Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 vs. Nikon 70-200mm f/4: Duel of the Zoom Lenses – A Detailed Guide for the Discerning Photographer

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Welcome, photography enthusiasts and lens aficionados alike!

Are you in search of that perfect lens to up your photography game or perhaps considering an upgrade from your current equipment? As you journey through the vast landscape of photography, you’ll encounter varying situations, different light conditions, and diverse subjects, each demanding a unique approach and the right tools. Understanding this, we have embarked on a detailed comparison of two noteworthy lenses, the versatile Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and the exceptional Nikon 70-200mm f/4.

In the vibrant realm of photography, the lens you choose becomes your window to the world, shaping your creative vision. Whether you’re a travel blogger desiring flexibility as you capture both panoramic landscapes and intimate close-ups, a street photographer who values simplicity and ease of use, or a portrait artist seeking sharpness, consistency, and stunning bokeh effect, selecting the right lens is paramount.

Dive into our comprehensive exploration where we delve into the strengths, weaknesses, and unique quirks of these two lenses, equipping you with the knowledge to make an informed decision tailored to your personal style and genre of photography. This comparison will provide you with an in-depth understanding of these lenses, from their construction and handling to their image quality and performance under various conditions.

As we embark on this journey together, you will not only learn about the technical aspects of these lenses but also gain insight into how these specifications translate into real-world application. Each turn of the page will bring you a step closer to identifying the lens that resonates with your creative expression, aligns with your skill level, and amplifies the visual narratives you wish to share with the world.

So let’s set the stage, prime our cameras, and focus on the captivating journey of discovery that lies ahead! Your perfect lens companion is waiting for you to find them!


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F4G ED VR
Max ApertureF3.5-5.6F4.0
Aperture TypeVariableFixed
Focal Range (mm)28-30070-200
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)10.72.9

Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, this is a versatile zoom lens with a wide focal range, allowing you to capture everything from wide-angle shots to telephoto images. This kind of lens is excellent for travel photography or any situation where you need to quickly switch between different types of shots without changing lenses. However, it has a variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6, meaning as you zoom in, the maximum aperture decreases, which can limit the amount of light entering the camera and may impact performance in low light conditions. Moreover, variable aperture lenses may exhibit some compromises in image quality, such as less sharpness or increased chromatic aberration, particularly at the extremes of the zoom range.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 has a smaller zoom range, limiting its versatility compared to the 28-300mm lens. However, it is a fixed aperture lens, meaning it maintains a constant maximum aperture of f/4.0 throughout its entire zoom range. This makes it superior for low light situations and allows for more consistent image quality across the zoom range. Fixed aperture lenses like the 70-200mm lens are typically of higher optical quality, offering sharper images with less distortion and chromatic aberration. This lens is particularly useful for subject isolation in sports or wildlife photography due to the shallower depth of field it can achieve.

Considering the depth of field, image quality, and low light performance, the 70-200mm lens would generally have the upper hand. But this does not necessarily make it the superior lens. Depending on your specific needs, preferences, and the genres of photography you are into, the 28-300mm lens could serve you better with its remarkable flexibility and wide focal range.

In summary, if you need a versatile lens to cover a wide range of focal lengths and shooting situations, the 28-300mm lens would be a more suitable choice. However, if you prioritize image quality, low light performance, and consistent maximum aperture, the 70-200mm lens would be the superior option.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F4G ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀83×114.5mm⌀78×178.5mm
Weight (gr)800850
Filter Thread (mm)7767
Weather SealingNoNo
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Rotary (internal)
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-50HB-60
Tripod CollarNoYes

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 has a smaller diameter and length (⌀83×114.5mm) compared to the 70-200mm lens (⌀78×178.5mm), making it more compact and potentially easier to carry around and store. In terms of weight, it’s slightly lighter at 800 grams, compared to the 70-200mm lens which weighs 850 grams. This lighter weight could make the 28-300mm lens less tiring to use over extended periods, contributing to better portability.

