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Nikon 55-200mm

edited January 6 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
I'm pretty new to DSLR photography and Moose has given me a lot of advice, but I just discovered this forum! I have the kit lens and the 35mm f/1.8m, which I have been solely using since I got it. I noticed the 55-200mm is available for about $150 ($200 off) and wondered if I should purchase it. I would like to use it for landscapes, bird photos, and possibly dance photos, which I have not had luck on with the 35mm lens. Any advice? Thanks!

Comments

  • edited January 6
    If you think 200mm is long enough for the birds, it's a bargain. Landscapes and probably the dance photos should be well within the range. Birders tend to crave more focal length no matter what they have.

    The 55-200mm does not have a very fast aperture, which may make it a bit dodgy in poor light, but it's way way less expensive than faster lenses, and much easier to manipulate. From what I've read, it's sharp enough.

    Depending on where you shop, make sure you're aware of all the different versions of a lens that turn up. The 55-200mm has come in a VR, a VRII and a non-VR version, and you will want the VR (vibration reduction) for hand held shooting at long lengths in poor light especially. The latest VRII should be improved further. Also, depending on sources, some may be "gray market," and not officially US imported, which can be a problem if the lens requires warranty work, as Nikon USA will not service a gray market lens. It's up to you to take the chance. There's nothing illegal about it, but some merchandisers are coy about what versions they're selling, and many better ones may offer both versions, requiring a careful reading of the description. I will mention that my 55-300mm (also a nice lens, better for birds but more expensive) developed a focus problem, and is now getting warranty service from Nikon, which could never happen if it had been gray market. It appears, however, that the $150 price these days is for the US VRII version at places like Adorama and B&H, with the $200 discount, and that's quite a bargain.

  • edited January 6
    Dara, my D3300 came with a 55-200mm VRII as part of its kit. Hands down, it is my go-to lens (granted, my selection of lenses is limited to just three: this, the kit 18-55mm and a 50mm f/1.8). For me, it works just dandy for portraits (including pets) and the kind of landscapes I like to make, which tend to be a narrower field of view than the average person's. If you space your subject and background far apart, it can still give you impressive bokeh.

    It's not great for close-up work because the focal distance is a minimum of about 4 feet, and as Bruto points out, it's slow at f/5.6 at 200mm, so you are tied to a tripod in low light. Not sure how that would work with dance. If you can use a tripod with your bird shots, the lens can give you respectably sharp results but handheld, even with VR on, mine tend to come out blurrier than I care.

    Bruto's cautions about gray market and VR capabilities are worth noting, for sure. But I'd have to agree that if it's a genuine Nikor VRII, then for $150 you would be getting a lot of ability for fairly little cash. Playing with a 55-200mm VRII would help you know what features in an expensive specialty lens you might need down the road while still giving you very capable equipment to practice with.

    Hope that helps!
  • edited January 6
    Thanks to both of you! The bird photos I have taken are actually more close up, like on the beach for example, when a seagull lands near by. So it's not so much of a distance. I have been using the 35mm length for portraits and I find it is pretty close up - I'm wondering how far back I'll need to be for 55mm! I'm not sure I'll get good dance photos without paying a lot more money, but I'll try this out - it is from adorama, and is the US version. Thanks again!
  • edited January 6
    If the stage is lit fairly well, you may do all right with the dance photos. Stage performances can be tricky, but the ISO requirements are not as stringent for this kind of thing as they are for, say, a bird. A little noise and degradation of fine detail is far more tolerable in a good capture of a dancer than a bird whose feathers must be sharp.

    For portraits, the distance may be a bit of a factor, but especially outdoors you may find it fine, and the added background blur of a longer lens can be very effective. A focal length of something around 85 millimeters can be quite nice, and still keep you at a tolerable distance.

    To give you a sort of radical idea of what one can do under stress, I include a picture taken a while ago of an open air performance at night. This was under very little light, whose color kept changing, in a field in Peru. I used the 55-300mm lens, and a D3200 at ISO 6400, with two stops negative exposure compensation. A D3300 should be visibly better. Of course it's a pretty coarse shot and the definition is poor, but it got the subject.

    http://jmp.sh/WLL0XSM

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