Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm

Started Nov 19, 2012 | Questions
Jasonsmom
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Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
Nov 19, 2012

First let me say thank you to all of you for your patients with this newbie's questions.

I will be getting a Nikon D5100.  I am buying refurbished from Cameta.  Now trying to pick lenses.  Auto focus and VR is a must.

Although I like the idea of only one lens (was looking at 18-105) I'm pretty sure I need a longer lens.

Am now trying to decide between

1.  Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR DX AF-S ED Zoom-Nikkor  ($209)

or

2.  Nikon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6G VR DX AF-S ED Zoom-Nikkor  ($110)

I'm trying right now to look at reviews.  I plan to use this lens on cruise to Mediteranean next spring (Venice, Tower of Pisa, and so on), but I also have a 6yo who will be starting into sports shortly.  I would love to learn how to shoot wildlife (I do it now, but outcome is laughable with my Nikon Coolpix L20 - pretty good though on the Macro side).  I've wanted an SLR for as long as I can remember, but don't have a lot of money.

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Nikon Coolpix L20 Nikon D5100
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Deleted1929
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 19, 2012

Getting just a 55-x lens will leave you completely unable to take shots at "social" ranges.  If you're getting one lens get the 18-105 VR as that at least lets you shoot people in social settings without having to step back so far you'd have to pass through walls in rooms.

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StephenG

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Jasonsmom
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Deleted1929, Nov 19, 2012

sjgcit wrote:

Getting just a 55-x lens will leave you completely unable to take shots at "social" ranges. If you're getting one lens get the 18-105 VR as that at least lets you shoot people in social settings without having to step back so far you'd have to pass through walls in rooms.

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StephenG

I will be getting the 18-55 in addition to this lens.  I've also been looking at the 18-105, but it costs more than the other 2 combined & I think I'd like to have more range.

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BobSC
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 19, 2012

Thom Hogan has a review of the 55-200, 55-300, and 70-300 on his website that will help you think it through:

http://bythom.com/nikkor-55-300mm-DX-lens-review.htm

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Jasonsmom
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to BobSC, Nov 19, 2012

BobSC wrote:

Thom Hogan has a review of the 55-200, 55-300, and 70-300 on his website that will help you think it through:

http://bythom.com/nikkor-55-300mm-DX-lens-review.htm

Great web-site.  Know what I'll be doing for the next few hours..............

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Jasonsmom
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 20, 2012

I've spent many hours trying to decide...... I'm still at a loss.  Any other recommendations?

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Deleted1929
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You're over-thinking, go with your gut (nt)
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 20, 2012
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StephenG

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Guidenet
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 21, 2012

Jasonsmom wrote:

I've spent many hours trying to decide...... I'm still at a loss. Any other recommendations?

Without a doubt, get the 55-300 VR. It's a great lens and you will love that extra range. 300mm puts you into basic starter for sports, wildlife and birds. My buddy Steven loves his 55-200 VR and it's also a great little lens, but again, that extra range trumps all and the price is right.

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 Guidenet's gear list:Guidenet's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon D3S Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF +24 more
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Kokeen4231
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 21, 2012

Just go with the 55 300. You cant really regret that and the extra reach would do you no harm.

 Kokeen4231's gear list:Kokeen4231's gear list
Fujifilm X-E2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS
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BobSC
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 21, 2012

Jasonsmom wrote:

I've spent many hours trying to decide...... I'm still at a loss. Any other recommendations?

If money is no issue go with the 300.

300 is really long though. you probably wont have much use for that much..

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mgd43
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to BobSC, Nov 21, 2012

Go with the 55-300 VR. They are both good lenses, but the extra 100mm makes a big difference.

 mgd43's gear list:mgd43's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7800 Nikon D5200 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR +3 more
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leno
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Re: Nikon 55-300 vs 55-200mm
In reply to mgd43, Nov 21, 2012

I've got both these and the 200 is the better lens. Auto focus on the 300 is slower and more error prone. Image is also slightly better qaulity. If you realy need the extra 100m then go for it but I mostly only use it for 200 - 300 range.

 leno's gear list:leno's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Nikon D5100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G +2 more
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Jasonsmom
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Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to leno, Nov 21, 2012

To the helpful person who said I was over thinking this and should just go with my gut ....... I sooo wish I could, but that's not how I work.

The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR DX AFS

1. lighter / smaller

2.  faster focus

3.  better IQ in overlapping ranges (some disagree)

4.  less well built / plastic mount

5.  less reach

6.  does slightly better in low light

7.  has a 52mm end which will match my 18-55 (can share filters and such)

The Nikon 55-300

1.  heavier / bigger

2.  slower focus

3.  Not quite as sharp images (again some disagree)

4.  better built with metal mount

5.  longer reach

6.  doesn't do quite as good in low light

7.  the end is 58mm which I will increas price for attachments.