This lens uses an extending rotary zoom method, which means the lens physically extends as you zoom in or out. Although this design is simpler and could potentially be more durable, it does have some drawbacks. The extending nature of the lens can make it more difficult to handle and may affect the balance of your camera setup while zooming. Also, achieving effective weather sealing can be more challenging with this design, potentially making the lens more susceptible to dust and moisture.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 is a bit larger and heavier. While this might make it slightly more challenging to carry around and handle, the difference is not substantial, and many photographers might not notice the extra 50 grams.

Notably, this lens uses an internal rotary zoom method. This means the lens does not change its physical size when you zoom, which can lead to better handling and a more compact overall form. The balance of your camera remains consistent while zooming, potentially making this lens easier to manage during shooting. Since the lens doesn’t extend, it’s generally easier to weather-seal, offering better protection from the elements. However, the complexity of the internal zoom design could result in higher costs and potentially more parts that could malfunction over time.

In conclusion, if portability and simplicity are your primary concerns, the 28-300mm lens might be the better choice due to its lighter weight and simpler design. However, if you value consistent handling, better weather protection, and balance during shooting, the 70-200mm lens with its internal zoom design could be the superior option.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 presents a solid metal lens mount, finished with dull-chromed brass. The rubber seal around the mount is a significant feature, providing basic protection from dust. However, this rubber seal might not offer the same level of moisture protection compared to the rubber grommet on the 70-200mm lens. The lens barrel of the 28-300mm lens, similar to the 70-200mm lens, is plastic. This makes the lens lighter, easier to handle, and more affordable. Additionally, the zoom ring on this lens is encased in a tactile rubber, providing a good grip. A distinguishing feature is its physical size change while zooming, extending up to three inches at 300mm. This extension could affect handling, particularly in rapidly changing photographic scenarios.

Conversely, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 boasts a lens mount constructed from dull-chromed brass, a material known for its strength and durability. It’s enhanced with a protective rubber grommet to shield it from moisture. While robust, the weight of brass could slightly affect the lens’s overall portability. This lens’s barrel, made of plastic, does not compromise on quality or feel. It offers the advantage of being lightweight and budget-friendly, and is textured with rubber on the focus and zoom rings for a comfortable grip. This design makes it more manageable in extreme temperatures, especially cold ones where you might prefer not to use gloves.

In conclusion, both lenses have their unique strengths. The 70-200mm lens, with its moisture-protected mount and temperature-tolerant barrel, is a superior choice for shooting in diverse and challenging weather conditions. On the other hand, the 28-300mm lens, with its dust-protected mount and significant zoom range, is more suited for situations where a versatile focal length is essential.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is not specifically designated as weatherproof. However, it does feature a rubber seal around the lens mount, acting as a barrier against dust intrusion. Despite this protective measure, it lacks internal seals at essential points like the rings, switches, and front of the barrel. Additionally, it doesn’t have a fluorine coating on the front element, a feature often present in weather-sealed lenses to repel water and dust. This lack of comprehensive sealing measures indicates that the 28-300mm lens may not perform optimally under adverse weather conditions, requiring additional protective measures to ensure its durability and performance.

Contrastingly, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 comes with a weather-sealed metal mount complete with a rubber grommet, providing a degree of resistance against dust and light water splashes. However, it is recommended not to use this lens in heavy rain or extreme weather conditions. A more resilient variant, the f/2.8 version, would be better suited to these harsh conditions. Thus, while the 70-200mm lens does exhibit weather-sealing features, it may not deliver the best performance in highly challenging environmental circumstances without additional protection.

