The need for speed…

A known trait of Nikon’s 300mm PF lens is that it doesn’t autofocus nearly as fast as the f/2.8 pro lenses. On the Z50, it’s slow to acquire. Attach a 1.4X teleconverter, and it’s even slower, sometimes racking in and out before hitting its mark. But at least it hits its mark with accuracy.

And this is with still critters. I haven’t had a chance at any raptors in flight these past few days, but the Z50/300PF/1.4X can track an F-15 as it lazes past on approach for landing—provided it can locate the focal plane of the aircraft.

Perceived deficits in autofocus capability become favorite talking points for clickbait carpers, at least for those who have actually taken photographs with the subject of their derision review. But it’s only one factor in a chain of factors that determine the outcome in acquisition of a good shot.

Autofocus with the SL2/90-280mm, for instance, is near-instant and critically accurate. But the camera itself requires at least four-plus seconds to be roused from its between-shot naps. Even if I half-press to awaken as I start to bring the camera up to shoot, I still have to wait.

From the perspective of a long-time manual focus photographer, though, the 300PF has a wonderfully redeeming feature: an analog focus ring with a very short throw, one which falls naturally in the (limited) space where the left hand grips the lens. That means I can ballpark focus manually and let the camera do the rest, which it does quickly.

Which brings up the most important factor in the acquisition chain: technique.

White-Throated Kingfisher