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Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm 1.4-5.6ED
Well I was thinking of trying a new Nikon AF-S 55-200mm DX Format lens for my next event of taking photos. So I went to my local camera shop and I snuck (borrowed) a 55-200mm out the door to test drive for the weekend. Mind you, this isn't the new 55-200mm VR lens, which I've heard makes a HUGE difference, which I'm going to try out possibly next weekend until I find a lens I am comfortable with.
Here's my take:
The Nikon 55-200mm lens is rather plasticy and cheap feeling. Not like my older (and reliable) FG with it's nice heavy 70-200mm lens that could probably be ran over by a truck (sorry, I'm not trying it!) and still work. The bayonet mount is also plastic, which for the price ~$200 consumers should get a metal mount. Which I don't recommend picking the camera up by the lens, especially if you have a heavy body like a D200 or a D3 as it would probably snap right off. If it were I, I'd leave it on the camera and forget it. I can see the mount just getting broke somehow.
The focusing is flat out slowwwwwwwww, but it is fairly quiet. So I don't recommend using it for sports, or where you need fast focusing because you'll miss the magic moment big time. It also refocuses randomly depending on the lighting conditions, but it can really slow you down. I made the big mistake of using it to take action photos, but I really wanted to see how they'd come out. This was one thing that knocked me down on this lens was the focus speed. However, the focusing (when the camera is kept still) is precisly accurate.
The sharpness of the lens is not that great for indoors or low lighting conditions. However, bring it outside, and it is fair. With the amount of elements in the lens, I thought it would blow me away, and it fell pretty hard. I took a lot of sunny landscape photos with the different hues of the fall leaves, and the sharpness is pretty good. But like I said, it is fair.
It's got 13 elements in 9 groups, which is interesting for such a cheap lens. Even though 2 of the elements are ED glass, it still seems like it doesn't cut the chromatic abberations at 185-200mm that well, especially in the greens. But for the price of the lens, it does a satisfactory job. Luckily it has a standard 52MM filter mount.
The zooming of the lens is excellent, but without a tripod and VR, it can be tricky taking photos especially at 200mm. This is about the only plus to the lens if you can stand the focus time.
For the price and overall build quality, it's a beginners lens or a junk lens if you want to take it on trips and have an everyday zoom lens (but don't forget to take that pesky tripod along). Don't expect to get much life out of the lens, unless you are one that is super careful, so I wouldn't recommend giving the camera to your kids if you've got this lens attached. The focus is indeed slow, but very accurate.
I'd rate this lens 2.5 out of 5 -- mainly killing it is the focus and the cheapness.
Here are some pictures I took with it and a comparison to a Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm 3.5-5.6G VR...
You can click on each picture to view the original format.
EXIF: 2592X3872, sRGB, 200mm, F/5.6, 1/13 sec, ISO400, Metering: Center Weighted Average, Exposure Program: Aperture Priority, Exposure Compensation: +0.3 step.
EXIF:2592X3872, sRGB, 55mm, F/10, 1/6 sec, ISO400, Metering: Center Weighted Average, Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Compensation: +0.3 step.
This one here was a marvelous shot... I was surprised to get it! The focus must have been right on or close so it didn't have to focus much.
EXIF: 3872X2592, sRGB, 78mm, F/4.5, 1/800 sec, ISO200, Metering: Pattern, Exposure Program: Shutter Priority, Exposure Compensation: 0 step.
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