Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement lens c
I have purchased a used Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens and while the lens is excellent, I am appalled by the flimsiness of the tripod lens collar. I was aware of the complaints about this lens collar on the web but I honestly didn’t think this collar could be so badly designed by such a leading lens/camera manufacturer as Nikon. I am surprised that Nikon has not replaced or re-engineered this tripod lens collar because it truly is as bad as people state on the web.
I would like to get feedback from users of this lens who have purchased the Kirk NC-300 replacement lens collar (I use the Arca Swiss system of QR plates and clamps). I have handled the Kirk NC80-200 replacement lens collar that is designed for the Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S lens and was impressed with the quality of this collar so I don’t have concerns on the quality or workmanship of the NC300. I do, however, have other questions relating to the NC300 use on the 300mm AF-S lens that I hope other Nikonians can answer for me.
Specifically, does the NC300 require the 4 metal screws on the lens body of the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S to be removed? The Nikon lens collar uses 4 protruding small screws in the lens to “guide and lock” the Nikon lens collar onto the barrel of the lens. Does the Kirk NC300 lens collar require these same screws and does the NC300 permit the lens to rotate smoothly when re-orientating from landscape to portrait? I find the Nikon lens collar on the 300mm f/4.0 is both noisy and “sticky” with the lens collar catching on the 4 metal guide screws of the lens when the lens is rotated. While I have read about similar complaints regarding the “stickyness” of the Nikon tripod lens collar which shipped with the Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S lens, I found the collar on my 80-200mm to be smooth and sure when I rotated the 80-200mm? What have users found with the NC300 + 300mm f/4.0 AF-S with regards to rotating the lens from portrait to landscape?
For those that have the Wimberley Sidekick, how does the NC300 tripod collar perform when the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens + NC300 collar is mounted on the Sidekick? The NC300 lens collar has an additional metal “cradle” which supports the AF-S lens forward of the main collar so that the lens is being supported in two places when the QR plate is oriented in the conventional position in a clamp on a ballhead. However, with the lens collar tipped over on its side when attached to the Sidekick, I would guess that the utility/benefit of the cradle evaporates. Is this inference correct? I plan on using the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S largely with either a Kenko Pro 1.4X or 2.0X teleconverter with the intention of photographing birds and wildlife so I may purchase a Sidekick in the future. Hence the rational behind my question about the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + NC300 + Sidekick.
I am also aware of a company in England (SRB Film Service; www.srbfilm.co.uk) which fabricates custom made lens collars. Has any Nikonian had SRB Film Service fabricate a replacement lens collar for the Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S, and if so, what is their experience with the resulting lens collar?
Thank you in advance for your input and comments.
#1. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 0walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Tue 11-May-04 09:20 PM
I have the Kirk collar on my 300mm 4.0 AF-S, and I'm very pleased with it. The workmanship is excellent and if you weren't familiar with the lens, you would swear it was the original collar. It matches the color and cosmetics of the lens extremely well.
It's been a while since I installed the collar, but I believe the screws you mentioned stayed intact, and the new collar uses them in the same manner as the original. I find that rotating the collar is very smooth and easy - there's no stickiness, at least nothing out of the ordinary with a tripod collar.
I think you'll find that the collar is a benefit even when you use a Wimberley sidekick. The collar doesn't rely solely on gravity to steady the lens. It's construction is far more massive than the Nikkor and it's "two-point" design results in greatly increased stiffness. That stiffness helps reduce the flexing that's possible with the Nikon collar, and that's a help in any orientation.
Frankly, I think the issues with the original Nikon collar are slightly exaggerated and can be worked around with some creativity, but there's no doubt that the Kirk collar eliminates the issue. My preference is to not worry about vibration, so I'm pleased that I purchased it.
#2. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 1Wed 12-May-04 01:43 AM
Thank you for your input. I am encouraged to read about your experience with the Kirk lens collar. I have not had time to determine the vibration or non-vibration properties of the Nikon collar, but right away I was found rotating the lens in the Nikon collar was very rough and sticky. I am glad that the Kirk is smooth - that is one major thing I was looking for in the Kirk collar (being a former grad student I would normaly resort to the "stuff a rubber stopper under the lens" solution that Bjorn demonstrates on his web page, but this is not a useful solution when one wants to rotate the lens).
Thank you also for your comments regarding the Sidekick and the usefullness of the Kirk lens collar when oriented on its side.
#3. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 0
I have a Kirk collar on my AF-S 300mm f/4D and have been very pleased with it. It rotates very smoothly and is easy to lock securely. I don't use it with a 2x or 3x converter (it won't reliably auto-focus with converters greater than 1.4x, anyway), so I can't speak to the need for a Sidekick with those. However, with the TC-14E it certainly doesn't need it. The lens/TC-14E combination is small and light enough that I just use a Kirk BH-3, which is their smaller ball head.
