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Customer Review

453 of 471 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile and practical, 4 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens (Camera)
I bought this lens to use with my Nikon D3100 DSLR kit. I am relatively new to DSLR photography and wanted a lens that I wouldn't have to keep changing in the field.

I was pleased with the kit lens that came with the D3100 (18-55mm) and this second lens maintains that trend in terms of ease of operation and clarity of results. There is a built in auto-focus motor and it is easy to zoom manually using the wide rubber surround. Being a 55mm to 300mm lens it covers a wide range of scenarios without too much compromise. For example, I had previously been using a Panasonic DMC FZ38 superzoom bridge camera with an 18x maximum zoom to capture wildlife shots etc. This Nikon lens gives a similar level of zoom capability but with even greater clarity. It can also cope well with shots that require less zoom and bit of a wider angle, although, clearly it can't go as wide as the 18-55mm kit lens. This means in certain circumstances you have to change lenses in the field. The Nikon 55-300mm lens also has a highly effective anti-shake (Nikon VR - Vibration Reduction) mechanism - I was concerned at how I would keep a lens of this magification steady at full zoom, but, I need not have been as the VR is very good.

The Nikon 55-300mm lens is supplied with a lens cap, lens hood and storage bag which provides protection against dust etc. but the bag is no substitute for the protection of a proper case or compartment in your camera bag.

An alternative approach to delivering even greater versatility might be to buy your DSLR in "body only form" e.g. without a kit lens and buy an 18-270mm or similar lens possibly from a third party such as Tamron - budget wise this would work out at a similar cost to adding this lens to the D3100 kit (e.g. the camera plus 18-55mmm lens), provide almost the same versatility and reduce the need to change lenses in the field.

I am sure serious photographers could find shortcomings with this lens but as a simple hobby photographer it delivers the quality and versatility I am seeking at a reasonable price. On that basis, I am delighted with my purchase, and, therefore, this Nikon lens comes recommended.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Apr 2012, 10:58:14 BST
I like you are fairly new to photography and I have recently purchased the D3000 and am very happy with it. I am getting to grips with the techy stuff, but in essence I need to know what lens I require for outside shots for wild life, such as birds of prey where distance can be a problem. Any ideas or help would be apreciated. Regards Fran

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012, 13:13:22 BST
Peppers says:
You might like to consider the following:

* Telephoto length - Options are 200, 300 or 400mm - but I'd recommend 300. With the D3000 the DX/CCD Image sensor is smaller than a full sensor by 1.5. So in reality, a 300mm length is the same as a 450mm lens on a `professional' camera. 200mm is not really long enough in my opinion, and 400mm gets too heavy to carry without its own tripod!
* Zoom or prime lens - a zoom lens has the ability to zoom the focal length in and out (i.e. 50-300), a prime has only one focal length. Prime lenses are much more expensive, so go for the zoom. However, the smaller the difference between the zoom length, generally, the better the lens quality will be.
* VR /VC - Vibration Reduction(Nikon)/Vibration Compensation(Tamron)image stabilisation, is a must for `far away' wildlife photography, unless you are always going to use a tripod (turn VR off when you do use a tripod though).
* Aperture priority - Aperture priority allows you to control the depth of field, or the amount of the subject that is in focus. A wide aperture (f1.8 - F/5.6) will allow you to have, for example, a heron in focus but the background blurred. So go for one that has at least f5/6. Most will have a range (f4.5-5.6)so that the widest aperture is less at the furthest zoon.
* Manufacturer - Nikon or a third party supplier? Sigma and Tamron have good names in lens manufacturer, and technically should be cheaper for the same quality.
* Distortion. The pro or serious amateur also going to really look at distortion. Lens can distort the picture slightly when at the extreme ends of the zoom. Some say the Tamron lens is better at avoiding distortion than the Nikon lens.
* Always go for the best you can afford.... so you don't need to spend more money upgrading in the future. Look at other features that make the lens more expensive but will significantly improve the quality - ED - Extra Dispersion LD, Low Dispersion, XLD Extra Low Dispersion, USD - Ultrasonic Silent Drive....!
Taking all the above into consideration, I would suggest you consider the following in line with your budget and whether or not you'd want to upgrade in the future:
* Nikon AF-S VR 50-300mm f4.5-5.6 (£215.99) (I have this and I personally think this represents the best price/performance ratio for the purpose)
* Tamron SP AF 70-300 F/4-5.6 Di VC USD Lens for Nikon (£318.43)
* Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 IF-ED (£418.00) (My girlfriend has this, and the quality is better than the 50-300 Nikon)
Other general thoughts for wildlife photography, apologies if you know this already:
* Mode - work in aperture priority for the best results, go for f/5.6 normally. But for flying birds you would be best in shutter priority mode (try 1/250 or faster depending on what detail you want to capture).
* ISO - go for the lowest (100 or 200)
* Metering - evaluative/matrix usually. Use spot metering for birds in the sky to make sure that the sky does not control the exposure meter calculations - but make sure they are in the centre of your picture. Alternatively, you may want to overexpose a bit (use the +/- button and go for somewhere between +0.3 to +1) - this allows the detail in the bird to show up but will make the sky white. Underexpose if photographing white birds such as swans - will allow more of the detail on the white feathers to come out.
* Focusing - continuous focus, and half-press the shutter button to keep the focus on the subject as they move.

