Nikon 70-300 AF-P VR Update

In Gear Review by Patrick

As noted in a previous post here, I was updating one of my favorite Nikkor lenses, the 70-300. Usually when I get a new piece of gear I will marry myself to it for a week or so to learn its pros and cons before ever using on a client shoot or paying job. So now that I have this lens, I wanted to report back so if anyone is considering this lens, my experiences might help.

First off, don’t let this lens fool you just because it is sold with many entry level kits like the D3400 or D5600. Many assume low build quality for these types of lenses and that is not the case and it produces a good picture on the DX body. A word of caution though, when purchasing, there are two versions of this lens. An FX model designed for full frame cameras, and the DX version. At the time of the post, the DX version is priced at $396.95 USD. On a cropped sensor you have the equivalent of 35mm 105-450mm range. The FX version of this lens in priced at $746.95 USD. So what is the difference? Great question!

As one would expect, the FX version is a bit heavier with a few bells and whistles that the DX version does not have. They have many of the same characteristics except for these from what I have seen so let me try to summarize:

  • Minimum focusing distance: DX = 3.61 feet / FX = 3.94 feet
  • Number of elements: DX – 14 / FX = 19
  • Diaphragm blades: DX = 7 / FX = 9
  • Front filter thread: DX = 58mm / FX = 67mm
  • Weight: DX version = 14.6 oz / FX version = 1.50 Lbs
  • FX version has dust a moisture resistant construction / DX does not
  • FX version has manual override focusing / DX version cannot
  • Construction: DX version is plastic / FX metal
  • Switches: DX = No VR or AF/MF on body / FX = has AF/MF

Everyone wants to know about vignetting. Here is a comparison at various focal lengths that will hopefully help you with your decision making.

So, what is the bottom line. In my humble opinion, both lenses are solid. Nikon released the DX version as a replacement fot the 55-200mm and the 55-300mm lenses. I think Nikon engineers have done a great job giving the DX lens some updated features like fast focusing, lightweight and reliability along with the optical stabilization. A solid performer for sure. The FX version is what you would expect from Nikon. Solid construction, weather resistant, tack sharp and fast focusing. A definite upgrade from the previous 70-300 AF-S VR.

Here are some sample images:

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