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

May 5, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II is a compact 3.6x telephoto zoom lens designed to complement the 18-55mm kit zoom that comes bundled with many cropped-sensor Nikon digital SLR cameras. Offering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 82.5-300mm, the retractable Nikon 55-200mm VR lens features a built-in auto-focus motor, 4-stop Vibration Reduction system, and an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades for a soft rendering of the out-of-focus areas. The optical formula comprises 13 lens elements arranged in 9 groups, including an ED glass element, with a a Super Integrated Coating. The AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is currently available for £279.99 / $349.95 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at approximately 300 grams, the AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f4.5-5.6G is very lightweight for a 3.6x telezoom lens, and as seen in the photos below, complements a smaller DSLR like the Nikon D3300 well.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body, extended to 55mm

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body, extended to 200mm

 

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body, extended to 55mm

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens mounted on a Nikon D3300 body, extended to 200mm

Build quality is pretty decent for a consumer zoom. Most of the outer parts are plastic – contributing the light weight of the lens –, but the optical elements are made of high-grade glass. The zoom ring is wide and ridged, and zoom creep is not an issue. On our test sample, the zooming action was a little on the rough side.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIThe Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens alongside the Nikon D3300

Zooming is not internal – as you can see, the front extends considerably upon zooming from the Lock position through 55mm to 200mm.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIThe Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens in the Lock position

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIThe Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens extended to 55mm

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIThe Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens extended to 200mm

In terms of features, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II is a bit of a mixed bag. One one hand, it has Vibration Reduction on board – hence the VR abbreviation in the product name –; on the other, it isn't as sophisticated as on some other Nikon lenses. There's an on-off switch on the lens barrel, but there's no choice between active and normal modes. Likewise, the lens has a built-in auto-focus motor that allows AF operation on every Nikon DX camera body, including entry-level offerings like the D3300 or D5200, but – unlike with most other AF-S lenses – focusing is not internal, although manual focusing is possible even when the focus mode selector is set to the 'A' position. The lens has no distance scale and no focus limiter, either.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IISide of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIFront of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIRear of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IISide of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IISide of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens

The  Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens has a lot of plastic parts, unfortunately including the lens mount. The lens is not claimed to be weatherproof but there is a rubber seal around the lens mount that should provide basic dust protection.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIThe Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens in-hand

Disappointingly the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II doesn't ship with either a dedicated plastic hood or a soft case.

Focal Range

At the 55mm end of the zoom range, the angle of view is 28° 50', which is a little bit tighter than that of an 80mm lens on a 35mm body.

 Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II Field of view at 55mm

At the 200mm end, the angle of view narrows to 8°.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II Field of view at 200mm

Focusing

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens has a very narrow focus ring located in front of the – much wider – zoom ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easy to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should take note that the 52mm filter thread rotates on focus.

When it comes to AF, the 55-200mm zoom is surprisingly slow for a modern AF Nikkor, and is one of the slowest focusing lens in the AF-S line-up. This isn't particularly bothersome if you're photographing stationary subjects, but can pose difficulties when trying to shoot sports. On the plus side, we did not experience much “hunting”, at least in good light. Low-light focusing can be more problematic, but given the slow maximum apertures on offer, this isn't meant to be a low-light lens anyway.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, can be detected in shots taken at or near the longer end of the zoom range, but they are not too prominent. At shorter focal lengths, CAs are practically nonexistent.

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

Vignetting

With the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens set to its maximum aperture at 55mm, there is a bit of light fall-off in the extreme corners, but it won't really affect your real-world shots.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIVignetting at 55mm

Macro

The Nikon AF-S Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but its close-up performance is not bad at all with 0.23x maximum magnification and a close focusing distance of 1.1m. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR IIClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens, Nikon employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, and it has resulted in quite nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective; so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

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

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, samples, test, sample images, lens, nikon, nikkor, 200mm, 55mm, dx, sample photos, nikkor 55-200mm, 55-200mm, Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED VR II

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