to show contast fall off without having comparison shots too, so you really have to make an effort to show how a lens performs in a review. I'd do it for you if I had access to a 70-300 G.

    If you want a Nikon lens, then try to find a 2nd hand 75-300. They perform quite a bit better, are much better built (metal). It still is soft at 300mm though.

    This guy has a horrible website and a lot of Nikon gear experience:
    http://www.naturfotograf.com
    He writes about the 70-300G
    "Optically speaking, the 70-300 isn't really that bad and given you avoid shooting distant subjects with the lens set to the longer focal lengths, quite decent image quality can be obtained. You need to stop down a bit, to f/8 or so, to get the best quality. Colour fringing is not a big problem despite the lack of ED glass, but colour saturation won't reach up to ED lenses."

    I am guessing you are particularly interested in its 300mm capability... and he says it is not all that bad IF YOU AVOID LONGER FOCAL LENGTHS. And the guy was testing it on a D1x. A 2.74 mega pixel camera. Imagine how unsharp it will be with a higher resolution camera like yours!

    http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_03.html#AF70-300f4.5G

    Here are some not so informative sample shots:
    http://www.pbase.com/hsandler/nikon_70300g

    Some user opinions:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/reviews/reviewItemDetail.asp?reviewItemID=2071&catID=8

    http://www.photographyreview.com/PRD_84916_3128crx.aspx

    http://photodoto.com/lens/?make=Nikon&id=62
    http://photodoto.com/lens/?make=Nikon&id=65

    You can of course make nice photos with this lens, when you stop down to f8 and you keep below 200mm. It is just that the Sigma 70-300 APO DG performs better, for a price that is not all that different. And then you get a more sturdy lens too, with 1:2 macro mode.

    Try both out in a store, shooting the same subject from the same distance at 300mm (and wide open or both the same aperture). Then you can decide for yourself at home how they compare. That will be the most reliable way of finding out which one suits your taste best.
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #13
    Haha, and you got unbanned? :p

    She does make a good point though.

    And if you're after a 70-300 mm lens, and don't plan on using this lens at 300 mm very often, but do plan on taking occasional shots from 100-200 mm (which is more likely for most people), then the Nikon 70-300 mm G lens is perfectly fine, especially if you want this lens just to have something that reaches that focal length.

    I considered getting it a while ago just so that I had one on hand if I needed it. I almost never find myself needing a lens longer than 100 or 150 mm (and don't own anything that goes beyond 105 mm), but it would be nice to own in case I do. That, and it's dirt cheap (lens wise), so even if I don't shoot often with it, it'll pay off just by showing up.

    Anyway, I'm sure the lens will be fine if you're shooting with a tripod at 300 mm, and if you do most of your shooting in the middle focal range and not at the extremes (ie: 300mm or even 70 mm).
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    I'm not sure how likely this is for most people- but for me it wouldn't work at all. I found with zooms that I was always (98+%) out at the far end when shooting nature and candid portraits. If 300mm is important, I still think the 300mm f/4 EDIF lens is a bargain- excellent used samples can be had for around $500.
     
  15. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #15
    What good point does she make? She is referring to a Nikon 70-300 VR review. She has no 70-300 G experience herself, nor does she post any real information about it, let alone image examples that would show that it performs good at 300 mm or so.

    There is NO information in her post.

    If you want a 70-300 lens, what is wrong with the Sigma 70-300 APO that actually does offer better image quality? And if you do NOT care about the 200-300mm range of the lens, then why get this 70-300G in the first place?
    Even the 55-200mm Nikon is a better lens than this 70-300G.

    It is fine to attack my posts but do it with real arguements.
    The Sigma beats the Nikon, especially between 200-300mm. Give arguements why the Nikon would be a better choice anyway.
    And if the 70-300G is not wanted for its 200-300mm range, then give arguements about why one should consider it over the (better) 55-200 AF-S DX. Just always attacking my posts because I do not belong to the Nikon owners club is short sighted. Nice to see that you picked out one line of my elaborate post, and disregard all links and real info I provide.

    And it is nice that you are sure the lens will be fine at 300mm on a tripod, when so many people point to its loss of contrast and saturation at 300mm and how soft it is between 200-300mm. It just is not a very good lens in the long end, and no tripod fixes that.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    She made it generic, you're making it personal- that's not very good etiquette.

    She also has a valid point. "I heard/read/intuit that..." is not the same as "I tested/tried/sampled..." That doesn't always mean it's a *better* or *more informed* opinion, but the point is still valid.

