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Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Lens Review

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor zoom lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon 55-200mm DX VR Lens
Price : £209
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Features and Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Nikon 55-200mm DX VR Nikkor Lens

This popular telephoto zoom lens for DX format digital SLRs costs around £240 and sports Vibration reduction and silent wave focusing motor.

Those on a budget may also consider Nikon's other 55-200mm optic, which lacks the vibration reduction but only costs around £190.

Sigma also produce a 55-200mm optic. Their version costs around £180 and also sports a silent focusing motor similar to that found on the Nikon lens.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Handling and Features


Weighing only 335g, this is a very lightweight and compact lens, especially suitable for those looking for a telephoto optic that they won't need to leave at home when travelling light. All of the lens barrel is constructed from black textured plastics which feel sturdy enough for casual use, but which certainly won't survive the rigours of professional use. A large rubberised grip helps to improve the handling of this lens and it balances well on the Nikon D300 used for testing, due to its light weight.

The silent wave focusing motor is quiet, but not breathtakingly quick to focus and manual focusing is performed by turning the thin plastic ring towards the front end of the lens. A switch on the side of the lens changes between automatic and manual focusing and is easily accessible whilst holding the lens normally.

The lens takes 52mm filters, which is a common size for Nikon lenses of this grade. Focusing is performed internally, so this lens is ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

Nikon promise that the Vibration reduction system fitted to this lens will allow shots to be taken at shutter speeds three stops slower than would otherwise be possible. I managed to get sharp hand held shots at 1/60sec about half the time, which is just under what the usual rule of thumb would allow for taking sharp images.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Performance


For a budget telephoto, this lens performs very well. Shooting wide open at 55mm, the sharpness in the centre is already good, and the clarity towards the edges isn't far behind. Peak performance across the frame is achieved at f/8 for this focal length, where sharpness across the frame is excellent.

Zooming the lens to 105mm results in very good sharpness in the centre and fair performance towards the edges of the frame at the maximum aperture. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, just like at 55mm, where sharpness approaches excellent levels across the frame.

Finally, at 200mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame remains good at maximum aperture and the quality towards the edges is fair. As with other focal lengths, stopping the lens down improves sharpness, but peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/11, and sharpness is very good across the frame.

55mm 105mm
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
200mm

How to read our graphs

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept to very low levels across the frame and at each zoom setting. At their worst, the just exceed 0.8 pixel widths at 200mm and f/5.6, which should pose few issues, even at large print sizes.

55mm 105mm
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
200mm

How to read our graphs

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled. At 55mm and f/4 the corners are only 0.754 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved at f/5.6. At 200mm and f/5.6 the corners are only 0.807 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved at f/8.

Rather strangely for a zoom lens 1.07% pincushion distortion is present at the short end of the zoom range. Luckily this level doesn't increase too much as the lens is zoomed in with pincushion distortion levels only increasing to 1.17% at 200mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so this should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

A deep circular hood comes supplied with the lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss of contrast. When shooting into strong light sources, a noticeable loss of contrast is often apparent, especially at 200mm, so care may need to be taken when shooting under these circumstances.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
Wide angle - ISO200, 1/800, f/8, 55mm Telephoto - ISO200, 1/500, f/8, 200mm
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
Occasionally there is a noticeable loss of contrast when shooting into bright light sources - ISO320, 1/100, f/4, 55mm The minimum focus distance of 1.1 meteres is a little closer than most lenses of this type. ISO200, 1/400, f/11, 200mm
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
Sharpness in the centre is very good at maximum aperture - ISO900, 1/200, f/4.2, 66mm Out of focus areas are rendered relatively smothly - ISO640, 1/200, f/8, 200mm
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor
ISO200, 1/250, f/8, 55mm ISO200, 1/2000, f/1.8, 35mm

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Verdict


Being priced at under £209, this lens represents a bit of a bargain, especially as it is so lightweight and the sharpness in the centre is good from maximum aperture. This lens is already popular amongst those looking for a lens to compliment their 18-55mm kit lens when their camera is purchased. The high performance this lens is capable of may also lead this lens to becoming part of the kit bag of more advanced photographers too.
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Recommended
The Nikon 55-200mm VR lens represents a bit of a bargain and has good sharpness.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Pros

Very good centre sharpness
Lightweight
Good value
Vibration reduction

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Cons

Plastic lens mount and build
Pincushion distortion throughout the zoom range

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX Nikkor Specification

Price £209
Contact www.nikon.co.uk
Filter size 52mm
Format APS-C
Construction 15 elements in 11 groups
Angle-of-view 28º50'-8º
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 82.5mm-300mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation Yes
Minimum focus 1.1m
Maximum aperture f/4.5-5.6
Minimum aperture f/22-32
Weight 335g
Size (lxw) 73 x 99.5mm
In the box 52mm Snap-on front lens cap LC-52, Rear lens cap LF-1, Bayonet hood HB-37 and Flexible lens pouch CL-0918

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Comments


BydoR9 3 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2011 10:19AM
I got this off Amazon for 150! it's now even cheaper than that, total bargain! I agree with all the points made in the review.

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