Nikon 70-300mm VR

First published on: Sunday, 31 May 2009

This is the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor lens:

Nikon 70-300mm VR

The 70-300 VR has been receiving nothing but rave reviews from users and reviewers alike.

It replaces two of the older 70-300 lenses from Nikon — the G and more expensive and optically superior (compared to the G lens) ED versions.

Among the welcome features in the new lens is the incorporation of vibration reduction technology (version II (VR II), AF-S (Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor lens autofocus technology designation), a non-rotating front element and internal focusing (IF).

All of this is bundled in a reasonably priced package of approximately USD500.

Download the 1.5MB 70-300 VR user manual, Nikon’s official online PDF instruction guide.

Nikon 70-300mm VR manual

To see what it’s like to take the 70-300 VR lens out of its box, visit this post on Photofocus.

My impressions from owning this lens

I like this lens … A LOT. Allow me to share three Nikon D300 photos as an introduction to the kind of photos you can get with it (click the thumbnail to see a larger version).

Indian Gaur at 195mm:

Subject isolation at 210mm — you get very nicely-blurred backgrounds at this focal length and longer:

Blue-tailed Bee Eater at 300mm (full-sized photo):

Olympus SP-570UZ vs Nikon D300 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR at Full Telephoto Zoom is an interesting comparison for those who are curious about the image quality one can expect from a dedicated SLR telephoto zoom lens vs a compact superzoom camera.


Lee Rothman’s Nikon D700 plus Nikon 70-300mm VR test photo – details are here. He commented that the lens gives sharp pictures with the D700.

Thom used the 70-300mm VR at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. As usual, Thom’s writing is interesting and educational, and he spends a lot of time explaining that for birding photography, pre-visualization and setting up everything for the shot counts for much more than merely having expensive equipment. He shot most of the images using the Nikon D90, Nikon 200-400mm VR lens, and of course, the 70-300mm VR.

Discussion thread on – Read through every post in this thread, where actual owners of the 70-300 VR give balanced comments, giving the lens its deserved high praise. Enjoy also the nice samples posted in the replies — I like: photo of a lighthouse, bird, jet fighter, landscape (Telluride, Colorado) and animals.

70-300mm VR review by Dr Kramer – This is an excellent review, with numerous photographs and crops to illustrate lens sharpness, and the 70-300 VR’s resistance to flare and chromatic aberration. He also evaluates bokeh, something that is missing in most lens reviews. A must read!

Thom Hogan’s 70-300mm VR Review – In contrast to Dr Kramer’s review, Thom goes deeper into the other technical aspects of the lens, and throws light on the drawbacks to expect in a lens of this price range. He concludes: “… 70-200mm excellence. In this range there’s almost nothing to fault the lens on optically, especially on an APS DSLR.” – Click here to read the review. Below that is feedback from satisfied owners, some who even own much more expensive Nikon lenses such as the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. From their conclusion, the plus points were:

  1. Build quality.

  2. Accuracy and speed of AF (auto focus).

  3. Overall handling.

  4. The filter size is 67mm, meaning you get to share attachments with your 18-70mm Nikkor.

One minus point is the slight image softness and CA (chromatic aberration) in the 200 to 300mm zoom range.

They were pretty pleased that Nikon didn’t seem to cut significant corners in the design of this relatively low-priced, but high-featured zoom lens.

Sample Photos

Tony posted a series of sharp Nikon D90 plus 70-300 VR bird photos. The lens certainly lets you capture great wildlife photos without having to bust your bank account.

The Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens (mounted on a Nikon D40X) came in handy for bringing subjects up close during Bart’s Africa June 2009 trip. Bart spent three weeks in Sonth Africa, Zambia and Botswana — read his account here.

Bart's African safari photos with a Nikon D40X and Nikkor 70-300mm VR

Fourth of July Photos — Very nice carnival and fireworks images by abdoozy, who used the 70-300 VR, Nikon D90 and a Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor lens to shoot the pictures.

Bob Foringer‘s photos at the zoo – Bob mounted the 70-300 VR on his brand new Nikon D5000, and shared 4 images from his trip to the zoo. I have to say that the quality of the pictures is remarkable.

Nikon D5000 plus 70-300mm VR photos by Bob Foringer

Sample bird photo with a Nikon D3X – This is a brilliant image by HK Low. View the entire image, as well as a 100% crop. I find the bokeh very pleasing.

Sample bird photo with the Nikon D3X plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens, by HK Low

Zoo photos with the Nikon D40 plus 70-300 VR – Seriously, this series has the best animal pics I’ve seen taken with this combo. Scott shot these photographs handheld in JPEG mode, and shared EXIF data for the photos.

Zoo photos with the Nikon D40 + Nikkor 70-300 VR, by Scott

On a Waterski Boat; Bird-In-FlightKim shot these images (on a moving boat, no less!) with the 70-300 VR mounted on a Nikon D50 camera. She’s been sharing lots of pictures taken with this VR lens and I always look forward to viewing them.

Nikon D50 plus Nikkor 70-300 VR photos by Kim Kaila

Here’s some additional info:

  1. The VR was left in Active mode and worked great, even while on a bumpy boat.

  2. The D50 was set on Aperture mode at f/5.6

Indoor Portraits – Hades took these indoor portraits without the use of flash — the only illumination came from the kitchen lights. He finds that the 70-30mm VR focuses quickly and produces great results. The bokeh is soft and excellent all-round. The 70-300 VR was purchased to augment his Nikon D40 kit.

Indoor portrait by Hades with a Nikon D40 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens

Late Afternoon Sun and Some Birds – A warm light lends magic to these bird photographs by LukeP. LukeP used the Nikon D200 and had to use ISO 400 to 800 for some of the shots to keep shutter speeds up.

Late afternoon sun, with the Nikon D200 plus 70-300mm VR by lukep

While not in the same class as the Nikon 70-200mm VR, the 70-300mm VR is lighter and can reach 300mm. Image quality is also good.

Miscellaneous Photos

  1. Here’s my Super GT motorsport race samples.
  2. Evening Skies — Fantastic colors and composition in these photos shot by Aleksander with the Nikon D40.
  3. Vertical panorama of the Empire State Building at sunset, by LeungPhotos
  4. Osprey feeding on a fish, by Larry Lowry. Further down in the thread, Larry reports that the VR mechanism gives him more flexibility to get better shots, and he is impressed with the images he gets from this lens vs the older Nikkor 70-300mm ED version.
  5. A blue jay.


Choose your camera bag carefully if you plan to put in the Nikon 70-300mm VR while attached to the camera. I’ve put up a summary of a related discussion on recommended camera bags for the Nikon D300.


Official site at — read about Nikon 70-300mm VR key features, technical specifications, acessories, tech support.

Official site at — there’s an MTF chart and a lens construction diagram.


Nikon Lenses – Main page.

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