The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II is a versatile and compact 3.6x telephoto zoom lens, offering a 35mm equivalent focal range of 82.5-300mm. It 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 £254/$346.95 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Build quality is pretty decent. The 55-200 DX VR II is all plastic – contributing the light weight(10% lighter than its predecessor) of the lens, but the optical elements are made of high-grade glass. Compared to the current AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED, length is reduced by approx. 16.5 mm and diameter by approx. 2.5 mm. Although, the lens is not claimed to be weatherproof but there is a rubber seal around the lens mount that should provide basic dust protection. Zoomed out, it’s just 83mm long, approximately 20% shorter than previous models. Zoomed in, it provides 200 mm of telephoto reach to get you closer to all the shots that matter.
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.At the 200mm end, the angle of view narrows to 8°.
Nikon’s compact Silent Wave Motor technology (SWM) offers silent, fast and accurate auto focus, so you can shoot without disturbing your subject. Autofocus on still subjects is fast and sure. It doesn’t offer instant manual focus override, which means you first have to flip the AF/MF switch to MF, and that costs you some time. The focus ring is very small and is all the way at the front of the lens. You can manually focus with this lens, but if you want to do that often, a more expensive Nikon is probably a better choice.
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. Nikon has corrected this by applying one element of ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, which limits lateral chromatic aberration. At shorter focal lengths, CAs are practically nonexistent.
This technology improves image stability by automatically compensating for camera shake. Nikon’s Vibration Reduction(VR) image stabilization provides 4.0 stops (1 stop more than the previous model) of blur free handheld shooting, assuring dramatically sharper still images, steadier HD videos and enhanced low-light performance. It will allow photographers to zoom right in to 200 mm and use relatively slow shutter speeds whilst hand-holding the camera without the resulting images suffering from camera shake.
Not only does it get close, but it’s sharp, too. You can shoot at 200 mm and be able to stand farther back to get a better perspective.
A rounded seven-blade diaphragm makes out of focus elements look more natural, producing an unexpectedly nice background blur, so that you can beautifully isolate a subject from the background.
This lens is always super-sharp in the centre and throughout the entire image at 55 mm, but at longer focal lengths can get softer on the sides at larger apertures. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8.
Flare and Ghosts
Both wide-angle lenses and telephoto lenses are sensitive to backlighting, due to which colored and angular flecks appear in images when you photograph directly into a bright light source. But where the Nikon 55-200 mm VR II surprised me was the lack of prominence of those ghosts.
Read full technical specifications from here.
The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens is incredibly lightweight – ideal for travel and everyday use. At this smaller size will appeal to those who don’t fancy carrying a large bag full of lenses around with them at all times. Sharpness and performance are extra ordinary. Vibration Reduction(VR) works great. Only problem is that it doesn’t offer instant manual focus override, you first need to flip the AF/MF switch to MF. Overall, it has a good combination of portability and performance.