Fun testing my NIKKOR 55-200mm in low light


Testing my new 55-200mm

This was a spontaneous extreme test of my new budget AF-S NIKKOR 55-200mm VR. Without warning, a helicopter flew above us in the distance, and I had just enough time to pull the camera out of the camera bag (yes, a camera in a camera bag!) and take this picture before it flew into the distance. It was a blend of low light with a very fast moving object a long distance away with a uniform background. You can't plan for such moments!

Considering it was very low light, the body of the helicopter came out sharper and more well definied that I would have expected, thanks in part because it's VR. Even with my glasses I couldn't see any writing from the ground, but here we can clearly make out "FTA" and the "VH-FIX" registration (doesn't sound like a reassuring one!). If I were the type to snoop, this would be an affordable lens to use, no question. Wait, what?

What you can see though with the uniform background is the falloff (dark corners); while I'd like to pretend I intentionally made the centre of the image brighter and the corners darker, this is the result of using the lens at the extreme 200mm end. One thing I've learned with using DX lenses is the same with choosing an ISO level in the camera: generally it's better to be more conservative with your choice of settings and to avoid using it's most extreme setting.

Testing my new 55-200mm, traffic

The great thing about this lens is it's perfect for my D60, being a DX and AF-S lens it autofocuses (albeit not as quickly as my kit 18-55mm). I've been really spoilt by the stunningly surpreme sharpness of my AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D (which is actually designed for full frame cameras), but it is nice to have the camera autofocus sometimes, especially in a situation like this photo when the reflexes of the photographer are especially important!

I'll continue to leave my 50mm mounted on my cute Nikon D60 because it's sharpness, speed and brilliant performance in low light is absolutely unmatched between my three lenses, but this 55-200mm is lightweight and very capable if used properly, and am looking forward to doing some more testing when I don't have so much work to do. Ken Rockwell really likes this lens.

I clearly still have much to learn about this interesting hobby!

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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