LAS VEGAS -- Smaller and a lot lighter than than its standard 300mm f4 lens, the AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4D IF-ED, Nikon's update to the lens uses its Phase Fresnel technology for the first time in a full-size lens to compact it.
The technique is similar to that used by Canon for its Diffractive Optic-element (DO) lenses. The full-frame AF-S Nikkor 300mm f4E PF ED VR runs 5.8 inches (147.5mm) long compared with 8.8 inches (222.5mm) and weighs a mere 26.6 oz (755g), significantly less than the 50.8 oz (1,440g) of its predecessor.
Nikon's pricing the lens at $2,000 (£1,640) -- roughly AU$2,500, though I'll update with a real price when I get it -- a lot more than the $1,500 (£1,030, AU$2,129) for the current lens, which is even cheaper at retail. If you want to shoot without a tripod, however, it's probably worth the price premium, since the newer lens incorporates the company's latest image-stabilization; the original lens had none.
In addition to the ability to focus just a hair closer, 4.6 feet vs. 4.8 feet (1.4m vs. 1.5m), the new lens keeps the 77mm filter size.
A little more within reach of the rest of us, Nikon also announced a collapsible version of its 55-200mm f4-5.6 consumer lens, a staple complement to the 18-5mm kit lenses. The AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED VR II will cost $350 (£280) -- directly converted that's AU$432, though I'll update with an actual price when I can find it -- $100 more than the most current model.
Both lenses are slated to ship in February.
Updated January 8, 2015 to reflect an error in the collapsible-lens specification -- it's f4, not f4.5 at its widest aperture -- as well as to add official UK pricing.