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nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 "non-if" - an optical gem


nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 "non-if" - composit



technical data

nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5  
hight 198mm / 7.8"
width 78mm / 3.1"
weight 1100g *1/*5 (=2.43lbs)
price only second hand market (not easy to find)
production dates 1977 to 1979 *1
produced units 1867 units *1

a little bit of history on the 300mm lenses

nikon started to produce 300mm f4.5 lenses from 1964 onwards, around five years after the introduction of their first nikon f camera. the first generation was the "nikkor-p 300mm f4.5" which used a five lens element optical construction.

it seems to be generally acknowledged that the lightweight nikkors 300mm were constantly evolving and improving in image quality and handling.


the different lightweight 300mm nikkor generations

production start



lens elements/ lens groups number of "ed" elements included
1964 nikkor-p auto 300mm f4.5 f 5/5 -
1969 nikkor-h auto 300mm f4.5 f 6/5 -
1975 nikkor 300mm f4.5 k/ai 6/5 -
1977 nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 "non-if" k/ai 6/4 2 *9
1978 nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 if ai/ais 7/6 1
1981 nikkor 300mm f4.5 ais 6/5 -
1987 nikon 300mm f4.0 ed if-ed af/afd 8/6 2
2000 nikon 300mm f4.0 d if-ed afs 10/6 2
2015 nikon 300mm f4.0 ed pf vr afs 16/10 1


welcome the "ed" glass


nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 "non-if" - pure optical gold

nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5

the famous "ed" glass was only introduced with the fourth lightweight 300mm lens generation in 1977.

unfortunately the much appreciated "nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5" was in production for only 3 years, since the upcoming of a new "if" (internal focusing) technology was being introduced from 1976 onwards. this is also the main reason why it is today a rather rare lens with a little less than 2000 pieces produced. half of them are in a pre-ai (k) mount and the other half in an ai mount.

in 1978 the internal focusing version lens - the "nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 if" was introduced and remained on sale for 21 years, that is until 1999. it was certainly more practical in most shooting situation. the internal focusing device was much more convenient and fast to focus. furthermore the "if" lens was around 100g lighter in weight and remained the lightest 300mm f4.5 lens until the actual "nikon 300mm f4.0 ed pf vr" was presented.

optical quality

first of all, i can safely say that this lens is an amazing performer. from all the vintage lenses that i have used so far, this certainly belongs to the very top performers. a truly remarkable and excellent lens, fully usable at full aperture.

it is also documented that the image quality would have suffered with the introduction of the "if" mechanism (see bjørn røsslet *7 and denis sassmanhausen *8).

the image quality will be tested and compared in the very next future... (see also here)


nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5 "non-if" - two of one kind

the golden super-line

build quality

this lens is quite well built. definitely not as sturdy as its f2.8 siblings with the same focal length but still able, to a certain extent, to sustain some rough handling. the focusing throw is around 160 to 170°.

focusing something close makes the whole lens elements move to the front, causing a slight weight unbalance towards the front.

very useful is the integrated sunshade: always available and certainly easier and handier to use, compared to the more modern lens shades.


the "nikkor*ed 300mm f4.5" is a rare lens. according to different sources, only around 2000 lenses would have been produced during the three years only production time.

based on known production numbers, i would give it a rarity rating of R6 *10.

that said, being such an excellent performer, i guess a lot of lenses will have been heavily - and happily - used. thus even fewer items would remain in good conditions, thereby these lenses rarely appear on the selling websites.

this is definitely a lens to like: collectors will appreciate its relative rarity, while users its fantastic optical performances. and others, both.

2017.12.31 © l.i.

sources and remarks

*1: roland vinks nikon database:
*2: richard destoutz website:
*3: das nikon handbuch, 3. auflage, 2004, peter braczko, wittig fachbuch, hückelhoven
*4: nikon f - the lenses, first edition, 2003, uli koch, peter coeln gmbh, vienna
*6: nikkor - the thousand and one nights historic webpage:
*7: bjørn røsslet lens evaluation page:
*8: denis sassmanhausens lens evaluation pages:
*9: NEW information 08.08.2021: According to marco cavina, this lens has 2 ED lenses and not only one.
*10: personal rarity rating:


  rarity numbers of items produced according to roland vink *1
  rp variable
  r1 ess than 30 items
  r2 ess than 150 items
  r3 ess than 300 items
  r4 less than 900 items
  r5 less than 1500 items
  r6 less than 3000 items
  r7 less than 9000 items
  r8 less than 15000 items
  r9 less than 30000 items
  r10 more than 30000 items
  rsc n.a.

i do consider any lens within a focal length category with a change in optics or/and mechanics as a stand alone lens and therefore account them separately.

please note that the production numbers in roland vink's database vary over time - mostly upwards.


a lot of information has been gathered from following sources: roland vink's and richard destoutz's rich information databases, peter braczkos nikon handbuch, uli kochs "nikon f" books, the "" photographic webressources as well as the former nikon website "nikkor - the thousand and one nights".






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