In conclusion, neither lens provides full weatherproofing, demanding caution when using them in adverse conditions. If extensive outdoor photography in diverse weather situations forms a significant part of your shooting routine, considering a lens with a higher degree of weather sealing, like the f/2.8 variant mentioned, would be advisable.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 features two rings for zoom and focus. The zoom ring, situated towards the lens’s front, is an inch wide and surfaced with raised ribs, covered with tactile rubber. This design facilitates comfortable two-finger manipulation throughout its 90-degree rotation. On the other hand, the focus ring, positioned closer to the lens mount, is narrower and crafted from grippy plastic. However, the lens lacks a depth-of-field indicator, a feature that aids photographers in understanding the area within the image that’s in sharp focus. A sheltered window displays the distance scale, helping in manual focusing. Importantly, this lens includes a zoom lock switch, usable at 28mm, which mitigates any unintended zoom alterations, also known as zoom creep.

On the contrary, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 also has two rings for zoom and focus, both measuring about 1 1/2 inches wide. Its zoom ring, located at the back, boasts a smooth, tactile feel, offering minimal resistance and allowing gentle two-finger manipulation for about 90° of turning action. It covers the zoom range of 70-200mm in less than a quarter turn, indicating a shorter throw for quicker zoom adjustments. The focus ring, located at the front, provides ample rotation room and ends with soft stops for comfortable manual focusing. Unlike the 28-300mm lens, it includes a windowed distance scale on the focus ring but lacks a zoom lock switch. Both rings of the 70-200mm lens provide a superior ergonomic bevel, allowing easy grip and offering a commendable tactile experience.

Upon comparison, both lenses showcase well-designed rings, offering good grip and control.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is equipped with 3 conveniently located switches on its barrel. This setup includes a switch for toggling the Vibration Reduction system – an important feature for reducing the blurring effect of camera shake. There’s also a switch allowing photographers to transition between manual and autofocus, granting them more control over focusing decisions based on their requirements. Finally, there is a switch to select between active and normal modes, providing photographers with different shooting modes to better suit varying conditions. The design and accessibility of these switches make the lens user-friendly and readily adjustable.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 presents 4 two-position switches on the side of its barrel. The first switch allows for seamless switching between autofocus (with manual override) and manual focus, allowing for flexibility in focus control. The second switch, known as the focus limiter, adjusts the minimum focus distance from 1m to 3m to accelerate autofocus search times – a handy tool for speeding up the focusing process in certain shooting scenarios. The remaining two switches are responsible for controlling the VR (Vibration Reduction) module, one for turning it on or off and the other for selecting between Normal and Active VR modes. These options provide a more tailored approach to image stabilization based on shooting conditions. The switches on the 70-200mm lens are likewise well-designed and offer easy access to a wider range of the lens’ features and functions.

In comparison, both lenses have well-positioned, user-friendly switches, providing easy access to their features. However, the 70-200mm lens offers an additional focus limiter switch, enhancing focus efficiency and making it stand out. Therefore, if rapid and versatile focus control is a priority for your photography needs, the 70-200mm lens could be your preferable choice.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 accommodates a non-rotating 77mm filter thread, constructed from lightweight plastic. Its larger diameter is compatible with other telephoto lenses, offering the benefit of shared filters amongst your equipment, an aspect that can be cost-effective. The thread’s non-rotating feature plays a crucial role when used with filters like polarizing and neutral density ones, as it prevents unwanted changes in filter position during focus adjustments. This thread size also indicates a larger lens size, which might impact handling and portability.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 is fitted with a smaller 67mm filter thread, also made from plastic, which is lightweight and offers a level of resilience against damage from drops. However, for photographers who primarily use 77mm filters, this lens may require additional step-up adapter rings, which can add to cost and complexity. Nevertheless, this lens benefits from a non-rotating front element. As a result, any attached filters remain stationary during focusing, offering simplicity of use and consistency in image effect.

In comparing these lenses, the 28-300mm lens provides a larger filter thread that aligns with commonly used filter sizes, making it versatile and cost-effective for those with an existing collection of 77mm filters. Meanwhile, the 70-200mm lens, with its 67mm thread, will be lighter and possibly more convenient for those who prioritize portability and ease of use, especially if they are already equipped with filters of this size.

