Monday, June 22, 2009

Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4D IF-ED Review / Test Report

ens kindly provided for testing purposes by Josef Merk!


The Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4D IF-ED is the longest tele fix-focal length lens in the current line-up that remains within the financial reach (around 1250€/US$) of serious amateurs. Surprisingly Nikon does not offer an AF-S 400mm f/5.6 so for anything longer you either have to add a tele-converter or go for the AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR which has about the same form factor.

Released back in the early 2000 the AF-S 300mm f/4 is obviously a full format lens. In the tested APS-C scope (Nikon D200) the field-of-view is equivalent to classic 450mm. The Nikkor AF-S 1.4x extends the reach to 420mm (630mm equiv.) f/5.6.

The build quality of the lens is exceptionally high. The outer barrel is made of metal with a silky finish. The very broad, rubberized focus ring operates very smooth and slightly damped. A build-in telescope lens hood (lockable) is also supplied. In order to provide a more balanced usage on a tripod or monopod Nikon also implemented a detachable tripod-collar.

The AF-S 300mm f/4 is a true IF (internal focusing) design so its length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem unless you extend the lens hood. Thanks to a silent-wave motor the AF is very fast and near-silent.

Optical construction10 elements in 6 groups inc. 2 ED elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance1.45m (max. magnification ratio 1:3.7)
Filter size77mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel shaped (build-in)
Other features


The naked AF 300mm f/4D IF-ED produces an insignificant degree of distortions only measurable under lab conditions. Adding tele-converters does merely affect this base characteristic.


The AF-S 300mm f/4 is a full frame lens so it can take advantage of a sweet spot behavior on the D200. Vignetting is detectable at f/4 (0.4EV) but it shouldn't be overly field-relevant. At f/5.6 vignetting is absolutely negligible. There's even less vignetting at wide-open aperture when adding a Nikkor AF-S 1.4x or a third-party (Soligor) AF 1.7x DG converter.
Lens provides distance information (D). Tripod collar.

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