Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 vs. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6: Duel of the Zooms – A Detailed Lens Showdown for Photography Enthusiasts

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In the vast sea of photographic equipment, selecting the right lens can often feel like navigating a maze. The choice between the versatile Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and the specialized Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is one such intricate puzzle that both seasoned professionals and budding enthusiasts often grapple with. Whether you’re striving to capture the intimate details of a bustling city street, the mesmerizing spectacle of a distant wildlife scene, or the raw emotion of a high-stakes sports event, the right lens choice is crucial.

Dive into our in-depth comparison of these two formidable contenders. You’ll unearth insights on how each lens performs under varying circumstances, how they stand up to the rigors of different photography genres, and how their unique characteristics could complement your individual photography style. What’s more, understanding these lenses’ specific strengths and weaknesses can help you hone your photography skills, ultimately leading you to capture that perfect shot you’ve been chasing.

Whether you’re a hobbyist exploring the thrill of wildlife photography or a professional seeking the convenience of a single lens solution for travel, our article will help you decode the complexities of these lenses.

Let’s embark on this exciting journey of discovery and unveil the potential each lens holds for transforming your photography!


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E ED VR
Max ApertureF3.5-5.6F4.5-5.6
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)28-30070-300
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)10.74.3

Comparing the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, we notice key similarities and differences that impact their respective functionality. Both lenses are variable aperture and mount on Nikon F (FX) format. This means they’re designed to fit Nikon’s full-frame camera bodies. Also, as variable aperture lenses, the maximum aperture changes as you zoom in or out.

Beginning with the 28-300mm lens, it offers a wider maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6 compared to the 70-300mm lens’ f/4.5-5.6. This suggests that the 28-300mm lens will perform better in lower light conditions, as it can allow more light to enter the camera. It also potentially enables a shallower depth of field, useful for subject isolation. However, with a larger aperture, there could be more visible distortion or vignetting, especially at the widest focal lengths.

This lens covers a more extensive focal range from 28mm to 300mm, making it significantly more versatile. It’s basically a wide-angle to a telephoto lens in one, which can be quite beneficial for photographers who require that level of flexibility. This broader focal range also accounts for its higher zoom ratio of 10.7x, which offers an advantage for capturing subjects both near and far.

On the other hand, the 70-300mm lens has a narrower maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6. While this may limit its performance in low-light scenarios compared to the 28-300mm lens, it could still provide excellent results in well-lit situations.

Despite having a smaller focal range starting from 70mm, the 70-300mm lens still covers the common telephoto range used for wildlife, sports, and portrait photography. It has a zoom ratio of 4.3x, which is less versatile than the 28-300mm lens but still significant for a telephoto lens.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E ED VR
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀83×114.5mm⌀80.5×146mm
Weight (gr)800680
Filter Thread (mm)7767
Weather SealingNoYes
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Rotary (extending)
Distance ScaleYesNo
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-50HB-82

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 both bring their unique strengths to the table, with distinct differences in their dimensions, weight, and zoom method, which can impact their functionality and suitability depending on your photographic needs.

Starting with the 28-300mm lens, its size, with a diameter of 83mm and length of 114.5mm, makes it somewhat compact for its zoom range, facilitating easier storage and improved discretion when shooting in public spaces. However, it’s slightly heavier, weighing in at 800 grams. While the difference might not seem significant, the extra weight might impact long shooting sessions, particularly for photographers who often travel or shoot handheld. A heavier lens can also affect the balance of the camera setup, potentially making it harder to handle. Moreover, its zoom method is rotary and extending, which means the lens physically extends when you zoom in or out. This could make handling a bit trickier and could potentially affect the weather sealing of the lens.

On the other hand, the 70-300mm lens is somewhat longer, with a diameter of 80.5mm and a length of 146mm, which could affect its portability and make it a bit more noticeable in public settings. However, it’s lighter than the 28-300mm lens, weighing only 680 grams, which could make it more comfortable to use during long shooting sessions and contribute to a more balanced camera setup. Like the 28-300mm lens, the 70-300mm also uses an extending rotary zoom method, meaning it will lengthen when zoomed, which can affect both handling and the effectiveness of the lens’s weather sealing.

