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

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In this in-depth review of the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens, we will take a close look at what this full-frame lens has to offer when used on modern Nikon DSLR cameras, go over its features and compare it to its predecessor. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P was announced in July of 2017 as a major update to the existing 70-300mm lens design, optimized for high-resolution camera bodies, and armed with the latest optical technologies. Sporting a pulse stepping motor to deliver ultra-fast and completely silent autofocus operation, along with an electronic diaphragm, it is quite a bit different compared to the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR it replaced. And while it might resemble its DX counterpart, it arguably has little in common (aside from the stepping motor), as we will reveal further down in the review.

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

While the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR has been a popular choice among photographers for many years now, it has been long due for an update, especially when used on modern high-resolution Nikon DSLRs. Instead of making minor updates to the lens design, Nikon decided to do a complete redesign of the lens and release something that is sharper, faster and lighter – quite a hard task to achieve for a budget zoom lens! Featuring an 18 element optical design in 14 groups that includes one extra-low dispersion element, along with an electronic diaphragm, the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P is indeed sharper (as you will see on the comparison page), significantly faster (in autofocus performance) and 65 grams lighter when compared to the “G” version. As an added bonus, the new design is also dust and moisture-resistant. And at $749 MSRP, it is without a doubt a great bargain.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (11)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 200, 1/320, f/8.0

When compared to its DX counterpart, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G DX VR AF-P, it obviously covers a full-frame image circle, which is the most important distinction. While both lenses have a similar AF-P pulse stepping motor to drive autofocus to its limits, there are a number of differences worth pointing out. First of all, the FX version has a faster maximum aperture on the long end (f/5.6 vs f/6.3), which means that you get a bit more light when shooting zoomed in. Second, the FX version has an electronic diaphragm, while the 70-300mm DX is a “G” type lens, which means that it still has the older manual aperture lever control. Third, the FX version features a rounded 9-blade diaphragm, whereas the DX version has a rounded 7-blade diaphragm. Fourth, the DX version has an inferior optical design comprising of less glass elements (14 vs 18) and it has smaller glass elements (due to smaller image circle), which means that it is also significantly lighter in comparison (415 grams vs 680 grams). Fifth, unlike the FX version, the DX version is not dust and moisture-resistant. Sixth, the DX version is made to be a budget lens, which means that it has a fully plastic construction, including the lens mount, whereas the FX version has a more solid build and a metal mount. And lastly, there is also a huge difference in price, with the FX version costing almost twice as much as the DX version.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (17)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 250mm, ISO 64, 8/10, f/8.0

All in all, as you can see, the new Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P is drastically different when compared to all other 70-300mm lenses Nikon has made in the past.

1) Compatibility

While all this sounds great, there is one major issue that might prevent some photographers from buying this lens, and it has to do with its compatibility. Unfortunately, the new “AF-P” pulse motor design is only fully compatible with the latest Nikon DSLRs, so if you are planning to use this lens with an older Nikon camera, you will need to check the information below:

  • Fully compatible models: D850, D500, D7500, D5600, D3400.
  • Fully compatible models (without limitations) after available firmware update: D5, D4, D4S, D810, D810A, D800, D800E, Df, D750, D610, D600, D7200, D7100, D5500, D5300, D3300.
  • Compatible models with limited functions: D3, D3X, D3S, D700, D300, D300S, D7000, D5200.
  • Incompatible models: D2 series, D1 series, D200, D100, D90, D80, D70 series, D60, D50, D40 series, D5100, D5000, D3200, D3100, D3000, film SLR cameras.

I used this lens almost exclusively on the Nikon D850 and I did not encounter any issues, but when testing the lens in my lab using the Nikon D810, I did have some hiccups with focusing, especially when pre-focusing and letting the metering timer expire. Since the lens does not have a distance indicator window, there was also no way to see where I was focusing relative to close focus or infinity. Nikon released firmware updates in February of 2018 that made most Nikon DSLRs compatible with AF-P lenses, which is good news.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (28)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/400, f/8.0

If you do own a fully compatible camera model from the above list though, be prepared for a great experience!

