55-200mm vs 55-300mm

Started Jun 28, 2012 | Discussions
jcockeri Forum Member • Posts: 66
55-200mm vs 55-300mm

I'm wondering which lens to get for my D5100 (can't afford the better 70-200mm). What would current user recommend?

I know the obvious differences: better focal length on the 55-300mm; bigger aperture on the 55-200mm. But about the not so obvious?

Which has better:
Focus speed
Sharpness at full zoom
Which works better in dark lighting

IMO it's the things you don't discover until the lens is tested in the real world that make all the difference. Please share your experiences using these lenses

Nikon D5100
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
bocajrs Senior Member • Posts: 2,327
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

If your budget allows it, I would skip both and go for the 70-300MM VR. It's built like a tank, fast AF in sunny conditions (ok low light performance), metal mount.

I sold both for it and havent looked back.

Good luck!!!

 bocajrs's gear list:bocajrs's gear list
Nikon 1 J4 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR +2 more
Malangbaba Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

I have all three, 55-200 VR, 70-300 VR, and 55-300 VR. One will be hard pressed to find a difference in image quality of all three when used in similar light. Popular Photography magazine gave high marks to 55-300 VR. So if you want the reach at a lower price, go with 55-300 VR.


OP jcockeri Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

Thanks for the responses guys. I think I'll take a closer look at the 55-300mm.

PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,990
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

jcockeri wrote:

Thanks for the responses guys. I think I'll take a closer look at the 55-300mm.

Look at the 55-200VR too. It is plastic and cheaply made. But it has a really surprising IQ with high contrast and punch. And it is very light and small for travel.

OP jcockeri Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

Yes i have read that the minus the extra 100mm the 55-200mm is better for travel that the larger 55-300mm because of weight. The only thing I don't like is the plastic mount but I guess if it's light then breakage might not be a factor.

Mid-Town_Guy Regular Member • Posts: 292
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

I have the 55-200mm VR (can't comment on the other one) but will mention that I have ended up using it quite a bit as a f/4 portrait lens between 55-60mm on my D90 and have gotten some nice results.... but at 200mm for things far away... not so great... but what do you expect...

 Mid-Town_Guy's gear list:Mid-Town_Guy's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD +2 more
Joe Porto Senior Member • Posts: 1,064
55-300 VR...sharp, but slow AF.

If fast focus, and tracking moving subjects is a priority, spend the extra money on the 70-300mm. The extra $150 get's you faster AF, FX compatible FOV, internal focus (you can use a polarizer) and much better build quality.

If you are looking for an ultralight super tele, and don't mind slow AF, the 55-300mm is surprisingly sharp at 300mm f/5.6. The 55-300mm VR does have a metal mount. It's smaller, and nearly half the weight of the 70-300mm.

My grab and go nature kit is a D7000 and 70-300mm, but when I want a small, ultralight kit with long reach, I'll grab my wife's D3200 w/ 55-300mm.

If I was going to nitpick IQ between the two, I'd also say that the 55-300mm slightly outperforms the 70-300mm at 300mm f/5.6, but they are equal at f/8.

 Joe Porto's gear list:Joe Porto's gear list
Canon PowerShot G15 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3-5-4.5G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +5 more
Catallaxy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,724
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

The 55-200 VR has better IQ over the same range. There is only a tad bit of difference in sharpness, but the 55-200 VR has better bokeh (meaning the out of focus areas look a bit less nervous to me). The AF is also a tad faster. The front element does not rotate when focusing, making using a CPL a bit easier. It is also pocketable in jacket pocket, whereas the 55-300 VR is not. VR operation is about the same for both lenses. The 55-200 VR makes a nice closeup lens as well. The 55-200 VR can be found quite inexpensively if you look for used or refurbished.

My suggestion is to get the 55-200 VR. If you need the longer reach, then look to the Tamron 70-300 VC or the Nikon 70-300 VR. Look for these used or refurbished to save money. However if you get the Tamron or Nikon 70-300 VC/VR, make sure you look at how much bulkier and heavier they are than the 55-200 VR before you buy.

-- hide signature --


pastordad Regular Member • Posts: 111
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm

I have owned the 55-200 and 55-300. In my experience, the 55-300 is a bit sharper over the overlapping range.

The VC is quieter (the 55-200 had a bit of a hiss to it (I've owned 2 of them - both
hissed) no noise on the 55-300.

AF, is slower going from close to far ranges (probably a second, but seems like an eternity) but once its in a range its pretty good. I've never had it hunt in normal light (which the 55-200 has done a couple of times).

IQ from 200-300 not as good, but acceptible. Not sure how it compares to the 70-300 there.

I got the 55-300 with a discount (so it was only $350). Not sure I would pay full price for it or just go for the 70-300...

 pastordad's gear list:pastordad's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 A3000 Sony a6000 Sony a6300 Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II +10 more
Tianium Veteran Member • Posts: 4,280
Re: 55-200mm vs 55-300mm or 70-300mm?

I have owned both the 55-200 and 70-300 and tested out the 55-300mm.

The 55-200 is a good cheap, small, light, reasonally sharp lens. Great value for the money. Probably a tad sharper thru its range than the 55-300. It has faster AF. The 55-300 has a metal lens mount and VRII, but the front element rotates when focussing. The AF (especially subject tracking) is very weak.

So if you need the extra reach and subject tracking is NOT a priority then the 55-300 is fine. For sports etc....forget it......the 55-200 will serve you better.

The 70-300mm VRII is bigger, heavier, has better build quality, has VRII. It also has a better AF motor with instant manual overide and is noticeably faster and better at tracking fast moving subjects. Really its in another league in this respect.


dw1 Regular Member • Posts: 210
Personally I think the 55-200 is

very hard to beat for the money. Sharp wide open, tracks plenty fast. Just a few below....


 dw1's gear list:dw1's gear list
Fujifilm X-T20 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads