Nikkor 55-300mm vs 70-300mm

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by alex_c|6, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. I received my D7000 with the zoom kit (18-105mm) and took it to my kids' soccer games this past weekend. Didn't take long for me to realize I need a higher zoom lens.... but don't want to spend too much money on lenses (at least not yet) nor lug around something too big. Another factor to be considered is taking it on vacations and fitting it into the LowePro Slingshot 202AW bag that I just purchased.
    I've narrowed my choice down to either a refurbished 70-300mm VR or the new 55-300mm VR. I read a ton of fantastic reviews on the 70-300mm but haven't seen much on the 55-300m. B&H has a refurbished 70-300mm for $400 and a new 55-300mm for $360, so not much price factor. The 70-300mm is slightly bigger by .1x.8in (Diameter x Length) and weighs 7.6oz more than the 55-300mm, which I feel is negligible. The 70-300mm has a bigger lens at 67mm than the 55-300mm with a 58mm lens, but not sure if this will impact picture quality.
    So the question is, should I go with the new 55-300mm or go with the refurbished 70-300mm that seems to have been a proven performer for the past few years?
  2. for $40more i would get the 70-300VR, which has better IQ than the 55-300. main reason to get a 55-300 is weight savings. i fit my d300s with 50-150 sigma mounted into a Slingshot 200, so you should have no problems with a 70-300.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    See this previous discussion:
    This past weekend I saw a Nikon rep, and she had both lenses with her. I played around with both for a little while but the environment wasn't really set up for testing those lenses (it was a hotel lobby where Nikon School was held).
    The new 55-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR DX has the consumer-type AF motor that you need to manually switch to MF before you can override AF. The front element rotates when you focus. All in all, it is very much a consumer-grade lens although the mount is metal. I would second Eric's point and get the 70-300mm AF-S VR instead.
  4. Is the 4.5-5.6 VR 70-300mm AF-S the same optical formula as the 70-300 D ED? If so, I do not recommend it.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Nikon Vibration Reduction requires extra optical elements. Therefore, no Nikon VR lens is going to have the same optical formula as an equivalent non-VR lens.
    Moreover, the AF-S VR version of the 70-300 is an f4.5-5.6. The earlier versions start from f4 instead of f4.5.
  6. The 70-300 VR is an awesome kid-sports lens! You will enjoy it.
    Know that with tele zooms, in my experience, if the focus is WAY off, I sometimes have to cheat with the manual over-ride to get close. Since you can't do this with the 55-300, I wouldn't consider it.
  7. Another vote for the 70-300 lens. Mine is a keeper!
  8. For that little difference, and if you don't mind refurb, get the 70-300 VR. The AF/MF mode and non-rotating front element are improvement enough even if you don't care about FX compatibility. The 70-300 also AF's faster and build quality is half a notch better.
  9. I have the 70-300 VR and it's a very good lens. I haven't seen any reviews for the 55-300 VR and I would wait to see one or two before buying anything if possible. If you don't want to wait then you can't go wrong with the 70-300 VR.
    You may also want to consider the Tamron 70-300 VC. It's also very new and I haven't seen any reviews, but Tamron makes some very good lenses.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

  11. The Nikon AF-S 70-300 VR is an FX lens. Mine is absolutely excellent on my D70s, even at 300mm. I'm looking forward to moving up to D300s for better high ISO.
  12. i've long been a fan of the 70-300 VR lens, but after trying the 55-300 last weekend at the camera store, i have to admit i was very impressed. good image quality, fast focusing even in low light, VR that makes it possible to handhold 300mm at 1/15s -- i can't knock it at all. given that the refurb 70-300 VR is so close in price, however, i'd choose that and wouldn't give it a second thought. you'll love it!
  13. Another vote here for the 70-300mm VR lens. I've had one for 3 years now and love it for outdoor sporting shots (too slow for most indoor) and wildlife.
  14. Thanks everyone for your input. I actually picked up both lenses and tried them over the weekend.
    Going to keep the 70-300mm AF-S VR and return the 55-300mm AF-S VR. Again, I was looking for a high power zoom lens for kids' outdoor sporting events (soccer, baseball, softball, etc.) and compact enough to fit in my Lowepro Slingshot 202AW bag to take on vacations/hiking. Below are some deciding factors:
    AF - I did notice the 70-300 VR was a fraction faster than the 55-300 VR. Especially, when the zoom was maxed to 300 and the distance of the shot quickly changed from close to far or vice versa (i.e. ball at mid-field and quickly toward goal). It's not to say the AF was slow on the 55-300 VR... if I didn't have the 70-300 VR with me to compare, I would say the 55-300 VR AF was fast enough. But knowing AF on the 70-300 VR is faster (even only fraction faster), check mark on it for sports.
    Manual Focus Ring - A lot of comments / reviews I read pointed to the manual focus over-ride on the 70-300 VR as a must have. I didn't really consider this an important factor until this weekend. The field area where my daughter played soccer was big enough where spectators can stand behind the goal (usually, they can only stand on the sidelines). There was a penalty kick and I tested the AF on the kicker from behind the goal, looking through the net. The AF initially locked in on the net, so I just grabbed the manual focus ring on the 70-300 VR and quickly focused on the kicker. I wouldn't have been able to do this with the 55-300 VR. Not sure how often I'll come across this type of situation, but it would be helpful to have the manual focus over-ride on the 70-300 VR, another check mark.
    Lens size - I'm not yet sure if I'm going to get protective filters for my lenses (still reading all the debate on it), but the 70-300VR has the same 67mm filter size as the 18-105 AF-S VR that came with my D7000. The 55-300 VR has a smaller filter size at 58mm. If I decide to get protective filters, it would be convenient to have 2 lenses with the same filter size... another check mark for 70-300 VR.
    Dimensions - The 70-300 VR barely fits into the protective side compartment in the Lowepro slingshot 202AW. I have to max out the area where the padded dividers are barely velcroed on to the bag. The 70-300 VR attached to my D7000 fits tight ino the main compartment. The 55-300 VR fits no problem into this bag, so check mark for 55-300 VR.
    Based on these factors, and given that the refurbished 70-300 VR is only $40 more, I'm going to keep the 70-300 VR and return the 55-300 VR.

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