In conclusion, neither lens is universally “better” than the other; it all depends on your individual needs as a photographer. If a wider zoom range and smaller size are your priorities, the 28-300mm lens might be the better choice. Conversely, if you prioritize a lighter setup and don’t require the wider focal lengths, the 70-300mm lens could be your best bet. Each photographer’s needs are unique, so it’s essential to consider your particular shooting style, subject matter, and comfort preferences when making your decision.

Lens Mount and Barrel

Starting with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, its lens mount is forged from sturdy metal with a brass finish that lends it an industrial charm. This solid construction enhances the durability of the lens, ensuring a secure connection with the camera body. Moreover, it includes a rubber seal for basic dust protection, which is a beneficial feature for those shooting in dusty environments, though it might not provide comprehensive weatherproofing.

Contrarily, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 comes with a metal lens mount known for its robustness. Its defining feature, however, is the weather sealing enhanced by a rubber grommet at the lens-mount, which can guard against both dust and moisture intrusion, making this lens a more resilient choice for shooting in diverse environments.

Moving on to the lens barrel, the 28-300mm lens has a plastic construction with a tactile rubber covering on the zoom ring, offering a comfortable grip while shooting. This plastic barrel contributes to the lens’s overall lighter weight, making it more portable. However, its durability might not match that of metal counterparts. As a zoom lens, it extends up to three inches at 300mm, indicating a significant physical size change when zoomed.

In contrast, the 70-300mm lens sports a hardy plastic barrel designed for durability without compromising on weight. This lens extends less than half of its size at full zoom, offering a more compact and balanced setup. Its smooth barrel design, devoid of an aperture lever due to the electronic diaphragm, further enhances handling comfort.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 exhibit distinct levels of weather sealing, which is critical for enhancing lens durability and versatility in various environmental conditions.

The 28-300mm lens, while not explicitly advertised as weatherproof, does feature a rubber seal around its lens mount. This rudimentary sealing provides a basic level of dust protection. However, the lack of internal seals at crucial points like the rings, switches, and front of the barrel may render the lens vulnerable to inclement weather and rigorous outdoor use. The absence of a fluorine coating on the front element could also leave the lens susceptible to water and dust accumulation.

On the other hand, the 70-300mm lens is designed with a comprehensive weather-sealing approach. The inclusion of a rubber grommet at the lens mount ensures a snug fit with the camera body, providing a reliable barrier against dust and moisture ingress. The lens goes a step further with internal seals distributed throughout its structure, including the rings and switches, which act as a shield for the lens’s internal components. This superior sealing is a boon for photographers frequently venturing into challenging weather or dusty environments, as it fortifies the lens against potential harm from these conditions.

In conclusion, while both lenses incorporate some level of weather sealing, the 70-300mm lens offers a more robust solution. Its comprehensive weather sealing extends beyond the lens mount to other vulnerable parts of the lens, making it a superior choice for photographers requiring a more resilient gear to withstand a range of environments. However, if you typically operate in more controlled settings with lower risk of environmental exposure, the basic protection offered by the 28-300mm lens could be sufficient. Remember, the choice should always align with your specific photography needs and circumstances.


Looking at the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, it incorporates two rings for zoom and focus functionalities. The zoom ring, located towards the lens’s front, is about an inch wide. Its textured rubber surface with raised ribs ensures a comfortable grip, making it easy to manipulate. With a 90-degree turning radius, it smoothly navigates through the 28mm to 300mm zoom range. The lens also features a zoom lock switch, a valuable addition to prevent unintentional zoom adjustments, also known as ‘zoom creep.’

Conversely, the focus ring, situated closer to the mount, is somewhat narrow and made of plastic, yet it provides sufficient grip. The lens lacks a depth-of-field indicator, which might limit its efficiency for photographers who often need to adjust depth-of-field. Despite this, a distance scale protected behind a window can aid in gauging focus distance.