To conclude, while both lenses have their merits, if filter compatibility and ease of use are paramount, the 28-300mm lens with its 77mm filter thread might be the superior option.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is packaged with an HB-50 bayonet hood that is constructed from plastic. This hood exhibits a petal-shaped design which is crafted to perform more efficiently at the wider end of the lens. A significant feature of this hood is its ability to rotate smoothly, allowing for effective blocking of stray light from various angles. The material, while plastic, has a matte finish on the interior, contributing to its functionality by reducing light reflections.

On the other side, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 comes with a plastic HB-60 bayonet hood. This hood, while lacking the petal design, has a smooth black interior. An advantage is that it can be reversed and mounted on the lens for storage, a convenient feature for photographers on the go. The hood remains stationary when attached, increasing the lens length by two inches, which might impact handling. Despite its plastic construction, it is lightweight and doesn’t compromise on quality or feel.

Comparing the two, both lenses feature bayonet style hoods, known for their secure attachment and ease of use. The 28-300mm lens with its petal design and rotatable hood is more adaptable to different shooting conditions, particularly at wider focal lengths. In contrast, the 70-200mm lens hood, although non-rotating, offers a valuable feature of reversibility for storage.

In conclusion, both hoods have their unique advantages and are tailored to the specific lens design.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F4G ED VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorSilent Wave Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.5m1m
Max Magnification (X)0.320.27
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

Beginning with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, it showcases a satisfactory autofocus performance, though it may find it challenging to capture fast-paced subjects effectively. Its focusing speed, while competent, is not immediate, requiring around one second to transition from infinity to 0.5m. It may occasionally grapple with focus, especially at longer focal lengths, and it has a tendency to emit a faint high-pitched sound during the autofocus process, which can be a distraction for some users. Despite these aspects, the autofocus accuracy consistently delivers sharp results across various settings.

Manual focus override is an added feature, offering smooth adjustments for precision. Its internally focusing design ensures the lens remains a constant length irrespective of focus or zoom settings. However, one downside is its focus breathing at 300mm, although this is not technically a flaw. In low-light scenarios, its focusing speed and accuracy may falter, but its vibration reduction system is capable of compensating for this by allowing slower shutter speeds.

Moving to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, it boasts a quick and silent autofocus performance, making it excellent for capturing swiftly moving subjects. The lens also offers instant manual-focus override at all times. Focusing speed is impressive, taking under a second to cover the entire focus range. The focus throw might be too short for precise manual focus at 200mm, but the autofocus accuracy remains impressive at f/4 and at 36 megapixels, with the exception of close distances wide-open at 200mm at f/4.

The manual focus action is smooth and easy to grip, further aiding in precise focusing. Like the 28-300mm lens, this lens also utilizes an internally focusing design, maintaining the lens length constant irrespective of focus and zoom settings. One thing to note is that the autofocus operation, while silent externally, does produce an audible clack when starting and stopping, which may be picked up when recording video with a built-in microphone.

In comparison, both lenses feature an internal focusing design, maintaining the lens length constant throughout varying focus and zoom settings. However, the 70-200mm lens, with its swift and silent autofocus performance, has a clear edge in terms of focusing speed and accuracy. Meanwhile, the 28-300mm lens, although reliable in various conditions, can struggle with speed and noise during autofocus operation.

Optical Stabilization

Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, this device utilizes an advanced generation of Vibration Reduction (VR II) technology, which provides stabilization equivalent to an increase of roughly 4 shutter speed stops. The lens features two stabilization modes, “Normal” and “Active”. “Normal” mode mitigates quick, minor vibrations, while “Active” mode compensates for all types of motion. This offers the flexibility to adapt to various shooting conditions. The stabilization effect can be observed through the viewfinder in both modes, providing real-time feedback to the photographer. The sharpness of the images produced by this lens remains consistent, allowing for handheld shooting at slower shutter speeds, potentially reaching as low as 1/13th of a second, depending on the specific focal length.

