Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR

The most important question people want to ask is if the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor is any good. What can be said before everything else is that many had hoped for this lens to be what they hoped for. Although it is not the best lens around, it is decent enough. You probably notice DX in the name of this model and if you do not know, DX is part of a series of lenses and they are designed only to be used on the Nikon DSLRs and if you own a Fujifilm DSLR. The great thing about DX lenses is that they can be lighter and smaller compared to another lens with similar specifications. You have to remember that this Nikon DX advantage does not activate for long focal lengths, but only for short lengths.

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Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR

Design & Construction

When you pay attention to both the 55-200 millimeter DX lenses, you will notice that they are small and light, and this is because that every part of the lens is plastic, even the lens mount. The 55-200mm lens does not seem to be big enough to support telephoto zoom. This lens comes with a two-ring design: there is the zoom front-most ring and a focusing ring that can be found right in front the zoom ring. You will probably recall this design from an AF lens that you owned somewhere down the line. The 55-200mm has no distance scale, and with this, there are no infrared or depth-of-field markings on the lens.

If you are looking for the strong points of this lens, handling is not one of them. It is actually a weak point. Although you will find the zoom ring to be stiff, it is still good. Expect the barrel to extend around an inch-and-a-half, with a maximum point of 55mm. Keep in mind that you will not be able to rotate the barrel during focus or zoom. Bringing up the focus ring again, it is terrible, because it is a small or slight ring at the front. What makes it worse is that you cannot override focus manually. You have to either flip the lens or the camera to the focus position.

Actual user review:
“This lens is sharp even at wide apertures, the VR (image stabilization) works great, autofocus speed is more than acceptable, and it it is very light and compact. The fact that it costs $250 and has effective VR is pretty amazing – no other company offers a lens with this feature for anywhere near this price. As for image quality, search the various internet photo sites, such as dpreview and nikonians for sample photos taken with this lens by real users. The results are impressive! My copy produces similar results. The previous reviewer must have a bad sample. Of course, the lens is slow (like almost all consumer zoom lenses), in that its widest aperture is smaller than a professional zoom or prime lens, so it’s not a good choice for action photography in lower light conditions (like indoor sports without flash or outside sports at dusk). But a fast telephoto zoom will cost at least three times as much and weigh a ton. I give the lens 5 stars based on a combination of image quality, value, and compactness/lightness.” – H.P.Wolfe (NJ,US)

Features & Specifications

This lens only features 5 auto focus sensors on D50 or the D70s and about 3 on D40 and D40x. Because you are not able to override the focus, it makes this a lens that is not appropriate for sports and wildlife snapping. If you are going to use this lens to grab a few shots of an elk, for example, you will not be able to reframe and focus, because the animal will be moving. In this situation, you want to be able to tweak the focusing ring while in auto focus and not have to leave auto focus. The only thing you have to live with on the 55-200mm lens is a small and rather coarse manual focus ring. Another thing that you should know is that the focal length changes very slightly when shooting close subjects.

Performance

When you go back and look at the original version, you will notice that the sharpness is very impressive, and f/11 or f/8 is the point where sharpness is at maximum. When you consider the f/4, you will notice that the corners tend to appear a bit soft, but when looking at the optical performance of the lens, it is far better than the price. Where 55-200mm lens improves since the original is that this lens (the VR version) has slightly better optics. Center performance will prove to be excellent; however, you will notice soft corners when shooting longer lengths.

Whatever images you will be taking with the 55-200mm lens will have good contrast and also be sharp. Even though it can produce great images, these are no match for the better lenses. This lens is not considered to be the poor casual shooter’s 70-200mm, but there will be many shooters that will not see the difference, especially when they handhold Nikon’s VR version. Distortion is good on Nikon’s original lens, but it is excellent on this VR version.

Bottom Line

A few drawbacks are:

It is a slower AF-S compared to other lenses and the focus cannot be manually overridden. The other thing is that at around 200mm the auto focus is compromised slightly in low light.

A few positives are:

For the price, you will be paying for good performance, and this is probably a lens that one can compare to the D40x, D40, D70 or D50. The 55-200mm lens is sharp and more featured and is worth its price in some ways.

Average User Rating:

  • “I’ve read both good and bad about this lens. But I wanted the features such as VR and decided to go ahead and get it. It arrived yesterday and I am very happy to tell you that its well worth the price and more. Its sharp from edge to edge and fast to focus. I have two other VR lenses, both I’m extremely happy with and this one falls in with them. I’m using this lens on a D80 and I’ve tried it several different conditions including overcast sky, moderate sunlight and indoor lighting and its given excellent results every time.” – A.Jones (MO,USA)
  • “My previous digital camera was a Canon PowerShot S1 IS. Without being aware of it, I became used to that little camera’s image stabilization. I casually took handheld shots that came out tack sharp. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on the image stabilization until a few months ago when I got my Nikon D80. I love the camera but was driven to using a tripod for most of my shots. I was taking close-up photos for publication and had to have perfect sharpness. And, I have two kittens; kittens beg impromptu, handheld shots. I was excited when I found this lens because of the low cost. You really can take photographs three stops slower than is possible without a VR lens. That means more depth of field for close-up shots (used with a filter-like close-up lens). I’m taking my first manual mode outdoor photos so the extra speed range helps me out of tight spots. The rest of the lens (construction, zoom range, weight) are just fine. One unexpected advantage is the lens’ 52mm filter size. Most of my lens accessories (close up lens set, teleconverter, extension tube set) are 52mm.” – D.H.Haden (CA,US)

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