View Full Version : Legacy Lenses Nikkor 300mm f4 ED-IF

03-08-2006, 03:10 AM

Independent reviews at:



In general, the Nikkor 300mm F4 lens is acknowledged as one of the classic lenses from the Nikon line-up and, as Thom Hogan summarises:


ē Weight. Consider that my 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED weighs just over one pound and the 300mm f/4 is almost three pounds. The 300mm f/4 produces far better images at 300mm, but that's a lot of weight to be carrying around, so consider the application you'll use it for.

ē Filters. For a short time in the early 1990's it appeared that Nikon was going to standardize on 39mm drop-ins for their telephoto lineup. Today, it appears that 52mm is the standard (and the AF-S version of this lens uses 77mm filters). Either way, filters are expensive and generally only found at the bigger shops. A circular polarizer, for example, will probably set you back more than US$200.


ē Optics. Excellent optics that pretty much match the much more expensive f/2.8 300mm AF-I.

ē Value. With all the alternatives, clean used versions of this lens can be picked up at very reasonable prices. If you don't need faster or closer focus, this lens is capable of everything the more expensive new version can do.

Given that if youíre going to use this lens on an Olympus camera with an adapter from say Camera Quest (http://www.cameraquest.com/adapt_olyE1.htm), the drawbacks are hardly going to be an issue.

My Opinion

From a personal point of view, this is quite simply an excellent lens and when used on a 4/3s camera, one is only using the centre portion of the imaging circle and getting the best that the lens can offer.

These are but two shots taken with the 300mm f4 using the E1:


The 300mm f4 is an exceptional lens without a doubt; optically it canít really be faulted.

The only drawback to using such a lens is that there is no AF or auto aperture, so that means itís pretty much a manual affair all round. The saving grace is that you can use P mode quite comfortably and get good exposures every time.

Focussing is only really at its maximum effectiveness when the aperture is opened fully, but a keen eye will enable you to close down up to f8. Remember that with 4/3s you get extra depth of field, so if you donít quite get the focus right, the DOF field will compensate. Believe me; Iíve captured some fairly fast sports action because of this DOF bonus.

Itís not really all that heavy a lens to carry around, so Iím not quite sure what Thom Hogan is concerned about. If thereís one thing that does, at times, bother me and itís more to do with familiarity, is the focussing ring. The focussing ring is very sensitive and even small movements can have a significant effect on focus. The focus by wire movement of the ZD lenses is much more positive and gives more feel than does that of the mechanical focus on the 300mm f4. That said, once you get used to it, you can get very good results indeed.

This is not a weatherproof lens like many of the ZD lenses, so itís not one to haul around the rain forests etc, but that said, it does feel as if itís more than just a fair weather lens.


This is the sort of lens that should be available for 4/3s users at around the same price. However, for all those that clamour for a low cost 300mm lens, something of this ilk would still command a price in the order of at least US$1000. A lot better than that being asked for the Olympus 300mm f2.8, but not greatly different to that being asked for the Nikkor 300mm 2.8.