2) Technical Specifications

Below are the technical specifications of the lens:

  • Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal Length Range: 70-300mm
  • Zoom Ratio: 4.3x
  • Maximum Aperture: f/4.5-5.6
  • Minimum Aperture: f/32-40
  • Maximum Angle of View (DX-format): 22° 50′
  • Minimum Angle of View (DX-format): 5° 20′
  • Maximum Angle of View (FX-format): 34° 20′
  • Minimum Angle of View (FX-format): 8° 10′
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 0.25x
  • Lens (Elements): 18
  • Lens (Groups): 14
  • Compatible Format(s): Full Frame / APS-C
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 (Rounded)
  • Electronic Diaphragm: Yes
  • ED Glass (Elements): 1
  • Super Integrated Coating: Yes
  • Autofocus: Yes
  • AF-P (Pulse Motor): Yes
  • Internal Focusing: Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 3.94 ft. (1.2 m)
  • Focus Mode: Auto / Manual, Manual / Auto, Manual
  • Filter Size: 67mm
  • Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
  • Dimensions: 3.2 in. (80.5 mm) x 5.7 in. (146 mm)
  • Weight: 24 oz. (680 g)

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (40)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/160, f/8.0

Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found on the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VRpage of our lens database.

2) Lens Handling and Features

When planning my trip to Jordan and Turkey, I was very conscious of the weight of the gear I wanted to bring with me. Pro-grade lenses are great, but they are large and heavy, making them painful to travel with, especially when traveling overseas. After taking a few pictures with the 70-300mm VR AF-P on the Nikon D850, I knew that the 70-200mm f/2.8 was going to stay behind, no matter how much I loved it. The lighter 70-200mm f/4 lens would have been another option, but at the expense of losing 100mm of focal length, plus larger size and heavier weight. Since I was already taking a bunch of other gear, I had very limited space in my camera bag, so the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P turned out to be a no-brainer when compared to all other options. After many days of extensive travel, I was thankful for choosing this lens for my telephoto needs and its handling was a big part of it. At just 680 grams and a height of 146mm, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P fit one of my smaller camera bag compartments easily, and when mounted on a camera, it was easily to walk around with it, without putting too much weight on my neck or my shoulders. Because of this, even when I had to empty most of my camera bag during extensive hiking and daily activities, I often ended up leaving this lens in my bag, which was great. So for me personally, its small size and lightweight construction are the two main reasons for considering it as a prime choice for travel photography needs.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (20)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 190mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/8.0

The lens balances great on full-frame Nikon DSLRs and using it in the field is quite effortless. It has a very simple, yet effective barrel design. The zoom ring is very large and is conveniently placed in the front part of the lens, so that you can easily zoom in and out when needed. My copy of the 70-300mm VR AF-P did not have zoom creep in either direction, although with extensive use of the lens, the zoom ring might loosen up overtime. The focus ring is quite small as on many other similar lenses, and is located closer to the lens mount. Due to the pulse focus motor, focus is driven by wire electrically, which means that you will not see changes in focusing when rotating the focus ring if your camera has no battery. When engaged, the focus ring works very smoothly, making it behave similarly to modern AF-S lenses.

One personal gripe of mine is the lack of a distance indicator window, which can be useful in the field when I want to quickly see where the lens is currently focused at. Due to the nature of focus-by-wire motors, it is no longer possible to display this on lenses, unless the information is presented electronically either on the camera itself, or on a lens, something Nikon has not yet implemented. It is probably not a big deal for most people though.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (34)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 140mm, ISO 800, 1/200, f/5.0

The lens barrel only has two switches. The first switch controls autofocus / manual focus behavior, while the second switch is there to control VR (Vibration Reduction). There are two VR modes available – “Normal”, which is what you want to use most of the time, and “Sport”, for shooting fast action and panning fast-moving subjects. While the barrel itself is made out of tough plastic, the lens mount is made out of metal. As I have already pointed out earlier, there is no aperture lever on the lens mount, because the lens sports an electronic diaphragm.

The front of the lens is fairly small and accommodates 67mm filters. This is unchanged from the older 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, so if you decide to upgrade, you can reuse your existing filters. The front of the lens element does not rotate while focusing, and the lens extends out by less than 50% of its size when zoomed all the way to 300mm (it takes about a quarter of a hand turn to go from 70mm to 300mm).

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (8)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 92mm, ISO 64, 1/25, f/8.0

Being a variable aperture lens, the focal length of the lens changes as you zoom in from f/4.5 to f/5.6 on the long end. Refer to information below for maximum aperture at different focal lengths:

  • 70mm: f/4.5
  • 100mm: f/4.8
  • 135mm: f/5.0
  • 200mm: f/5.3
  • 300mm: f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (13)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 160mm, ISO 64, 1/100, f/8.0

It is important to point out that another key difference between the new 70-300mm VR AF-P and the older AF-S / G version, is that the new lens has a closer minimum focus distance of 1.2 meters (versus 1.5 meters). This means that you can get even closer to your subjects, allowing the out of focus areas to appear relatively larger and less pronounced than before.