Turning to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, this model is equipped with a third-generation VR system providing up to 5 stops of stabilization advantage, outshining many competitors. Similar to the 28-300mm lens, it also offers two VR modes – “Normal” and “Active”. “Normal” mode is a versatile choice for static scenes, object tracking, and monopod shots, while “Active” mode compensates for more pronounced vibrations, providing additional stability for challenging situations. Notably, the VR system operates quietly, eliminating potential noise disruption during shooting.

Comparatively, both lenses offer “Normal” and “Active” modes for their optical stabilization systems, affording flexibility based on shooting scenarios. However, the 70-200mm lens gains an edge with its third-generation VR that provides an additional stop of stabilization over the 28-300mm lens. While the 28-300mm lens allows for slower shutter speeds when hand-held, the 70-200mm lens offers a more silent operation of the VR system.

In conclusion, while both lenses offer capable stabilization features, the 70-200mm lens emerges as superior due to its greater stabilization advantage and quieter VR system operation. However, the choice between these lenses will depend on the photographer’s specific requirements and shooting conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F4G ED VR
Special Elements2 ED glass elements 3 aspherical elements3 ED lens elements, 1 HRI lens element
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, this lens displays some chromatic aberration, visible as blue-magenta fringing around areas of high contrast, especially towards the edges of the frame. However, the lens uses ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that effectively curtail this aberration, reducing its overall impact. It doesn’t significantly suffer from coma, also known as saggital coma flare, which would typically be observed as smeared or blurry spots around bright lights in the corners of the image. This lens does present some spherical aberration, most noticeable when focusing closely, but this is not overly prominent in most circumstances. Notably, while these aberrations exist, they can be minimized through proper aperture and focal length adjustments or rectified in post-processing.

Turning to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, it displays some longitudinal chromatic aberration, appearing as magenta hues on one side and greenish tints on the other. Nevertheless, this aberration is quite well-controlled and decreases as you zoom towards the 200mm focal length. The lens excels in its control of lateral chromatic aberration, with no noticeable color fringing even in high-contrast situations. In terms of coma, this lens performs admirably, with no observable saggital coma flare.

Comparatively, while both lenses exhibit some form of chromatic aberration, they manage to control it well thanks to their optical designs. The 28-300mm lens struggles slightly with spherical aberration, especially at close focusing distances. Meanwhile, the 70-200mm lens shows more superior control over lateral chromatic aberration and avoids any noticeable coma.

In summary, both lenses present manageable levels of aberration, but the 70-200mm lens appears superior in controlling these optical imperfections. Its admirable control of lateral chromatic aberration and the absence of coma give it an edge over the 28-300mm lens.


Initiating the discussion with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, its sharpness fluctuates across different focal lengths and apertures. At wide-open apertures, you might notice some center softness which swiftly improves as you stop down. Corner sharpness is maximized within the f/8 to f/16 range, with perceivable softness when the lens is wide open, notably at the telephoto end.

Stopping down can enhance the sharpness considerably, with the pinnacle sharpness usually achieved around f/8 or f/11, depending on the specific focal length. When extended to its maximum focal length of 300mm, this lens might not provide top-tier results but stopping down to f/11 can help optimize these results. It’s crucial to highlight that although this lens has commendable performance, it may not reach the precision and contrast provided by professional-grade lenses, such as the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II.

On the other hand, the sharpness profile of the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 manifests a slight dip at f/22 and f/32, due to the diffraction phenomenon, but the images remain usable. The edge sharpness hits its peak within the f/5.6 to f/16 aperture range, with some loss in sharpness when the lens is wide open at f/4. Center sharpness is impressively good from f/5.6 onwards, retaining high quality through f/16 across all focal lengths. Notably, the lens’s sharpness at lower focal lengths is generally on par with other lenses, but it falls short when compared to the f/2.8 variant at longer focal lengths, particularly at the extreme corners. However, stopping down can boost performance, with the optimal aperture varying depending on the lens and focal length.

