Nikon released the new 55-300mm lens as an update to the existing 55-200mm lens and did a great job in keeping consistently good sharpness between 55mm and 200mm, with an added bonus of another 100mm for situations where additional reach is needed. Despite being a consumer zoom lens, the Nikon 55-300mm proved to be a great choice when it comes to optical performance, value and weight. It basically obsoletes the previous 55-200mm lens in all aspects and compares favorably against other similar lenses such as Nikon 70-300mm VR. While its focus speed and accuracy are not as good as on the Nikon 70-300mm or other pro-level lenses, it certainly does good enough of the job for capturing family pictures, events and travel at a very affordable price point. The slow autofocus performance and small maximum aperture are certainly not for low-light and fast-moving action photography, but if you learn how to focus with this lens, you will be able to capture great shots.
When compared to the Nikon 28-300mm lens, the Nikon 55-300mm can give a much longer range to work with, since the Nikon 28-300mm has a “lens breathing” design that brings down the effective focal length of the 28-300mm to approximately 130mm when shooting at minimum focus distance of 1.5 meters @ 300mm. There is a huge difference between 130mm and 300mm when it comes to field of view, and having a longer range is quite important while trying to fill the frame with a nearby subject. In terms of optical performance, the Nikon 28-300mm is a little sharper. Where I find the most value in this lens, is its portability. Hiking with heavy lenses is difficult and not always practical. The Nikon 55-300mm VR is very lightweight lens and can be easily carried around, especially if mounted on a compact DX body. Price, without a doubt, is another key factor – it only costs around $369, which is not a bad price for a lens like this.
Overall, I am impressed with this lens – it is fully capable of producing great pictures for those with tight budgets and who are planning to continue using DX cameras in the future.
Where to Buy
The Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens is currently available at B&H Photo Video and other retailers for $396 (as of 07/15/2013). I always recommend buying photography gear from B&H, because they have the lowest prices and the best customer service when compared to other online and local retailers.
Nikon 55-300mm VR
- Optical Performance
- Bokeh Quality
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Stabilization
- Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating
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