3) Focus Speed and Accuracy

If you have never handled an AF-P lens before, you will be shocked to see how fast and silent Nikon’s focus-by-wire autofocus motor operates. When using the optical viewfinder, it snaps into focus immediately with phase detection autofocus, no matter how close or far your subject is. And unlike AF-S lenses, you don’t get to hear the high-pitched noise – it practically happens at near silence. In fact, it is so fast and so quiet, that at times I hesitated and wondered if I was truly focused at the subject, forcing me to defocus and refocus again. This is where there is already a huge difference between the AF-P model and the previous generation AF-S model – there is simply no comparison!

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (12)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm, ISO 64, 1/160, f/8.0

I wondered if this ultra fast autofocus comes with a focus accuracy issue. After testing the lens extensively while shooting moving and non-moving subjects, I can say that the autofocus accuracy is pretty darn impressive – I would say noticeably better than what the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR can do, especially at longer focal lengths. There is also a noticeable difference when focusing through live view (contrast detect) – the 70-300mm VR AF-P often focuses right on target without going back and forth, which is quite nice. The only negative side of this focus-by-wire system, is that if you use a camera that is not fully compatible, you will need to reacquire focus after the metering timer expires. I found this to be a bit annoying when using the lens with the Nikon D810.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (44)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 125mm, ISO 64, 1/500, f/8.0

4) Lens Sharpness and Contrast

As you can see from the images presented in this review, as well as the below Imatest charts, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P can deliver pretty solid sharpness, even on high-resolution cameras. Unlike its predecessor that had inferior performance at longer focal lengths, this one surprised me by how good it looked at 300mm. Let’s take a look at its performance at different focal lengths:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 70mm

As you can see, the lens starts out pretty sharp at 70mm, showing respectable performance across the frame. Maximum resolution potential is reached at f/5.6, after which the overall performance goes down.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 100mm

As we zoom in to 100mm, we see a slight drop in overall performance, especially towards the edges of the frame.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 200mm

Zooming in to 200mm showed slightly worse wide open performance, although stopping down did not seem to help much.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 300mm

The performance of the lens got worse at 300mm, but not as significantly as it does on its predecessor. Corners took a hit as well, especially at f/5.6, which get a tad better when stopped down to f/8.

If you are planning to use this lens to photograph portraits or wildlife, corner performance should not be a concern, but if you are looking for a sharp 300mm lens for shooting cityscapes and landscapes, the corners in images might look disappointing. It is not a big deal if you shoot with a 24 MP DSLR like the Nikon D750, but if you mount the lens on a 36 MP+ camera like the D810 / D850, you might be disappointed with the overall sharpness at longer focal lengths.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (1)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 112mm, ISO 200, 1/60, f/5.6

5) Vibration Reduction

Nikon incorporated the latest version of its Vibration Reduction system into the 70-300mm VR AF-P, claiming up to 4.5 stops of stabilization, which is pretty much as good as image stabilization can get today. Thanks to the lightweight construction of the lens, hand-holding it was a breeze, so I decided to shoot mostly hand-held with the lens when traveling. I am happy to report that vibration reduction worked wonderfully. Aside from a couple of images in this review, everything was shot hand-held and the lens was able to stabilize my shots extremely well, even when shooting at 1/25th of a second at 300mm. Obviously your hand-holding technique is going to be important when shooting at very slow shutter speeds, so keep that in mind if you are struggling with blurry images.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (24)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 190mm, ISO 64, 1/400, f/8.0

Unlike the its DX counterpart, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P thankfully has a VR switch, so if you want to mount your camera on a tripod and turn off stabilization, you can easily do so without having to dig in the camera menu. For most subjects, I would recommend to keep VR in “Normal” mode, but if you are shooting fast-moving subjects that require some panning, the “Sport” mode will do a better job.

