NIKON AF-S 300mm F4.0E PF VR Lens Review
Nikon has launched the new prime AF-S 300mm F4E PF VR lens with Phase Fresnel (PF) Element. Still many of us are searching for reviews and recommendations of this lens. Mainly because not many lenses are delivered by Nikon yet in the market and so not many people have information to share.
This prompted me to write this review and it’s going to be perhaps the only user review for Nikon AF-S 300mm F4E PF VR lens from someone like me who is not a professional photographer. In short – I am using my gear just to please myself ;)!
Technically many reviews are now available including from Nikon webpages to explain what a PF element is, but for all those who are checking for this lens for the first time here – A PF element uses Diffraction of light to reduce the Chromatic Aberration. This new Element by Nikon has successfully reduced the Chromatic Aberration in the new 300mm AF-S F4.0E PF VR lens while keeping the number of elements in check at the same time. Result – it has reduced the weight and size of the prime lens when compared to its previous versions significantly.
To add the icing, it has an Electronic Aperture and advanced VR with normal and sports mode to ensure you have the right exposure and sharp images while shooting handheld and photographing action.
Features include light weight and an ergonomic design that fits in to your palm comfortably. Lens comes with Fluorite coat to avoid settling of dust in operation for the front element. Nikon’s well marketed Nano Coat is also applied for completing the professional Gold ring ingredients.
It’s about 8 months in August ’15 since its official launch and still a major issue with Nikon to deliver their back orders for this lens.
From a user point of view, I had to wait for pretty long 6 months to get my copy. The initial road for Nikon wasn’t smooth with the launch of this lens when they faced VR issues in D800 and D810 bodies. However, now it seems that latest copies have no such issues and the firmware update of previous copies have supposedly resolved the issue.
The lens I picked up from Nikon worked well for all speeds including 1/80 to 1/160 and beyond with considerably sharp images. The picture here is shot at 1/30 @420mm – that is full 4-stops! I was very pleased to see the 100% crop.
Yes, this prime is definitely sharp, I have used the previous 300mm AF-S F4.0 D lens and when compared, this new version looks to be slightly sharper.
Besides, the handling is so convenient. A boon for the wildlife photographers and especially Birders who have to shoot mostly hand held in a stealth manner to get closer and sharper.
This lens has AF-S which is a silent motor for AF function. Autofocus in the new Nikon 300mm F4E PF VR is faster. It locks to the flying bird much more comfortably than its previous version. With D610 body the AF tracking was very good to have more keepers.
I must admit another major advantage of this lens is its close minimum distance for AF to be 1.4m (4.6 ft). This makes it a preferred lens for Macro shooting and you can be real close to your subject with 300mm at hand.
Tele-Converter compatibility and Performance
There is no visible difference of performance / sharpness while using this lens with Nikon TC 1.4X E II or EIII tele-converters. Nikon claims this to be compatible with their all TCs including 1.7X EII and 2.0X E III but I think the quality of image will degrade with 1.7X a little and with 2.0X slightly further down. So as the AF speed will be slower with 1.7X and with 2.0X it should be further affected for action / BIF shots. However, one must test to confirm this by himself.
Considering some samples posted on web, the lens is still sharp enough with 2.0X EIII mounted to make it equivalent to 600mm.
So for all those who are using the previous version, you may continue to do so if non-availability of VR, size and weight are not bothering you. However, if it does, I would recommend to upgrade.
For users of TAMRON Tele-photo zoom 150-600mm (I have used one and returned it!) – your existing lens Tamron 150-600 is surely a phenomenal lens for its reach and cost ! .. but come on, you cannot compare it with a Nikon Prime when the details and sharpness are compared. My own experience – Tamron is sharp but not always! Especially in BIF shots the keepers are far less than Nikon 300mm F4E PF VR. This may be due to my technique though but then Nikon prime can perhaps take it better.
I am going to compare it with SIGMA 150-600 Sports version soon and shall post the results/ reviews here. So pl keep visiting Camveu.com.
(Pl leave your comments if you like above review and thank you for your time.)