As Expected, A New FX 70-300mm

Nikon quietly introduced the replacement for the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G, the US$750 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E. The interesting aspect of this lens is that it is the first FX lens that uses Nikon’s new fast stepper motor technology (AF-P). As such, there are older cameras that aren’t compatible with the lens. But video and Live View autofocus performance should be better than with AF-S lenses.

bythom Nikon FX AFP 70 300E ED VR

Compatibility: D3 series, D4 series, D5, D300 series, D500, D6xx, D700, D750, D8xx, D3300, D3400, D5300, D5500, D5600, D7xxx. Some models may require a firmware update.

The other major changes are that the new lens is just a bit lighter than the one it replaces (2 ounces) and that the lens uses the new electronic aperture control (E-type lens).  

One thing to note is that while the new lens has a closer focus distance by about a foot, the maximum reproduction ratio is unchanged, indicating that the lens has some significant focal length breathing. Also, the VR is a bit better (4.5 stops CIPA) and now features Sports and Normal VR modes.

In most ways, the update is exactly as you might expect: Nikon is rolling new technologies into older lenses and improving the optical designs at the same time, which is what we want. 

This lens, in particular, has been on my “needs updating list” for some time.  The update comes about 11 years after the original. Basically, the higher pixel densities we have today were exposing the weaknesses of the older lens. As such, I stopped recommending the older 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G for 24mp DX and 36mp FX bodies, and even warned 24mp FX users that their camera was good enough to show those weaknesses.  Let’s hope that, like all recent Nikkors we’ve seen, Nikon has once again pushed the optical qualities upward. The MTF charts look promising in this respect.

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