The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 also presents two prominent rings for focus and zoom. The zoom ring, quite large and positioned at the front of the lens, allows for quick focal length adjustments. This ring is conveniently marked with standard focal lengths, aiding in easy navigation through the 70mm to 300mm zoom range. A rubberized, textured covering enhances grip and comfort, while its rotational stiffness aids in preventing zoom creep. However, the lens lacks a lock mechanism to ensure the zoom stays in place when not in use.

In comparison, the focus ring is smaller and closer to the camera body, yet it’s well-optimized for focus fine-tuning due to its long throw and the implementation of a fly-by-wire system. The ring offers a soft-touch surface, making it easily operable with one finger. Precise manual focus is achievable, courtesy of the ring’s gearing, but the lens lacks a distance scale or depth-of-field indicator. Furthermore, the absence of hard stops at either end might frustrate users trying to quickly ascertain if they’ve reached focus infinity.

While both lenses present their unique ring designs, the 70-300mm lens edges out slightly due to its larger zoom ring, helpful focal length markings, and the precision offered in manual focus adjustments.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is designed with 3 switches on its barrel, contributing to its user-friendly interface. The first switch controls the Vibration Reduction (VR) system, a vital feature to stabilize images and counteract camera shake. The second switch allows the user to toggle between manual focus and autofocus, providing flexibility depending on the photographer’s needs. The third switch is for selecting between active and normal modes, catering to different shooting scenarios. The switches are easy to locate and operate, enhancing the lens’s overall usability.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 incorporates 2 physical switches on its barrel. The first switch, a three-position one, controls the lens’s focus behavior. The A/M mode gives priority to autofocus while allowing for manual override by rotating the focus ring. The M/A mode functions similarly, but it takes less ring motion to activate manual override. The M position enables manual focus exclusively, disabling autofocus entirely.

The second switch on the 70-300mm lens governs the Vibration Reduction function, essential for stabilizing images, especially under low light conditions or at longer focal lengths. It provides two modes – Normal, suitable for general photography, and Sport, designed for capturing fast-moving subjects or for panning shots. The switches are designed in a way that they are easy to locate and operate, even without looking at them, thanks to their distinct positions and textures.

In comparing the two, both lenses are designed with user-friendly switches that offer essential functionalities, including autofocus/manual focus switching and vibration reduction. However, the 70-300mm lens stands out due to its three-position focus switch, providing greater flexibility with autofocus and manual focus. Furthermore, the distinction between Normal and Sport modes for its Vibration Reduction function caters to a broader range of shooting scenarios. Therefore, considering the versatility and flexibility of switches/buttons, the 70-300mm lens offers a slightly more superior design.

Filter Thread

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 features a non-rotating 77mm filter thread crafted from plastic. This size aligns with many other telephoto lenses, increasing compatibility with a variety of filters. Significantly, this filter thread remains static while focusing, an advantageous feature for photographers utilizing polarizing or neutral density filters, which require specific orientations for optimal effectiveness.

In comparison, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 presents a filter thread size of 67mm, consistent with its predecessor, the older 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens. This continuity allows photographers to easily repurpose existing 67mm filters with this model, increasing its utility. Similar to the 28-300mm lens, this lens’s front element and filter thread also do not rotate during focus or zoom adjustments, a particularly helpful feature for users of polarizing or graduated filters. In terms of compatibility, this lens accommodates a variety of filters, such as the recommended Hoya multicoated HD3 67mm UV.

When comparing the two, it’s important to consider the lens user’s filter requirements and lens collection. The 28-300mm lens has a larger filter thread size, which could potentially minimize vignetting and degradation in image quality, especially when using stacked filters. However, filters for this size might be more expensive. The 70-300mm lens, with its smaller filter thread, could provide a more lightweight option and offer cost savings on filters. Additionally, if a user owns the older 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens, they could repurpose their existing 67mm filters for use with this newer model, a major advantage.

Overall, both lenses provide excellent options depending on the user’s specific needs. The 70-300mm lens, however, shows a slight edge due to its filter compatibility and continuity with its predecessor lens, making it an ideal choice for photographers who already possess 67mm filters or value cost efficiency.

