Nikon AFS 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR in Istanbul.
Besides the nikon V1 that I had with me in Istanbul, I was also carrying the nikon d700 with the AFS 28-300 f/3,5-5.6 VR G. So basically it was one camera one lens set up. Pretty simple. The idea was to see how the lens performs in various situations. From long exposure seascapes to classic street photography. But is it an one lens do it all?
If you are bored to read all of it and you want a short answer, then the answer is….In most cases the lens delivers very good results. But (there is always a but) you have to treat it with care. And by care I mean you have to known its strengths and its weaknesses.
Physically the lens is similar in size to the nikon 24-70 f/2.8. The lens extracts considerably when zoomed out so shooting it at the 300mm in the street and be sure that you are making a statement with your big gun.
The VR works pretty well meaning that i could get (with good breathing technique) consistent sharp results at 1/10-1/20 at the long end of the zoom..
As far as optical quality now: I ll try to sum it up.
From 35mm to 200mm or so, this lens is sharp and contrasty delivering very good results. Shoot it in good light at the right apertures and it is on par with its f/2.8 cousins. If you really want to take the best out of it you should stay at apertures between 5.6 and 11 (ideally at f/8)
In more details
There might be an issue at poor lighting or at misty hazy conditions where the lack of micro-contrast produces results that does not have the bite of its more expensive cousins.
There is also a vignetting , at pretty much every aperture.
There is chromatic aberration at high contrast edges but not very bad.
Bokeh is nothing to write home about but not bad either.
And there is also the known issue of the focal length shortening which means that at the near focus limit (0.45m) the 300mm becomes aprx 135m. No problem at the infinity though where you get the 300mm or so.
So am i happy with how the lens performed in my seascapes and street photography? Yes I am. if I want to be more detailed I’d say i feel quite comfortable shooting street and a bit less shooting land or seascapes.
I have to clarify here that the purpose of getting this lens from Nikon to test it was mainly for the street photography. Not for the landscapes.
My style (way) of shooting in the streets begs for an ultra zoom lens. I tend to see details or scenes that happening very far from me (e.g. a boy wears red in front of many orange juices). My eye is constantly looking for a geometry of shapes, for light sketches or for the decisive moment that can always be right next to me or 300 meters away.
I know I might sound blasphemous talking about street photography and not mentioning a 35mm fixed lens. But everybody has to find what it works for him. If you feel good with your compositional skills the 28-300 might be a blessing.
If not then the constant agony of what you should incorporate and what you should leave out of the frame (effect of the various focal lengths) might stress you for good. If you are at this stage then maybe a fixed lens can help you being more concentrated on the composition.
The conclusion for me though is that, overall, the lens delivers. Like all things in life, is “give and take” with this lens too. It gives you flexibility and good results but it demands care.