Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nikon Nikkor 75-300 mm F/4.5-5.6 AF-D AF Lens

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

When I bought my Nikon D50 from my former manager, he sold it to me with a Nikkor 35-135mm lens.  The lens was (and still is) great for taking photos, but there were cases where I needed to get a little closer.  He also had this lens and was willing to part with it for a reasonable price.  I have to say that I’m not at all disappointed with the lens.

One good thing that Nikon has done is to allow photographers to carry over the film lenses to a digital body.  This means that while the 75-300mm lens was intended for film cameras, it will still work on a digital body, like the D50.  The only noticeable difference is that since the image sensor on a digital camera is smaller than one frame of film, this lens effectively becomes 112.5-450mm.  (If you’re looking for more telephoto, this is a good thing.)

I tend to use the lens for taking pictures of things that aren’t that close to me, so I’ve never really had to worry about how close you can get to an object.  However, I can speak as to the other extreme.  I’ve taken a few pictures at the 200mm-300mm range.  Handheld, the photos don’t come out well as often as with a tripod.  For every 100 I take handheld at 300mm, maybe 5 will come out well enough that I’d want to do anything with them.  On a tripod, it’s the opposite; 90-95% will come out well enough that I could do something with them.

The lens actually comes with an adjustable tripod mount.  The lens is so long and heavy that it will affect your camera’s center of gravity.  I haven’t noticed a big difference between the camera’s mount and the lens’s mount.  (This is probably due in large part to the fact that my tripod isn’t one of the better models out there.)

To zoom with the lens, it uses a push-pull system.  For those that grew up on zoom lenses that rotate, this is going to be a little bit of a shock, but it’s pretty easy to figure out.  The only complaint that I have is that when zooming from 75-200mm, the lens has more gradual increments.  200mm and 300mm are very close to each other.  It’s never been a huge deal, as I’m usually just judging what works best for the image.  I’m not really worried about the exact number of millimeters I’m using.  It really isn’t that hard to go from 200mm to 300mm.

There’s no real noticeable distortion.  I also haven’t noticed any darkening around the corners that I’ve gotten with some other lenses.  These are both things that I wouldn’t expect from any lens above 50mm, especially considering that I’m going with a Nikkor lens.

The auto focus works on the digital camera fine, but that may vary depending on which digital model you have.  Some of the newer cameras produced in the past couple of years such as the D40 and the D60 don’t have a focusing motor.  This was done to make the camera lighter, but has the side effect of making a lens like this into a manual-focus lens.  The reason is that this lens doesn’t have a focusing motor, either.  If you have a digital camera or are considering getting one, I’d look into that if you’re considering getting a film lens like this one.  (For that reason, I’m a little worried about getting a new body.)

On that note, you don’t see too many new film lenses any more.  This model was discontinued a while ago.  With digital cameras, new lenses were made for the digital bodies.  (I believe this model was replaced with another one, but I don’t recall which one.)   I don’t really know how the newer models compare to this one, but I doubt that they could do much better.

I’ve had the lens for over a year now.  I don’t use it as much as I’d like to, mostly because of its size.  It doesn’t fit in my camera bag, but I will bring it with me if I know that I’ll need it.  It’s great for wildlife, so I’ll bring it with me to a park.  When traveling up to a wildlife sanctuary in West Palm Beach, I was able to get some great shots.  (If you’re on Flickr, look for my pictures tagged with ‘Nikkor 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6’.  My username is seacow_99.)

Another reason that I don’t bring it with me is the weight.  It’s the heaviest that I own.  Without any filters, it comes to around 30 ounces.  It’s not that much of a strain, but you won’t soon forget that you have it around your neck.  Also, the lens does extend if you’re wearing it around your neck, so you really have to account for a lot more volume than you might normally.  There were a few cases where I would bump into something and hear metal against wood.  (One advantage metal has over plastic is that the lens won’t break as easily.)

The lens takes 62mm filters, which is the same as the 35-135mm lens.  Even though the take the same filters, I’ve gotten a UV filter for one and a Haze-1 filter for the other.  (Both act as basic protection.)  I have a circular polarizer between the two of them, but I think I may get another one.  I often go out with one lens only to realize that I left the circular polarizer on the other.

If you can find this lens used online or in a store somewhere, I’d recommend buying it.  It’s a great lens and has gotten me a few really great pictures.  As I said, go to Flickr and take a look at what I’ve been able to take.  Just remember that you’ll want to pick up a reliable tripod, as well.

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