Last Updated on 28 February 2010
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I could not make this 300mm Nikkor to flare. And boy did I try. I tried pretty much every possible angle, even pointing the lens directly into the sun. Generally speaking, most lenses will show some flavor of flare when a strong light source is positioned within or close to the picture frame, so that the light grazes off the front element and portion of it gets bounced inside the lens barrel. I guess AF Nikkor 300mm is a fairly rare exception to the rule - the two shots below show probably the worst manifestation of flare I could squeeze our of this lens. Throughout the aperture range you'd see reduced contrast across the frame and increased amount of color fringing. But that is pretty much it. Using the built in lens hood will further reduce even this benign artifacts.
Like most long lenses, Nikon AF Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED IF showcased pretty minimal amounts of light falloff. On an APS-C body vignetting was minimal throughout the aperture range, never exceeding ~0.4EV. While slightly higher on a FF bodies, light falloff was still minimal by many standards, reaching ~0.5EV at f/4 and dropping further with stopped down apertures.
From practical perspective, this all means that you should not worry about vignetting with this lens. On a full frame body like Nikon D3 you will see a very slight darkening in the extreme corners, but only if you shoot a very light-colored scenery. On APS-C bodies, there will be no visible vignetting throughout the aperture range. Hence no need to do any correction during post-processing.
As one would expect from a telephoto lens, AF Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED IF shows practically no distortion. Minimal pincushion distortion is registered with Imatest, but at +0.3% it will not be visible in real life applications, so there is no need to fret about it.