The lenses I am considering are:

  • Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR Lens (new)
  • Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens (old)

As far as I can tell the only differences are:

  • The old one has an active/passive VR mode switch (which could be useful!)
  • The old one has a focus meter
  • The old one weighs double
  • The old one will be known to my camera's firmware and allow it to correct distortion.
  • The old one has a one stop wider aperture (at max zoom)

I've not found any comparisons but read (impressive) reviews for each. The only comparison I've found by Ken Rockwell.

The original 18-300 VR is much bigger and heavier, and more expensive. I'd forget about it. It adds a focus distance scale, and that's about its only benefit. This new lens is less expensive, smaller and lighter, while the old lens is a big heavy beast you'll not want to carry everywhere around your neck.

By the way I have a Nikon D5200 and I know how to use it.

What other significant differences am I missing between the two lenses?

I want to make an informed decision, like the new one has a 7 bladed diaphragm rather than a 9 one (old) -will this actually make a difference, will I see heptagonal bokeh?

  • 1
    As an aside, why are you looking at these lenses in particular? Neither of them are that good... – ElendilTheTall Nov 24 '14 at 16:16
  • @ElendilTheTall got any evidence to back that up? Also I really want the 35-100mm range, I think I'd get a lot of use out of this lens, it's widest aperture is usually where I shoot at anyway and it gives me the ability to take pictures of things moving transverse to me and fill the frame. I've been thinking of a 55-300mm lens, but I'd have to change at this spot I want – Alec Teal Nov 24 '14 at 16:20
  • 4
    dpreview.com/products/nikon/lenses/nikkor_18-300_3p5-5p6g_ed_vr , photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/… . It comes down to your wants, needs, expectations and budget of course, but superzooms in general are not great IQ wise. This is especially the case shooting wide open as you plan on doing. – ElendilTheTall Nov 24 '14 at 16:34
  • 1
    Regarding the 5th point ("The old one has a one stop wider aperture (at max zoom)"), going from f/5.6 to f/6.3 at the 300mm end will only be 1/3 stop dimmer (f/5.6 --> f/6.3 --> f/7.1 --> f/8). PS -- I tried to add this under comments instead of answers, but you need 50 rep points to post there. – user1941371 Jun 3 '17 at 14:58
  • Seven aperture blades will usually produce heptagonal bokeh when stopped down unless the blades form an unusual shape, like a shuriken. Sun stars will have 14 points. Nine aperture blades will usually form nonagonal bokeh when stopped down. Sun stars will have 18 points. I personally don't care for high aperture-blade counts because I can usually still see that they aren't really round. I also like the look of the ghosts of five- and six-bladed apertures. – xiota Jan 25 '19 at 22:30

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