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

Lens Reviews / Nikon Lenses i Lab tested

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion
55-200mm $159
average price
image of Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

(From Nikon lens literature) Nikon's first long telephoto zoom is equivalent to a 82.5-300mm lens, filling in a gap in the Nikon's digital-specific DX lineup. It is light and compact, and includes two ED elements and a Silent Wave motor for fast, quiet focusing.

(Our own comments) Another lens designed specifically to appeal to the D50 owner, the Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm telephoto lens is an excellent complement to the consumer shooter's bag. Though built with plastic components rather than metal, this lens includes Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass to minimize chromatic aberration. It is a compact and light design, bringing Nikon quality down to the price level of the consumer photographer.

Test Notes

This is another surprisingly good lens at a very attractive price point from Nikon. It's well-behaved when shooting wide open, with no severe softness anywhere, but stopped down to f/8, it shows excellent sharpness out to about 135mm. At 200mm, it's softer, regardless of the aperture chosen, over a range from f/5.6 - 11, and it gets quite soft as you approach the minimum aperture of f/32.

Chromatic aberration is generally lower than average, particularly for a lens in this price range, but (oddly), the CA is noticeably worse at apertures smaller than f/8, at all focal lengths except 200mm. Vignetting is higher than we'd normally expect for a longer focal length lens (as high as 0.8EV), with more falloff at focal lengths longer than the 55mm minimum. Light falloff does decrease rapidly as you stop down though, and at f/8 is never greater than 1/4 EV. Geometric distortion is perhaps the biggest shortcoming of this lens, as it displays 0.5% or more pincushion distortion across much of its focal length range.

The bottom line for the Nikkor 55-200mm DX is that it's a surprisingly good performer for its price point. Used in conjunction with the 18-55mm "kit" lens on the D50, it offers an excellent range of focal lengths with only two lenses, in a compact package, with decent optical performance, all at a very attractive price.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor User Reviews

7.3/10 average of 10 reviews Build Quality 6.4/10 Image Quality 7.6/10
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    Awesome quality for price, sturdy construction
    focus ring is near impossible to use, autofocus a little slow

    one of the best kit lenses i've seen, great quality, good construction, especially for the price. don't bother trying to manual focus it, the ring is tiny and hard to use,
    i did find the autofocus a bit slow but thats expected on a non USM lens
    but all up a great lens, good price and a great way to get started in sports or wildlife photography.

    reviewed October 22nd, 2007
  • 3 out of 10 points and not recommended by (1 reviews)
    The vignetting effect is too drastic for a single image

    Recently I was given a Nikon D40 kit, in using the 55-200 DX lens I have found that the vignetting effect at the edges of the lens are as much a 2 F stop difference from center of photograph to edge at 175 focal length. The vignetting effect is too drastic for a single image and for multiple images or panorama style photographs, thus making it impossible to Photo-merge using Photoshop SC3.

    reviewed September 10th, 2007 (purchased for $930)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    sharp, image quality, bokeh, no CA
    manual focus ring not very usable, slow autofocus

    I bought this lens in a double lens kit (along with 18-55) with my D50. So I paid 150 euros from a legitimate Nikon dealer (a very good price in Italy; list price for the lens alone is 289 euros). I was not expecting very much, but I discovered that this lens delivers very sharp images even wide open and at 200mm, with vibrant colors, exceptional bokeh and chromatic aberration virtually absent, even in the corners. Best use is probably for candid portraits in bright days.

    Two caveats: autofocus can be slow, and you can't really use the manual focus ring. But I don't use manual focus very much, and find the overall image quality much more important. Very recommended for the price.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $180)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (26 reviews)
    Really great light sharp lens
    Slow to focus

    You may pay a lot more for another lens but the bang for the buck on this one is just hard to beat! I had the comparable Sigma 50-200 which I paid about $175 for but it in no way compares in image quality to this Nikon. It is relatively slow to focus compared to other higher priced Nikon products but generally for static (particularly landscape elements) or slow moving subjects it is perfectly acceptable. I have read similar positive comments in other forums and can report that it is a keeper for me. Nikon just lowered the price on this lens and I suggest that you buy one if the focal range is what you are looking for. It is a great walk around lense if you predetermine that you will limit your shooting to the 55 to 200 range for that outing. You may find a cheaper price by shopping on the web, but for me Ritz Camera is one of my preferred providers as well as BH Photo.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $200)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    small, light with fast and snappy autofocus
    maual focus ring is tiny and hard to find with eye to viewfinder. No depth of field scale on lens.

    This is my favorite focal length zoom. It gives me all the range I need to grab what my eye has picked out, and compose perfectly 95% of the time.

    Small and light, this is my favorite walk-around lens. It doesn't change the feel of my camera the way a 70-200, 80-200 or 70-300 does. My neck thanks me at the end of the day.

    I'd like a better manul focus ring and a depth of field scale, but honestly, I don't miss them much when shooting.

    The autofocus is fast and quiet. Makes for good candid shots. Sharp wide open for great portrait too.

    reviewed December 25th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    Small, lightweight, inexpensive
    Not very sharp, significant distortion, slow AF

    My first telephoto lens. I use it mainly for sports and portraits. It lacks VR, though, so you either need good light or a tripod.
    There is some pincushion distortion. CA is not a problem. Sharpness isn't great, however.
    Build quality is mediocre.
    The AF is a bit slow, but if you take pictures of football players that are all far away from you, it's not a problem.

    reviewed December 6th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Excellant Color, Contrast, and Sharpness, superb Bokeh
    Super slow auto-focus, cheap build, poor manual focus ring

    I purchased this lens a couple of months after recieving the Nikon 70-300g as part of a Nikon D50 kit. Though I like the 70-300g, I desired better IQ. After spending time reading reviews here at and other sites, I noticed a trend: that this lens was quite the perfomer for the price.

    The 55-200DX is small, super light, and made of cheap plastics. The overall build is subpar, but the IQ really makes up the difference. Color and contrast are very good on this lens and detail is also top-notch considering the price. Even wide-open this lens is an excellant performer end-to-end. Two things this lens does extremely well (but not noted for) is 'macro' and 'bokeh'. The 9 blade aperture design produces some super creamy bokeh which is simply stunning. Auto-focus is silent (AF-S), but super slow (though accurate). Even with all the cons mentioned, I would highly recommend this lens without a second thought because of it's impressive IQ.

    reviewed December 4th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    light weight, sharpness, absence of CA
    slow focus

    This lens surprised my friends and myself on it's very good quality color rendition, contrast and sharpness. The focus is a little slow buts when I am shooting wide angle and want to bring a small light weight tele-zoom "for just in case" this lens is perfect for my needs

    reviewed December 10th, 2005
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Size, weight, price,
    image quality

    This consumer orientated lens gives good picture quality when stopped down at f/8. At any other values don't expect miracles.
    While 200mm (300mm equivalent) sounds like a good deal the diaphragm is f5.6, so you really need to use a tripod or high ISO to avoid blurry pics. Otherwise this lens is more intented for outdoor usage in bright light.
    Focussing is quite slow for an AF-S, so don't buy this lens is you need to take actionshots.
    Overall a good lens for its's price as long as you don't expect any miracles.

    reviewed November 20th, 2005 (purchased for $250)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    sharp, light, small
    slow autofocus, not good for action photography

    Bought this and used it at downhill mtb event. Reverted to 18-70 as it was missing too many shots.
    Fine for landscape and portrait as optically it fine.

    reviewed October 21st, 2005