Excerpt: Hands on Nicely and conservatively finished in semimatte black, this lens is a good match with medium to heavy Nikon bodies (such as the D80), but it's very nose-heavy on lightweights like the D40. Focusing and zoom rings turn very smoothly but need more damping; the focusing ring is conveniently close to the lensmount. Focus and VR switches may be hard to operate with gloves on. No tripod collar.
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Summary: The Nikkor 70-300mm VR is a classy telephoto zoom for both Nikon film and digital SLRs. It offers a powerful range which perfectly complements general purpose zooms like the DX 18-70mm, the vibration reduction facilities are very effective, while both the build and optical quality are a step-up from budget models.
Pros: Great all-round telephoto zoom., Very effective VR anti-shake facilities., Fast and quiet SWM focusing., Perfectly complements DX 18-70mm lens., Works with full-frame bodies.
Cons: Bigger and heavier than DX 55-200mm VR., Zoom ring a little stiff, but at least no creep., DX 55-200mm VR a cheaper alternative.
Excerpt: The biggest attraction of this full-frame zoom lens for the vast majority of us who use APS-C Nikon cameras is that the 1.5x crop factor gives a mighty effective telephoto reach of 450mm at the long end of the zoom range. As such, we have to ask if the newer, smaller and lighter Nikon 55-300mm VR has made its heavyweight cousin redundant?
Pros: Excellent Vibration Reduction with Active mode, Ring-type AF-S ultrasonic autofocus with full-time manual override, Great optical quality throughout most of the zoom range
Cons: Sharpness drops off a little at the maximum 300mm focal length, One of the most expensive telephoto zooms
Excerpt: The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR weighs a full 320g more than the non-VR version but it does now house the VR technology, and feels and looks a good deal better than the previous model. The emphasis here is on the zoom ring - at 75mm long it takes up around half of the overall length of the lens but it's one of the few features that doesn't feel particularly great.
Conclusion: To put it in a nutshell Nikon took up to the challenge of the Canon 70-300 IS in a stylish and efficient way. Both lenses have similar properties with the similar pros and cons list and one serious slip-up – in the case of the Canon it was the autofocus, which, for an USM mechanism works badly; in the case of the Nikon it was the chromatic aberration, which level was too high.
Cons: high or very high chromatic aberration at all focal lengths,, at 300 mm image resolution could have been better.
Excerpt: The vast majority of Nikon lenses we've handled and tested over the years have felt very well made, and this 70-300mm is no exception. It's a really nice lens to hold, with a solid weight of 745g and an external finish that oozes quality. The zoom ring is quite large and this allows you to get a good grip with your hand and whizz through the full focal length range with ease.