horsetail's reviews

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

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, compact, astoundingly sharp, great bokeh, parfocal, highly effective VR, dirt cheap if you get it refurbished in a DX camera/2 lens kit.
    MF is very hard to do with its short ring turning angle and its total lack of resistance, zoom ring could be smoother, at f/5.6 at the long end it's quite dark, and it doesn't have the fastest or quietest AF motor (but is fast and quiet enough), but hey I

    This is perhaps the best bang for the buck for a telephoto lens out there in the APS-C world. It's tack sharp corner to corner at wide open apertures and from wide to long FOV, suffers from almost no chromatic aberration and has negligible distortion, plus it's parfocal, so it stays in focus as you zoom in or out when doing videos. It's almost optically perfect, apart from it being a variable aperture design and, at f/5.6 on the long end, pretty dark, but given the great high ISO performance of all modern 24Mp Nikon DX bodies, it all works out Ok, at least in good lighting conditions.

    Physically the lens is very compact when retracted and very lightweight. Although you do feel that there is quite some glass inside, the materials used for its body do make it feel cheap in both form and function, with a not very smooth zoom action that is sometimes draggy and a MF ring that's too quick to turn and has absolutely no resistance or weight to it. The plastic mount is definitively something you must take good care of, otherwise a wrong mounting will easily break a bayonet tab off the lens. It also doesn't have a rear rubber seal, so avoiding water splash is a must.

    VR is very effective, much more so than the 70-300mm VR's that I previously owned and unloaded as soon as I discovered how great this 55-200mm VRII is, but since you will most likely be shooting moving subjects with this lens, you'll be using high shutter speeds anyways, but it's great to have, especially for filming videos. AF is fast enough and quiet enough for video use with an external mic, but it's not as fast nor as quiet as the 70-300, but for my usage, which is mostly taking pictures and videos of my kids, it's good enough for me.

    This lens is a perfect pairing for a lightweight carbon fiber DX body like the D3300/D5300/D5500, and you just can't go wrong with its price. Imaging Resource should do a review on it to validate my findings, as I have also owned the previous version of this lens and it was nowhere near as great.

    reviewed July 3rd, 2016 (purchased for $60)