Purchasers of Nikon DSLR cameras that come with 18-55mm or 18-70mm lenses will probably want a long zoom to extend their shooting capabilities. The recently-released AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED has been designed specifically to meet this need. Available in black or silver (to match the D50), it can be used for subjects as diverse as candid portraits, sports, nature and wildlife photography. . . [more]
Purchasers of Nikon DSLR cameras that come with 18-55mm or 18-70mm lenses will probably want a long zoom to extend their shooting capabilities. The recently-released AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED has been designed specifically to meet this need. Available in black or silver (to match the D50), it can be used for subjects as diverse as candid portraits, sports, nature and wildlife photography.
The new lens is surprisingly light for its focal length range, largely because much of it is made from polycarbonate (which matches most of the cameras it will be used on). Optically it contains 13 elements in nine groups, with two ED glass elements to minimise chromatic aberration. A large zoom ring takes up much of the lens barrel, with a narrow focusing ring at the outer end. The front of the lens rotates with focus, making use of angle-sensitive attachments like graduated and polarising filters tricky. A slider selects between the A (AF) and M (manual focus) position, although we feel most users will choose the former almost exclusively because it's convenient. Focus distance indicators are not provided; neither are infrared nor depth of field markers.
Built into the new lens is a compact version of Nikon's Silent Wave Motor focusing system, which is both smooth and quiet and allows users to move easily from close focusing to pull in distant subjects. Its highest magnification is equivalent to a 300mm lens and it can focus down to 95cm throughout its zoom range. At the widest angle of view it is marginally wider than the 55mm setting on the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G ED lens supplied with the D50 camera. Together these two lenses are a well-matched pair.
Apertures change as you span the 55-200mm lens' zoom range, with the maximum aperture at the 55mm setting being f4, which changes to f4.8 at 85mm, f5.3 at 155mm and f5.6 at 200mmm. Minimum apertures range from f22 to f32.
We tested the 55-200mm lens on a Nikon D50 camera using the manufacturer's default settings. In use, the test lens was rather slow to focus but showed little tendency to hunt in low light and locked onto most subjects without difficulty. The zoom was smooth and the focal lengths covered were nicely spaced to suit a variety of subject types. We found little evidence of distortion in shots at both the wide and tele ends of the zoom range and light distribution was even across the field of view at most positions, although very slight vignetting could be detected when the lens was stopped right down.
Imatest showed the lens to be an excellent performer with negligible chromatic aberration at all focal length settings. Image resolution was above average across the aperture and focal length range. Backlit subjects were recorded competently with little evidence of flare or ghosting.
One nice feature of the 55-200mm lens is its nine-blade rounded diaphragm, which allows users to capture shots with attractive 'bokeh' (a Japanese term that describes rendition of out-of-focus backgrounds and foregrounds). Bokeh is important in photography because human vision instinctively prefers soft out-of-focus areas where the distribution of the light within each blur circle is concentrated towards the centre of the blur circle over those in which texture is visible. An example is shown on this page.
The AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED lens is supplied with snap-on front and rear caps, a dual-lobed lens hood (HB-34) and a semi-soft carry case. 
Focal length range: 55-200mm (picture angle equivalent to 82.5-300mm on a 35mm camera)
Maximum aperture: f4-5.6
Minimum aperture: f22-32
Lens construction: 13 elements in 9 groups (two ED glass elements)
Minimum focus: 0.95m
Filter size: 52mm diameter
Dimensions (Diameter x L): Approx. 68mm x 79mm
Weight: Approx. 255g
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