For some years now the first lens that goes into my camera bag when I’m loading up for a safari has been my 300mm f4 telephoto.
Sure, it may not be as versatile as a zoom lens but the image quality more than makes up for that.
I’ve got so used to this lens that I’m not even tempted to splash out £4,000 on the f2.8 version. Yes it has more features, and that extra f-stop, but it is also a lot heavier.
But now Nikon have given me a dilemma. They have announced an updated version of the 300mm f4. By Nikon’s measurements the new FX-format 300mm f/4 is 30% shorter and 1.5 lbs lighter than its predecessor, thanks to the use of a Phase Fresnel design. It also now boasts image stabilization – claiming an impressive four and a half stops in image stabilization.
The Nikon website certainly makes it sound appealing – AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
It’s early days yet, and I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on one of these new beauties but I am eagerly awaiting the moment when I can.
I still haven’t been able to play with one yet – they are hard to come by in the UK – but here’s a reasonably in-depth review from photographylife.com and a less in-depth one from ephotozine.com
Here’s some of the blurb from Nikon:
AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Primary Features
- A fixed focal length telephoto lens with a focal length of 300mm and a maximum aperture of f/4 compatible with Nikon FX-format digital SLR cameras
- The first NIKKOR lens for which a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens element has been adopted, making it the world’s lightest*1lens of its type
- 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*2 increase in shutter speed) function
- Adoption of a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens element, an ED lens element, and Nano Crystal Coat for superior optical performance with which chromatic aberration and ghost are suppressed
- Capable of expression of the beautiful blur characteristics possible only with a maximum aperture of f/4
- Equipped with an electro-magnetic aperture mechanism that enables stable auto-exposure with high-speed continuous shooting
- Adoption of Nikon’s exclusive and highly durable fluorine coat, which effectively repels water and oils, and makes cleaning the lens easier even when it does get dirty, on the surface of the front lens element
- *1Among 300mm fixed focal length (prime) AF lenses compatible with 35mm “full-size” format cameras available as of January 6, 2015. Statement based on Nikon research.
- *2Measured in accordance with CIPA standards in NORMAL mode using an FX-format digital SLR camera.
PF (Phase Fresnel) Lens Elements
The PF (Phase Fresnel) lens, developed by Nikon, effectively compensates chromatic aberration utilizing the photo diffraction phenomenon*. It provides superior chromatic aberration compensation performance when combined with a normal glass lens. Compared to many general camera lenses that employ an optical system using the photorefractive phenomenon, a remarkably compact and lightweight body can be attained with less number of lens elements.