Hope this helps - it though only my view I'm sure many experts will take issue with some of this!

Good Luck Paul

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2012, 17:58:26 BST
Thanks Paul
You seem to know some stuff and I liked your comments. I plumped for the 200mm as I am just a beginner and I thought £200 plus for the 300mm was quite high for my needs, however more experience I get I will probably upgrade. Thanks Fran

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2012, 20:43:17 BST
Peppers says:

I'm sure the 200mm will serve you well. Good luck.


In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2013, 16:59:25 GMT
Siddharth says:
Thanks for the info Paul, really useful.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013, 21:00:49 GMT
Peppers says:
Thanks for your kind feedback - much appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2014, 12:41:22 GMT
G. Taylor says:
Paul, have just read your comments. Like Happy Amazon Shopper I have a Nikon D3000 and looking for a zoom lens. I am going to Africa in June, so would you say the Nikon 50-300 is ok for the wildlife photography - I have a limited budget or should I try to afford the 70-300 lens? Your advice about modes etc is extremely helpful.

Any feedback would be appreciated, Thank you Glenda

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2014, 13:06:58 GMT
The 50-300 lens should suit your needs based on your budget limitations. However, check the amazon site now and again for bargains like I did. Where I got the 500 and 700 on offer. I am looking to start a photo course to learn more as I have just started photography. Happy shopper (Fran)

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jan 2014, 15:53:43 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jan 2014, 15:54:43 GMT
Peppers says:
Hello Glenda, Your query is whether to purchase the Nikon 70-300 at c£378 or 55-300 at c£169.

I agree with Fran that the 55-300 lens would suit your purpose. The Amazon price is good and this Nikon lens has had very good write ups by independent expert reviewers apart from the Amazon reviewers on these pages. Here are a couple reviews you might want to look at - http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/nikon_afs_dx_nikkor_55_300mm_f_45_56_g_ed_vr_review/comments/ or http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/55-300mm.htm

With any telephoto lens, the photographs taken at the extremes ranges are not as good as the photographs in the lower/middle parts of the range. The 70-300mm may be better at coping with this than the 50-300, but probably only a professional photographer would notice the difference! And you may find the 50mm more useful than the 70mm for shots of people, buildings etc.

There a couple of other options: you could buy a similar lens from a third party lens maker such Sigma or Tamron, these versions are cheaper, but to many eyes as or almost as good - they are around the £100 mark - see Sigma's product here Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro For Nikon Digital & Film Cameras - Tamron do a 70-300mm for around £100 - you can see it here Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2 Nikon+Motor

One thing to consider would be the F-stop. But both Nikon's, Sigma and the Tamron are all at f/4-5.6. So this gives an equal playing field between all four of them on the F stop front.

The other issue is however, that the non Nikon lenses do not appear to have vibration reduction (VR) which is exceptionally useful when hand holding the camera at a high telephoto setting. So I would highly recommend the Nikon lenses over them.

Two other things I'd mention from my experience of African wildlife photography are - a monopod is genuinely really useful, and you can buy them from about £10 upwards - these help you hold the camera stable and are easier to use than a tripod or bean bag. Here's a link to the one I use (about £15) Manfrotto MMC3-01 Compact Monopod - Black.

An anti UV filter is a must for any lens and will protect your lens and increase its life expectancy. However, a circular polarising filter would also be useful in Africa to help make the most of the blue skys and water etc.

Hope this helps. Paul
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