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

Gary Wolstenholme puts Nikon's new telephoto zoom lens with a collapsible design to the test.


|  Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Nikon AF S DX NIKKOR 55 200mm ED VR II (1)

This new telephoto zoom lens sports a compact, collapsible design, Vibration Reduction and silent focusing. It costs around £270, and in this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

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

Nikon AF S DX NIKKOR 55 200mm ED VR II (5)

As the SLRs Nikon release keep getting smaller, so do the entry level lenses in their range. The collapsible design shaves valuable inches off the overall length of the lens when it is stored in a bag or case, making it ideal for taking on your travels. A button on the zoom ring releases the lens along with rotating the zoom ring and the process is reversed to fold it back in. Build quality is typical of Nikon entry-level lenses, with high-quality plastics being used for all of the construction, including the lens bayonet. The light weight of 300g and compact size make this lens the perfect companion for compact Nikon DSLR bodies, such as the D5500 used for testing.

Autofocus is powered by a silent wave motor, and auto focus speeds are pretty quick for a lens of this level. Unlike more expensive AF-S lenses manual adjustments cannot be applied at any time via the focusing ring and autofocus needs to be disengaged via the switch on the side of the lens. The manual focus ring is flush to the part of the lens that extends when unfolded and is not damped at all. This can make applying manual focus adjustments trickier than with a smoother focusing ring. The zoom range felt quite gritty in operation during testing too.

Closest focus distance is 1.1m throughout the zoom range. The 52mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers.

Nikon's Vibration Reduction II system promises to allow hand-held shots to be taken at shutter speeds slower than would be possible without the technology. So long as the system is given time to kick in properly and images are shot with care, hand-held shots at 1/40sec are possible around half the time at 200mm, which is around three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would advise.

Nikon AF S DX NIKKOR 55 200mm ED VR II (7)
 

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

At maximum aperture and 55mm, sharpness is excellent in the centre and falls just short of good levels towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8. Here clarity is outstanding in the centre and excellent towards the edges of the frame.

Zooming to 105mm results in a reduction of performance at maximum aperture. Here sharpness is very good in the centre, but can only be considered fair towards the edges of the frame. Stopped down to f/8, performance at this focal length is much improved. Here sharpness is outstanding in the centre and good towards the edges of the frame.

Finally, at 200mm sharpness falls further, with good clarity being produced in the centre of the frame and fair performance towards the edges. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/16 results in very good sharpness in the centre and good clarity towards the edges of the frame.

MTF@55mm
MTF@55mm
 
MTF@105mm
MTF@105mm
MTF@200mm
MTF@200mm

How to read our charts

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 D5500 using Imatest.

 

Levels of chromatic aberrations are remarkably well controlled, barely exceeding a quarter of a pixel width at any point in the zoom range. This low level of fringing should barely be visible, even in large reproductions and harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

 

CA@55mm
CA@55mm
CA@105mm
CA@105mm
CA@200mm
CA@200mm

How to read our charts

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 D5500 using Imatest.

 

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled for a lens of this range and maximum aperture. Throughout the zoom range the corners are 0.9 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and visually uniform illumination is achieved stopped down by one full stop .

Distortion is also well controlled for a lens of this type with 0.47% barrel distortion present at 55mm, which gives way to 1.16% pincushion distortion at 200mm. If straight lines are paramount, you'll be glad to hear that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying corrections in image editing software relatively straightforward.

This lens is quite resistant to flare, and contrast holds up well when shooting into the light.


Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II Sample Photos

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4–5.6G VR II Value For Money

With a price of around £270, this lens seems quite expensive, especially as its non-collapsible predecessor is still available for around £100 less. That's no small saving. In fact, for a little extra reach, you can pick up Nikon's 55-300mm lens for £250, which is still less than what this lens sell for.
 

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

Collapsible lenses appear to be in fashion at the moment, and the smaller size will appeal to those who don't fancy carrying a large bag full of lenses around with them at all times.

This lens certainly isn't a bad one, with performance around the level you'd expect from an entry-level optic. What is surprising is the price, with it retailing for £100 more than the non-collapsible equivalent. The price will need to drop in time for this lens to offer real value to the consumer.

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

Decent performance for an entry level lens
Silent focusing
Collapsible design
Lightweight
Compact
Quick focusing

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

Seems quite expensive compared to current equivalents
Performance isn't bad, but certainly not worth paying a premium for

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  


Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF-S DX G
Lens
Focal Length55mm - 200mm
Angle of View8 - 28.5
Max Aperturef/4 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22 - f/32
Filter Size52mm
StabilisedYes
35mm equivalent82.5mm - 300mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus110cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements13
Groups9
Box Contents
Box ContentsSnap-on front lens cap LC-52, Rear lens cap
Dimensions
Weight300g
Height83mm

View Full Product Details

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Comments


StrayCat 15 19.1k 3 Canada
27 Mar 2015 2:23AM
Might be a bit niggly, but I have the collapsible 18-55mm VR II, and I find that even after using it for a couple months, off and on so to speak, I still think there's something wrong with the camera or lens till I remember to open it up. If the space that that saves you is that important.....Tongue It's too expensive, the price will drop soon.

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Metapix 3 1 Iran, Islamic Republic Of
9 Feb 2016 8:31PM
I'm searching to buy second lens for my D3200 and cover more focal length than 18-55, up to 200 mm or more. which one of these lenses are more sharp?

Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 DI LD Macro
Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6 VR II
Sigma 50-200 f/4-5.6 DC OS HSM

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