Nikon 55-200mm VR Nikkor Reviews, Samples and References

First published on: Monday, 27 April 2009

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.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor Lens
(view a larger photo)

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’s rating of the 55-200mm VR

Thom Hogan assigned an overall rating of three stars for the Nikkor 55-200, and states the following as reasons to buy the lens:

  1. Excellent overall; no significant optical faults.

  2. 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.

Note that the Tamron will not be able to AF (autofocus) on the Nikon D40, D40X, D60 and D5000 because there is no built-in focusing motor, while the Sigma is able to.

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

Here are two of Nikon’s official Nikon D5000 photos — the entire gallery is here.

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 -- Nikon D5000 official sample photo
Tram, shot details:
  1. File size: 6.03 MB
  2. Shutter speed: 1/250 sec
  3. Aperture: f/10
  4. ISO: ISO 200
  5. Focal length: 86mm
  6. Lens: Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR Zoom-Nikkor
  7. Picture control: Vivid
  8. White balance: AWB (Automatic White Balance)
  9. Exposure mode: Shutter-Priority Auto
  10. Exposure metering: 3D Color Matrix Metering II
Windmill -- Nikon D5000 official sample photo
Windmill, shot details:
  1. File size: 4.30 MB
  2. Shutter speed: 1/200 sec
  3. Aperture: f/7.1
  4. ISO: ISO 200
  5. Focal length: 92mm
  6. Lens: Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR Zoom-Nikkor
  7. Picture control: Landscape
  8. White balance: AWB (Automatic White Balance)
  9. Exposure mode: Shutter-Priority Auto
  10. Exposure metering: 3D Color Matrix Metering II


Testing VR On and Off

Test of VR On vs VR Off on the Nikkor 55-200mm VR lensTJ73 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

Size comparison: Nikon D40 + Nikkor 55-200mm VR vs Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mmPerL finds the 55-200mm VR to have good contrast and colors, and the VR mechanism works very well too. Its main advantage is its small size compared with the huge Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

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

Shashi finds that the 55-200mm VR does not focus as quickly as the Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR and Nikkor 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:

Nikon 55-200mm VR full-sized sample DSC_0266

A flower in my parents’ garden:

Nikon 55-200mm VR full-sized sample DSC_0151

Pot with boiling water:

Nikon 55-200mm VR full-sized sample DSC_0150

ISO 800, tools hanging on a kitchen table:

ISO 800, Nikon 55-200mm VR full-sized sample DSC_0118

ISO 800, my parents’ dog:

ISO 800, Nikon 55-200mm VR full-sized sample DSC_0114

Official photos

For reference, this is the official site for the Nikkor 55-200mm VR lens at 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.

User photos

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..

Nikkor 55-200mm image samples by PerLPerL is one of my favorite “ambassadors” for the D40 because he routinely posts excellent images at the 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.

Go to his Nikkor 55-200mm VR gallery to view more pics. Read also how PerL post-processed these images.

Low shutter speeds, high ISO samples
Nikon 55-200mm samples by Hank Wolfe shot at low shutter speeds and high ISOThis 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
Photos from a day trip to Northeast Georgia, with the Nikkor 55-200mm lens + Nikon D70s by McCrearyMcCreary 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.

Bokeh comparisons
Bokeh comparison -- Nikkor 55-200mm VR vs the non-VR Nikkor 55-200mm lensTwo 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
Test shots with the Nikon D50 + Nikkor 55-200mm VR lensHere’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.

Miscellaneous shots

  1. Dog

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