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738 of 757 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2010
First of all I'll say that I ordered my lens as soon as Amazon had them available. I upgraded to next day shipping and got it 18 hours later - quick service. Thanks Amazon!

But now on to the real review...

This lens is fantastic - especially for $399. My first concern was whether it not it had a plastic or metal mount since some DX lenses in this price range have plastic. I even contacted Nikon and they couldn't (or wouldn't) tell me. Well, I was really pleased to see that it does have a metal mount. It has a nice solid feel to it. The zoom movement is smooth and I haven't had any problem with lens creep when I'm aiming it downward. Even when I point the camera downward and shake it, it won't creep.

I'm just beginning to get into testing it but my preliminary pictures are coming out nice - really nice. The sharpness is amazing and the lens produces a very nice bokeh. I posted the image of the dragonfly with the chicken wire background (see the customer uploads) Check out the detail in the wings. That shot says it all. It was HAND HELD and cranked all the way out to 300mm. The original image is great but a lot of the detail was lost with the upload to Amazon. But - none the less - it's still pretty sharp. The auto focus on this lens is fast, smooth, quiet and very accurate. It locked right in on the subject. It was set on aperture priority at f/8 1/500sec for the shot that I posted here (shot with a D-90).

The VR on this lens is great. The detail I get with hand-helds just amazes me. It has Nikon's VRII image stabilization and it even has a tripod detection mode that reduces any vibration from shutter release when it's on a tripod.

Colors are rendered accurately and the contrast is pretty sharp even at the max aperture. The lens is compact for a 300mm and it's lighter than my AF-S DX 18-200mm which I use as my regular walk-around. I'm sure the new 55-300 will be used as my walk around pretty frequently also.

All in all for an APS-C lens, Nikon did a great job with this one - especially for the price. It's a welcome addition to the DX line and I'm really glad I have one in my gear bag.
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400 of 412 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2010
Pros:
+ Excellent Image Quality
+ Solid build with metal mount
+ Significantly better in all ways than the Nikon 55-200mm VR

Cons:
- Slight long (but that's expected for a telephoto like this)

I've owned (and subsequently got rid of) the Nikon 55-200mm and Sigma 18-250 OS. This lens beats them both significantly. The Sigma 18-250 OS was pretty nice when I needed to take only one lens with me, but that situation is rare.

I hardly shoot telephoto, but when I do, I'm glad I can turn to this new Nikon 55-300mm VRII lens. Low light focus hunts a little bit, but that's expected - and it's significantly better than the Sigma at equivalent low light.

This lens is much better than the older Nikon 55-200mm VR often sold as part of the kit. That lens feels like a toy with a plastic mount and cheap plastic feel. This lens has a much better build quality. Consequently, it's also more expensive.

If you're debating about the Nikon 55-200mm vs. this lens, I highly recommend you get this lens. I've been very happy with it.
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261 of 273 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2010
I know it's twice as much but it's well worth it. I took about 150 shots with it this weekend and was blown away. Bokeh is beautiful and it is sharp from 55-300mm. I had the 55-200mm VR and this is a significant step up. It's more solidly built and the results are excellent. It's a huge lens, and heavy, but the shots speak for themselves. Great, great lens!
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185 of 197 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2011
I have been very impressed with this lens over the past 3 months. There was a special on Amazon that gave you some $ off if you purchased a Nikon d5100 and this lens as a pair so I jumped on it. The lens has already been with me to 3 countries and has been great.

Build:
Yes, this lens has a lot of plastic. This saves you a lot of weight and money. If you want it to be made of metal spend 3x as much buying a pro Nikon lens. Don't buy this one and then complain it feels cheap. The mount is metal which I believe is an upgrade over the 55-200mm Nikon.

Optics:
Really can't complain here. Shooting at around f/6-f/8 has produced great images at any zoom. The colors are great, distortion is small and easily correctable, and are sharp.

Focus:
The focus is pretty much silent and has been fast for me. I don't know if those who complain about slow focus or inability to focus just got a dud or what.

VR:
Has been a lifesaver. Trying to shoot this at 300mm handheld without VR isn't fun. I have been very impressed with how well this works and always have it on.

Zoom:
You can really reach out there with this thing (i guess a 450mm equiv will do that). One thing with my lens, when I first got it the zoom mechanism was a little sticky going from 200 to 300mm. One night I just sat with it on the couch and zoomed it in and out fully and now it's very smooth. If you experience this, just play with it for awhile and it'll loosen up.

One last thing I'll say. I hate when people give bad reviews to things based on unrealistic expectations. When they say that this lens is too slow and they can't shoot fast moving objects at night I just shake my head. This is an entry level lens. If you want a f/2.8 lens, feel free to pay 10x what this lens costs. If you are used to pro level lenses, don't buy this lens and then start critiquing it. Realize what it is intended for.

