I am a new photographer and investigating entry-level Nikon telephoto lenses for possible purchase. (I already have the 18-55 kit lens.) I am confused about their telephoto zoom offerings.
If I want something better (optically) than the 55-200 kit lens, my options include the:
- Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR,
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR.
They are exactly the same price (at least on Amazon). Both are for DX cameras and include VR. My camera is new enough to be compatible with both.
Is there any reason I should prefer the first to the second, which has a greater zoom range and a wider aperture at the 300mm end?
I have two guesses.
- The autofocus system might be better on the second. I don't know anything about the merits of AF-P versus AF-S, but I would assume AF-P would be superior to justify the trade-offs above.
- The 70-300 may be sharper because (extending the reasoning often given for why prime lenses are superior) it is easier to construct a quality lens in a narrower zoom range.
Are these guesses correct? Why might one lens be preferable to the other?
Edit: I'm updating this post with evidence for my guesses from this review.
If you need a low-cost, light, competent DX telephoto zoom and have one of the most recent low-end DX bodies (D3400, D5500), the 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 AF-P VR just became the lens to buy. Optically, it seems clearly better than the 55-300mm, and in good light with a cross sensor the autofocus performance is in a whole other (far better) category, too.
The author concludes that if you have a compatible camera body, "[the 70-300] is the basic telephoto zoom to buy, no questions asked."
Also, as pointed out in the comments, the AF-P is compatible with fewer cameras, so that is another difference to consider.