Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR Review

The Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens is a high-performance telephoto zoom lens that was created for both professional photographers and photography amateurs who want great picture quality and adaptability in their equipment. This lens has an excellent focal length range of 120-300mm with a brilliant maximum aperture of f/2.8; as a result, it is quite versatile and can be used for numerous types of photography, including portraiture, wildlife photography, and sports photography.

The lens is designed to give exceptional optical performance and a hassle-free experience when it comes to taking pictures. It does this by being equipped with cutting-edge technology and having a sturdy build. During this in-depth analysis, we are going to take a look at the lens’ most notable characteristics and evaluate how well it performs in a variety of contexts.

$9,496.95 2 used from $8,998.00 1 new from $9,496.95
in stock
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR

Key Specs

  • Focal Length Range: 120-300mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Format: FX/35mm, DX
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization
  • Lens Elements: 25
  • Lens Groups: 19
  • ED Glass Elements: 1
  • Fluorite Elements: 2
  • SR (Short-Wavelength Refractive) Elements: 1
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 6.56 ft. (2.0 m)
  • Autofocus with AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
  • Internal Focusing
  • Filter Size: 112mm
  • Compatible with Nikon AF-S Teleconverters
  • Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 5.1 in. (128.0 mm) x 12 in. (303.5 mm)
  • Approx. Weight: 114.6 oz. (3,250 g)


The Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens delivers nothing less than excellent performance throughout its entire focal range. Its cutting-edge lens structure, which contains both Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and Super Extra-low Dispersion (SR) elements, is responsible for the excellent optical performance that the product possesses.

These features efficiently limit chromatic aberrations and provide pictures that are clear and rich in contrast even when the aperture settings are set to their fullest possible range. In addition, the lens has Nikon’s Nano Crystal and Fluorine coatings, both of which greatly cut down on ghosting, flare, and fingerprints, leading to an improvement in the image’s overall quality.

Autofocus System

Because the focusing technology of the lens is quick, accurate, and trustworthy, it is an excellent instrument for photographing subjects that are moving quickly. It makes use of Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), a technology that permits smooth and silent functioning of the focusing system. The performance of the autofocus is further improved by the incorporation of a dedicated autofocus memory button.

This button enables users to remember a pre-set focus point easily and improves the overall performance of the autofocus. In addition, the lens features a focus limiter switch that can be customized, giving photographers the ability to restrict the focusing range according to the requirements of the particular shot they are taking. The autofocus technology of the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens performs exceptionally well in terms of producing precise and rapid focus results overall.

Vibration Reduction

This lens has a built-in Vibration Reduction (VR) system, which is a mechanism that efficiently counteracts camera shake and enables photographers to take clear photos even in adverse lighting settings. This feature is one of the prominent characteristics of this lens.

The VR system is capable of providing image stabilization of up to 4.5 stops, which significantly increases the number of possibilities for shooting handheld without degrading the image quality. Your photos will always be crisp and clear if you use the VR system, even if you are shooting in low-light conditions or if you are extending the telephoto reach of the lens to its utmost capacity.

Build Quality

The outstanding build quality of the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens was developed to ensure that it can survive the rigorous use that is required in a professional setting. The lens has a sturdy structure made of magnesium alloy, which allows it to be both lightweight and robust at the same time. It is also resistant to dust and moisture, which enables photographers to use it without fear of damaging their equipment under harsh environmental circumstances.

The lens mount has been meticulously designed to provide a safe and secure connection to the main body of the camera, hence reducing the amount of room for movement and play. In addition, the lens comes with a tripod collar that can be removed, which provides an additional degree of stability while shooting with a monopod or tripod.

Handling and Ergonomics

The Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens delivers superb handling and ergonomics thanks to its well-thought-out design and thoughtful construction. The focus and zoom rings of the lens are textured and easy to grasp, which enables fine-tuned changes that are also quite smooth. The arrangement of the rings and buttons is straightforward, allowing for easy access to the controls that are most important.

Additionally, the lens features programmable function buttons that may be assigned to a variety of purposes. This gives photographers the ability to have more individualized control over their shots. Integrated into the design of the lens is a lens hood that offers reliable protection against unwanted light and lens flare. In general, the ergonomic design of the lens improves the shooting experience and makes it easier for photographers to concentrate on obtaining the photos they want.