    While for some things, there may be a body of knowledge that is worth referencing, there may also be a slanted body of knowledge and if you're not posting based on personal experience it is at least worth pointing that out in the post.
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    I said "and if you don't plan on using the 70-300 mm lens AT 300 mm very often..." I never said get the 70-300 mm and NEVER use the lens from 200-300 mm. There's always a chance that someone might need to use the lens at 300 mm, which is probably why the OP asked about the 70-300 mm G lens rather than the 55-200 mm lens, despite both being around the same price.

    I only said it would give good results, but that depends on what you compare it to. I don't expect perfect results from a lens that would only cost me $200 Aussie dollars, which is nothing in the photography world.



    When did I say that the Sigma 70-300 mm wasn't a good choice? The OP asked about the Nikon 70-300 mm lens, and I told him under what usage this lens would be better. I'm not up for making suggestion for a 55-200 mm lens I have heard very little about, and have never used. And like I have always said, I'm not big on website reviews, but mostly a large number of informative user reviews.

    Just because a few reviewers say that the lens isn't great at 300 mm doesn't make it unusable at 300 mm. I mean, my camera can shoot at ISO 1600, but if I don't need to shoot at ISO 1600, I'd rather not. Of course I shoot at that setting if I need to, but I know that my photos become more noisy. Also, all lenses have ideal usage settings/conditions at which the results are better.


    Nikon "fanclub"? With all that proof you show, please show me a single thread where I back up everything Nikon. Go and read my posts: I ALWAYS give two alternatives, including a 3rd party vendor (usually) whenever a user asks MR members for a few lens suggestions (which is not the case here). Take THIS post as a perfect example, where I never recommended a single Nikon lens, not even the Nikon equivalent to the Sigma and Tamron lenses I recommended. It was also the post I made just previous to this one. We all know you have trouble reading from THIS thread, but please try show us one thread where I'm completely pro-Nikon.

    *pats Coldrain on the head and gives him a cookie*


    Ah....this fool has been pitied. I'm done here.
     
  18. JeffTL thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    The Sigma doesn't really interest me, because frankly, I don't feel like paying $70 or so more and getting four years less of warranty coverage. Though I understand that Tamron may be manufacturing the 70-300 G, even that has a 5-year Nikon warranty just like my 18-55 DX or any other Nikkor lens. A lens doesn't do me much good sitting in a drawer because I can't afford a repair.

    Within Nikon optics, though, the 55-200 DX has also caught my attention somewhat; I've been very happy with the optical performance of my 18-55 that is very similar to it. There are several other things that sound good to me ... closer focus, 52mm filter size (same as my 18-55 and the Canon 50mm f/1.8 on my AE-1), and AF-S in case Nikon phases out the AF screwdriver on future bodies as evidenced by the D40.

    In fact, I'd easily be able to say I've narrowed my decision down to the 55-200 DX or 70-300 G; the question that remains is if the 55-200 is really $25 better, especially if that means foregoing the 200-300 range entirely. I am left with the following questions:

    * Do the 70-300's problems turn up to a degree noticeable in actual art when it is stopped down to f/8 or f/11? I have read that some of these issues are primarily at large apertures.

    * How much better is the 55-200 in the 100-200 range? If they're about the same, wouldn't it be better to have less-than-ideal performance from 200-300 than not having those focal lengths accessible at all?


    Thanks for all the info!
     
  19. coldrain macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2006
    #19
    The Sigma costs more because it is much better built, and it has better optical elements. If you find warranty more important than optical quality, then by all means get the one with longer warranty.

    You can also consider the Tamron AF 70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2, which performs a bit better also than the Nikon 70-300G, also offers an 1:2 macro mode like the Sigma, and comes with a 5 or 6 year warranty period (I forgot how long it exactly is, with Tamron).

    The Nikon 55-200 is a VERY good lens at 55mm, very sharp and also contrasty. At 200mm it does lose some resolution, but still beats the 70-300G at 200mm.

    And Abstract, I was talking about you attacking my posts, not about whether or not you are always defending Nikon. And I said Nikon owner, not Nikon fanclub. Yes, the question was about the 70-300G, how good it is. Answer: not very good at all, you can not find a worse 70-300mm lens for your Nikon. And hence it is highly appropriate to offer which 70-300 would be better. That is where the Sigma comes in.
     
  20. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #20
    And I was talking about the fact that I did not attack your post. Not at all.

    Nitpicking on my wording for "Nikon owner club" or "Nikon fanclub" is just arguing semantics. Point is that I don't care if you own a Nikon or not. Nikon, Sigma....who cares, really. For most other people here, it's rather obvious that I don't and never have cared if the lens says Nikon on it, seeing as how I rarely recommend their lenses.
     
