Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED Redux

Last week, one of my die-hard Nikon friend email me for advice in buying a pre-loved Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED lens, when I found out the asking price was only Rm 300.00 (NZ$125.00); I told him to buy it!
To you my advice might be a bit rash, I am sure it is because I still own one of this excellent glass :)

According to my friend Leo Foo,

"The Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED was introduced by Nikon in August, 1978.

It was seen as an direct lens upgrade from the earlier Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 ED.

The Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 has a longer development history than comparing optic which can traced back as early as mid '60.

It has evolved not less than a few rounds of known upgrades."

The Nikon 300/4.5 IF-ED is a very compact lens for it's 300 mm focal length.

It was very popular in the 1970 and 80's, I remember fondly that it was a standard issues to Reuters photographers.

While working in Singapore newspapers in 1994, I went to see a Mr. Lam at the Nikon outlet, in
Center Point.

I was ecstatic that he kept a BRAND NEW IF-ED for me! Thank you Mr Lam!

The old and the new... my 15 yr old 300/4.5 IF-ED mounted on a Nikon D300 DSLR.

Apart from being a very compact lens, the IF-ED is really SHARP!

Ken Rockwell has this to say about this beauty:

"This is the smallest fixed-focal length 300mm lens ever made by Nikon.

It is very handy, sharp and well made. This is the best manual-focus 300mm to get, short of the f/2.8 versions.

ED means it has Nikon's magic glass for excellent sharpness.

IF means internal focus, meaning it focuses instantly with just the flick of a finger. Nothing moves externally."

The last time I used this lens was to capture some New Zealand birds (NOT what you are thinking) outside our dinning room window.

Capturing a New Zealand Tui (bird) feeding on a flax plant. The old workhorse did a great job on the D300 DSLR.

This was the same lens I used to shoot most of the pictures for PwC in Malaysia many moon ago.

The Dome...

I like how the white dome of the National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur; is framed by the green tree and the deep blue hue of the glass tower. PwC bought this image for their Global Images project.

Nikon F3P with 300mm f4.5 IF-ED lens plus a Nikkor 1.4X extender. Kodak Gold 100 film. - © C.Y.Leow / PricewaterhouseCoopers

The red post box

One of the
Malacca shot commissioned by PwC Malaysia for their Global Images project.

Nikon F3P, Nikkor 300/4.5 IF-ED lens. Kodak Supra film. Circa May 2000 - © C.Y.Leow / PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Shot through a window at KLIA, Sepang on a dull rainy day in May 2000. The image was solarised in Photoshop to acheive the desired effect.

Shot on Kodak Supra 400 film with a Nikon F3P, Nikkor 300/4.5 IF-ED lens plus a 1.4X converter. - © C.Y.Leow / PricewaterhouseCoopers.

 Because of it's compact dimension, the Nikkor 300mm f/4.5's 1,200g is almost halved the weight of the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 IF-ED, this is a huge advantage in travel photography!

Malacca Crossing...

An old bridge on Malacca River, I waited two hours for a "suitable" pedestrians to enhance the composition; this Indian family was perfect!

Nikon F3P, Nikkor 300/4.5 IF-ED; on tripod; with Kodak Supra film. - © C.Y.Leow

By the River of Malacca...

A sunken boat, red mud crabs; the afternoon sun reflected off the muddy river and lens flare all "gel" together for this pleasing composition in Malacca, Malaysia

Nikon F3P, Nikkor 300/4.5 IF-ED; Kodak ISO 200 film. - © C.Y.Leow

The Door

I was doing a freelance shoot at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

Saw this white entrance with black iron door across the street, set up my F3P with the 300/4.5 IF-ED plus a 1.4X converter on my tripod...

I waited for half an hour before this Muslim woman came along, bingo! - © C.Y.Leow

Pillars of Strength

While doing a shoot at the Tein Hou Temple
天后宫 in Kuala Lumpur, I saw this bright red pillar inscribed with "We live in the same universe but call our country home."

The pillar was framed with the tallest building; the Petronas Towers.

The Nikkor 300 IF-ED and my F3P were on a Manfrotto carbon monopod.
- © C.Y.Leow

The relatively small, silky smooth focusing ring of the IF-ED allow for fast manual focus candid.

Ice cream man
I was doing a freelance shoot in Malacca, Malaysia. Saw this friendly ice cream man .

Shot with my Nikon F3P, the Nikkor 300/4.5 IF-ED. Kodak ISO 100 film. - © C.Y.Leow

Hot day afternoon

I was hunting for shots for a private project in Malacca with my favorite pupil, Sam Tham; we came into this beautifully restored Chinese temple.

The weather was so hot and muggy that even the marble lion look sleepy!

Shot with my trusty Nikon F3P and the compact 300/4.5 IF-ED plus a 1.4X converter. © C.Y.Leow

Famous Last Words...

If you are getting a used 300/4.5 IF-ED, make sure it came with the tripod collar, since the collar are removable; some jokers lost them and they will try and sell you the lens minus the collar!

The IF-ED has a nine blade diaphragm (aperture) OUTSIDE the rear lens element (see photo).

If you buy these lens from hard working photojournalist (Reuters? Hee hee...), be very careful; the lens could be in really dirty locations / bags without a rear cap! And you might find the diaphragm stuck with years of dirt and grime!

Look at the back of the lens, flip the diaphragm actuator (see arrow) to the left; if the blades are ok, they should spring "open" smoothly. Let go of the lever, the blades should "close down" to the set aperture setting.

Happy shooting!

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