Review: Nikkor DX AF-S 55-200 f/4-5.6G ED

This is what the lens looks like half-extended.

This lens is usually bought as a step-up lens from the kit lens with the entry-level digital SLR cameras from Nikon. I got one as well before my first trip to Öland because I was still waiting for my 18-200/3.5-5.6 lens to arrive in the mail. As it turned out I would have to wait for more than six months for that beauty so I had some time to use the 55-200 and get aquainted with it.

Technical information

  • DX: Suiteable for digital cameras with APS-C size sensor (DX size). Cameras like D700 and D3 that use FX sensors should not use this lens, there may be extreme vignetting.
  • AF-S: The new Nikon silent focus system works well with the cameras who do not have a focusing motor built in their bodies
  • G: Means the lens has no aperture ring, aperture is controlled from the body
  • ED: Low dispersion glass
  • Filter ø: 52 mm
  • Focusing scale: No
  • Internal focusing: No
  • Macro mode focusing: No
  • Infrared mark: No
  • Vibration reduction: No (there is a model with VR, about 50% more expensive)
  • Similar products: Nikkon AF-S VR 55-200/4-5.6G ED


This is not a lens I would recommend. It is a cheap lens however and might make it possible if you are low on cash to start taking telephoto shots.

It is probably thought of as a mate for the people who bought entry-level Nikon bodies with the 18-55mm kit lens (which was an acceptable lens for the price) and for its price this lens is in the same league. It is however not in the same league as the 18-70 kit lens that was also equally popular and if you have this lens and want something to match it I think you should save your money and get the Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300/4.5-5.6 G ED-IF instead which is a much more solid lens.

The lens has a button on the side to release autofocus into manual focus. The focus ring is absolutely awful, it is very small, located at the very front of the lens. Unless you have the hood mounted you are likely to touch the front lens or filter with your fingers if you are trying to focus this lens manually. This is a really bad construction.

The lack of VR in the original was an immediate problem when shooting hand-held and the light conditions were not optimal. It was difficult at 200/5.6 to get steady shots handheld when it was cloudy and I needed something to lean against to do this. However there are also now a VR version of this lens, about 50% up in price, that should solve this problem. Without VR you want a shutter time faster than about 1/320s to get away from motion blurr because you are shaking.

There is one advantage of this lens and that is the price. It is actually very cheap, comparable with the low end Sigma lenses of similar focal length and you still get the silent wave motor which is great. If you really really are on a budget then perhaps this is the only way for you to get those long shots. But if you can save up a little bit more, avoid this lens. You get very much what you pay for here.


The photos it produces was a disappointment. It lacks something in terms of clarity and sharpness all over and it gets very bad in the contrast around the long end from say 135-200mm focal length. The colours are acceptable, the chromatic aberration is noticeable in some cases and to get those vivid colours you have to come to expect from your Nikon (or Fuji).

The vignetting is visible over the whole focal range but gets a little worse with the longer focal lengths. This is usually not so difficult to compensate for in post processing and a lot of people like vignetting in their photos but I prefer to have the choice.

This lens is not suiteable for use on cameras with ”full sensor” i.e. D700 and D3 cameras because it is optimized for DX size sensorts and would likely produce extreme vignetting on these cameras.



  • The price is very affordable
  • It is light and easy to carry (great for hiking)


  • The optics are not very good, chromatic aberration, vignetting and sharpness is hardly average
  • The lack of VR in the early model is a disadvantage
  • Manual focus is hopeless, placement of focus ring a disaster
  • Even if it is AF-S you can not focus manually unless you disengage the M/A focus button