The original Nikon AF 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 is considered by some to be the best 70 or 75-300 Nikon have produced. Unfortunately that’s not a great comparison as the others haven’t been that good - the current Nikon 70-300 AF-D and the G version are both rumoured to be made by someone else on Nikon’s behalf. I’ve owned the AF-D version, and, although attractive to look at and well made, it isn’t a great performer, especially at the 300mm end.
This version is an old style push / pull zoom with a reasonably smooth action. I prefer a two ring design as it’s easier to adjust the focal length precisely but many older zooms are push / pull. On the plus side the lens does have a tripod mount which none of the newer, lighter versions have, and it has good sized manual focus ring.
Optical performance is very good. Results with my Fuji S2’s and Nikon D70’s both require more sharpening than most of my other lenses but the detail is there and end results are excellent, especially at f8 or better. Noticeable by their absense are any signs of vignetting, distortion or colour fringing.
So is this the best Nikon 75-300? Despite it’s age, and long push, pull zooming action I’d have to say yes. Sharpness is very good, rather than needle sharp, but with some careful sharpening, results, even at 300mm and full aperture, are very good. If you can find one, the Nikon AF 75-300 is still a good lens to have in your camera bag.