Photography - Nikon 70mm-300mmVR

Overview

When I got the D90, I knew that I would require a lot of range, to photograph things, people and wildlife. I knew I would be getting the 70mm-300mm VR for the long end, based on the reviews I had read, looking at other options in my price range and a little in-store testing.

My Nikon D90 with the 70-300VR mounted

Sharpness

The 70-300mm VR is quite sharp, corner-to-corner up to about 250mm. From 250mm-300mm, there might me a little added softness, but I've been very pleased, to-date. Most of my captures with this lens are at 300mm, and I have not complaints. Stopping down one or two f-stops, and 300mm sharpness is excellent.

Focusing and Other Notable Attributes

Auto focus speed is quite good for static objects, in good light. As the lighting gets dimmer, the AF will hunt more and more. You can override the focus manually, if desired, though I haven't really bothered to. As this isn't the fastest lens around (70mm f/4.5 to 300mm f/5.6), that is to be expected. Outside in good light, or in a well lit room, you'll never notice this, at all. If your target is on the move, things can get a little dicier. For example, a bird in flight is one of the hardest targets to get, regardless of body and lens. This type of situation will really test the equipment (and your patience)

Handling and Use

The VR (vibration reduction) works well on this lens. It needs to be noted that I have very shaky hands - picture a coffee addict jonesing for his next hit of caffeine. As a result, any lens not offering VR will be a hard sell, unless I can use very high shutter speeds, or some other form of stabilization. As my intent is to use this as a walking/hiking lens for wildlife, VR was a must. Based on my testing, VR easily saves me 2 stops throughout the focal range.

The f/4.5-f/5.6 isn't all that fast. Because the focal length is long, you can still isolate the subject, but not always the way faster (more expensive) glass will. The 70-300mm VR is a well balanced lens, despite the range it is still relatively light / small, and easy to carry around all day long. I have found it to be acceptably sharp throughout the focal range, though best to stop down a bit on the long end of the zoom range. Shooting in good light, or with a flash it is a great lens to have if the reach is needed.

Sample Photos

Here are a few samples I have taken with this lens:

Long Tail Duck in flight

Red-tailed Hawk Portrait

Harris's Hawk

Red-tailed hawk soars past buildings