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

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


 

October 2011
(tested with Nikon D7000)

The Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED lens was announced in March 2007. It was an upgrade to the non VR version. The lens can be bought individually or as part of a camera kit, usually bundled with the Nikon 18-55mm DX VR. As a DX lens the 55-200mm VR was made for cameras with APS-C sensors. It has a built in motor so it will auto focus with all of Nikon's DSLRs.

This is a plastic lens, including the lens mount. The zoom ring, which makes up most of the barrel, is rubber coated. The focusing ring is plastic and sits in front of the zoom ring on the end of the lens. Both rings turn smoothly. On the barrel is a manual focus switch and a VR on/off switch. I found both switches to be a bit stiff and a little force was needed to move them. Although this is an AF-S lens I found the auto focus to be a little slower than other AF-S lenses. I'm guessing Nikon uses better motors in their more expensive lenses. The filter thread doesn't rotate so using a polarizer or other filter is no problem. The VR (Vibration Reduction), works as advertised. VR is almost mandatory for a lens of this type, a slow zoom lens (small aperture).

Wide open, sharpness of the lens in the center is very good. Center sharpness does drop off a bit towards the long end though. The corners and borders are just ok. A few stops down from the maximum aperture and they improve. Likewise, center sharpness improves a bit until diffraction kicks in at f/11. Overall sharpness was best at f/8 from 55-105mm. The worst results were at 200mm at f/5.6.

Distortion is not a problem with this lens. There is some barrel distortion at 55mm. By 135mm pincushion distortion is visible. It increases slightly out to 200mm. It's easy to correct with post processing, but in most cases not necessary. Vignetting is slight wide open at both ends of the zoom range. It's a little more visible in the middle of the zoom from 105mm to 135mm. Stopping down the lens one stop and it's all but eliminated at the ends of the zoom. One more stop down eliminates the light fall off in the middle range. Chromatic aberration is well controlled and not an issue. Flare is not a problem unless the lens is pointed directly into the sun. I found the bokeh to be just ok.

I picked up the Nikon 55-200mm DX VR as an extra lens in a trade. Since I already had other lenses in this range I didn't have any use for it. I sold it after trying it out. For the casual photographer who wants a little more reach this lens fits the bill nicely. Performance wise this lens is excellent for the price. It compliments the 18-55mm DX VR kit lens nicely. It's not really meant for wildlife and sports. If you have a limited budget the longer and faster focusing Nikon 70-300mm VR lens would be a better choice. The only real issue I had with the lens is the tiny focus ring. Nikon could have easily made the zoom ring an inch shorter and increased the focus ring size.

 

Specifications:

Focal length 55-200mm
Maximum aperture f/4-5.6
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 15 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view 28o50' - 8o with DX format)
Closest focusing distance 1.1m (3.6 ft)
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.29x
Number of diaphragm blades 7
Auto focus type AF-S (Silent Wave Motor)
Filter diameter 52 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 73.6 mm (2.9 in) x 99.5 mm (3.9 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 335g (11.8 oz)



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