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Photo Gear | Nikon 300mm | New York

One of the tools I use most often is my Nikon 300mm lens. I have had this model so long I don’t think Nikon makes it anymore. It doesn’t appear on their website. I am in no hurry to “upgrade” to the new model of the same 300mm lens because the lens I have does everything I ask of it and then some.

Why I Use A Nikon 300mm Lens.

The most common use for a 300mm lens is nature and wildlife photography. That is also the main thing I use the lens for. The 300mm lens lets you see wildlife close up without having to be so close physically that you scare the animal or put yourself unnecessarily in harm’s way. 

See examples of my wildlife photography here: KRNaturalPhoto Wildlife.

Add the fact that I use the 300mm lens in conjunction with Nikon cameras that provide the extra magnification boost I talked about in my previous post (New York | Photography Gear | Cameras) and I can get an even closer look at my subjects. I also pair my 300mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter which adds more magnification to my lens. Instead of the view of a 300mm lens the view is closer to 420mm magnification.

The biggest drawback in using the 1.4 tele-converter is that I lose 1 stop of light. The 300mm lens I use has an f-stop of 4. With the addition of the 1.4 teleconverter the f-stop increases to 5.6.

Photograph taken using the Nikon 300mm lens with 1.4 tele-converter.

What About The F-Stop?

Why does the f-stop matter? The f-stop determines how much light is let into your camera. The more light you can let into your camera the faster the shutter speed you can use. Faster shutter speeds allow you to freeze motion in the frame so that your subject is crisp and clear.

I prefer to hand hold my cameras as much as possible so f-stop is even more important to me. Hand holding a camera and keeping it steady is not always easy. It is increasingly difficult the larger the lens is that you are using. The 300mm lens is not small. There is a minimum shutter speed at which you have to shoot in order to eliminate hand shake. Hand holding is invariable unsteady to some degree and the camera will often move if even slightly. This will cause images to be soft or blurry if the shutter speed is not fast enough.

The new model of the 300m lens is shorter and lighter than that which I have. The new model also has vibration reduction technology to help with having crisp images while hand holding. So, it may be beneficial to move to this lens in the future.

Photograph taken with my Nikon 300mm lens and 1.4 tele-converter.

There are other lenses that can have a 300mm or greater magnification but often they have the tradeoff of having a smaller f-stop. That means less light gets in. And increases the likelihood of blurry images. I have used lenses that have that tradeoff in the past. That is why I am very comfortable with my choice of the Nikon 300mm I currently have.

There is of course a way to combat lack of light and camera shake and that is with a tripod. I do sometimes use a tripod with my wildlife photography but it is just not my preference. A tripod also does not solve the problem of blurry images cause by subject movement. It is possible to use a gimbal to try and alleviate that constraint. However, the more gear I have to use the less enjoyable the experience is for me. I have a gimbal I use occasionally but I only use it in specific circumstances. I use it when I am intentionally trying to photograph subjects in low light. I do not carry around a tripod and gimbal with me regularly for wildlife photography even though I have one.

There are lenses that have greater magnification and wider f-stops than the lens I use and I would love to have them but the cost of those lenses increases swiftly as you move in that direction.

Another way I use my 300mm lens in addition to wildlife photography is for race photography. I use the 300mm magnification to single out individual runners in a crowd as they approach my location along a race course. I can usually pick one runner out of a crowd and photograph them individually while they are still off in the distance. I can also use the long lens to capture close up images of runners once they get closer to my position.

Surprising Ways I Use The Nikon 300mm Lens.

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