  21. coldrain macrumors regular

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    #21
    Yes, at 300mm the problems turn up even if you stop down a lot. You read that the issues at larger apertures was on focal lengths of 70-200mm.

    How much better is it is hard to put to numbers, without me having the ability to demonstrate it with sample photos.

    But there is one big tell tale piece of information about this, and that is Nikon's own website. It is very hard to interpret MTF charts and to get correct conclusions from them, but it is safe to say that "more is better".

    Here are the MTF charts for the 70-300G at 70mm:
    [​IMG]
    And at 300mm:
    [​IMG]
    You can see that at 300mm the contrast is considerably less than at 70mm.

    Now the MTF charts for the 55-200mm... 55mm first:
    [​IMG]
    And at 200mm:
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the 55-200mm lens beats the 70-300 by a big margin, even when you compare the 200m long end with the 70mm wide end.

    The 70-300 ED is better than the 70-300 G accroding to Nikon's MTF charts:
    at 300mm:
    [​IMG]

    Now the MTF charts for the Sigma that do point towards the Sigma being quite a bit better at 300mm:
    70mm MTF:
    [​IMG]
    And at 300mm:
    [​IMG]

    The new Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6G IF-ED has improved a quite a bit especially in contrast compared to the G and ED:
    70mm:
    [​IMG]
    300mm:
    [​IMG]

    Nikon MTF chart guide (how to read them):
    http://www.nikonimaging.com/global/products/lens/mtf.htm
    Sigma MTF chart guide:
    http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/popup.asp

    Basically, the red lines show teh contrast performance of the lens. The blue lines (green with Sigma) show the resolution of the lens. The left of the chart is the miggle of the lens, the right side of the chart is the edge.
     
  22. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #22
    I agree with this -- the 300mm f/4 is an excellent lens: very sharp, focuses reasonably quickly and can be used with a 1.4x teleconverter to extend the "reach' even further. I don't use a 1.7x TC on mine, though, as that really makes the lens too slow and subsequently affects focusing and image quality. The 300mm f/4 is also fairly handholdable in situations where a tripod is not available. Many nature photographers choose the larger and more expensive 300mm f/2.8, which can be used with the 1.4x, 1.7x and even the 2x TC.
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #23
    Hmm, you'd have to file of the tab to get a TC17 to fit wouldn't you? I'm not sure how the E series would work with this lens the I think the 14b is the right 1.4x for the EDIF version- that's what I had when I shot with mine last (quite a while ago.) These days I'd probably fork over for the AFS version to get faster focusing and compatibility with the E series converters, as I don't see carrying an arsenal of TCs as all that appealing.

    IMO, the 300/2.8 is great for sports but too short for most nature unless you can get close.

    I just picked up the TC-17EII last weekend and I'm wondering if my eyes are deceiving me- shots on my 400 look really sharp when I nailed long lens technique. I haven't printed out at bigger than 5x7 yet though, so there's probably room for further evaluation. Overall though it's probably going to mean I won't be trying to justify a 600/4 this spring.

    I'll probably do some 14E-II vs 17E-II tests soon, too bad I don't have a 20E-II to complete the range.
     
  24. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #24
    Sorry, I should have clarified that I have the current AF-S 300mm f/4, which will work with the current TCs. I have the 14E-II, 17E-II and the 20E-II, but as I mentioned, will use only the 1.4x on that particular lens. Now, Bertha, my 200 f/2, works quite nicely with all of them.

    Yes, even with a tele, the 300mm is a tad short for most nature/bird shots unless you can get really close, but I'm not prepared at this point to spring for a 400mm or longer.... I want to evaluate just how MUCH wildife and birding I'll be doing before I get into longer lengths.
     
  25. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #25
    Really? Landscapes with a 300mm lens???

    Landscape photographers typically like to take great care in composition, they will use a tripod and shoot at a f-stop that gives the sharpest image. So you may not care that the 70-300 is slow as you might be using it at f/8 with a slow shutter. (It's nice to shoot subjects that will wait while you move the tripod around in 6 inch increments.)

    If you were shooting wildlife I'd say an f/5.6 300mm lens is not so usfull but landscapes stand still

    But still 300mm? Wind blowing leaves will be a problem

    One thing that drives outdoor and landscape photographers nuts is when the filter ring rotates as the lens focuses. If yo use a polarizing filter. The rotating filter ring will drive you nuts And don't even try itusing a lens hood harder. But then if you are using a tripod you can make it work

    For your usage I'd think something in the range of the kit 18-70 lens AND a macro, either 60mm or 100mm would be the best setup.

    Plants and landscapes don't move so you hve all the time you need to set up the shot. I use an older manual focus macro lens.
     

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