Review: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300 f/4,5-5,6

This lens has quickly become one of my favorite lenses. The 70-300 is very versatile and it is a lovely walk-around lens for street photo as well as nature photography. It is also useful for portrait work when you want to shoot a little more from a distance. Perfect for candid shots in the crowd.

Full designation: Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm f / 4.5-5.6 G ED-IF


  • Focal length: 70-300 mm (on a DX body this corresponds to 105-450)
  • Low dispersion glass for increased optical abilities
  • Internal focus means it does not move, rotate or extend in any way when the autofocus is working.
  • Maximum aperture: f / 4.5 @ 70 mm to f / 5.6 @ 300 mm
  • Focus motor built in: YES
  • Works equally well with DX and FX bodies.
  • MA/M Switch to select manual focus quickly. Or you can just grap the focus ring and twist.
  • Vibration Reduction VR-II is built in. Allows up to four EV’s of longer shutter time and still produce handsome pictures.
  • Hyperfocal scale: NO
  • Infrared focus indicator: NO
  • Aperture Ring: NO


I really like it. It is sturdy although I would not call it built like a tank but perhaps as a good Volkswagen car perhaps. It is also surprisingly light and the VR really makes a huge difference. I love the wide zoom ring, you just want to grab it and keep turning to zoom in, the focus ring is smooth and easy to locate.

70-300 Fully Extended + Hood
Fully extended with the HB-20 bayonet lens hood mounted.

The VR makes a noisier sound in this lens than my other ones. I am not certain why this is but a quick google on the subjects and it turns out that I am far from the only one and it does not seem to be a problem with the lens. It makes a little ”clunk” when it starts or stops, that’s about it.

I love this lens as a walk-around lens for taking candid shots of people doing things in the city. It is great this way, you can keep quite a bit of distance between yourself and the subject and you may zoom in and get pretty close.

It measures 20 cm when the hood is off.

I would probably not combine this with a tele-converter unless I was shooting manually on a tripod. I am told that autofocus stops working somewhere beyond f / 5.6 and a TCx2 would drop the lens two stops which would be too much. WIth the D300 you can however always use mirror up and contrast focusing instead of the optical focusing sensors, that should work if you are on a tripod at least.


It’s sharp and it has no vignetting what so ever on a DX body. I am told there is very little on FX bodies as well. Flare and ghosting seems to be minimal and it performs excellent all the way from 70 to 300 mm in focal length.


This lens is suitable for ALL Nikon digital cameras. Even full format FX bodies and those who do not have a focus motor built in to the body can use this equally well. The focus is smooth and although I have seen faster focusing lenses this one is not bad at all.

This lens has the fantastic focus ring of most modern Nikkor lenses, no need to flip a switch to go manual, just grap the focus ring (the inner ring) and twist until you achieve focus manually. There is a switch to switch AM/M from auto + manual to manual only if you prefer that.

It comes with the HB-20 lens bayonet hood, it works well to protect it from glare but it makes it very difficult to use a polarizing filter on the front of it when the hood it on, you can barely reach around and touch it. That solution could be better in my opinion.

70-300 VR buttons
VR controls

The vibration reduction works excellent. You can set it to active or normal mode as with all modern VR lenses and there is another switch to turn it off completely which you should do when you are using the lens on a tripod, otherwise you can get very blurry pictures when the compensation gyros does not work well when it is very still.


Get it. It is a great telephoto lens. Especially if you already have the 18-70 or 18-55 lens in your kit and you are looking for something longer. If you have the 18-200 you might live without it, but this baby takes better pictures, no doubt about that in my mind.


  • Light, bring it everywhere!
  • Has VR-II vibration reduction.
  • Price is affordable.
  • Great build quality and feel.
  • No vignetting on DX body and minimal on FX bodies.
  • Works on all Nikon digital bodies, FX as well as DX and the D40 and others that lack built-in focusing motor in the camera body.


  • f / 4.5-5.6 it’s what you expect in this price range but still the f / 2.8 are nice…
  • Not good with TC unless you know what you are doing.
  • No IR index or hyperfocal scales.
  • The HB-20 hood makes it difficult to use with filters if you need to adjust them, such as circular polarizing filters.

Example Shots


Street Sales


Glass Facade

The Moon