The Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR offers an impressive tele-photo zoom range at a reasonable price
Nikon’s layout follows the common arrangement, with a narrow focusing ring at the front of the lens and a wide zoom ring behind it.
There are no distance markings on the lens and the focusing ring is also very narrow and awkward to reach, on account of it being so far forward. There is a positive side to this, however, in that fingers are kept clear of the ring in AF mode.
Switching between automatic and manual focusing, and activation of the vibration reduction (VR) system are both carried out using a pair of sliders at the rear of the lens on the left-hand side (seen from behind the camera). Unusually for a Nikon lens, the AF speed proved to be a little sluggish when compared with that of the other lenses in this group test.
More positively, the VR system proved effective in steadying the viewfinder image and was also, like the AF system, almost silent in use.
Lab testing revealed negligible chromatic aberration at short and mid-range focal lengths but distinct colour fringing became apparent on the high-contrast test target when the lens was set to 300mm. Similarly, although the MTF curves for 70mm and 135mm both remained above 0.25 cycles-per-pixel from wide-open down to f/16, the curve for 300mm peaked at just 0.2 cycles-per-pixel at f/11.
Despite having a wide zoom range, Nikon's 55-300mm zoom failed to deliver anything special of significance. As such, and given its DX-only sensor coverage, potential buyers may prefer to choose Nikon's AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR telephoto zoom, it delivers a more refined performance and better results.