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Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G VR Zoom Lens Review

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF ED VR zoom lens

Most digital SLR cameras are sold in a kit form with a standard 18-55mm type of zoom lens. While suitable for more common type of photo situations, such as group shots of people or wide-angle landscapes, a standard kit lens is not as practical for capturing distant subjects. The solution is to invest in a secondary telephoto zoom lens that provides the additional focal range required to zoom in on the subject from further away, ideal for sports, wildlife or candid photography.

We have now had the opportunity to review the Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR Nikkor lens, and feel it provides a good example of the benefits offered by a longer zoom lens in this focal range. The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR is a reasonably priced, compact and lightweight telephoto zoom lens, and serves as a complement to the standard 18-55mm kit lens, providing a combined range of coverage from 18mm to 200mm focal length (DX format) or 27mm to 300mm in 35mm terms.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm VR vs. Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR Zoom

Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm VR zoom versus Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR telephoto zoom

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR is a lightweight compact lens by telephoto zoom standards (one of the smallest DSLR lenses on the market offering this focal range).

The AF-S 55-200mm VR is only 2cm longer than the standard AF-S 18-55mm VR kit lens, and the diameter of the two lenses is almost the same. The AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom lens weighs 335 grams compared to the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm VR zoom which is a bit lighter at 265 grams.

Focal length comparison 18mm versus 55mm field of view

The above images show the field of view provided with the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR standard kit zoom lens set to its respective maximum wide-angle and telephoto positions on a DX format SLR. (Approx. 27mm and 82.5mm equivalent coverage in 35mm terms)

Focal length comparison 135mm versus 200mm field of view

The Nikkor AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR zoom provides a telephoto field of view up to 300mm in 35mm equivalent terms (DX format provides 1.5x crop factor vs focal length of the lens). Compared to the standard 18-55mm kit zoom lens, the 55-200mm telephoto lens lets you zoom in considerably closer on the subject from further away.

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-4.5G IF ED VR: Major Features

3.6x Zoom versatility: The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR offers a versatile zoom range from 82.5mm to 300mm in 35mm terms.

fNikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF ED VR with Nikon D300 SLR at 3200 ISO
Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR Zoom Lens w/
Nikon D300: ISO 3200, 1/160 sec at F5.6 and D-Lighting

Optical Vibration Reduction (VR): Nikon VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization Vibration Reduction, engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens, enables handheld shooting at up to 3 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, assuring dramatically sharper still images and video capture.

ED Lens Element: An ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass element minimizes chromatic aberration, contributing to superior optical performance.

Silent Wave Motor Focus Technology: New compact rod-type Silent Wave Motor (SW) enables ultrahigh speed auto focusing with exceptional accuracy and super-quiet operation.

M/A Focus Switch: Focus mode switch enables quick switching between A (Autofocus) and M (Manual Focus).

Close Focus: Minimum focus distance down to 1.1 meters from the subject.

7-blade rounded aperture diaphragm: renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image areas.

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6 VR lens is designed as a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens dedicated for use with Nikon DX format SLR camera's like the Nikon D3100 and the D5100.

One of the factors contributing to the lighter design of the Nikon AF-S 55-200mm VR Nikkor zoom is that the lens features a polycarbonate lens mount. Manufacturer's have been making lenses with nonmetal lens mounts for years, and all in all we see little cause for concern, especially since the lens is quite lightweight.

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF ED VR telephoto lens mount

Although the Nikon AF-S 55-200mm F/4-5.6 VR telephoto zoom is designed to be light and portable, the lens provides a solid feel when attached to a camera like the Nikon D3100 SLR.

In terms of ergonomics, the large zoom ring takes up most of the lens barrel making for a comfortable grip, and the manual focus ring is located at the front of the lens.

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom features Nikon's optical vibration reduction (VR) technology which allows for hand held shooting at up to 3 stops faster than would normally be possible without the use of a tripod.

Two switches are found on the side of the lens. The 'A / M' switch offers control over autofocus or manual focus operation, and the second switch is used to activate or turn off the optical vibration reduction feature. When using the camera on a tripod, the VR feature should be turned off.

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom also features Nikon's silent wave motor (SWM) technology which provides for quiet, fast and accurate autofocus.

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom lens close focus mode

With respect to the optical qualities offered by the Nikon AF-S 55-200mm VR telephoto zoom, the lens provides a pleasant bokeh (out of focus background detail) thanks to its 7-blade rounded diaphragm, while some vignetting (darker image corners) may occur when shooting at the upper telephoto end with the aperture wide open at F/5.6 (vignetting is kept to a minimum at F8 and above).

In general, we found the Nikon AF-S 55-200mm F/4-5.6 VR zoom delivered impressive sharpness throughout its focal range.

Lens distortion is generally well handled for this type of consumer oriented lens, with some pincushion effects visible in the upper telephoto zoom range. Ghosting and flare is also well controlled for this type of a lens, although when shooting under bright sun and backlight conditions we would recommend using the supplied lens hood.

The Nikon AF-S 55-200mm F/4-5.6 VR zoom comes supplied with a lens hood and a storage pouch case.

The filter diameter on the Nikon AF-S 55-200mm VR zoom is 52mm, which is a common size, so finding filters to use with this lens is easy and relatively inexpensive compared to buying filters for larger diameter lenses.

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/


Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR Lens Review Conclusion:

In terms of overall optical performance the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm VR zoom offers very good value for the money. Good sharpness is delivered throughout the zoom range and the VR (Vibration Reduction) technology worked well allowing for steady handheld shots were normally a tripod would be required. The lens is compact and lightweight making it a good choice for hiking and traveling.

The lens is responsive and locks in focus quickly and quietly thanks to the built-in Nikon AF-S motor technology. The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom will serve its Nikon DX format SLR user target audience of family and travel photographers well at a reasonable price.

While not ideal for fast or low light action photography, you can still get some decent results from the Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom lens in these situations. Taking advantage of the higher ISO settings on the camera will allow for a faster shutter speed to minimize potential subject blur.

For fast action and indoor sports photography and above par image quality, we would recommend considering the higher-end enthusiast / professional oriented Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II telephoto zoom lens, which also comes with a very significant price point premium.

To help decide if the Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm VR telephoto zoom lens is right for you, check out the sample image gallery below. We recommend buying the Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR from Amazon





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