Lens Hood

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 includes a plastic bayonet HB-50 hood with a petal design, specifically tailored to improve performance at wider ends. The lens hood can be effortlessly adjusted through rotation and sports a matte finish on the inside, reducing internal reflections that might cause image degradation. The inclusion of this hood in the package offers convenience, and its petal shape accommodates the lens’s field of view, ensuring there are no unwanted shadows at the image’s corners.

Conversely, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 comes packaged with the HB-82 lens hood. This plastic hood features a bayonet fitting for easy and secure attachment and removal. It’s likely matte black on the inside, a design that helps curb internal reflections. This hood incorporates an ergonomic bevel, adding to comfortable handling and ease of attachment and detachment. Notably, this hood can be reversed for transportation, offering additional lens protection and more efficient space usage in your gear bag. Its bayonet fitting eliminates the need for rotation during attachment or removal, offering a simple, quick connection and disconnection.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E ED VR
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorStepper motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.5m1.2m
Max Magnification (X)0.320.25
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Focusing Performance

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 offers satisfactory autofocus performance. It’s capable but can have difficulty tracking fast-moving subjects such as birds in flight. The focusing speed is reasonable, though not immediate, taking around one second to shift from infinity to 0.5m. It may occasionally lag, particularly at extended focal lengths, and the autofocus motor isn’t completely silent, producing a barely noticeable high-pitched sound during operation.

However, it is worth noting that the autofocus accuracy is reliable across all settings, offering sharp outputs in a variety of conditions. The lens also facilitates manual focus override for fine adjustments, and its internal focusing design keeps its length constant irrespective of focus or zoom settings. The presence of focus breathing at 300mm, though noticeable, is not seen as an optical flaw. In less-than-ideal lighting, the lens may face challenges with focusing speed and accuracy, but the integrated vibration reduction system can alleviate this issue by countering slower shutter speeds.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 boasts a superior autofocus system, outfitted with the AF-P focus motor renowned for its quick and nearly inaudible operation. This lens performs exceptionally well, with high speed and precision in focus adjustment, irrespective of the subject’s distance from the camera. The silent operation of its autofocus system makes it particularly advantageous for video recording.

Furthermore, the transition of focus is smooth, avoiding any abrupt changes that could affect image quality. This lens also permits manual focus override to tackle challenging focusing scenarios. Despite a slightly lagging response to rapid ring turns due to the focus ring’s connection to an electronic encoder, it manages well with slower, deliberate adjustments. Although the lens does display some focus breathing, it is not a significant concern in most shooting situations. The lens doesn’t maintain a constant length with zoom and focus adjustments, a result of its non-internally focusing design.

The use of the AF-P system does require battery power from the camera for both autofocus and manual focus operations. Compatibility issues with older camera models may prevent the use of autofocus or manual focus with certain DSLRs, such as the D3200, D5200, and D7000. Nevertheless, this lens performs exceptionally well under low-light conditions. It focuses accurately and swiftly on both moving and static subjects, with negligible focus hunting. At a focal length of 200mm, this lens focuses from infinity to 2m in approximately 0.3 seconds, outperforming its predecessor significantly.

In conclusion, while the 28-300mm lens offers reasonable autofocus performance with some advantages such as a constant length regardless of zoom and focus settings, the 70-300mm lens clearly outshines it with its swift and nearly silent AF-P focus motor, smooth focus transition, and impressive performance under low-light conditions. However, potential users of the 70-300mm lens should be aware of compatibility issues with some older DSLR models. Overall, the 70-300mm lens presents superior focusing performance, providing a seamless and efficient experience for various shooting scenarios.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 leverages Nikon’s second-generation Vibration Reduction (VR II) technology, promising to counteract camera shake equivalent to an augmentation of about four shutter speed stops. This lens accommodates two stabilization modes: Normal and Active. Normal mode provides correction for minor, rapid fluctuations, while Active mode handles wider range of movements. The effect of this stabilization can be visually confirmed through the viewfinder in both modes. The VR II technology enables the production of crisp images even with handheld shooting at slower shutter speeds, dropping as low as 1/13th of a second, contingent on the focal length chosen.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 incorporates an advanced built-in Vibration Reduction system, claiming to offer up to 4.5 stops of stabilization. This suggests a superior capacity to mitigate camera shake, facilitating shooting with shutter speeds up to 4.5 stops slower than ordinarily feasible without VR. The capability to shoot in lower light conditions or with slower shutter speeds while maintaining image clarity makes this lens particularly attractive. Practical application of this lens has proven its effectiveness, producing sharp images even at a shutter speed as low as 1/30 second at a 300mm focal length, with considerable clarity even down to speeds of 1/20 or 1/10 second in some instances.