On that note, I'll repeat that this is a great, fun lens to use. Highly recommended.
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141 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
I purchased the 55-300mm VR along with a D5100 body as part of a Nikon promotion. I can say that for the price I paid for it, it is worth the money; however, I would not pay full retail price for it.

Pros:
-Largest range of telephoto zooms
-Lightweight and small for a lens that extends to 300mm
-Solid build quality; metal lens mount
-Comes with 6-year warranty (US), hood, and soft case

Cons:
-VR effectiveness is only 2 stops (insufficient for 300mm; see below)
-Slow AF

Other telephoto lenses I've owned before include the Nikon 55-200mm VR, Nikon 70-300mm VR, Tamron 70-300mm VC, and a Canon 55-250mm IS (on a Canon 60D body). I found all to be solid performers in terms of image quality and auto-focus accuracy. The differences are in the trade-offs between size/weight, range, and effectiveness of stabilization (and of course price). Comparing the 5:

Nikon 55-200mm VR: the smallest/lightest of the bunch, it wins the prize for the lens that's least likely to draw attention to your camera. Its VR effectiveness is only 2 stops as well, but at 200mm this is not really a problem (shutter speed around 1/60 is usually sufficient to avoid camera shake).

Nikon 70-300mm VR: the most expensive of the bunch, this was the lens to get for faster AF and better VR until the Tamron stole its thunder. I compared the two side by side and don't find any compelling reason to buy the Nikon over the Tamron, except for slightly better build quality. The Tamron beats it for effectiveness of its VC.

Tamron 70-300mm VC: probably the best bang for the buck if you need 300mm. Like the Nikon 70-300, it's quite a large lens (especially with the hood attached) which makes it less ideal for candid people shots. The VC is awesome - it seems to freeze the frame in place when activated, and gives you about 3 stops. The AF is also quite fast.

Canon 55-250mm IS: I'm no Canon fanboy (sold my 60D to go back to Nikon) but I have to give the edge to Canon when it comes to designing telephotos. The 55-250mm is significantly lighter and slimmer than the 55-300mm with only a 50mm loss, is cheaper, and the stabilization works better (about 0.5 stop). It doesn't have a silent AF motor, but I had no problems tracking moving shots with it. If the 35mm f/1.8G is Nikon's bang for the buck consumer lens, then I would say the 55-250mm IS is Canon's.

Finally, the Nikon 55-300mm VR. It's light enough, small enough (barely - probably too big for candids), decently built, with good optics. Its downfall is that its VR is not good enough (2 stops means a minimum of around 1/125 shutter speed at 300mm, which at the max aperture of f/5.6 limits it to daytime outdoor use), and its AF has a little trouble tracking fast moving subjects.

If you can get this lens on promotion for less than the Tamron, it's quite a decent lens all considered. Otherwise, go for the Tamron. I wish Nikon had taken a cue from Canon and made this a 250mm with better VR and AF.
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111 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
I just received my Nikon 55-300 lens and after taking pictures for an afternoon would like to share my impressions and opinions about the lens. I have had both the 55-200VR and the 70-300VR lens to compare it with.

Things I like:
1. Optically it is sharp with excellent color and contrast. I would rate it on par with the 70-300. Didn't do any extensive testing just compared pictures I have taken with both.
2. Lighter & smaller than the 70-300. Fits in camera bag better. Used to carry the 70-300 in a separate case.
3. Metal mount vs plastic mount on the 55-200 which was my biggest complaint with that lens. (optically I was pleased with the pictures I got from the 55-200) and 100mm more reach than the 55-200.
4. Solid, well built lens on par with other prosumer Nikon lens.
5. Wider than the 70-300. Equivalent of an 82.5-450mm vs 105-450mm.

Things I don't like:
1. Zoom action is a little sticky at the longer end. Not as smooth as either the 70-300 or 55-200 lens.
2. Slow auto focus. About the same as the 55-200 slower than the 70-300.
3. Manuel focus not as smooth as the 70-300 and harder to get precise focus. No instant override of auto focus, have to move a switch.

Overall I am pleased with the lens and will keep it. I added the Canon 500D 2 element closeup lens and get excellent closeup pictures, maybe not macro lens quality but very good. I also used the Nikon 3T & 4T close up lens with the 55-200 with excellent results. I would have been willing to spend a little more for this lens to have the instant manuel focus overide and faster focus of the 70-300 and smoother zoom action which is why I rated it 4 stars instead of 5. Which lens would I recommend? If you do not plan to purchase an FX camera I would get this one over the 70-300 for a DX camera. If you don't use a lot of telephoto and don't want to spend the money the 55-200 is an excellent alternative just be careful with the plastic lens mount. I hope this helps anyone who is debating which lens to buy.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
Got the lens from Amazon, and was a bit surprised how much bigger it was compared to the 55-200mm. The newer lens is about 3.5" diameter, and 6" in length, zoom retracted.

