Focus Speed?


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Aug 5, 2009
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Sonora, CA
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I have heard that the Nikon 50mm-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens is slow to focus. My question is how does the focus speed compare to the stock 18mm-55mm 3.5-5.6G VR lens? I do know that the 70mm-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR is faster but I'm not sure if it is worth the extra weight (not for me but my wife) if the 50mm-300mm is not too much slower than what we are already used to. Thanks.
I bet you mean the Nikon AF-S 55-300 mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR.

To some extent the focus speed is going to depend on which camera it is mounted on because of the AF module in the camera.
The D3x00 series has Nikon's least capable current AF module - the Nikon Multi-CAM 100 AF module.
The scene/subject you are trying to focus can also affect how fast the lens can focus, or if the lens can AF at all
Page 42 of your D3000 Reference Manual shows 6 shooting situations where AF will have difficulty regardless how fast, or slow, a lens can focus.
Yeah I have adapted to the body's shortfalls, I ordered the Nikon 55-300 to try out this weekend at my son's football game. If it performs badly I'll send it back and get the Nikon 70-300. My hope is that the 55-300 will be similar to the lens we have now which we know how to use fairly well.

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One thing to keep in mind: when shooting at longer distances, AF speed is almost a non-factor, since the focusing does not vary all that much at long ranges. If the lens is focused at 65 feet, and a football play moves toward the hashmark to 45 feet from you, the focus movement really is not all that extreme. Same with things like auto or horse racing on oval tracks, when shooting from the grandstands...the focused distance is always in that just-short-of-infinity-focus range, where .035 millimeters' worth of focusing ring travel represents 40 feet of distance. Also, if the action is moving parallel to the camera position, focus distance does not change a huge amount, typically, so absolute AF speed is often not super-critical. With that said, it helps to be pre-focused on the right general area before a shot opportunity; don't expect to be able to rack focus from 15 feet to 155 feet in 1/10 second, with reliability and dependability,shot after shot. I learned this lesson with one of the most dog-slow Nikkors of the modern era, the original 80-400mm VR-Nikkor....ohhhh, what a doggy focuser it is when it needs to seek out a new target! But, when it's been pre-focused, at longer distances, it can follow NCAA running backs reliably on an old, weak AF camera (Nikon D1 or Nikon D70).

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