Image Stabilization

The Vibration Reduction (VR) technology that is already included in the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens makes a substantial contribution to the lens’s ability to stabilize images. It does this by detecting and correcting for camera shaking, which enables photographers to shoot handheld at shorter shutter speeds without sacrificing the quality of their images.

While shooting in low-light settings or while using the lens at the farthest extent of its telephoto range, it is especially helpful to have a lens that is capable of providing up to 4.5 stops of stabilization thanks to the very powerful VR technology that is equipped with this lens. The efficacy of the image stabilization is further improved by the lens’s tripod recognition mode, which automatically deactivates the VR system when the camera is placed on a tripod. This is done to prevent any interference from occurring as well as any possible image deterioration.

Shooting Experience

An exceptionally immersive shooting experience may be had with the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens. Photographers are able to easily capture a wide variety of scenes thanks to this lens’ flexible focal length range, which ranges from 120 to 300 millimeters. This lens gives the required reach and versatility, whether you’re photographing faraway nature or trying to capture the intensity of a sporting event.

The large maximum aperture of f/2.8 provides remarkable performance in low light as well as exceptional subject isolation with silky smooth bokeh. Because the focusing function of the lens is both quick and precise, it will ensure that you will never pass up an important opportunity. In addition, the lens’s zoom and focus rings are quite smooth, and its ergonomic shape makes it very comfortable to use for lengthy periods of time without generating tiredness.

Image Quality

When it comes to the quality of the images that it creates, the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens absolutely shines. Its optical structure makes use of cutting-edge components and coatings, which help reduce a variety of image flaws and improve the quality of the picture taken as a whole. Even when the lens is used with the aperture all the way open, it is still able to generate photos that are very crisp and clear. Because the contrast is so strong and the colors are so rich and brilliant, the final products are photographs that really pop off the page.

The lens has low levels of distortion, which guarantees that subjects will be depicted accurately. In addition, the bokeh that is produced by this lens is silky and pleasant, which enables a lovely separation of the subject from the backdrop while putting emphasis on the subject itself. The image quality that this lens produces is nothing short of excellent, and it doesn’t matter if you’re taking nature photographs, action photos, or portraits; you’ll get the same result.

Teleconverter Compatibility

Because it is compatible with a variety of teleconverters manufactured by Nikon, the focal length range of the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens may be extended even further. When used in conjunction with a teleconverter that is compatible with the lens, the focal length can be increased by 1.4x or 1.7x, respectively. Examples of such teleconverters are the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III or TC-17E II.

Because of this adaptability, photographers are able to reach even larger distances and catch subjects that would otherwise be difficult to approach. It is crucial to note that while using teleconverters, there may be a tiny reduction in maximum aperture as well as some loss of image quality, but overall, the lens retains its exceptional performance and maintains its ability to produce images beautifully.

Comparison with Competitors

When compared to its rivals, the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR Lens distinguishes out because to its superior performance and comprehensive set of features. The wide variety of focal lengths that it offers, along with the large maximum aperture of f/2.8, gives photographers a great deal of leeway in terms of the kind of shots they may take.

The optical performance of the lens is outstanding, producing images that are crisp, have a lot of contrast, and have very few aberrations. Even in adverse lighting circumstances, handheld photography is possible because of the effective picture stabilization provided by the built-in Vibration Reduction (VR) technology. In addition, the lens has a sturdy build quality, an ergonomic design, and controls that can be customized, all of which contribute to an overall improvement in the shooting experience.


Mount TypeNikon F-Bayonet
Focal Length Range120 – 300mm
Zoom Ratio2.5x
Maximum Aperturef/2.8
Minimum Aperturef/22
FormatFX/35mm, DX
Maximum Angle of View (DX-format)13°20′
Minimum Angle of View (DX-format)5°20′
Maximum Angle of View (FX-format)20°20′
Minimum Angle of View (FX-format)8°10′
Maximum Reproduction Ratio0.16x
Lens Elements25
Lens Groups19
VR (Vibration Reduction)Image Stabilization
Lens shift using voice coil motors(VCMs)
Diaphragm Blades9
Rounded diaphragm openingYes
Arneo CoatYes
Nano Crystal CoatYes
ED Glass Elements1
Fluorite Elements2
SR (Short-Wavelength Refractive)Elements
Fluorine CoatYes
Super Integrated CoatingYes
AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)Yes
Internal FocusingYes
Minimum Focus Distance6.56 ft. (2.0 m) from focal plane
at all zoom positions
Focus ModeAF, Manual
Filter Size112mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-on
Compatible with Nikon AF-S TeleconvertersYes (refer to the product manual for details)
Approx. Dimensions (Diameter x Length)5.1 in. (128.0 mm) x 12 in. (303.5 mm)
Distance from camera lens mount flangeBased on CIPA Guidelines
Approx. Weight114.6 oz. (3,250 g)
Based on CIPA Guidelines

