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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:54 pm 
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Update: The review-in-progress is here.
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Finally: the successor for the AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4D IF-ED from the year 2000 is announced.
The old lens was 90 x 222.5 mm/3.5 x 8.8 in. at 1,440 g/50.8 oz. with 10 elements in 6 groups and got down to 1.45m / 4.8 ft with a maximum magnification of 1:3.7.
Let's see what the new lens offers, apart from the long-overdue image-stabilization.

Image

The official announcement of the new lens is here in English and there in German.

It uses a fresnel element for the first time with a Nikon lens. Canon did this already some years ago to make tele-lenses smaller and lighter.
The new Nikkor benefits from that too: it weighs only 755 g (!) and is only 148 mm long. Quite a feat! Consequently the tripod-mount is an optional accessory and not included with the lens (it funnily looks almost exactly like the Sigma design). The design features 16 elements in 10 Groups which is quite a complex design for a fixed focal tele-lens. It focuses down to 1.4m (with a limiter-switch for 3m) and gives a max. magnification of 1:4.2. Minimum aperture is f32 and the filter-thread is a standard 77mm.
Interestingly there is a warning note on the US-announcement (not repeated in the UK or Germany): "Due to the characteristics of a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens that utilizes the photo diffraction phenomenon, when there is a strong light source within the frame or when light enters the lens from outside of the frame, ring-shaped colored flare may occur according to shooting conditions. This phenomenon can be minimized with "PF Flare Control" included in Capture NX-D."

There is also a new VR-mode: "Equipped with a SPORT VR mode for effective photography of athletes and other subjects that are moving rapidly and unpredictably in addition to a vibration reduction (VR; camera shake compensation equivalent to a 4.5-stop increase in shutter speed) function".

Also new: electro-magnetic aperture mechanism (thus the "E" moniker after the aperture as opposed to the standard "G") and highly durable fluorine coat adopted for the surface of the front lens.

Looks like Nikon has introduced quite a few interesting technologies in a single lens.

It should be available End of January and costs 2000 USD / 2049 EUR in Germany (incl. 19% VAT).

German detail page here, English detail-page there.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:18 pm 
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There is an example of the adverse affects of the fresnel-element here with a direct comparison what Capture NX-D can do.
The only difference that I can find in both images is a less prominent halo around the strong light sources.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:56 pm 
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The new lens is available now and a copy of this long awaited successor to the AF-S300/4.0G arrived on my test-bench today.
The most impressive feature of this lens (so far) is it's small size and weight due to the new fresnel-technology in the lens. It's only a tad longer than Nikon's 24-70/2.8G although it offers a 4.3x longer reach and is clearly lighter.
See the following image showing the new lens in the middle accompanied by Nikon's 24-70/2.8 on the left and the old Sigma AF 300/4.0 on the right:

Image
300mm_side-by-side_73419 by Thomas, on Flickr

I hope to get my hands on the predecessor (the Nikon AF-S 300/4.0G) and the 1.4x tele-converter too, to give a new lens a thorough workout for my up-and-coming review.
Hope the weather is right tomorrow to do some test-shots.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:19 pm 
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first tests show a very high sharpness and very low longitudinal CAs.
But the VR does not look too good, or I was shaking more than normally with the temperatures around zero.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:54 pm 
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Got the AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4.0D plus the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III today for extended testing and again: The difference in size and weight between the old and the new lens is really, really astounding. See the following image where I put it between the (from left to right) Nikon AF-S 80-400/4.5-5.6G VR at 300mm, the old Nikon AF-S 300/4.0D, and the Nikon AF-S 28-300/3.5-5.6G VR at 300mm.

Image
300mm_side-by-side_73560 by Thomas, on Flickr

I left the lens-hoods out (and also removed the tripod-collars) but extended the zoom to 300mm.
Here's the same lenses including lens-hoods but with the zooms pulled back to their minimum focal length:

Image
300mm_side-by-side_73558 by Thomas, on Flickr

Now the 28-300 zoom is the shortest.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:32 pm 
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While testing I stumbled across some disappointing results when the shutter was slower than 1/320 sec. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I shot almost 300 test-shots under controlled conditions with Nikon's image stabilization "VR" OFF at speeds of 1/320 sec and 1/160 sec and with VR=ON at 1/320, 1/160, 1/80, 1/40, 1/20. I rated each and every shot on a scale from 0 to 5 stars depending on how sharp it was.
Here's my observations:
- VR=ON at 1/320 sec was a clear improvement over VR=OFF at the same speed.
- At 1/40 sec and 1/20 sec the distribution of sharpness over 40 shots was similar to the distribution of shots taken at 1/320 sec with VR=OFF
That is an excellent result. But:
- At 1/160 sec and 1/80 sec the results with VR were very disappointing. The risk of unsharp shots at 1/160 sec with VR=ON was higher than at 1/320 sec with VR=OFF. To put it bluntly: Too high to be usable imho.

Now that's a result from testing image stabilization that is a first in my book. Is it an individual problem with my copy? Well, unfortunately it seems not: Today I took another 100 test-shots with a second copy and got the same results. And in a German forum there are other people observing the same disappointing behavior. Disappointing!

Well, all should not be lost: if the lens is good at stabilizing 1/320 its mechanics and electrics should be fast enough. And if the VR does a good job at stabilizing even 1/20 it should have a wide range of correcting movements. So combining speed and stabilization-range for a satisfying VR-performance at shutter speeds of 1/160 or 1/80 should be doable. Perhaps a firmware-update is in order?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:55 am 
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The review-in-progress is here.
Lots of comparisons including with 1.4x TC, against the "old" 300/4.0D, the 70-200/2.8G VR + 1.4x TC, the 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR.

Enjoy!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:41 pm 
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Hello ,and thanks for Yuor first review :
I already have this new 300mm vr lens ,and after reading I made my quick vr test inside :
with my nikon D 3300 : vr on 1/40 sec gives clearly better results than 1/80 or 1/160 sec.

With 1,4 TC ll attached gives also better results 1/40 sec than 1/80 sec


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:44 pm 
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Hello Eric, and welcome to the friendly Camera Labs forum!
To enjoy your stay here please have a look at the house-rules!
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It seems that the problematic VR behavior is unfortunately not limited to only a few copies.
Let's see when Nikon comes up with a reaction to this.

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