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Has anyone used a 55-300mm lens on a D3200?

Hi Folks,

I have a 55-100mm Nikon lens that I enjoy using. I see several 55-300 Nikon lenses on eBay at affordable prices. Just wondered if anyone here has used the 55-300 and what they think of it. Would you have any recommendations for certain options on this lens? Would definitely like to stay with Nikon lenses only.

Thank you,

Lonnie

Comments

  • I have used a 55-300 lens extensively on a D3200 and still use it on a D7100.

    From the price standpoint this is a bargain lens. It's optically decent throughout its range, and although not optimal at 300, it's OK, and more than OK up to about 250 or more. It's compact too. Not as cheaply made as the 55-200, it has a metal mount with a dust seal. The VR is very good.

    So now for the bad news. The AF, although reasonably accurate, is slow. Not only is it slow, but it has a tendency to hunt and if you're too far off initially, it will often go to the extreme in the wrong direction before returning to the correct point. If you have a chance to pre-focus it's OK, and it usually gets where it's going, but it can be frustrating if you're in a hurry.

    In addition, the front rotates, so it's not practical for polarizing or graduated ND filters if you use AF. And there is no manual override of the focus, so when it's in AF the focus ring is locked.

    If you're willing to put up with the annoyances, this is a grand lens for traveling, because it's so compact. It is well behaved optically, and you can get good results with it. I would not use it if you're doing a lot of sports or fast moving wild life, but for general use it's quite decent, and even reasonably competent for birds in flight if you practice up on your panning.

    Unfortunately the D3200 will not accept the newer AFP lenses (won't focus at all) so that improvement is out. One thing you might look into if you can afford a little more money and a little larger package, is the now-discontinued full frame 70-300 AFS AV. Make sure that it's that one, not the older 70-300 G, which is a dog, or the earlier 70-300D, which is a good lens of its type. Both of these will not AF with your camera, and neither has AV. If you see one very cheap, it's likely to be one of those.

    But the 70-300 AIS VR is optically similar to the 55-300, just a little better, it has a manual focus override, a non-rotating front element, and most importantly it's better made and its AF is fast, tends not to hunt, and is accurate. Since I was able to compare them side by side, I can vouch that the AF speed is literally twice as fast as the 55-300.

    My wife traded up from her 55-300 to the 70-300 to gain the AF speed. I have thought of possibly getting a 70-300 AFP, which will AF on my D7100 though I can't turn off the VR. But for now I still use the 55-300, and figure to do so now for a while, since we have a spare. My first one had an AF problem under warranty and was totally replaced. To be fair, I put it through a lot of stress, and have literally traveled the world with it, but it is definitely not as well made as the full frame lens.

    By the way, having now used three examples of this lens, they seem to be free of sample variation. They all performed essentially alike, and all three have been accurate in their AF calibration.

    If you can get a good deal on one of these, I'd consider it. I bought my first one new with a $100 rebate, and you won't get a better lens of this size for the price. But I'd hesitate to get one used, and also, given my experience, I'd hesitate to get a gray market one, since Nikon simply will not service it at all in or out of warranty. If you're shopping used, I'd look for the 70-300 AIS.
  • Sounds like good advice. Thank you for responding.
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