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I've Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm kit lens. Had the 55-200mm VR lens but sold it last year. I really enjoyed using the 55-200mm and had no complain.

Now I am planning to buy another zoom lens and have selected the 55-300mm VR lens. Is it like the 55-200 mm VR or worse ? I read on the the web that it's slow. Is it slower than the Nikon 55-200mm VR lens too ?

Please help choosing the right lens for me.

Note
I'll go for Nikon lens only; and want to buy a prime lens soon, so want to avoid buying the 70-300 VR for the zoom.

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While DXoMark's scores are never the only thing to go on, the general consensus of their results matches up with conventional wisdom, though not by as much as would normally be expected. Since the 55-300 covers a longer total range than the 70-200 it pays a slight price in overall image quality.

When wide, the 300 mm seems to suffer particularly strongly in corner and edge sharpness, while center holds its own pretty well. As you zoom to 200mm, the 55-200 falls apart compared to the 55-300mm, even for corners and edges. However, on the 300, everything becomes an unclear mess by the time you get to 300mm. You can see the comparisons on The Digital Picture here.

The 300mm version measured slower from 55-100mm, but interesting is faster for the rest of the range in terms of actual light transmitted.

Overall, it looks like the 55-300mm version is very good for what it is. While it has some drawbacks in IQ compared to the 55-200mm, it isn't by as much as I'd normally expect and it actually beats the 55-200mm in some regards.

  • right now I have both a 70-300mm (non-VR, I bought it cheap) and my older 55-200 VR, which, although also cheap, annoys me because it's unsharp everywhere. I always read DxO charts, specially for sharpness and vignette - Adobe is not as good at anti-vignetting as they claim and I have to test more of this using DxO Optics. Anyway, if I got your post right, you meant to say that, at 200mm, the 55-200 would still be a better choice than the 55-300 at that same point? Tks! – Carlos Irineu Mar 27 '14 at 1:51
  • @CarlosIrineu - no, the 55-300 actually becomes better from 100 on in terms of light transmittance. The 55-300 is sharper at 200mm than the 55-200, however at 300mm the 55-300 is pretty much unusable. – AJ Henderson Mar 27 '14 at 3:14
  • thanks, @AJ-Henderson… so now I have a (cheap) 55-200 VR that's worse than my (kit, but decent) 18-105 and my (good old Nikon metal design) 28-85, and also worse than the 70-300 at 200mm BUT the 70-300 has no VR. and I bought it mostly to get sharper long distance imagens when doing almost-gigapans. reading my comment, would you agree that I should ditch both and try to figure out a tele zoom under $700 ? – Carlos Irineu Mar 27 '14 at 6:03
  • by the way, I'm relatively new here. when I have a very specific question like this coming out of a conversation topic, but I know "which is the best zoom blabla" has been discussed before (and I do read all the DxO charts and make my own field tests with what I have) … should that become a new question or will it be considered redundant as I frequently see? tks again – Carlos Irineu Mar 27 '14 at 6:05
  • @CarlosIrineu - That really is another question and doesn't fit in comments. If you can find a question that answers what you are asking and just want confirmation, jumping in the chat room might work well. If not you can ask a new question. You could also ask about what to do in the situation where you aren't sure if an answer fits your requirements on Meta as I'm not sure it is something we have officially determined how best to handle. – AJ Henderson Mar 27 '14 at 13:23

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