Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II
April 2, 2010
By Dan Havlik
Case in point is my January review of the D3s which I tested alongside the new Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II. By the time I was done shooting a variety of sports—including professional soccer—with the D3s/70-200mm combo, I didn't know which I liked better, the camera or the glass. My only gripe about the lens—if you could call it one—was that it wasn't long enough for shooting all the way down the field.
Well, Nikon's answered that problem with the new AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II super telephoto lens and AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III, both of which were announced late last year and became available for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. While I didn't get to go to the Winter Games this time around or get my hands on the teleconverter, I took the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VRII to Lake Placid, NY (site of the 1980 Winter Games) to shoot ski jumping, bobsled, and speed skating in the weeks leading up to the Olympics.
I then used the lens with Induro's new Gimbal tripod head—also reviewed in this issue—to photograph wildlife, specifically red-tailed hawks, along the Hudson River. Though the new Nikkor 300mm is a fantastically pricey piece of glass ($5,900), I'd say Canon has another reason to be worried about its main rival these days: this latest super telephoto from Nikon is one of the best I've tested.
The Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VR II test sample arrived in a box big enough to house a six-pack of D3s cameras. The irony is, of course, that the lens actually retails for $700 more than the D3s ($5,200) and when you add the cost of the two together you've got enough to put a down payment on a house in some parts of the country.
The spendy pricetag really shows in the build of this beast of a lens, however. The Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VRII weighs nearly 6.5 pounds and while that's a lot to carry around on your back for a couple of hours, the solid, die-cast aluminum body is well balanced and not hard to handhold. (At least for short periods of time.)