The silent operation of the VR system adds to its appeal, making it suitable for situations demanding quiet operation. Two modes, Normal and Sport, offer distinct stabilization benefits. Normal mode caters to standard handheld photography by compensating for slight hand movements, while Sport mode is optimized for tracking motion, providing a more stable viewfinder image and turning off VR for fast shutter speed images.

In summary, while the 28-300mm lens offers respectable stabilization benefits with its VR II system, the 70-300mm lens appears to have an edge with its advanced VR system, offering a slightly higher degree of stabilization and quieter operation. The Sport mode of the 70-300mm lens also provides an advantage for tracking moving subjects, a feature that makes it particularly beneficial for sports and action photography. Given these advantages, the 70-300mm lens seems to offer superior optical stabilization capabilities.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VRNikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E ED VR
Special Elements2 ED glass elements 3 aspherical elements1 ED element
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 demonstrates some chromatic aberration, which manifests as blue-magenta fringes along edges of high contrast, predominantly noticeable in corner areas. Despite this, the lens manages to generally keep this aberration under control due to the use of Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements. Coma, or the effect where bright points of light in corner areas transform into distorted blobs, isn’t a major concern with this lens.

Spherical aberration, which can affect sharpness, is evident to an extent, especially when the focus is at closer distances. Still, it’s not overtly conspicuous in a majority of scenarios. It’s important to note that despite the presence of these aberrations, strategic utilization of post-processing software or optimum aperture and focal length settings can effectively alleviate their effect on the image quality.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 showcases impressively minimal chromatic aberration, both longitudinal and lateral, especially at focal ratios smaller than f/4.5. This superior aberration control is consistent throughout the focal range, from 70mm up to 300mm. In scenarios with the lens wide open, there’s virtually no color distortion in the foreground or background, and no noticeable shift in focus at these shooting distances.

Even at a focal length of 300mm, the lens effectively handles chromatic aberration. Nevertheless, slight chromatic aberration can appear when the lens is wide open. This is typically minor and can be corrected in post-processing. So, occasional aberration or distortion issues might arise under specific conditions, but they are generally well-handled, reinforcing the versatility and reliability of this lens.

Overall, while both lenses display some level of aberration, the 70-300mm lens outshines its counterpart with its exceptional control over chromatic aberration across the focal range, and at both ends of the aperture spectrum. These attributes make the 70-300mm lens the superior choice concerning aberration management.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits fluctuating sharpness levels contingent upon both focal length and aperture. At the center, the lens displays fairly satisfactory sharpness, although images tend to be a tad soft when the aperture is fully open. This is noticeably improved as the aperture is narrowed down. Edge sharpness is superior in the f/8 to f/16 range, with visible softness at larger apertures, especially at the farthest zoom end.

As the aperture is reduced, the sharpness level ameliorates considerably, with peak sharpness generally occurring around f/8 or f/11, contingent on the focal length. At its extreme focal length of 300mm, the lens underperforms compared to its performance at shorter focal lengths, although narrowing the aperture to f/11 tends to offer improved results. It’s worth noting, though, that this lens may fall short of the sharpness and contrast of professional-grade lenses like the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 exhibits a degree of sharpness that varies with aperture and focal length. The center sharpness is optimal between the f/8 and f/16 apertures, with a noticeable decline in sharpness at smaller apertures such as f/22 or f/32, where images start to soften. Edge sharpness follows a similar trend, with the most superior results usually emerging between f/8 and f/16, extending to f/22 in certain cases.

