Thumbs up on AF-S 55-300mm F4.5 DX zoom lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by qalam, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. After reading several reviews of the Nikkor AF-S 55-300mm F4.5 zoom lens and comparisons with other Nikon zoom lenses, I got the 55-
    300. KEH had one in stock--a Nikon factory-refurbished lens at a VERY good price.

    I put it on my D5100, and I am very pleased. It's very good for portraits because it lets you take shots from a distance that leaves subjects

    An F2.8 would be better, if you can spend 5 to 10 Times what I paid. Over all, the F4.5 is a good compromise for a photographer who has
    to watch his pennies.
  2. I agree, it is a good lens. It produces sharp images, VR works great and the price is definitively right. While it could have been faster, it is acceptable to carry in the camera bag all day. Faster not only means more expensive but also heavier and bulkier, the 55-300 is a good travel companion. It also have very good close up capabilities. I also appreciate that it goes down to 55 mm.
    On my D80 I thought its AF could have been quicker for fast moving subjects. However, on the D7000 I never thought about its AF speed when I tried it indoors during a horse jumping event.
  3. I think this lens is underrated. Mine has been with me for almost a year, never disappoints. A recent shot in my gallery is here. Please view large.
  4. I had this lens for around a month. It was sharp and contrasty - excellent for compressed perspective portraits. I even liked the effect of the vignetting at 300mm on FX - worked well for solo portraits. However I returned it as the stop-down focus shift made for fuzzy results at longer focal lengths at anything around f8 and smaller. Mine may have been a bad sample but do check (on a tripod with VR turned off). Using live view at working aperture solved this but that is not a prectical approach for many subjects.
  5. I don't understand the "stop-down focus shift". Can somebody explain that? My lens focuses wide open at all focal lengths. Maybe I'm missing something, Ian.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have only played around with the 55-300mm DX AF-S lens. Please keep in mind that it is not a constant f4.5 lens; it is actually an f4.5-5.6 lens, similar to the 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR; the latter can cover FX.
    Of course the 55-300 has an extra 15mm on the wide end, and it is a DX lens. It is also about $100 cheaper. Therefore, if you only use DX bodies, there is an advantage.
    However, another issue is that the 70-300 is true AF-S in the sense that you can always override AF manually at any moment. On the 55-300, you need to first switch to manual focus first, and its front element rotates during focusing. That can be annoying if you use a polarizer:
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't understand the "stop-down focus shift". Can somebody explain that? My lens focuses wide open at all focal lengths.​
    With modern lenses, you focus when the lens is wide open. Here I am not talking about any specific lens, but on some lenses, when you stop down, the focus can shift. Therefore, if you focus wide open but stop down to capture the image, the focus could be off a bit on such lenses.
    When the 28mm/f1.8 AF-S was first introduced earlier this year, there were some complaints that it had this focus shift issue. However, Nikon USA sent a test sample, which I used to produce a review. I specifically look for the focus shift issue and found none, but I have used only one sample of that lens.
  8. "stop-down focus shift" is an optical problem when the plane of focus wide open is not the same when stopped-down, ie it shifts as you close (or stop) the aperture down.

    Apparently the causes are complex and are more related to DoF shift, rather than the plane itself, or something like that!
  9. Howard, others here have eplained well. The problem manifested itself to me in that photos taken with the lens stopped down were much softer than when the lens was used wide open. I have read a few editorial comments about this lens being 'soft at the long end' and wonder if focus issues play a part in those findings.
    Not as bad as the Tamron lens I was using today that for photos to be sharp at f/16 the image in the wide-open viewfinder was completely out of focus. Live view does show up quite a few lenses with optical issues.
  10. Thanks for the clarifications.

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