Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens (f/4.5-5.6)

Review of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens (f/4.5-5.6).

Overall Rating:

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 G ED VR

This lens is made in China and is 14 years old. Nikon designed this lens to complement the 18-55mm VR (also this) kit lenses that come with their entry-level DX cameras. This lens offers an inexpensive path to reach the 300mm (450mm equivalent) focal length. Unlike the AF-P DX 70-300mm lens, it is compatible with all Nikon DSLR cameras.

It features two ED glass elements and one HRI lens element. The HRI element in particular is what makes this zoom lens so compact. It originally sold for $400 (USD).


The Vibration Reduction II (VR II) turns this lens into a great hand-held performer, allowing one to get sharper shots at lower shutter speeds. It does, however, take a couple seconds to activate so be careful to wait for the image to stabilize before exposing the shot. Turn off VR when mounted on a tripod otherwise the images will be a touch blurry.

Autofocus performance is not good. This may be due to the fact that this is a consumer lens meant for consumer camera bodies which can not lock-on when the lens focuses too quickly. Ha! Who knows. Bottom line: the AF performance is bad.

This lens has some serious resolving power. It is tack sharp; sharper even than the Nikkor AF-D 50mm/1.8 prime lens in the center!

There is pronounced color fringing at the short end of the lens and a little at the long end.

corner at 55mm/5.6
corner at 55mm/8
corner at 135mm/5.6
corner at 135mm/8
corner at 300mm/5.6
corner at 300mm/8

This lens is compared in the comparisons section.

Distortion is evident with barrel distortion at 55mm (0.4%) and pincushion distortion at 135-300mm (~0.5%).

At f/8, diffraction begins. Shoot larger than f/8 for maximum performance.

Thanks to the DX format, vignetting is well controlled.


This zoom lens is very compact given its 10.5× magnification and with a 1:3.6 maximum reproduction ratio with 5 ft. of working distance, this lens promises some nice close-up shots of wildlife. The 35mm equivalent of this lens' reach is a whopping 450mm but with the depth of field of a 300mm lens of course.

Two things make this 300mm lens so compact. One, to reiterate, it uses High Refractive Index (HRI) glass, and two, it is optimized for the DX/APS-C sized sensor.

For what it's worth, the lens mount is metal. What that means in terms of durability who knows, but for those obsessed with metal lens mounts, this lens should please. Unless the lens is entirely metal it will not make a difference that the lens mount is metal. The mount has a rubber seal on it.

This lens lacks a focus scale and depth of field scale and therefore no infrared focus index. Clearly, these features are lost to save design costs. The front element turns while focusing but not while zooming, and the lens extends when zooming. The lens need to be refocused after zooming.


The bokeh is pretty busy.

bokeh at f=55mm/4.5
bokeh at f=55mm/5.6
bokeh at f=55mm/5.6
bokeh at f=300mm/5.6


Like most consumer grade lenses by Nikon, this one is good at infrared.

infrared at f=300mm/11
infrared at f=55mm/11


Four obvious advantages this lens has over the 55-200mm VR version are that the maximum aperture is one-fifth greater at 200mm, its reach is 50% greater, its maximum reproduction ratio goes to 1:3.6 and it is not soft on the long end.





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