Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens Review

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Handling and features

For a DX format lens, this optic is relatively large having a diameter of 83mm, length of 120mm when retracted and heavy at 830g. This is probably due to the huge zoom range covered and the relatively bright f/5.6 maximum aperture at 300mm. It feels right at home on the Nikon D300 body used for testing, but may be a little large and heavy for smaller, entry level bodies. As is the case with Nikon's other high-end consumer lenses, high quality plastics have been used for much of the lens' construction and a rubber gasket surrounds the metal lens mount, to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body.

Auto focus is powered by a silent wave motor, and autofocus speeds are reasonable, but certainly not amongst the fastest. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring, which is located close to the camera body. Manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments quite easy to apply. The zoom action is also very smooth and consistent through the range. Just enough resistance has been applied to prevent the zoom creeping forward when it is pointed down and a switch to lock the lens at 18mm is provided, to prevent the lens from extending when it's removed from a case or bag.

Closest focus distance is 45cm, and focusing is performed internally, so the 77mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.

Nikon's second generation Vibration Reduction system promises to allow hand held shooting at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand-held photos would allow. The system delivers, but with one small caveat. Time needs to be allowed for the system to settle, around a couple of seconds, or it can actually blur images more. The image in the viewfinder can be seen to shake a little just before it settles down. Even so, with this kept in mind, sharp hand held shots were possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/15sec around half the time, which is roughly five stops slower than would normally be possible.

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

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