Nikon ED AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm 1:3.5-5.6 G VR Lens (f/3.5-5.6)

Review of the Nikon ED AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm 1:3.5-5.6 G VR Lens (f/3.5-5.6).

Overall Rating:


This lens is 13 years old. It was priced at $950 USD when introduced. It is a varifocal zoom in that it changes focus as it is zoomed. It has a very generous two ED elements with one being a large element near the front of the lens and three aspherical elements. It does not have a predecessor as it is a unique design in the Nikon lineup. This zoom features Nikon's Vibration Reduction which helps on the 300mm end. The Nikon D700 — a 12MP camera — was modern at the time of the introduction of this lens.

Compactness Compared

AF-S 300mm/4 PF lens compared (captured with Nikon 1 V3 camera)


It's not a macro lens so its macro performance is not as good as a true macro lens but it is better than one would expect.

tea ball infuser (detail)
poinsettia (detail)
this is as close as it goes (detail)

There is color fringing on the short and long end and everywhere inbetween. The below color fringing detail is at 2-to-1.

corner at f=28mm/5.6
corner at f=50mm/5.6
corner at f=105mm/5.6
corner at f=300mm/5.6

There is moderate vignetting which is largely eliminated by stopping down.

Distortion is heavy with barrel on the short end (1.5%) and pincushion on the long end (0.7%+). Distortion is normal in a zoom. It can be corrected in post.

Sharpness is good particularly given its great 10.7× zoom.

sharpness & vignetting (detail)
sharpness & vignetting (detail)

Diffraction begins before f/8.

The autofocus is silent and decently fast — not as fast as the Nikon Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/4 G ED VR N, but fast enough for its intended purpose of travel photography.

There is slight ghosting and seemingly no flaring. At f=300mm, the lens does not produce a good sun star stopped down.


Size Compared

This lens is large but a good travel companion thanks to its range. The Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED VR and Nikon Nikkor AF-S 24-120mm 1:4 G ED VR lenses are related.


This lens is not for infrared photography. It exhibits a strong hot spot at f=28mm/22.

infrared hotspot at f=28mm/22


The bokeh is fairly smooth. Because the lens is relatively slow, the following images were taken at maximum aperture.

bokeh, f=28mm/3.5
bokeh, f=50mm/4.2
bokeh, f=105mm/5.3
bokeh, f=300mm/5.6


Because this is a "G" lens, it is compatible with all Nikon DSLR's.


This is largely a plastic lens, however, it is very solid. The manual focusing feels good and there is no slop in either the focus or zoom collars. It does focus beyond infinity to accommodate the UV wavelength (maybe, presumably).

This lens has a focus scale but no depth of field scale because it's a zoom.

The filter threads do not rotate.


Some compromises had to be made to make a 10.7× zoom lens that can go as wide as 28mm and as long as 300mm! But the compromises are relatively minor for this do-it-all lens. It is much easier than carrying around a small arsenal of primes or two zooms that must be swapped to reach the focal lengths of this single lens. If there is one complaint then it would be that the macro function doesn't reach 1:2.


Focal length 28-300mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture f/22-38
Lens construction 19 elements in 14 groups (including 2 ED glass and 3 aspherical lens elements)
Angle of view 74° - 8°10' (53° - 5°20' with Nikon DX format)
Minimum focus distance 0.5m/1.6ft. (from focal plane)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:3.1 (0.32×)
No. of diaphragm blades 9 (rounded)
Filter-attachment size ø77mm
Diameter × length Approximately 83 × 115 mm/3.3 × 4.5 in.
Weight Approximately 800 g /28.2 oz
Accessories Nikon HB-50 hood
Price $950 USD (2010)


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Nikon lens construction legend

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