6) Bokeh

While one cannot expect a budget lens to yield exceptionally good bokeh, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P actually produces decent results. Out of focus highlights appear pleasing to look at when shooting at long focal lengths, with fairly smooth transitions:

Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P Bokeh Sample

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 720, 1/320, f/8.0

As I have already pointed out, the minimum focus distance on the AF-P model has been reduced to 1.2 meters, so you can get even closer to your subjects, making the background appear even more out of focus.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (38)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/25, f/5.6

7) Vignetting

Unfortunately, the lens suffers from quite a bit of vignetting at large apertures, especially when zoomed in beyond 100mm. Light fall-off is not particular to the edges of the frame – it spreads almost to the mid-frame area, making manual corrections somewhat difficult. Imatest measured up to 1.4 EV of vignetting at 300mm @ f/5.6, which gets reduced substantially when stopped down to f/8 and smaller. Below are the results from the lab tests:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P Vignetting Performance

To see how bad vignetting can get at 300mm, take a look at the below before / after images. The “Before” image shows pronounced vignetting affecting large areas of the frame, whereas the “After” image is what the image looked like after Lens Corrections were applied in Lightroom:

While I personally like vignetting from some particular lenses, I found it to be rather distracting on the 70-300mm VR AF-P, so I would recommend to take care of it in post-processing.

8) Ghosting and Flare

While all telephoto lenses are prone to ghosting and flare issues, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P is a particular offender. There is a good reason why the lens hood is so large on this lens – I would recommend to always keep it on to prevent light from ever reaching the front element. Since Nikon’s Nano coating is not applied to the lens, it certainly shows when including any bright objects in the frame. Take a look at the below image of the moon and Venus:

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (10)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 6 s, f/5.6

As you can see, there is a large white “blob” in the middle of the frame, which is basically flare created by a long 6 second exposure from the bright part of the moon. Such blobs can be quite difficult to take care of in post-processing. With some fiddling in Photoshop, I was able to take care of the problem, but it was painful and time-consuming:

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (9)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 6 s, f/5.6

In short, keep that lens hood on and stay away from photographing bright subjects!

9) Chromatic Aberration

Lateral chromatic aberration is controlled very nicely, with 70mm showing the worst performance overall, nearing 1 pixel. The good news is that unlike the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, this one does not have nasty CA at 300mm, as seen from the below chart:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P Chromatic Aberration Performance

If you get annoyed by purple or green outlines, you can take care of them quickly in post-processing software. Enabling “Remove Chromatic Aberration” option in Lightroom worked out really well for most of the images for me.

10) Distortion

The Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P has a pronounced level of distortion at the short end – Imatest measured 1.34% barrel distortion at 70mm. However, barrel distortion is significantly reduced as you zoom in, showing only around 0.38% at 100mm. By 135mm, distortion is practically gone – Imatest measured 0.06% pincushion distortion, which is basically non-existent:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P Distortion Performance

This is much more improved when compared to the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, which shows more pronounced pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (30)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/200, f/11.0

LENS COMPARISONS (11 + 12 + 13)

11) Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P vs Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR

To truly appreciate the performance of the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P, we can take a look at how it compares to its predecessor at different focal lengths. Let’s first take a look at the performance of the lens at 70mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 70mm

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 70mm

It is clear that the new Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P outperforms its predecessor by a wide margin. While the center performance is only slightly better, we can see a visible difference in corner performance between the two. Let’s take a look at how the two lenses perform at 100mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 100mm

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 100mm

At 100mm, both lenses perform somewhat similarly at f/5.6, but there is a visible difference in wide-open performance, with the newer AF-P model showing better overall resolution, especially in the corners. Next, let’s take a look at 200mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 200mm

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 200mm

Both lenses show decreased performance at 200mm, but the new AF-P model is still visibly better, especially in mid-frame and the corners. These differences pretty much disappear with both lenses stopped down to f/8 and smaller though. Lastly, here are both lenses at 300mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 300mm

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 300mm

Once again, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P leads the way with much better wide open performance. The differences get smaller as lenses are stopped down, but the AF-P version still shines in the corners at all apertures.

12) Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR vs Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR

Let’s take a look at how the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR compares to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR at 70mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 70mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR MTF Performance 70mm

We can see that the lens starts out a bit sharper in the center and visibly sharper in the extreme corners. Stopped down to f/5.6, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR looks sharper in the center, but still lacks a tad in the corners. Both lenses do very well at f/8 and smaller apertures.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 100mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR MTF Performance 105mm

Zoomed in to 100mm, we can see that the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR shows better overall performance. It outperforms the 70-300mm VR at the maximum aperture and shows visibly better sharpness at f/5.6 and smaller apertures.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR MTF Performance 200mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR MTF Performance 200mm

The same pattern can be observed at 200mm, with the 70-200mm f/4G VR demonstrating better overall performance across the frame.

13) Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR vs Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR

You might be wondering how the lens does when compared to the most recent pro-grade Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR lens, which almost comes at 4x the cost, 2x the weight and a significantly larger body. Here are both lenses at 70mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 70mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR MTF Performance 70mm

While the 70-300mm shows respectable performance wide open, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR is still visibly sharper in the center frame, especially when stopped down. It was interesting to see that the Nikon 70-300mm produced better corner detail in comparison at wide apertures, something I did not anticipate to see from a cheap lens.

Zooming in to 100mm, I got the following results:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 100mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR MTF Performance 105mm

The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR takes off with incredible center and mid-frame performance, even at f/2.8. However, stopped down to f/8, both lenses produced similar results in the center and the mid-frame, while the cheaper 70-300mm showed better corner performance. It is important to note that this behavior on the 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR is mostly due to its visible field curvature. If the center frame is slightly defocused in favor of the corners, it is possible to reach very high edge detail on the lens.

Lastly, here are both lenses at 200mm:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P MTF Performance 200mm

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR MTF Performance 200mm

The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR starts out just a tad weaker this time at f/2.8, but at equivalent apertures, it is way better across the frame. This is expected from a professional-grade lens.

Overall, I found the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P to be a surprisingly sharp lens when compared to other lenses. It is definitely quite a bargain for its $750 price tag!

14) Summary

While traveling with the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P, the lens kept on surprising me with its impressive performance. In fact, on several occasions I told myself that I should just buy this little gem instead of having to carry heavier and larger 70-200mm lenses when needing to keep my camera bag as light as possible. After handling the previous-generation 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, I was anticipating to see a lot of compromises, especially at the long end of the zoom range, but the lens kept on delivering great results. In addition to the small size and lightweight build, I loved the quick and accurate AF-P autofocus motor; 4+ stop image stabilization was excellent, reducing the need to use a tripod; chromatic aberration and distortion were well under control. The only two annoyances were the pronounced vignetting at longer focal lengths (especially when shooting at or near infinity) and visible ghosting and flare when including very bright subjects in the scene – things I can certainly live with. In short, there is a lot to like about this lens.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (14)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/100, f/8.0

However, it is still not a pro-grade lens in terms of its resolution potential, especially when using it on modern high-resolution cameras like the Nikon D850. When zooming in and looking at images at 100%, it is easy to see that the lens is simply not capable of reproducing extreme detail, especially towards the edges of the frame – something other pro-grade zoom lenses often can. So if you are after those fine details and you are not ready to live with some compromises, then the lens is not for you.

At the same time, if you are planning to use the lens on a compatible 16-24 MP full-frame camera, or an APS-C camera, you might find the sharpness of the lens to be more than adequate for most situations, especially if your goal is to reduce the overall weight of your camera bag. To me, the Nikon 70-300mm VR AF-P turned out to be an excellent travel companion thanks to its lightweight construction, small footprint and good overall performance, so I would not hesitate to use it again when traveling. Not bad for a $750 lens!

15) Where to Buy

You can support our efforts by purchasing the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P from our trusted partner B&H Photo Video.

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (18)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 140mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

Image Samples

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (3)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 1600, 1/13, f/4.5

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (7)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 85mm, ISO 64, 1/160, f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (15)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (16)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 185mm, ISO 64, 10 sec, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (19)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 135mm, ISO 64, 1/250, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (21)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm, ISO 200, 1/50, f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (22)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/320, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (23)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/2000, f/5.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (25)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 64, 1/400, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (26)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 155mm, ISO 64, 1/200, f/11.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (27)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 125mm, ISO 64, 1/200, f/11.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (29)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 240mm, ISO 64, 1/500, f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (31)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (32)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 112mm, ISO 200, 1/800, f/11.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (33)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 800, 1/500, f/4.5

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (35)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 175mm, ISO 1000, 1/200, f/5.3

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (36)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 135mm, ISO 200, 1/400, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (37)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 155mm, ISO 64, 1/8, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (39)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 220mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (41)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 320, 1/320, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (42)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 102mm, ISO 64, 1/160, f/8.0

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (43)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 112mm, ISO 64, 1/800, f/5.6

Nikon 70-300mm AF-P VR Image Samples (45)

NIKON D850 + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 82mm, ISO 64, 13/10, f/8.0

(photographylife.com, https://goo.gl/sHtHpj)

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