The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED is a nice, light telephoto zoom that has a range on the DX cameras for which it is designed of no less than 105 to 450 mm, converted to full frame. That’s a really nice range for a lens with built-in image stabilization and weighing only 400 grams. And the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR is also very affordable.
A LOT FOR A LITTLE: Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED
The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED is a compact and lightweight telephoto zoom for Nikon’s DX cameras. These are the models with an APS-C format sensor such as the D500, D7500, D5600 and the D3400. The AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm does not fit on the full-frame models. For full frame, Nikon has another 70-300 mm, the Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 E ED VR. The full-frame version is slightly brighter, but also bigger, heavier and more than twice as expensive. It’s nice that Nikon has decided to release a modern version for the DX format in addition to this full-frame model. If you opt for a compact, light DX body, you naturally want matching lenses, in terms of both price and weight. The AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm is, due to its light weight, an ideal lens to take along on a trip or on long walks through nature.
The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm is lightweight and inexpensive. That’s usually only possible by making heavy use of plastics in the construction. That’s not a problem of itself, either. Modern, high-quality plastics are very strong, sturdy and hardly wear at all. With this zoom lens, though, its use goes so far that the mount of the lens is made of plastic as well. If you’re someone who changes lenses frequently, that’s something to take into account. For the average photographer who doesn’t change lenses several times a day, every day of the year, it’s nothing to worry about. You do feel the use of all the plastic when you zoom, but it all works fine. Another way in which Nikon has saved on the lens is to skip all kinds of switches. You can’t switch from autofocus to manual focus or turn off the image stabilization on the lens itself. Of course, you can do that in the menus, if you want. The lens is made up of 14 lens elements in 10 groups and includes an ED element. That’s a glass element with an extra low index of refraction meant to ensure that chromatic aberration remains as low as possible. The shortest setting distance is 1.1 meters. That seems a bit long, but because you can zoom in a lot, the maximum magnification you get with the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm is still a very respectable 0.22x, or 1:4.5. That’s good enough for close-up photography of flowers, for example. You can also easily make a very close portrait with this 70-300 mm.
For a lens in this price range, the performance of the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm is excellent. The sharpness is very good, from corner to corner, and surprisingly even at 300mm. Many zoom lenses perform (much) more poorly at their longest zoom setting than at the shortest, but luckily this does not apply to this Nikkor. Even at the shortest distance, at 1.1 meters, the performance is still good, so you can also use this lens as a semi-macro lens. Chromatic aberrations are virtually absent from the jpeg shots, thanks, of course, to the automatic correction that Nikon cameras already have in the body. The 70-300mm has a slight bit of distortion, from barrel-shaped at 70mm to pincushion-shaped at 300mm, but it’s not much, and you won’t see it in nature or sports photography. The lens has virtually no problems with glare, reflections or loss of contrast with backlight shots. Mood images against the sun are therefore no problem for this Nikkor.
The P in AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm means that this lens has a stepper motor. That’s better for focusing in live view (and therefore for video) than a conventional ring-type motor. The focus of the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm is very fast and accurate. The focus is completely internal. The front lens does not rotate during focusing, and the length of the lens does not change either. The focus ring is narrow but does allow you correct the auto focus manually immediately any time think that’s necessary. The modern stepper motor just doesn’t work with older DX cameras. That means the D7000, D5100 and D3100 models and older. Newer cameras also need to have the latest firmware to handle this 70-300 mm properly.
The AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm has image stabilization, which Nikon indicates with the abbreviation VR. That stands for Vibration Reduction. VR is indispensable if you want to shoot with this kind of long focal point by hand. It ensures that your viewfinder image stays steady so that you can concentrate better on your subject and your composition. And of course it also ensures that small camera movements are corrected, so that you can take sharp pictures without having to use a big, heavy tripod under the camera. The image stabilization of the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm works fine. In practice, it was possible to shoot with a shutter speed of about 4 stops slower than you would need without VR.
The AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm is not particularly bright, with f/4.5 at 70mm and f/6.3 at 300mm. It also has only seven diaphragm lamellae, while more is often better for bokeh. Even so, the bokeh, the quality of the blur in the background, is still quite nice with this lens. That’s partly because the aperture lamellae are rounded. But it has more to do with the fact that it’s a telephoto zoom. Certainly at 300mm, you can get beautifully soft, blurred backgrounds at full aperture if your subject is reasonably close and the background far away. That doesn’t work as well if you want to photograph a lion on a safari from 40 meters away. The bushes and trees behind them do not melt away as with many brighter lenses. But to compare this zoom with something like a 300mm f/2.8 fixed focal length is of course not fair. A lens like that will easily cost about twenty (!) times as much.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR
- Competitively priced
- Image stabilization
- Great range
- Quiet and fast focus
- AF-P does not fit on older Nikons
- Plastic mount
Getting (a lot of) something for (next to) nothing is reality with the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR.
The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300 mm f / 4.5-6.3 G ED is an ideal telephoto zoom for DX photographers. It doesn’t cost much and offers a lot, especially for this price. It’s sharp and fast. You can use it quite well for sports photography and photographing birds, thanks to the fast autofocus, and at 300mm, you can get beautifully rendered landscapes or isolate details with it. Thanks to the good shortest setting distance, it can also be used as half-macro lens, with the advantage that little animals will not run off so quickly because you stay at least a meter away from them. Because of the low weight, this is also an ideal lens to take with you on a trip, or simply on a full day’s walk through the zoo with the whole family. You hardly feel that you have it with you, and even on the camera it’s still a lightweight. There are plenty of lenses with a fixed focal length that are heavier than this long telephoto zoom. The only reason not to choose this 70-300 mm in this range is if you want to change lenses a lot. That’s because the plastic mount isn’t made for that. And if you plan to switch to a Nikon with a larger FX sensor in the future, first read our Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR review. Apart from that: highly recommended compact, light telephoto zoom.