It retains the original alignment screws, but mounts/dismounts much more easily than the original, if you are inclined to take it off. The lens hand-holds pretty well (with film cameras, anyway) and removing the collar makes it easier to hold.
My cursory tests when I got the lens seemed to indicate that the Nikon collar would work acceptably, provided it was tightened down very securely. However, I didn't want the doubt that goes with a marginal product, so I opted for the Kirk collar early-on, and haven't looked back.
#4. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 0
I aslo have the NC300 collar and I'm pleased with it. Some comments:
1) The little screws are still there because otherwise the lens might fall easily. The screws create a (very) little hicup in the lens rotation at the location of the collar joint near the knob. I think Kirk would have done a better job by removing the screws and replacing those with a continuous ring. Just my €.02
2) I experience some sticking when the collar is over-tightened. This is because the collar inner side is fitted with a plastic ring to avoid scratching the lens body. If you just gently lock the lens you won't have problems. (Contrary to the Nikon collar, the Kirk one does not require over-tightening).
3) When you insert/remove the lens there is a little mechanical problem at the joint (the one on top). I did a little file-job to fix that, see here: http://www.tele.ucl.ac.be/PEOPLE/DOUXCHAMPS/photo/nc300.html
It just seems I can't help modifying everything I touch
Those remarks are minor, and the collar is worth it. However, the NC300 will not allow you to spin your camera in its support for a whole turn (this is possible with the 200 f/2 collar because it's so smooth and well balanced).
Regarding the use of the NC300 with a sidekick I have no experience. One thing I found is that the NC300 will firmly press the lens on the additional 'cradle'. I think the lens will remain properly pressed even in a cantilevered position.
Plus, John Shaw likes it so you have to like it too!
A Belgian Nikonian in Japan
#5. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 0
The Nikon collar is not all bad PROVIDED you tighten the knob very tight - which is not easy as the knob size is wrong in relation to the thread pitch.
The system was first used over 25 years ago on the Olympus 300 and 400 except Olympus got the knob size and thread right.
Interestingly there are rarely complaints about the same collar at 400mm on the 80-400.
Note VR on a firm tripod will note give sharpest results except on the 200-400 which has tripod VR mode.
The f4 SHOULD be more prone to mirror slap vibration on a tripod especially if the camera body has a high frame rate.
The reason is the f4 has less mass to absorb camera induced vibration.
Proper long lens tripod technique can have more effect on getting the image sharp than using a tripod in the first place.
All the top wild life sites point out you get much sharper results on a tripod if you press down on the top of the lens with one hand, press the camera back firmly against your face and gently squeeze the shutter - it's true - and worth up to 3-4 stops shutter speed depending on the tripod and wind conditions.
What you are doing is helping the tripod absorb mirror and shutter slap more effectively.
Extras (which tend to be useless for living subjects) are mirror lock up and hanging a weight under the tripod on a Gitzo type hook.
Putting a long lens on a tripod and using no other support reduces the image sharpening effect by up to 4 shutter speeds i.e. it's not the best way to do it, and on a flimsy tripod can give less sharp results than hand holding.
I am not saying you cannot get a better collar anymore than I am saying a Gitzo 1325 tripod is not more stable than a 1227.
It definitely is but at nearly double the money.
However I am not aware of any-one who has had a vibration issue with the f4 collar properly tightened (which should be a lot easier than it is) using good long lens technique.
If you get an enhanced collar you will only get the sharpest results
with proper long lens technique.
Using the Nikon collar (real tight) with proper long lens technique is likely to give better results than using the Kirk without it.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#6. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 5ddouxchamps Basic MemberWed 12-May-04 12:43 PM
I definitley agree with you. I personally bought the NC300 more for the usability than the sharpness. Sharpness increases a bit but the ease of use makes a giant leap forward.
http://www.tele.ucl.ac.be/PEOPLE/DOUXCHAMPS/photo/photodam.jpg Homepage Critique is always appreciated. Fire away!
A Belgian Nikonian in Japan
#7. "RE: Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + Kirk NC300 replacement le" | In response to Reply # 6Sat 05-Jun-04 08:28 PM
Thank you for all your comments and input. I was lucky enough to pick up a used Kirk NC300 lens collar for the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S on that famous auction site only a week after posting my question.
It is, as all of your comments atest, a significant improvement over the Nikon lens collar. It is truely a joy to mount this lens now on my ballhead!!
Thank you again to all of your input.