At larger apertures, the image can be somewhat soft, depending on the focal length, but this improves as the aperture is reduced to around f/5.6 or f/8. At its maximum focal length of 300mm, center sharpness appears to be decent. However, the lens performs slightly less efficiently at closer distances compared to longer ones. At distances approaching infinity, the lens appears to better retain its acuity, which is a measure of its ability to reproduce edge details with clarity.

In conclusion, both lenses demonstrate varying degrees of sharpness contingent on focal length and aperture, with performance at edge and center differing at different aperture settings. However, the 70-300mm lens displays a more consistent performance across its range, with a sharper rendition at its maximum focal length compared to the 28-300mm lens, making it the superior choice in terms of sharpness.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, equipped with an iris diaphragm boasting 9 rounded blades, offers a bokeh that many would find pleasing for a zoom lens. However, it’s worth mentioning that the perception of bokeh quality is highly subjective and largely depends on personal preferences. When held up against prime lenses, such as the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, the bokeh of the 28-300mm lens might not exude the same level of smoothness or charm. In certain scenarios, it could appear less rounded and less tidy compared to the bokeh produced by lenses possessing fewer diaphragm blades, like the Nikon 18-200mm.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 generates a bokeh that is generally described as pleasing and organic. It avoids the distracting effect of onion rings, resulting in a more homogenous blur. The nine rounded aperture blades play a key role in crafting these appealing bokeh effects, providing a delicate and creamy aesthetic rather than a jarring one. In spite of its maximum aperture range of f/4.5-5.6, this lens can still produce a shallow depth of field, offering an admirable background separation. Consequently, when focusing on close-up subjects, the resulting bokeh can accentuate the allure of the photograph, emphasizing the subject against a smoothly blurred backdrop.

In conclusion, while both lenses have the capacity to produce a pleasing bokeh, the 70-300mm lens appears to offer superior results. Its ability to avoid onion rings and its proficiency in creating a gentle, creamy aesthetic even at a maximum aperture range of f/4.5-5.6 make it a standout choice in terms of bokeh quality.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 has a propensity to generate ghosting and flare if the sun is positioned unfavorably, particularly when shooting directly against the sun. This can interfere with image clarity, producing a less desirable effect. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that this is not a prominent issue with this lens and can be skillfully circumvented with conscious positioning and direction while shooting.

On the other hand, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 shows a degree of vulnerability to flare and ghosting, especially when a robust light source directly impinges on it. The impact of these optical aberrations is particularly prominent at the farthest reach of the focal length spectrum, around 300mm, where it can create discernible glare. However, these effects are more effectively contained at the shorter end of the focal range, near 70mm. Therefore, keeping intense light sources outside the image frame, especially at longer focal lengths, can significantly reduce these effects.

Moreover, when the light source is outside the frame but still impinging on the lens, the lens performs well with minimal flare, glare, or ghosting, producing deep blacks. It’s worth noting that removing such artifacts in post-processing can be a taxing and time-intensive endeavor. To combat these issues, the lens is equipped with a large hood, which serves to shield the front element of the lens from direct light, thereby diminishing the propensity for flare and ghosting. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to always keep the lens hood on when shooting in well-lit settings or towards intense light sources.

In summary, both lenses have their peculiarities when it comes to flare and ghosting. However, the 70-300mm lens’s inclusion of a large hood and its ability to maintain better control over flare and ghosting at the shorter end of the focal range, gives it a slight edge over the 28-300mm lens in managing these optical distortions.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 experiences a significant level of vignetting, notably at wide apertures and specific focal lengths. This falls within the anticipated range for a lens of its category but may necessitate remedial adjustments during post-processing. This lens’ vignetting is especially pronounced at 28mm and 300mm, although it can be diminished by narrowing the aperture or adjusting the zoom towards the telephoto end. An important caveat is that the vignetting degree might differ depending on the camera and JPG engine being employed.

