Last update (Apr 28, 2009): Thom Hogan’s rating of the 55-200mm VR.
Gathered in this post is a compilation of annotated links to Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G AF-S VR Nikkor reviews, feedback, user opinions, sample photos, tests, image galleries, pictures and other references and resources.
The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikkor AF-S DX VR 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED DX zoom lens was announced together with the Nikon D40X camera and caused much excitement since it was the lowest-priced consumer zoom lens that comes with Vibration Reduction technology, and produces sharp images as well.
Thom Hogan assigned an overall rating of three stars for the Nikkor 55-200, and states the following as reasons to buy the lens:
- Excellent overall; no significant optical faults.
- Small, light.
Thom Hogan’s conclusion on the 55-200 VR vs similar offerings from Tamron and Sigma
If you’re trying to decide whether to go with Nikon’s 55-200mm VR vs the Sigma 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DC HSM or Tamron AF 55-200mm F/4.0-5.6 Di-II LD Macro lenses, do give Thom Hogan’s reviews a read — see his Sigma 55-200 review, and Tamron 55-200 review.
The conclusion is clear: Thom recommends the Nikon 55-200 VR over the Tamron and Sigma equivalents.
Two official sample images, shot with a Nikon D5000
Click on the thumbnails below to open up the full-resolution image in a new browser window, or just right-click to save to your hard drive.
Tram, shot details:
Windmill, shot details:
Testing VR On and Off
TJ73 did this simple test with his Nikon D40 to demonstrate the effectiveness of the VR mechanism on the Nikkor 55-200mm lens at 55mm and 200mm focal lengths. His impression of the focus speed of the lens in low light is favorable, matching that of the Nikkor 18-55mm II kit lens. Also, the 55-200 VR is made in China and the build quality and lens contruction on both the 55-200 and 18-55 lenses are approximately the same.
Nikkor 55-20mm VR vs the older, non-VR Nikkor 55-200mm lens
Weight and Dimensions: If having a small-sized lens and carrying as little weight as possible is your priority, then it’s better to get the older, non-VR version.
Compared with the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 70-300mm AF-S VR lenses
If one doesn’t mind the weight, the Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR is the better lens to buy since it has the version of AF-S that allows full-time manual focus override and auto-focuses faster, has greater zoom at the telephoto end, a metal lens mount, and has the more advanced version of Nikon’s vibration reduction technology, VR II (offering four stops of handholding advantage), compared with VR I (offers three stops of handholding advantage) on the 55-200mm VR lens.
Compared with the Nikkor 18-200mm and 70-300mm VR lenses
I would add, though, that the images from the 55-200mm would come out much sharper than what you’ll get from the 18-200mm VR lens. If you want to keep the 18-55mm kit lens that comes with your Nikon D40 / D50 / D40x and don’t feel like splurging on an expensive telephoto lens, get the 55-200mm VR by all means.
But for the ultimate super-zoom, walk-around lens and high-quality consumer telephoto zoom combination, it’s tough to beat owning both the Nikon 18-200mm VR and Nikon 70-300mm VR lenses.
User reviews on Amazon
The overall reviews seem to be extremely positive. For instance, R. Brandon says:
This is a compact, light weight lens. The range is perfect for general photography. Love it. The VR feature is perfect.
My full-sized 55-200mm VR samples
Some are unedited, some have corrections such as straightening a slanted horizon and a little touch-up in saturation and contrast.
They were shot with my friend’s Nikon D60 digital SLR camera.
Click the photo to access the full-sized version.
Night scene, Kuala Lumpur telecommunications tower:
A flower in my parents’ garden:
Pot with boiling water:
ISO 800, tools hanging on a kitchen table:
ISO 800, my parents’ dog:
For reference, this is the official site for the Nikkor 55-200mm VR lens at NikonImaging.com. You’ll get to read about the features and full specifications of the lens, and view charts on the lens construction, and MTF data. The official web page for the older, non-VR Nikkor 55-200mm lens is here.
Full-sized 55-200mm VR images — The image quality from the 55-200mm lens compares favorably with the professional Nikkor lenses in this set of Nikon D40X test photos.
PerL’s 55-200 mm VR Photos
D200 plus 55-200 VR at the Stockholm Marathon — PerL’s extremely impressed with the image quality from the 55-200’s, which compares favorably with the much more expensive Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Some excellent images in there too, and here’s another shot with the 55-200 VR mounted on the D40 — the bokeh is pretty good..
PerL is one of my favorite “ambassadors” for the D40 because he routinely posts excellent images at the DPReview.com forums. This series of 55-200mm VR sample pictures is no exception.
Note the effectiveness of the VR as demonstrated by the first two examples -the first was shot at 1/8 seconds, 55mm while the second was at 1/20s, 145mm.
Incidentally, both pictures were taken at ISO 1600 and though resized, give a good account of the D40’s fantastic ability at taking high ISO shots with low noise.
Low shutter speeds, high ISO samples
This 55-200mm VR samples gallery by Hank Wolfe were shot in low-light situations, which meant the use of high ISO (up to ISO 1600) or low shutter speeds.
Be sure to click on the “More Properties” link for each photo to view the EXIF, and the “All Sizes” button above each picture to view a larger version of the image. Again, the D40’s low noise, high-ISO pics are pretty impressive, and the VR feature on the 55-200 lens seems very effective.
Samples from a day trip to Northeast Georgia
McCreary took some nice photos with the 55-200 VR mounted on his Nikon D70s camera. Additionally, a CP (circular polarizer) filter was used.
I think you’ll enjoy the much larger version of the pictures at his 55-200mm VR PBase gallery. Be sure to click the “Original” link found under each photo in order to view it at the original, uploaded size.
You can also have a look at the EXIF for shot details.
Two images of an orange were posted to compare the bokeh of the 55-200 VR lens with that from the older, non-VR Nikkor 55-200mm lens.
Interest in this comparison arose due to the differences in the lens construction between both lenses, with the older 55-200 lens having 9 rounded diaphragm blades vs only 7 rounded blades in the newer, VR version.
Theoretically, the older lens should have a more pleasant bokeh owing to the additional blades (for instance, this person does think that the older, non-VR Nikkor 55-200mm lens exhibits better bokeh). However, it was concluded that the differences are negligible by the person who shot the photograph.
Additionally, he remarked that the VR version weighs more and has larger dimensions, although having VR capability is an advantage.
Here’s a closeup shot of a Syrphid Fly (not a bee) on a yellow flower taken with a Nikon D80. Bokeh of the flora in the background is excellent, in my opinion -and this image was taken at an f/13 aperture.
First shots with the Nikon D50
Here’s a nice selection of test shots with the Nikkor 55-200mm VR mounted on a D50. You get to see a 100% crop of someone’s stubbles, VR On vs Off shots, resized ISO 1600 samples and some gorgeous flower pics.
Post-processing was limited to applying Scott Kelby’s recommended USM (UnSharp Masking) values to all photos, and Auto Levels for the last flower shot.
EXIF for the moon shot (handheld) is RAW (NEF), 1/60 seconds, f/5.6, VR on, ISO1600, @ 200mm, WB (white balance) set to tungsten.