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Douglas Knisely's profile photoRob Walstrom's profile photoLamar Francois's profile photoKonrad Machotka's profile photo
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+Thom Hogan you're psychic. An email thread just went around my office today triggered by a guy asking about the 55-300 vs. 70-300VR.
 
I've had this lens for about 3 months. It's permanently on my second camera (a D300) and I’ll bring it out when I want to pick out details in a landscape. I’m very happy with its performance, but I wish that I could also use it on a full frame camera.
Thanks for the great review.
 
Thom, I've also heard the hood for the 70-200 f/2.8 VR II is cheap, fragile, and prone to breaking as well. Has that been your experience? I'm considering an upgrade from my old 80-200 push-pull, but am dismayed that a $2500 lens would have such a cheap hood.
 
+Rob Walstrom No, not really. Yes, the 70-200mm hood is plastic and makes a nice hollow sound when you drop it, but I haven't had any issues with mine, and I really abuse the heck out of it. What the problem is with the 55-300mm hood is that it is multi-part, and the glue won't sustain any tangible bump at all.
 
Although I already have the 70-300 VR, the 55-300mm definitely makes sense when combined with a D3100 or D5100 or a backup body (as Rob mentioned). If I were to choose between the two right now, I would still get the 70-300 VR. I don't really care about the extra 15mm, since I already have a 50mm f/1.4 that covers that almost perfectly, and VR is hard to pass up on. Sure, it's more expensive, but for me, it is worth the extra dosh.
 
If you have the 70-300 VR, there is no need for this lens
 
Epic fail on the manufacturing of that lens hood. Never seen anything like it before - what were the designers of that thinking!?

This lens seems a bit of an oddball to me - I'd thought it was meant to replace the 55-200 VR itself , this seems a bit too close in terms of features to the former.Maybe something like a 120-300 f/4-5.6 which was consistent in terms of performance across the entire zoom range might justify the extra $100.
 
I'm not saying I would get this lens in addition to the 70-300 VR, but rather it might make sense for those that are want a telephoto zoom. 
 
I agree Linh Pham, the 70-300 is an amazing lens when used correctly. It kicks ass on the d3x also on my D7000. Providing there is good lighting and you stay clear of fash shutter speeds, it's an amazing lens. I shot a volleyball game with this lens and was pleased.
 
How does it handle bad weather? The 70-300 can take a lot of that and doesn't even blink.
 
+Jeroen Wijnands Can't say that I've really tested that, but it has the mount rubber seal, it doesn't have much in the way of external vulnerabilities (no focus scale, for example), The most likely place of vulnerability is the extended inner barrel, just like on the 70-300mm.
 
Hmm.. in that case this may just be a very interesting option for the beginner who is on a tight budget.
 
+Lamar Francois Choice isn't usually a bad thing. In this case you've got three overlapping lenses at different price points that do increasingly more. Yet all are competent at what they do. So if you're starting from scratch you choose what you need (or can afford) and if you're already in the game, you upgrade if the higher model does something you need. You'll see another similar grouping with a lens in an upcoming review. The problem a lot of people have, though, is that the differentiation is rather small. That's a compliment to how far we've come. A pro shooting with a D3100 and the 18-55/55-200 pair can create pretty darned good images, ones that would pass scrutiny for most viewers. The problem is that each incremental gain these days tends to cost exponentially more. Thus, when a maker like Nikon puts three choices into play, we see a modest difference in ability across a wider range of price. Since much of the market for cameras these days is very price sensitive (the D3100 is Nikon's best selling DSLR, the D3x the least ;~), it makes some sense to have options at the low end, such as the 55-200 versus 55-300.
 
True of course. Personally I tend to recommend the D3100 + 18-105 to people who have no idea yet where photography will take them. Solid entry level cam with a very decent and extremely versatile lens for a nice price.
When you move beyond that and the 55-200/300 the law of diminishing returns gives you a right ding around the ear. 70-300? 16-85? Mighty fine lenses but it takes skill or demanding circumstances to make them outperform their cheaper counterparts.
 
I would add another good point for the 55-200: very small size. Not a big difference in numbers (1 inch in length, mainly), but I could compare them side to side and the 55-200 fits nicely in vertical in a small pocket of my bag, where 55-300 had to go horizontal. Also the lens hood is one solid piece ;)

BTW Thom: I think the link to Nikon USA is wrong, I guess you lost a "52" after that "f%2" http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/2197/AF-S-DX-NIKKOR-55-300mm-f%252F4.5-5.6G-ED-VR.html
 
bought 55-200vr, light and good but returned it after a week and replaced with used 18-105 which makes me more happy=versatile, 55-200vr is a bit longer but seemed visibly softer at 200 and it is the 300 mm reach that now could make a difference for me. so thinking which one to choose but lack of focus override is big problem for 55-300 with autumn leaves falling around :-) Good price might dimnish that problem however, will see. af in 55-200vr which is supposed to be the same in 55-300 was noticably slower than af in 18-105. Not knowing which one I really need/is 70-300 worth its $ to me - I bought now something much wider..
 
+Shane Raynard I have had good results with the 55-200 but eventually sold it when i got my D7000 and started buying lenses for the long term. I certainly notice a difference when shooting with the 24-70 or 70-200 2.8. Certainly there is a huge delta in the price but i am trying to buy lenses that will last many years and will be able to move to Full Frame if i ever go that direction.
 
+Shane Raynard The 70-300mm is a better match to the capabilities of the D7000, but the 55-200mm is surprisingly decent. It really depends upon what you're trying to achieve and how you shoot. As +Ed Dombrowski stated, the 70-200mm is a visible difference over the 55-200mm (when used correctly ;~), but you pay a very large price, both literally and in size/weight. Plus, of course, you have a two-stop advantage at 200mm, which shouldn't be undervalued.
 
I'm actually curious about the Nikkor 70-300mm VR compared to the new Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD since they share very similar designs and is very close in price point.
 
+Kit Hoong Tan Haven't used the Tamron so can't say. But most recent Tamrons I have tried with the built-in focus motor aren't as fast to focus as AF-S lenses.
 
Having owned a few third party lenses i have generally had a good experience. That being said i owned third party lenses because they offered a more affordable alternative to the Nikon equivalents or filled a gap in the Nikon line up. Tamron 17-50, Sigma 10-20 etc. If the lens was basically the same spec and price (and had recieved the generally positive reviews the 70-300 has) i probably wouldnt bother with a third party lens.
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