I'm a total beginner when it comes to photography. I have a Nikon D3300, and want to branch out to a zoom lens. I did a little research and found a lens I wanted, the 70-300mm f/4-5.6G. I found one on eBay that was selling for £50. I was just about to bid when I read that the autofocus of this isn't compatible with my camera.

Can anybody help me out as to which Nikon zoom lens, 70-300mm, to look for that can autofocus with my camera? I don't actually have any idea what the f/4-5.6G means. I know the 70-300mm is the zoom length.

As you can see I'm a complete beginner, any help would be appreciated so that I don't have to keep looking at different posts on eBay to see if the lens I find is compatible and often not finding it.


3 Answers 3


I don't actually have any idea what the f/4-5.6G means.

The "ƒ/4-5.6" part is the maximum aperture of the lens. It's a variable maximum aperture, meaning the f-number is not constant through the lens's zoom range.

The G part means it's a "G"-type lens, which is Nikon's designation for a lens without an aperture control ring. That means that the camera must have aperture control. It's can't be done by turning an aperture ring like on older or fully manual lenses.

See also, the Nikon answer to What do all those cryptic number and letter codes in a lens name mean?

In general, when searching for lenses for your camera, I suggest that you refer to:

  1. Nikon's product page for the D3300. Under the Tech Specs, it lists (bold emphasis mine):

    Lens Compatibility at a Glance

    • AF-S Lens Required for Autofocus

    Compatible Lenses

    • AF NIKKOR for F3AF not supported.
    • AF-S, AF-I: All Functions Supported.
    • AI-P NIKKOR: All Functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II.
    • Electronic rangefinder can be used if Maximum Aperture is f/5.6 or Faster.
    • IX NIKKOR lenses cannot be used.
    • Non-CPU: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function.
    • Other AF NIKKOR: All Functions Supported Except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II.
    • Type G or D AF NIKKOR: All Functions Supported Except Autofocus.
    • Type D PC NIKKOR: All Functions Supported Except Autofocus and some Shooting Modes.

    Note that the product page is probably older than Nikon's latest lens technology, AF-P lenses, such as the AF-P DX 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-6.3G ED VR. They will autofocus on a D3300, but only with a firmware update (available from Nikon). At Nikon's support page, Can I use an AF-P lens with my DSLR camera?

    The following cameras are also fully compatible with AF-P lenses when the firmware is updated to the following versions:
    D3300 (firmware C: Ver. 1.01 or later)

    Restriction for D5300 and D3300 only

    As D5300 and D3300 firmware updates do not include the "Manual focus ring in AF mode" Custom Setting included with the D5500 firmware update, the focus ring can always be used for manual focus when the camera is in autofocus mode.

  2. Nikon's support article, Which lenses can be used with a DSLR camera which has no built-in autofocus motor?

    The following digital SLR cameras do not have an autofocus motor built-in the camera body:

    D5600, D5500, D5300, D5200, D5100, D5000, D3400, D3300, D3200, D3100, D3000, D60, D40X, and D40.

    The cameras listed above use NIKKOR AF-S, AF-I or AF-P type lenses which have the autofocus motor built-in to the lens itself. This negates the need for the motor in the camera body allowing the camera to be smaller by design.

  3. Wikipedia's List of Nikon F-mount lenses with integrated autofocus motor. Currently, I believe all the lenses on that page can autofocus with your camera body.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks alot for all that information scott, thats some in depth information you have provided me with, thoroughly appreciated, thanks again, \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:19

It really comes down to the sort of budget you're willing to spend on a lens, if you're stuck on that focal length then I'd suggest looking at this and you'll get an idea of the range and price lenses come all of these will fit your D3300.

In regards to the F/4-5.6 it is referring to the aperture of a lens, you can find more information from a question asked on this site here.

Edit: Given Clarification on the question I would recommend the Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR which should do everything you need, if your budget can go further then you could find better however as a beginner I wouldn't recommend splashing out from the start.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thankyou for your response, my real issue is the auto-focus i guess, i was hoping to find a lens at that zoom range or 55-300 as you have just shown me that allows for auto focus with my camera (d3300) rather than manual focus. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ brilliant, thats compatible with mine too! just one more thing, if i was to buy this lens but with different apparture numbers say (as i am likely to ebay and get the cheapest as im a total beginner) would the autofocus still be compatible with my camera. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @andrewhardy it purely depends on the lens, the best advice I can give is to look at the lens you're thinking about buying and ensure it supports AF for Nikon as well as being supported by your model. Tools like Lenshero help a lot, as for the aperture, the larger (smaller the number) generally the more expensive and if you want a wide range with a low number then it'll increase even more. Keep this in mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ awesome, thanks alot for your help it has helped me heaps. thanks again. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Glad to help, best of luck in the world of photography \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:18

There is a relevant ambiguity in the question:

Can anybody help me out as to which Nikon zoom lens, 70-300mm, to look for that can autofocus with my camera?

Does "Nikon zoom lens" mean "zoom lens manufactured by Nikon" (Nikkor brand) or "zoom lens compatible with Nikon"? If the latter then there are some third party lenses with Nikon fit which support autofocus. For example, the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG or the Tamron SP AF 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di VC USD are compatible with your camera, and will probably be cheaper than Nikkor lenses. You do have to be careful when buying these third party lenses to check that you're getting a copy with a Nikon mount, because they produce the same lenses with Canon mounts and sometimes with others.

FWIW, I don't have personal experience with Sigma or Tamron, but they are respected brands. My 70-300 is a Nikon VR-II which I picked up second hand for 250€.


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