Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF AI-S IF-ED, 1987-present...
Nikon introduced this lens in 1987 to complement its increasingly professional emphasis on autofocus cameras and lenses. Rather than an update the of the classic f/4.5, Nikon chose to make the lens one third of a stop faster, which necessitated an 82mm front accessory size. However, Nikon gave the lens a whiff of "big-lens" style with a 39mm filter drawer. As is expected of Nikon's professional AF glass, it has the black "crinkle" finish and a metal barrel, which makes it quite durable; it never went through the misstep that Nikon made with the original AF 180f/2.8, i.e. the narrow focussing ring with little drag.
<<<--- Scale between the ED & Non-ED version.
As it is a 1987-vintage lens, AF performance is not up to the same standards as, say the AF-I or AF-S lenses, but is quite acceptable on the more modern bodies. A focussing limiter switch is provided, as is an A/M switch on the lens itself. Optical performance is reputedly excellent, and B. Moose Peterson (2) claims that this lens is better on a converter (TC-14B) than a "naked" 400f/5.6 IF-ED. For those without a team of porters to carry around photo gear, it is probably the best choice for top-quality travel photographs.
Nikon's current AF lens lineup includes the 300f/4 AF, an excellent lens for those on a budget (relative to the 300f/2.8 AF-S) or those looking for a great travel lens. It is a bit heavier than the older 300f/4.5 AI-S IF-ED, but offers AF, a focus limiter, and of course, the extra 1/3 of a stop. Used lenses are available cheaply relative to the list price, but this lens generally hovers around twice the price of the earlier 300f/4.5 IF-ED.
This is the first picture appeared on Nikon early marketing brouche for their AF Nikkor.
For most people, the f/4.5 is a better buy, but AF is quite useful for tracking motion/sports, so the f/4 is indispensible to others. As a manual-focus user, I'm eagerly awaiting the rumoured 300f/4D AF-S IF-ED, which will hopefully depress prices of the current len
Construction and Specifications
Here are cutaway views of the 300f/4.5, f/4.5 IF-ED, and f/4 AF IF-ED. Note that the IF-ED versions appear to be scaled-down from the classic "8/6" construction employed by Nikon for their larger original IF-ED lenses (300f/2.8, 400f/3.5, 600f/4). Note also that the first 300f/4.5 has slightly different construction than depicted here, similar to the non-AF versions of the 180f/2.8.
In general, AI lenses were introduced in 1977; AI-S lenses were introduced in 1984.
ED non-AI, AI
IF-ED AI, AI-S
AF IF-ED AI-S
5 elements in 4 groups (6e/5g redesign 1971/5?)
6 elements in 5 groups
6 elements in 5 groups (front element ED)
7 elements in 6 groups (second element ED)
8 elements in 6 groups (second and seventh elements ED)
Dimensions (3, 4, 5)
80mm diam, 203mm long; 1100g
(3.2" diam, 8.0" long; 38.8oz)
78.5mm diam, 202mm long; 1200g
(3.1" diam, 8.0" long; 42.3oz)
78.5mm diam?, 202mm long?; 1160g?
(3.1" diam?, 8.0" long?; 41oz?)
80mm diam, 200mm long; 990g
(3.2" diam, 7.9" long; 34.9oz)
89mm diam, 218mm long; 1330g
(3.5" diam, 8.6" long; 46.9oz)
82mm front; 39mm drop-in
First Serial Number (1)
Last US List Price (1)
$464 (AI, 1984)
$730 (AI-S, 1990)
$990 (non-AI, 1977)
$1298 (AI, 1978)
$865 (AI, 1984)
$1338 (AI-S, 1989)
Typical 1998 US Used Price
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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
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