Nikon recently recently announced their 28-300mm f3.5 – 5.6 VR lens. This lens is somewhat overdue since FX users have missed out on an all-purpose zoom lens for their cameras. Here is a quick review for those thinking about purchasing this lens.
Having received the lens a few days ago, we were extremely eager to some tests in. We tested the lens on a D90 and later on a D700. The photos we have today are from the D90. The lens is a versatile 10.7x zoom or more specifically a 28-300mm which is perfect for travel, landscapes, portraits and distant subjects.
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The lens is designed for FX cameras like the D700 and D3, however, there it can also be used on a DX camera like the D300 or D90. On the DX cameras, the lens will have an equivalent field of view to a 42-450mm lens. If you’ve got a lens like a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens on a D300 like I do, then this lens will make a great long zoom companion.
In the hand and attached to a camera this new lens feels solid and professional. Everything is firm and solid. Extended to full 300mm focal length, the lens just about doubles in length. The lens focuses internally so that the front doesn’t turn. This is important if you’re using circular polarisers or the Cokin system of filters.
This lens is half the weight of the Canon version but similar to the Tamron. As much as I like the Tamron 28-300, this lens feels better. The lens is very well balanced even on the D90. It performs even better on the D300 and D700, and I will guess when we get the D7000, we’ll be saying the same thing.
The vibration reduction on this lens allows shooting of up to 4 stops. Nikon’s second generation Vibration Reduction system offers an extra security in shooting with slower shutter speed times. Nikon’s VRII stabilization system has two stabilization modes, active and normal. An extra advantage is that the viewfinder appears calmer and facilitates composition and focusing accurately.
I’m not convinced 4 stops is accurate. We tested the camera at 300mm and were able to shoot down to about 1/30th sec. That’s about 3 stops but we got better images at 1/75th sec which is 2 stops of compensation. Where this can be very handy is when shooting video where 1/30th sec will allow some good lower light shooting.
It does help to understand the auto focus system on the camera you have as well. On the D90, we used a combination of selective single point focus and continuous tracking. Te lens has Nikons Slent Wave Motor which means it’s quite and should be fast. And it is.
The lens auto focused quite quickly and accurately outdoors. In fact, it didn’t miss a beat. When we got indoors, we didn’t focus track, but it did perform very well. Not quite as well as it did outdoors, but that is too be expected.
I’ll summarise the auto focus on the lens to say that it was very good.
The lens has Nikon’s Super Integrated Coatings and 2 ED lenses.The image quality of the lens was excellent. Edge to edge, at all focal lengths and at all apertures, the images were sharp and contrasty. There is very little light fall-off from center to edges at all focal lengths. Flair was well controlled with only the occasional bit of flair evident when we pushed it to some limits. Plain and simple, we were very happy with what we were seeing.
And it’s not just sharpness either. The out of focus areas were smooth thanks to the 9 blade aperture.
There is nothing to not like about this lens. Whether you have a DX or FX camera, this lens should be in your bag. You can checkout some of the images below.
[flickr-gallery mode="tag" tags="28-300mm lens" tag_mode="all"]
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