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Nikon 70-300mm VR vs Tamron 70-300mm VC Lens Comparison

When Nikon introduced the new 70-300mm lens that featured VR (Vibration Reduction), photographers were thrilled. The 70-300mm lens is one of the most popular lenses available, and adding image stabilization makes a good lens even better. A few years later Tamron introduced their new image stabilized 70-300mm lens and the burning question everyone was asking was which is better?

When I compared the Tamron to the Canon, I felt that the Tamron was a clear winner due to the better autofocus performance alone. The fact that the Tamron includes a lens shade, is internally focused and felt slightly better built certainly helped, but the lower price was also a major factor. However, when comparing the Tamron to the Nikon, the competition is much tighter. Both lenses are internally focused, offer excellent autofocus performance that is both silent and fast and both lenses include the lens shade. Price wise, the Nikon is only about $50 more than the Tamron when the Tamron isn’t on sale.

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Pricing*

  • Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED - $499.95

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Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Pricing*

  • Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD - $449

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*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different. Be sure to visit the links below for current pricing.

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Advantages

Slightly smaller & lighter (although hardly noticeable)
Nikon brand – future bodies are likely to work very well with this lens as Nikon generally ensures that new bodies are compatible with previous generation lenses. Third party lenses have to be “reverse engineered” since Nikon does not share the specs for their lens mount technology. This means that a future body may not work with the Tramon lens down the road. Typically when this happens you can send in the lens to Tamron and they can update the lens to work with the new bodies.
67mm filter threads are more common (matches many of the better consumer lenses such as the 18-140mm)

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Advantages

Lower price (especially when on sale)
closer minimum focus distance (although both lenses have the same magnification)
6-year warranty (although the Nikon isn’t bad with a 5-year warranty)

Conclusion

This is a much harder choice since both lenses are very good and priced quite closely. I have seen the Tamron have a $100 mail in rebate which brings the final cost down to $350. When that happens then I would tend to recommend the Tamron, especially if your budget is a little on the tighter side. However, when the Tamron does not have their mail-in rebates or other sales going I tend to prefer the Nikon. If you are like many photographers who prefer to use genuine brand lenses on your camera, then the Nikon is still an excellent value. Since more lenses are using the 67mm filter thread these days that does give the Nikon a slight advantage over the Tamron since you can share filters without having to worry about stepping rings and can easily justify the $50 difference. Looking at the user reviews above – both lenses are rated very closely at just under 4.5 stars each.

In the end, you will likely be equally happy with either lens. Pick the one that is on sale, flip a coin, or buy the brand you like better.

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Overall User Rating

4.47 out of 5

based on 2645 user reviews online.

: 63% (1662.04)
: 28% (732.31)
: 5% (128.66)
: 2% (62.55)
: 2% (59.44)

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD Overall User Rating

4.48 out of 5

based on 946 user reviews online.

: 61% (580)
: 31% (294)
: 4% (36)
: 2% (17)
: 2% (20)

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Specs

Spec Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC USD
Focal Length 70 70
Max Aperture f/4.5-5.6 f/4-5.6
Minimum Aperture f/ f/
Minimum Focus distance 58.8 inches 37.4 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.25x 0.25x
Number of Elements 17 17
Number of Groups 12 12
Aperture Blade Design Rounded Rounded
Number of Aperture Blades 9 9
Filter Size 67 mm 62 mm
Diameter 3.1 in. 3.21 in.
Length 5.6 in. 5.9 in.
Weight 1.64 lbs. 1.68 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal Metal
Tripod Collar None None
Weather Sealed No No
Distance Scale Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings
Image Stabilization Yes Yes
Lens Shade Included Included