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Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens Review

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Nikon has announced a new 70-300mm lens for full frame (FX) DSLR cameras. The biggest changes are the new lens features Nikon’s AF-P stepper motor focusing system, which is optimized for silent autofocus during videos, and a new 4.5-stop VR system. Do not confuse this lens with the DX version that was released earlier in 2017. This new lens is designed for Full Frame (FX) cameras. That means it will also work on APS-C (DX) bodies as well, but the DX version of this lens will crop significantly on full frame (FX) bodies.

One thing that I noticed right off the bat is the lack of a focus distance window. I like having these as it makes prefocusing easier. Also, since this is an AF-P lens, it will not function fully on older DSLR cameras (from Nikonusa.com: Incompatible models: D2 series, D1 series, D200, D100, D90, D80, D70 series, D60, D50, D40 series, D5100, D5000, D3200, D3100, D3000, film SLR cameras). The lens will mount, but you will not be able to turn off the VR as these cameras and older do not have a menu option for VR control and the newer Electo aperture can’t be controlled by the older cameras. Many newer cameras will likely require a firmware update to support the AF-P E lenses. This is unfortunate since this lens promises to be a good performer based on the MTF charts.

The lens does feature a weatherproof build and a metal mount which means it is a step up form the old 70-300mm VR lens in terms of build quality. The lens also continues to use the same 67mm filter thread as it’s predecessor.

I will be curious to see how it performs once available. The selling price will be $699 and availability will be announced in the future. UPDATE: The lens is actually selling for $749.95 ins spite of the press release showing the $699.95 price.
Preorder yours from Adorama.com now!

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Pricing*

  • Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR - $749.95

*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different.

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Image quality

Since this is a new lens all we have to go on so far is the MTF charts published by Nikon. I am also including the MTF chart for the AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IF ED VR lens for comparison.

Here are the MTF charts for 70mm on both lenses. The New AF-P lens is shown first:

The new AF-P lens looks to be a bit better behaved and more consistent, especially in the corners, which is a good thing since this lens is designed for full frame bodies.

Here are the MTF charts for 300mm on both lenses, again the AF-P lens is shown first:

At 300mm the new lens looks to be a pretty good improvement for the most part, especially when stopped down.

Chromatic Aberration

One weakness in the original lens was the extreme chromatic aberration when shooting wide open at the 200-300mm focal lengths. I am hoping that Nikon has remedied that, but we will have to wait and see once the lens becomes available. Thankfully, chromatic aberration is pretty easy to fix in post processing, but it would be nice if the new lens deals with this better. At $700 this is something I would expect to see improved.

Lens Flare

Lens flare in telephoto lenses is usually not a major issue, and since this lens includes a lens shade, I really expect this will not be much of an issue with this lens.

Build Quality

Another improvement over the original AF-S 70-300mm VR lens, this lens is officially “weather sealed”. of course this does not mean “water proof” and the lens is not designed to be submerged in water. However, this is a nice feature since many of Nikon’s upper end cameras (Nikon D7xxx, D7xx, D5xx, D8xx, and D4x bodies) are also weather sealed making this lens a good match when the weather turns a little moist. Weather sealing helps prevent water and dust from getting into the lens and can usually withstand a little light rain or snow. Don’t expect the lens to survive hurricane force winds in the desert or rogue waves splashing over it.

What I Like

Better autofocus performance
Improved image quality
Better build quality
Improved VR

What I Don't Like

No focus distance window
Limited compatibility
Higher price that the original when released.

The Bottom Line

I will be anxious to fully test this lens once it becomes available. I see this lens as a good travel/hiking alternative to the 200-500mm f/5.6 lens and if it performs to my expectations I will probably add this lens to my kit. Unfortunately we don’t know when this lens will be available yet as Nikon has not announced a ship date yet.

Overall User Rating

4.67 out of 5

based on 3 user reviews online.

: 67% (2)
: 33% (1)
: 0% (0)
: 0% (0)
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Specs

Focal Length 70 - 300 mm
Max Aperture f/4.5-5.6
Minimum Aperture f/32-40
Minimum Focus distance 3.94 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.25x
Number of Elements 18
Number of Groups 14
Aperture Blade Design Rounded
Number of Aperture Blades 9
Filter Size 67 mm
Diameter 3.2 in.
Length 5.7 in.
Weight 1.5 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal
Tripod Collar None
Weather Sealed Yes
Distance Scale No
Image Stabilization Yes
Lens Shade Included

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