The box itself was 9.5 x 4.5 x 5", or about the size of the 18-200mm VR's carton.

That said, the 55-300mm has a nice, solid feel to it. Not plasticky at all. It feels 'right' in the hand, and weighs 'just right'(about 1 lb) so that it balances well with a small DX body, like the D40/D60/D3000.

The switches click nicely and the zoom is nice and tight - initially sticky at the 300mm end, but got better with use and some elbow grease.

The auto focus speed is about the same as the 55-200mm, and tends to hunt in low contrast and low light situations, but no biggie. I just switch to 'M' and look at the camera's green dot focus indicator.

The extra 100mm comes in handy for those Graduation Ceremony snaps coming from the bleachers kind of situation. On a DX camera, 300mm translates to a whopping 450mm in FX terms, so that's pretty much out-there.

The big plus, is that you can zoom back to a normal 55mm without needing to change lenses. Cool if you want to swing back and shoot the crowd reaction or something a little over arms length (it won't focus any closer than an arms-length, though).

So in the graduation scenario, you can zoom down to 55mm, and hand the camera over to a hapless bystander to take your mug with the graduate.

Is it sharp? I don't have test targets or scientific proof, but it's certainly sharper than my older AF-D consumer zooms from 15 years ago (24-50mm AF-D)using the eyeball method. It's not as tack sharp as an 80-200mm/70-200mm f/2.8 - but it's nowhere near the weight & price of these two either.

If you're miffed about the f/5.6 widest opening, consider using it with the newer DX cameras (especially the upcoming D7000) where you can crank up the ISO to ridiculous, and still keep the noise at bay. Or a really strong Speedlight.

Overall, a pretty good package for a reasonable price. If you're clear on what you want to do with it and know it's limitations - it won't disappoint.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
Built to a price ...but that's not necessarily bad news.

For the price you get a lot of lens. It would be nice if it focused faster, if the max. aperture was a little bigger, if the focus could be more easily be manually adjusted, and if the hood attachment wasn't quite so cheesy. But $350, folks! This is a steal, despite all these drawbacks. For faster auto-focus you can spend over $500 on the larger and heavier 70-300mm. To get more light you can spend over $1000 for a shorter, much larger and heavier f/2.8 tele-zoom.

This $350 job is a real bargain if you can live without the features of the expensive alternatives because the image quality is way better than I'd expect in a lens at this price. On top of that, this is the best VR performance I've yet seen, even compared to a couple of much more expensive lenses. VR seems to get significantly better with each iteration.
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172 of 204 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2010
I purchased this lens from Amazon.com last week. Unfortunately, the copy I received front-focused badly in AF mode, had a severely decentered lens element(s), and unsatisfactory IQ at 300mm, so I returned it for a refund. I had a similar experience with a new 55-200 VR lens about two and a half years ago. Two years later, I purchased a Nikon factory refurbished 55-200 VR lens and found its performance to be exceptional (see my review of the 55-200 VR lens on this site).

Based on the above noted experiences, I suspect that mechanical tolerances for Nikon consumer lenses may allow for deviations that discriminating users would find unacceptable. Units can likely be calibrated to proper performance standards at Nikon service centers, so I think I'll consider purchasing another copy of the 55-300 lens when factory refurbished units become available.

On a positive note, the build quality of the 55-300 VR lens is a solid notch above the 55-200 VR lens. Zoom action is a bit stiff, but would likely become smoother with continued use of the lens.

UPDATE (July 2011): With the price of this lens dropping to $309 and change in June, I decided to purchase another copy. Long story short, the new lens is a GEM. VERY accurate AF, more than reasonably good IQ at 300mm, and no decentered lens elements. Were I to rate the lens based on the second copy, I would give it 5 stars. However, Nikon QC leaves a lot to be desired, so I'll raise my initial rating to 3 stars, with a strong message to buyers that they should thoroughly test their new lens and return poor performers to Amazon.com, which covers the cost of return shipping for defective items.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2011
The lens has good built-quality and the shipping was fast (~4 workdays). It focus fast with enough light and has good sharpness even at 300mm. Just a side note for people who use a filter--it uses a 58mm filter (not 52). Comparing it to the kit lens (18-55), it has better build with slightly sharper images. However, it is heavier and longer as expected. There is no reason to compare this against the FX or f/2.8 lens. On the other hand, for the price, this is a great deal for non-pro.
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