Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR £280/$395
Bigger and better than Nikon’s 55-200mm Offering
Unlike the more compact Nikon 55-200mm VR II, this lens is the size and weight you’d expect for a budget tele-zoom. Both are DX format lenses, but the non-retracting 55-300mm is 50 per cent longer and much heftier. The latter is due not just to its size, but to the fact that the mounting plate is metal rather than plastic. As with only the AF-S 70-300mm VR in this test, the mount has a weather seal.
The VR system is of an older generation than the one in the 55-200mm lens, and has a less effective three-stop rating. Again, the autofocus system is based on an ultrasonic motor but, unlike in the 55-200mm VR II, the inner barrel and front element rotate during focusing. Optical upgrades include two rather than one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, plus the addition of an HRI (High Refractive Index) element.
Compared with the 55-200mm, its autofocus speed is sluggish, and it’s not quite as sharp at short to mid zoom settings. Sharpness improves from 200mm upwards.