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I own a Nikon 18-55 VR and a v 55-200 (no VR). I love zooming as much as I can, but I have a very limited budget. I am not a professional, so I am learning through experimenting with my camera.

An idea crossed my mind, to sell the 55-200 and buy a 70-300 one instead, either Sigma or Tamron which are both low-budget lenses. Would switching make sense? I mean, I do not know how much zoom is 200m or 300mm, like the compact cameras which appear to have 3x or 10x zoom.

So is the no VR/VC Sigma or Tamron 70-300mm lens any good compared to the Nikon 55-200 ?

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I would also highly recommend considering optical image stabilization in your lens selection. It will make a bigger difference than lens quality or maximum focal length in the quality of your images unless you are using a tripod. On a 1.5 crop body, 200mm is the equivalent of 300mm on a full frame, and that is a fairly long zoom. 300 would be the equivalent of 450 which is extremely long (like able to make out people with a fair level of detail almost a mile away if they have sufficient resolution).

As far as a comparison to a 10x zoom, 10x is a useless measure. Without a base focal length, it could be a wide angle lens with almost no range (say 1.5mm to 15mm) and even with a major crop factor, it would still only be like an 8mm to 75mm lens on a 35mm which is wide angle to standard zoom.

The bigger concern I see with your situation is losing the 55-70mm range. That's a fairly key range that is equivalent to the 75 to 105mm range in 35mm lenses. That range is the prime head and shoulders portrait range. Perhaps you don't have a need for that range with what you shoot, but I'd play around a bit with seeing what you'd be losing if you couldn't cover that range.

Overall I think you'd be better served with a 55-200 that has VR though if the only options are either add VR to your current lens or extend your focal length range and still not have VR. It simply has more practical value in resolving a telephoto image. (sharp and less zoom is better than blurry and more zoom.)

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I don't know Sigma and Tamron 70-300 lenses, but I would be skeptical of upgrading to a non stabilized telephoto zoom; I think you should consider optical stabilization as a factor in your choices.

To get an idea of how 300mm differs from 200mm you can use a focal length "simulator", like for example Nikon one : http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/simulator/

Remember that your camera is a DX body (to check the correct button in that tool).

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I have and use the Nikon 55-300mm (Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens) and found it to be pretty good. It has Vibration reduction and it's a DX lens making it suitable for your D3200 body/sensor.

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Remember, Nikon 70-300 (1.5x costlier than the 55-300 option) is also a FX lens and hence it can be treated as future investment. Tomorrow, when you invest in a FX body like D750 or D810, you can easily use 70-300 but not the 55-300 or 55-200

I have both the Nikon versions, the 55-200 and 70-300, and so can stress upon the fact that VR is a must when it comes to a zoom lens. VR is not so important in fish eye or ultra wide angle lenses though.

Coming back to your issue, 55-300 is equally good but 70-300 is superior thanks to its VR II and ED elements

To be honest, you wont get a cheap quality solution in the zoom category

Tamron 70-300 is also a good lens but never buy a non VR zoom lens. It is useless at 200-300 range when handheld. Hope, that helps you to decide.

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Use this tool, and judge for yourself. :-) You can put test images side-by-side from two lenses, and you can check resolution, chromatic aberration, etc.

You should also consult Ken Rockwell's, or similar author's website.

Also, I would consider VR unless always shooting from tripod or with fast shutter.

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