In essence, while both lenses provide commendable sharpness, the context of usage will significantly impact the choice between them. The 28-300mm lens offers versatility with its wide focal range, making it suitable for different shooting scenarios, but it doesn’t perform optimally at its longest focal length. The 70-200mm lens, in contrast, delivers consistently high center sharpness, but it performs best within a specific aperture range.

In summary, the 70-200mm lens appears to be superior in terms of consistent sharpness, particularly from f/5.6 onwards.

Bokeh Quality

Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, it employs an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades which is instrumental in creating an overall pleasing bokeh for a zoom lens. However, bokeh quality is a subjective matter and can vary greatly based on individual preferences. When benchmarked against prime lenses like the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, the bokeh of this 28-300mm lens may not seem as soft or aesthetically pleasing. In particular scenarios, its bokeh may appear less rounded and less distinct compared to lenses with fewer diaphragm blades, such as the Nikon 18-200mm.

Switching to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, it offers typically smooth and attractive bokeh. This pleasing rendering of out-of-focus areas is attributed to its iris diaphragm comprising nine rounded blades. Throughout the entire aperture and focal range, background highlights maintain their circular form, barring the image periphery where mechanical vignetting results in cut-offs. The lens is also proficient in generating a gentle and neutral bokeh, with blur circles remaining as unassuming discs, independent of the focal length or aperture. However, at extended focal lengths and wider apertures, the lens may generate a slightly uneasy image blur in regions in front of the focal plane.

In conclusion, both lenses come with their unique bokeh characteristics and their choice would rely on the personal preference of the user. Nevertheless, when put in comparison, the 70-200mm lens has an edge due to its ability to maintain a consistently smooth and pleasing bokeh throughout its focal range and apertures, with the exception of a slightly nervous blur in some conditions. Conversely, the 28-300mm lens provides an agreeable bokeh for a zoom lens, but it may not meet the superior quality of certain prime lenses or other lenses with fewer diaphragm blades. Therefore, in the context of bokeh quality, the 70-200mm lens offers a superior performance.


Taking the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 into account first, it can occasionally produce flare and ghosting effects, particularly when the sun is situated unfavorably within the frame. Nevertheless, this phenomenon is not a severe issue and can be circumvented with careful positioning when photographing in the direction of the sun. The influence of these unwanted optical effects is minimized with an appropriate shooting technique and orientation relative to the source of light.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, despite the incorporation of a Nano Crystal Coat element and coated optical glass elements intended to reduce such effects, exhibits some ghosting when aimed directly at the sun. Comparatively speaking, this lens maintains the colors of buildings more effectively than its counterparts. However, when pitted against the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, the latter lens performs better when dealing with the bright sun in the corner, leading to less conspicuous and more aesthetically appealing ghosting effects.

In conclusion, each lens demonstrates different characteristics in terms of flare and ghosting, with distinct strengths and weaknesses. While the 28-300mm lens has the advantage of ghosting and flare not being major issues when used carefully, the 70-200mm lens does show superior performance in color preservation despite certain ghosting effects. If we compare these aspects, the 70-200mm lens is a slightly superior option, primarily because of its color preservation capabilities under direct sunlight, although both lenses require careful handling to minimize the occurrence of flare and ghosting.


Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, it’s evident that this particular lens experiences substantial vignetting, particularly noticeable at wider apertures and specific focal lengths. The effect is especially profound at 28mm and 300mm. However, vignetting can be minimized by narrowing the aperture or shifting towards the telephoto end. It’s important to bear in mind that the extent of vignetting can fluctuate based on the specific camera and JPG engine in use. This lens’s vignetting falls within the expected range for its category, although it may call for post-processing adjustments to achieve the desired visual output.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 does exhibit visible vignetting at wider apertures, with a particular emphasis at 135mm and f/4. Vignetting decreases considerably when the aperture is reduced to f/5.6, but a drop of around 1 stop persists even at f/11-f/16. On a positive note, this kind of vignetting can be conveniently corrected using post-processing software like Lightroom. Furthermore, vignetting becomes less problematic when this lens is used with DX cameras or recent DSLRs equipped with vignetting correction features. Given its price point, the lens fares reasonably well regarding vignetting.

To compare the two lenses directly, the 70-200mm lens offers superior performance in terms of vignetting. Although both lenses exhibit vignetting effects under certain conditions, the 70-200mm lens mitigates this effect more efficiently when the aperture is adjusted. However, it’s worth remembering that the presence of some vignetting can be a creative asset in certain photographic contexts, focusing the viewer’s attention towards the center of the image. In both cases, the impact of vignetting can be further reduced with the help of post-processing tools, allowing you to tailor the final image to your specific preferences and artistic vision.


Kicking off with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, it is evident that it has considerable distortion, notably at the wider end (28mm) where barrel distortion is more prominent. As the focal length increases past 35mm, a shift towards pincushion distortion is observed, reaching its peak between the 50mm and 105mm focal lengths. Nevertheless, this type of distortion can easily be corrected either during post-processing or automatically by the more recent digital cameras. Although this might be a concern for some users, it generally requires minimal effort to rectify.

Moving on to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, it also manifests notable distortion, especially towards the longer end of the zoom range. Interestingly, it demonstrates a mix of both barrel and pincushion distortions, each prevailing at various focal lengths. However, similar to its counterpart, distortion is not deemed a significant issue and can conveniently be corrected through post-processing software or the automatic distortion correction feature available in some digital cameras. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the level of distortion remains comparatively low, never exceeding 2%.

On comparing the two, the 70-200mm lens offers superior performance concerning distortion, as it displays lower distortion values and manages to keep it always less than 2%. Although both lenses exhibit varying degrees of distortion, the issue can be conveniently addressed for both lenses through post-processing or in-camera corrections. Yet, given its lower distortion levels, the 70-200mm lens pulls ahead as the better choice when distortion is a critical factor in your photography needs.

Final Verdict

Taking all factors into consideration, it appears that both the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon 70-200mm f/4 have distinct areas of excellence, making them each well-suited to particular photographic needs and user expertise levels.

For beginner to intermediate photographers who value flexibility and simplicity, the 28-300mm lens is an ideal choice. Its wide zoom range makes it highly adaptable to various shooting scenarios, from landscapes to close-up portraits. This range can help new photographers explore different genres of photography without needing to invest in multiple lenses. However, due to noticeable distortion at both ends and heavier vignetting, it may require a little more time spent on post-processing to correct these issues. Nonetheless, these challenges can also be valuable learning experiences for those honing their editing skills.

On the other hand, the 70-200mm lens is arguably more suited to the seasoned or professional photographer who prioritizes image quality, low-light performance, and consistent maximum aperture. Despite its more limited zoom range, it excels in terms of overall image sharpness, control over chromatic aberration, and distortion. It also offers quieter and faster autofocus, a significant advantage in wildlife, sports, or event photography where rapid and accurate focusing is essential. The presence of the focus limiter switch also provides better control over the lens, another advantage for the more advanced user.

In terms of photographic genres, the 28-300mm lens is versatile, lending itself well to travel photography, street photography, and casual portraiture where carrying multiple lenses isn’t practical. The 70-200mm lens, with its superior sharpness and bokeh control, is fantastic for portraits, events, and wildlife photography. Its higher weather resistance also makes it suitable for outdoor photography.

In essence, while the 28-300mm lens offers versatility and simplicity, the 70-200mm lens delivers on image quality, low-light performance, and handling consistency. Therefore, the ideal choice between these two lenses depends largely on the specific needs and skill level of the photographer.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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