To be fair, you do get a top-specified lens for your money. It incorporates Nikon's 'Silent Wave Motor' for focusing, and is one of the few superzooms that allows focus to be tweaked manually when set to autofocus (like its little brother, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II). It also includes Nikon's 'VR II' optical image stabilization, which promises the ability to shoot handheld at shutter speeds four stops slower than usual without your images being ruined by camera shake.
This all requires an unusually complex optical design, and the 18-300mm uses no fewer than 19 lens elements in its construction, arranged in 14 groups. Three of these use Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass, and three incorporate aspherical surfaces to minimise aberrations. Nikon's 'Super Integrated Coating' (SIC) is employed to minimize flare, and the aperture uses nine rounded blades for pleasant rendition of blurred backgrounds.
Superzooms lenses inevitably trade versatility and portability against significant optical compromises compared to shorter-range zooms. So the question we're looking to answer in this review is what the 18-300mm offers to justify its bulk and price premium compared to its two most-obvious competitors - the aforementioned Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD and the recently announced Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM.
Approx: 28-450mm equivalent focal length range; F3.5-5.6 maximum aperture
Works on Nikon DX format DSLRs (and FX format SLRs in DX crop mode)
In-lens Vibration Reduction system
Ultrasonic-type 'Silent Wave Motor' for autofocus