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Gear Reviews

Oldies But Goodies: Nikon 300mm F4 AF ED

By Anthony Thurston on April 15th 2013

Everyone loves to get the latest new lenses, and for good reason – they feature the latest and greatest features and can improve your chances of getting a quality image. But the thing about new lenses is that they are rather expensive. In this new series Oldies but Goodies we are going to focus on older lenses that are still great quality optics and can save you quite a bit of money.

This week I am featuring the Nikon 300mm F4 AF ED. This is a prime lens, meaning there is no zooming so you are stuck at the 300mm focal length. The benefits of this lens are that it is superior optically to any zooming lens at 300mm, and at 300mm F4 still provides plenty of bokeh for most situations.




  • Cheaper than the newer 300mm F4 and way cheap than the 300 2.8.
  • Lighter than the 2.8
  • One of the sharpest telephoto lenses I’ve used. At F4 it matches the 2.8 stopped down to F4 in sharpness.
  • Drop In Filter
  • Built like a tank- All metal body
  • Built In Lens Hood


  •  Older Focusing motor means slower AF with newer camera bodies. Still very capable AF, just not as fast as newer versions.
  •  F4 means this lens is not great for indoor or low light shooting. Outdoors though this is a great lens for most conditions.
  •  Need to turn on manual focus on both the lens and the camera seperately

Example Shots

I use this lens personally. I like to use it for sports and birds (yes the AF occasionally causes issues, but overall it works well enough for my liking).


Nikon D7000 – 1/350th – F4 – ISO 100


Nikon D7000 – 1/2000th – F4 – ISO 640

Final Thoughts

Sure there are newer more expensive options available that come with vibration reduction or nano coating and other great features. But if you are like me and don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on one lens then this is a great option for those of you looking for some great reach. I picked this lens up for around $500 at my local camera shop, a great deal considering the quality and that the newer 300 F4 is around $1500. Check your local camera shop that carries used gear, check craigslist, or you can buy from ebay there are quite a few available based on my quick search.

Do you know of other great “Oldies but Goodies”? Send suggestions to athurston[at] 

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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. Kelly Mclees

    Nice article on the older Nikon 300 f4 . I would like a little advice from you if you don’t mind?? I do have the older 300 f4. The problem is I don’t have a clue on how you adjust the limit screws for different situations. If you can explain how it works or examples of why to set the limit screws would be very helpful. Thanks Kelly

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    • Wesley Elsberry

      Put the dot on “Full” and the limiter has no effect. Run the dot clockwise, and you start limiting the close-focus of the lens. The further right, the shorter the range the lens focus can move between infinity and the limit. Run the dot to the left, and you start limiting the furthest focus distance the lens can reach. If you are doing close work, you may want to limit on the left. If you are doing sports or longer distance work, you will likely want to limit to the right. Using the limiter means the AF system cannot spend time fruitlessly trying a useless focus range.

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  2. Lokesh Chormare

    Thanks Anthony. Your review regarding Nikon 300 f4 is very nice. I am searching this used 300 f4 lense because i can not afford new 300mm f4 with my d7000.

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  3. NursultanTulyakbay

    Love this lens. Some people may scoff at the f4 max aperture, but if you are shooting a D7000/D7100, D800 or the D3s and later pro bodies, the high iso capability makes f2.8 unnecessary. At this focal length f2.8 for bokeh is also unnecessary. I would put this lens up there with the 50 1.8D in the best bang for your buck category.

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