How does the Nikon 55-300mm VR compare to the older Nikon 55-200mm VR? Let’s take a look at direct comparisons between the two.
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 55-200mm @ 55mm Center Frame
However, as you can see, the 55-200mm is actually softer at maximum aperture. The sharpness difference is very minimal at f/5.6 and f/8.0 (below):
Both perform very similarly when stopped down to f/8.0.
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 55-200mm @ 55mm Corner Frame
Wide open, both lenses have an almost identical corner performance – I cannot see any difference between the two. The same is true when stopped down to f/8.0:
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 55-200mm @ 105mm Center Frame
Again, both are quite good at maximum aperture, with the 55-300mm being a tad softer.
At f/8.0, the performance is almost identical.
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 55-200mm @ 105mm Corner Frame
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 55-200mm @ 200mm Center Frame
Wide open, the Nikon 55-300mm is now at f/5.0, while the Nikon 55-200mm is at f/5.6. Sharpness-wise, both are almost identical, with the 55-300mm slightly outperforming the 55-200mm at f/5.6.
Both lenses perform about the same when stopped down.
When it comes to corner performance @ 200mm, the Nikon 55-300mm takes the lead just like in the 105mm corner test.
So, which one is sharper, the Nikon 55-300mm or the Nikon 55-200mm? As you can see from the above tests, both perform equally well, with the 55-300mm performing just a little better than the 55-200mm towards the longer range at 200mm. Overall, I would say the performance is almost identical, with small differences here and there. When it comes to distortion, CA and other lens characteristics, lenses are very comparable, with the 55-200 having a little more vignetting at 200mm than the 55-300. The obvious advantage the 55-300mm has over the 55-200mm, is focal length. Those 100mm play a big role when it comes to reaching distant subjects and without a doubt, the 55-300mm is a lot more useful than the 55-200mm.
If you are trying to decide between these two lenses, the choice is clear – the Nikon 55-300mm is a better lens, mainly because it can reach much further. Here is the difference between 200mm and 300mm focal lengths:
As you can see, the difference is significant.
What about the new and versatile Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G VR? Let’s see how it compares against the Nikon 55-300mm.
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 70mm Center
Due to differences in field of view between the Nikon 55-300mm and Nikon 28-300mm, I had to adjust the focal length of the Nikon 55-300mm to match around 70mm of 28-300mm. Here are 100% crops from both lenses wide open and f/5.6 (Left: Nikon 55-300mm, Right: Nikon 28-300mm):
At both apertures, the Nikon 28-300mm is clearly taking the lead. When it comes to corners, the Nikon 55-300mm performs a little better at 70mm than the 28-300mm though.
Nikon 55-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 300mm Center
The most important test against the 28-300mm is to see how well the Nikon 55-300mm does at 300mm. But first, back to the field of view difference and focus breathing – at a distance of approximately 2.5 meters, the difference in focal length is huge. The below crops of the 55-300mm were shot @ 135mm. At this subject distance, I would say Nikon 55-300mm @ 150mm roughly yields the same field of view as the Nikon 28-300mm @ 300mm!
Considering the focus breathing issue, it is impossible to compare the Nikon 28-300mm to the Nikon 55-300mm @ 300mm while shooting a close subject. However, at around 150mm on the 55-300mm, the Nikon 28-300mm seems to be sharper.
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