Pros and Cons


  • Outstanding optical performance, characterized by the absence or reduction of aberrations and high picture quality.
  • A versatile range of focal lengths from 120 to 300 millimeters, suitable for a variety of photographic applications.
  • A bright maximum aperture of f/2.8 enables exceptional performance in low light and excellent subject isolation.
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) technology that is both effective and capable of achieving up to 4.5 stops of picture stabilization.
  • Durability in harsh environments is achieved by the sturdy build quality and imperviousness of the structure of the elements.
  • A rapid and precise focusing mechanism for seizing important moments as they present themselves.
  • Compatibility with a selection of Nikon’s teleconverters, allowing for an increased shooting distance.


  • Because of its size and weight, it is not very portable and cannot be used for prolonged periods of time with one hand.
  • A higher price point in comparison to some of the other options available on the market for telephoto zoom lenses.
  • When employing teleconverters, there is a little reduction in maximum aperture as well as the possibility of a loss in picture quality.

Price and Availability

There is a significant price premium associated with the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens because it is a premium telephoto zoom lens. However, taking into account its outstanding performance, adaptability, and build quality that is on par with that of professional equipment, it is a superb bargain for professional photographers and photography lovers looking for top-tier picture quality and flexibility.

The lens may be purchased at authorized Nikon merchants as well as through internet companies that sell Nikon products. It is recommended to verify with local stores or the official website of Nikon for up-to-date information on pricing and availability in order to account for the possibility that availability will differ based on the region and demand.

$9,496.95 2 used from $8,998.00 1 new from $9,496.95
in stock
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR


This extraordinary telephoto zoom lens from Nikon, the AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens, shines not just in performance but also in the quality of its construction and the picture quality it produces. It gives photographers the ability to take pictures of a diverse variety of topics, including portraits, portraits of animals, portraits of people, and more. The optical structure of the lens assures great picture quality with minimum aberrations, while the large f/2.8 aperture enables impressive low-light performance and superb subject isolation. Both of these characteristics are made possible by the lens.

Even in hard environments, you’ll be able to take sharp handheld photos thanks to the camera’s built-in Vibration Reduction (VR) feature, which provides superb image stabilization. The lens offers a streamlined experience for photography because of its solid construction, user-friendly handling, and fully programmable settings.

The Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens is a top-tier option for professionals and hobbyists who need uncompromising quality and adaptability in their telephoto zoom lens. Despite its higher price point and rather large weight, this lens is an excellent choice for those who seek these characteristics in their telephoto zoom lens.

Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR FAQs

Q. Is the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens compatible with both full-frame (FX) and cropped-sensor (DX) Nikon cameras?
A. Yes, the lens is designed to work with both FX/35mm and DX-format Nikon cameras, providing versatility for photographers using different camera bodies.
Q. Does the lens have image stabilization?
A. Yes, the Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens features built-in Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization, which helps to reduce camera shake and produce sharp images, especially in low-light situations.
Q. Can I use teleconverters with this lens?
A. Yes, the lens is compatible with select Nikon AF-S teleconverters. It is advisable to refer to the product manual or check compatibility guidelines to ensure proper usage with teleconverters.
Q. What is the weight of the lens?
A. The Nikon AF-S 120-300mm f/2.8E FL ED SR VR lens weighs approximately 114.6 oz. (3,250 g), making it a relatively substantial lens. It’s important to consider the weight when planning for extended handheld use or traveling.
Q. Is the lens weather-sealed?
A. Yes, the lens is designed with dust and moisture resistance, offering durability and allowing photographers to use it in various weather conditions with peace of mind. However, it is important to note that it is not fully waterproof and should be handled with care in extreme conditions.


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