Also, the 55-300 the front element rotates during focusing.  What  problems does this cause as in reviews people don't like it.

How big a deal is the difference in f stops?

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BobSC
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Re: Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 21, 2012

They are both 4.5 to 5.6, so no difference in F stops.

EDIT: I see the one is 4 to 5.6. The difference between 4 and 4.5 is 1/3 a stop. It makes a difference but it's not huge. END EDIT

The rotating front makes a difference if you put a directional filter on it. Examples would be a polarizer or a graduated filter. If you don't put a filter on it then it doesn't really matter.

I was out with my 80-200 f2.8 this morning. At 200 I had to shoot wide open to get enough light. 300 can be difficult to handhold, especially in anything other than full sun.

I've never used either of the lenses you're considering. I've been kind of tempted by the 55-200 because it is cheap and small. Would be handy when traveling.

To put 200 into perspective, I was probably 30 to 40 feet from the dog here:



He was a very small dog.

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Guidenet
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Re: Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to Jasonsmom, Nov 21, 2012

Jasonsmom wrote:

The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR DX AFS

1. lighter / smaller

2. faster focus

3. better IQ in overlapping ranges (some disagree)

4. less well built / plastic mount

5. less reach

6. does slightly better in low light

7. has a 52mm end which will match my 18-55 (can share filters and such)

The Nikon 55-300

1. heavier / bigger

2. slower focus

3. Not quite as sharp images (again some disagree)

4. better built with metal mount

5. longer reach

6. doesn't do quite as good in low light

7. the end is 58mm which I will increas price for attachments.

Also, the 55-300 the front element rotates during focusing. What problems does this cause as in reviews people don't like it.

How big a deal is the difference in f stops?

There's not squat difference except in overall focal length. Period and end of story. Yes, the front rotates but that means you rotate the polarizer after you've focused instead of before on those rare occasions where you might want a polarizer. For me that's almost never. The difference in price between a polarizer in 52 or 58mm is trivial. The differences become a little greater between 52mm and 77mm maybe.

Sure and without a doubt a lens that reaches half again longer to 300mm is going to be a little bigger. That stands to reason. Metal mount means a little better than Kit lens quality. There's no big deal in f/stops.

IQ is pretty much exactly the same in overlapping regions. Both are somewhat slow in low light. You get a third of a stop better at 55mm with one which is trivial. Other than that, there is no difference in low light.

These two lenses are considered and designed to be about identical by Nikon other than the end focal length. Canon and Nikon made 55-200 lenses as their bundled twin lens kits until Canon came out with their 55-250 and the Nikon had to beat it with the 55-300. Now we get that choice for a little more and it's a good choice.

In the back yard, birds are a little too far away with 200mm much of the time where at 300mm they start to get closer in range. Same with all wild life. It's a more useful focal range, all else being pretty equal except price. That part is up to you. Down the road, the 55-300 will also have a higher used or resale value for trade in if you decide to upgrade later.

If you're really interested in better IQ by a slight margin and faster AF, move now to the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR for $550 or so. That's your next move, not this trivial differences between these two almost idential lenses. After that, you can move to the 70-200 f/4 at around $1400 then the 70-200 f/2.8 at $2300. The two you're considering here aren't worth the effort to try to differenciate other than length and price. They are the same.

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Jimmy K.
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Re: Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to Guidenet, Nov 22, 2012

I complete agree with Guidenet.

To Jasonsmom (OP), your stats might be right but really irrelevant.  The differences (focus speed, IQ, built, low light, bla bla bla) are all negligible.  Except 200mm vs 300mm and price.  These are "cheap" consumer lens that people buy on whim without 2nd thought.  It seems you get getting to "Paralysis by Analysis".

I have 55-300mm lens in addition to 18-105mm kit lens; plus 50mm prime lense.  I use 18-105mm kit lens almost all the time.  The only time I use 55-300mm is when I need the reach.  And for that, 300mm is better than 200mm.

You mentioned you want the longer lens for the reach.  Then get the 300mm.

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Bjorn_L
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Re: Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to Guidenet, Nov 22, 2012

As is so often the case, I completely agree with Craig.  Great advice.  I also suggest considering the slightly better optically 70-300, but get the 55-300 it that is too expensive.

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mgd43
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Re: Still can't decide, Are my stats right
In reply to Bjorn_L, Nov 22, 2012

I've been cutting down the weight of my gear so I bought a 55-300 VR. While it is bigger and heavier than the 55-200 VR, it is still a lightweight lens. The only reason that I can see to get the 55-200 VR is that you just can't afford the $100 more that the 55-300 VR costs.

As I and others have said, the extra 100mm makes  a difference.

 mgd43's gear list:mgd43's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7800 Nikon D5200 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR +3 more
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