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Home » Camera Lens Reviews » Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Review

Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Review

Looking to find more information regarding the Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED? Read our latest review to learn more about the Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED, its specifications, and if it’s a good camera lens for you. 

Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Overview

The Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 D ED is one of the less expensive tele zooms available from Nikon. The full frame lens has a field of view equivalent to 105-450mm on classic SLRs when used on today’s APS-C DSLRs. It appears that the Nikkor is about to be discontinued in favor of the new AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR and the entirely new AF-S 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF 24AF M42 looks like it will be phased out completely as well (AF).

With an outer barrel composed of low-quality plastics, the lens’ build quality is passable. When zooming towards the long end of the zoom range, the Nikkor extends.

The smooth, rubberized zoom ring and tiny focus ring move freely and evenly without being damped. The front element rotates (as does the focus ring), which is not the case with an internal focusing system. Because there is no internal AF motor in the 70-300D ED, it relies on a slotted drive screw driven by the camera to achieve auto focusing. Because there is no internal AF motor, the AF generates a moderate amount of noise but it achieves good speeds.

Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Specifications

The Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED was first announced on 09/01-2003 with a Nikon F FX mount type. Below is a summary of this lens’s specifications: 

Indicative Price: $196

Focal Range: 70-300mm

Aperture: F/ 4-5.6

Filter Diameter (millimeters): 62

Maximum Diameter (millimeters): 74

Number Of Lenses: 13

Length (millimeters): 116

AF Motor: None

Stabilization: None

Zoom Type: Ring

Tripod Mount: None Available

Colors Available: Black

Manual Focus: None

Weight (grams): 505

How Does Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Score? 

Below are the lens metric scores we’ve measured for this specific lens: 

Sharpness: 3.5/10

The investigated sample exhibited acceptable performance results in a laboratory environment with a sweet spot towards the bottom of the zoom range. Performance is excellent right away at f/4 and improves progressively till f/8. At 200mm, resolution has decreased somewhat, but image quality stays extremely high. When stopping down to 300mm, though, there is a more significant performance loss – while the center is still good, the borders’ performance declines dramatically and gradually as you stop down. The contrast at 300mm f/5.6 is also rather dull.

Vignetting: 5.5/10

The AF 70-300mm Extremely Dongle works with both full frame and APS-C DSLRs. As a result, the lens is capable of producing images that are almost free of vignetting at all focal lengths and aperture settings, owing to its sweet spot effect on an APS-C camera.

Chromatic Aberration: 7.1/10

Lateral chromatic aberration (color shadows at strong contrast changes) are a bit of a toss-up. At 70mm, the CAs are well controlled, but at 200 and 300 mm the problem becomes apparent with an average CA pixel width of 1.5 pixels around the picture edges.

Distortion: 5.3/10

The Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 VRII exhibits only minor barrel distortion at 70mm and minor pincushion distortion towards the long end of the zoom range despite its relatively ambitious 4.3x zoom ratio.

Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Performance

The focus is accurate and the filter diameter is 52mm which is good for this market segment. The Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED offers very little resistance to flare and ghosting when used with modern digital cameras, but Nikon’s Integrated Coating reduces its impact considerably. Vignetting isn’t an issue on Nikon FX cameras , but it becomes visible when mounted on a DX body camera.

Something to keep in mind is the bokeh quality of this lens, which is actually quite good. Bokeh is the quality of the out-of-focus blur in an image, and is especially important for portrait photographers. Both foregrounds and backgrounds are rendered very smoothly at wider aperture settings; but you should be aware that this lens suffers from severe chromatic aberration (i.e chromes appear as blue or red halos around bright objects) when used wide open.

Another area to note is the ergonomics of the lens. It’s compact and lightweight , weighs only 505g, is balanced well on most Nikon DSLRs. But some people have said that it feels cheap – at least in comparison to the 70-300 VR lens. The design includes a three section extension barrel design which make the lens feel more comfortable to hold while shooting handheld.

Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED Pros and Cons

Below are some of the pros and cons regarding this lens. 

Pros: 

  • Very sturdy build quality
  • Affordable price tag

Cons: 

  • Optical performance falls apart significantly at 300mm

Our Verdict

The Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED is a good value lens, with a sturdy feel and a great design for a budget-friendly price. Optical performance is somewhat mediocre at maximum zoom, but the sweet spot effect on APS-C body cameras means that it offers sharp images when used correctly in most situations. Unfortunately, this lens does not offer vibration reduction (VR), making it unsuitable for all but the brightest conditions, or fast moving subjects.