Brad Hill on the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens: sharper than the 300mm f/2.8G VRII

Brad Hill posted his first impressions and some sample images of the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens – here is a quick recap:

  • That the 120-300mm f2.8E is extremely sharp when shooting close subjects (and at all focal lengths). I’ll be able to better quantify HOW sharp before long (relative to other high-end lenses), but I would be extremely surprised if it is not noticeably sharper than Nikkor 300mm f2.8G VRII or the Sigma Sport 120-300mm f2.8 at virtually all focal lengths. This is NOT a criticism of either of those two lenses, but rather a statement of how sharp images shot with the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E are looking to me,
  • That the out-of-focus (OOF) zones of the Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E are buttery smooth and just beautiful,
  • That the critical combination of sharpness and smooth OOF zones (which goes a long ways towards defining the signature look of a particular lens) is fantastic. The overall “look” of the images shot with the 120-300mm f2.8E reminds me of those shot with two of my favourite Nikkors – the 200mm f2G VR and the 400mm f2.8E VR – and THAT is one exclusive club,
  • That, at least with close subjects, the sharpness of the 120-300mm f2.8E plus TC-14EIII combination is amazing (at least in the 200mm to 300mm focal length range). This includes shots captured with the aperture absolutely wide open,
  • That, at least with close subjects, the OOF zones of the 120-300mm f2.8E plus TC-14EIII combination is virtually as good as when the lens is shot native (i.e., with no teleconverter attached). One of the less commonly known negative attributes of using a teleconverter is that with some lenses they impact negatively on the quality of the OOF zones…often rendering them more “jittery” (for lack of a better term)…a characteristic I often refer to as “nervous bokeh”. To be clear, the 120-300mm f2.8E plus TC-14EIII combination does NOT exhibit nervous bokeh at all!
  • That despite being early in my testing, and despite the weight and size of the lens, I’m already thinking the 120-300 f2.8E may become one of my favourite and most important lenses in my wildlife photography kit.

Please visit Brad’s website for the full article –  he has several blog posts on the new lens.

Nikkor 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens pre-order links: Adorama | B&H | Amazon | WEX | Park Camera | Calumet | Camera Canada.

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