Nikon 18-300mm: testing the longest ever superzoom for street photography

Nikon 18-300mm superzoom lens test

It’s the longest superzoom lens ever, but what’s the brand new Nikon 18-300mm superzoom actually like to use? Our friends at N-Photo just got their hands on a sample have taken it out for an hour’s street photography to find out.

The most obvious thing is the size and weight compared to the existing 18-200mm. The new lens is 23.5mm longer – nearly an inch – and 270g heavier, and you do feel that straight away. You could use the 18-200mm on a smaller body like the D3100, for example, and it would still balance OK, but the 18-300mm makes it feel really front-heavy, and it needs a heftier body like the D7000 or D300s.

The payback, of course, is the huge zoom range, and you can clearly see this in the comparison above. Both shots were taken from exactly the same position.

Everything else, though, is terrific. The zoom action is smooth, and the image quality holds up well even at the maximum focal length.

The autofocus is fast, too. It managed to keep up with these flapping pigeons surprisingly well.

Nikon’s VR system does a good job too, though you have to help it out by keeping the camera as steady as possible at these longer focal lengths.

You do have to watch the shutter speeds, though (learn some of the common mistakes at every shutter speed – and the best settings to use).

It’s not the 18-300mm’s fault, but an issue with superzooms in general. Because you’re switching from a wide focal length, where 1/30sec might be fine, to a much longer range shot, where it most certainly isn’t, you can easily get camera shake creeping in.

It doesn’t help that the maximum aperture goes down at longer zoom settings, pushing the shutter speeds still lower.

So if you’re using any superzoom as a general walkaround lens (and the 18-300mm in particular), be prepared to set a higher ISO than normal just as an insurance against camera shake when you go for a longer shot like these (find out how to reduce noise at high ISO settings).

Stay tuned for a full review of this new Nikon lens just as soon as our testing team has put the 18-300mm through our lab tests. In the meantime, it does look really good – as long as you don’t mind walking round with a big, heavy lens fixed to the front of your camera!

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