Nikon AF 75-300mm F:4.5-5.6 Vintage Lens Review

Nikon 70-300mm F4.5 - 5.6 Nikkor Lens Review

Aaah, the good old days, when all film SLR camera lenses were made of steel and glass… and you lugged around a heavy tripod, like a real man. This Nikon AF 75-300mm F:4.5 – 5.6 (Nikkor) lens is from the good old days of 1989, and has the rugged metal construction of lenses of that era. It feels solid and reassuring, like a vintageĀ Nikon should.

The flowers of ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden
Shot with the Nikon 75-300mm at F:5.6, 200mm, Tripod Mounted

I purchased this lens used for a modest $65 (including shipping) on eBay. As you can see, it is in very good condition. The glass is clear and free of fungus and dust. The autofocus is quick and very accurate. Plus, the zoom mechanism is smooth and quiet. This is a well-cared-for sample of this vintage Nikon lens.

In the 75-200mm range you can obtain great results from the Nikon 75-300mm F:4.5 – 5.6 lens. A vintage bargain and excellent performer!

So how is it? Is the Nikon Af 75-300mm F:4.5-5.6 a usable lens for the digital age? Yes! But with a few limitations.

Nikon Z6, Z7, Canon R Mirrorless Cameras
Shot with the Nikon 75-300mm lens, F:8 at 200mm, tripod mounted

First, you should consider this an excellent 75-200mm lens, as the 300mm setting yields very soft images unless stopped down to F:11 or more. However, the results from 75-200mm at all apertures are so good that I get the feeling that this was originally designed to be a 75-200mm until someone in marketing suggested they could sell more if its range was stretched to 300mm. If you limit yourself to the 75-200mm range you will be delighted with the images from this lens. At 300mm, not so much.

Nikon 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 Nikkor
Note the very short telephoto range between 200mm and 300mm

That’s not as bad as it sounds. The added magnification between 200-300mm is so slight (less than 10% I would estimate) that there is no advantage to using the 300mm setting at all. Just check the lens barrel as you’re shooting and pull back slightly from 300mm to 200mm for much sharper images.

Keep in mind that this is a lens best used with a sturdy tripod as it does not have modern image stabilization. The closest focusing distance is 5 ft. It has a tripod mounting ring. Yet I found that I got sharper results when mounting the tripod to my sturdy Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro DSLR camera body instead of the lens mounting ring. Your results may vary. The flower photos on this page give an idea of what this lens is capable of. All were shot with my vintage Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro DSLR camera.

Would I recommend this lens? Yes! It can yield sharp professional results provided you use it within the 75-200mm range. It will probably outlast everything else in your camera bag due to its rugged construction, and can usually be found for less than $100.00 (US) on the used camera gear market. A great choice for frugal photographers who are using Nikon equipment (or older Nikon mount FujiFilm DSLR cameras).