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Gear Reviews

Comparing the Nikon 300mm 2.8G VRII with the Nikon 300mm F4

By Anthony Thurston on June 9th 2013

I had the opportunity to shoot with the beastly Nikkor 300mm 2.8G VRII lens this week. The local camera shop, Focalpoint Photography, has recently started a rental service and I was able to get the lens at a great day rate of only $30. The reason I needed the 300 2.8  was that I was going to a night game for the Portland Thorns, and I was pretty sure that the 300 F4 I own was not going to cut it.

Needless to say the 300mm 2.8G VRII is a beautiful lens. But at $5,799 or so retail it is out of my (and most of you as well I would think) reach to own, and so rental was my only way to get a hold of this lens. I have owned the Nikon 300mm F4 AF ED (1 generation old by now for Nikon 300 F4’s) for about a year now myself, and while it is an incredibly awesome lens it does have its limitations – especially in lower light like I was going to be experiencing at the stadium.

During the course of the game I took some shots and I am going to put them below. Before I tell you which one is which, can you tell?

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So which one to you think is which? Not as easy to figure out as you might think is it? If you guessed that the first one is the F4 then you would be correct.

Thoughts on the 300 2.8G VRII

I really enjoyed working with this lens on Thursday. The speed and accuracy if its AF really caught me be surprise in a good way. I mean the accuracy and speed with my F4 is normally pretty good, but this 2.8G just blew it out of the water. The lens is heavy, but not nearly as heavy as I was expecting so that was a pleasant surprise to be sure. This is definitely a lens that I will be adding to my wish-but-will-never-have list.

IF you have been thinking about getting this lens and you have the money to do so I highly recommend it. It really is a top quality piece of glass, you can pick one up at B&H and have it shipped for free.

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1/2000 sec, F2.8, ISO 1600 on a D300s and the Nikon 300 2.8G VRII

Thoughts on the 300 F4 AF ED

What can I say, I love this lens too – just not for night games. This shot was taken when the light was still in the sky and so I was able to get a pretty good result. The lens really struggled once the sky went dark and the only light was from the stadium lights. In fact it was so bad the lens was not even usable with the stadium lights only. So this just goes to show that while the F4 is honestly good for most daytime events, it just doesn’t cut it for night shooting (no surprise there).

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1/2000 sec, F5, ISO 500 on a D300s and the Nikon 300 F4

A Few More

Here are a few more sample shots with the 300 2.8G VRII that I took while at the match. I really love this first one, Alex Morgan just getting taken out by the FC Kansas City defender.

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*The 300 F4 shot used in this comparison was taken during a different match than the shots shown above with the 300 2.8.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robert Sheppard

    I had the chance to try out the new Nikon 300mm f4E PF ED VR AF-S lens last week (still not available here in UK yet). It is so light! and very sharp. I have used the 300/f2.8 a couple of times on hire and also found it very sharp and fast to focus (I guess that’s the prime vs zoom advantage). I was using the f2.8 at a fashion show and needed the speed, but if you want to use a 300 telephoto in the studio for the flattening effect, I would go for the f4 since speed is not an issue in that scenario.

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