Nikon Announces D5500, AF-S 55-200mm II and AF-S 300mm f/4 PF VR

AFS_300_4E_PF

Oh my goodness. PMA@CES is here, and so far it has been a boring pile of rubbish compacts until now. Let me start with the real highlight for me: The Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR.

Firstly let me preface that although I have never owned the AF-S 300mm f/4, I have always been impressed with the lens on the times I have used it, including with it on the Nikon 1 V2. Its incredible resolution even with the dense V2 sensor is remarkable, given it was a lens designed well before APS sensors even hit 6 megapixels. Even without VR I was contemplating getting it to pair with my V2 for extreme long telephoto work.

So imagine my surprise with the new lens. Not only did it add VR, but Nikon has chosen to use it to introduce their Phase Fresnel design. If you all remember, Canon introduced their Diffractive Optics design quite a while back, proclaiming it to be lighter and smaller, but making one of the debut lenses a 400mm f/4 meant that most of the weight savings came because it was a f/4 and not a f/2.8 lens; at 1.9kg it didn’t seem remarkably lighter than the old Nikon 2.8kg 400mm f/3.5 lens, which was also a third of a stop brighter, and was built like a tank. Made even more jarring that the new 400/4 DO is actually heavier than its predecessor at 2.1kg.

Nikon’s PF on the other hand, seems to have done something remarkable. To put it simply, it comes very close to the AF-S 70-300 VR in weight and size. The new lens is weighs just 755g. I am pretty much floored by this; the previous AF-S 300mm f/4 was 1.4kg, nearly twice the weight!

This of course, places me in one heck of a conundrum: With Olympus’s 300mm f/4 coming, it’s something to consider. There are quite a few factors I can think of right now, so I am going to spend some time to ponder on this a bit myself.

Anyway, on to the consumer releases:

D5500_BK_18_55_-_frt34l

The D5500 is a very modest upgrade of the D5300 before it. It retains the same excellent 24 megapixel sensor from the D5300, while subtly tweaking the erognomics with a better grip and nicer buttons, and adding a touchscreen as well. As mentioned in our D5300 review, the lower-end Nikons have a very neat looking information display which really would have benefited with a good touchscreen implementation. We will see if Nikon did this right.  I am also curious if they did something about that directional pad. That noise and action still haunts me. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICKTY-CLICK.

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GPS has been removed from the D5500, but given my less-than-stellar experience with it, I think it is one most photographers will not miss.

AFS_DX_55_200_II

Finally we have the small collapsible AF-S 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II lens. It is a compact version of the previous 55-200mm, which was not a bad performer for its price. The new lens has a higher list price for some reason though. Hopefully it will eventually be at the old lens’s level, which was a real bargain.

All three new releases are expected to be available in February, with USA prices set at US$900 for the D5500 with the 18-55 kit, US$350 for the 55-200, and US$2,000 for the 300mm f/4.

US$2,000? I hope Nikon Singapore continues the recent trend and it will be S$2,000 instead when it reaches our shores.

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