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Nikkor 55-300mm vs 70-300mm

Alex C , Oct 28, 2010; 03:33 p.m.

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?


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Eric Arnold , Oct 28, 2010; 03:46 p.m.

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.

Shun Cheung , Oct 28, 2010; 04:25 p.m.

See this previous discussion: http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00XHob

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.

Red Buckner , Oct 28, 2010; 04:33 p.m.

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.

Shun Cheung , Oct 28, 2010; 04:49 p.m.

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.

Peter Hamm , Oct 28, 2010; 05:06 p.m.

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.

Hosteen Yendikeno , Oct 28, 2010; 05:20 p.m.

Another vote for the 70-300 lens. Mine is a keeper!

Andy L , Oct 28, 2010; 08:55 p.m.

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.

Mark Drutz , Oct 28, 2010; 10:52 p.m.

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.

Shun Cheung , Oct 28, 2010; 11:11 p.m.

There are reviews for Tamron's 70-300mm/f4-5.6 Di VC; in fact, we have one right here on photo.net: http://photo.net/equipment/tamron/70-300di-vc/

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