On the flip side, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 shows conspicuous vignetting, particularly at extended focal lengths and broader apertures. The corners darken substantially as they trail behind the center by around -2.5EV at specific settings such as 70mm f/4.5, 135mm f/5, 200mm f/5.3, and 300mm f/5.6. The vignetting effect isn’t just confined to the corners; it pervades the mid-frame area when zoomed beyond 100mm. At 300mm, the vignetting is substantial and becomes visible even in the DX frame portion. However, by narrowing down to f/8, the effect becomes less pronounced. Still, some vignetting persists at 300mm f/8, unlike the older lens model which showed almost no vignetting at this aperture and focal length. To rectify this, post-processing software like Lightroom or Photoshop, or in-camera distortion adjustment for JPGs in Nikon SLRs, can be employed. For more severe vignetting at or beyond 100mm, it’s suggested to address it during post-processing.

In a comparative analysis, both lenses do show a certain level of vignetting, especially at their farthest focal length points. But given that vignetting at 300mm f/8 is still present in the 70-300mm lens, the 28-300mm lens, despite its issues, handles vignetting more effectively across its aperture and focal length range.


The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 experiences noticeable distortion, especially at its wide end at 28mm, where it exhibits strong barrel distortion – a type of distortion where the image appears spherically inflated. As you zoom past 35mm, the lens demonstrates a transition to pincushion distortion, which tends to make the picture appear pinched at its center and is most apparent between 50mm and 105mm. However, this distortion can be readily corrected either in-camera (on recent digital models) or during post-processing. So while it may be a point of concern for some users, it is not a deal-breaker given the easy remediation.

In contrast, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 shows a modest amount of distortion, with the extent and type of distortion varying across its zoom range. At the wide end, at 70mm, a slight barrel distortion of about 1.5 percent occurs, which might cause a bulging effect in images, especially those with straight lines. However, distortion is well-managed throughout the rest of the focal range, with virtually no observable distortion at the telephoto end – an impressive feat for a zoom lens in this range. While lab measurements might reveal some imperfections, like distortion at the widest end, it’s important to note that this lens performs excellently in real-world telephoto shooting scenarios. Hence, the distortion displayed by this lens is unlikely to be a significant concern for the majority of photographers.

Comparing these two lenses in terms of distortion, it’s clear that the 70-300mm lens holds an edge. Its distortion is better controlled across its zoom range, and it does particularly well at the telephoto end, where the 28-300mm lens exhibits pincushion distortion. This makes the 70-300mm lens superior in managing distortion, providing photographers with more consistent results across its zoom range.

Final Verdict

The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is incredibly versatile due to its wide focal range. Its larger maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6 allows it to perform better in low-light conditions and provides a shallower depth of field for subject isolation. These characteristics make this lens suitable for a variety of photography genres, from landscapes and street photography (thanks to its wide-angle end) to portraits and sports (with its telephoto capabilities). However, it does display notable distortion and vignetting, especially at the widest focal lengths. Despite these challenges, its user-friendly nature and post-processing potential make it a good fit for beginner to intermediate photographers seeking flexibility.

On the contrary, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, while not as versatile in focal range, excels in specific photography genres. With excellent telephoto capabilities, it’s an ideal choice for wildlife, sports, and portrait photography. Its narrower maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6 may limit its performance in low-light situations compared to the 28-300mm lens, but it still provides excellent results in well-lit environments. It outperforms the 28-300mm lens in distortion control, aberration management, and sharpness consistency, providing higher-quality images for discerning photographers. Furthermore, its superior weather sealing, autofocus performance, and advanced stabilization system make it a top choice for more experienced photographers who demand superior performance and durability.

In conclusion, for beginner and intermediate photographers who require a versatile all-in-one lens and often work in varied lighting conditions, the 28-300mm lens may be the preferable choice. However, for more experienced photographers seeking excellent telephoto performance, superior image quality, and better handling, the 70-300mm lens is likely the better bet.

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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