Debunking the letters
There's plenty of letters provided on the lens barrel, and they are all reasonably easy to decipher if you know what to look for. AF-S means it's an autofocus lens with an integrated motor, G means there's no aperture ring for manual aperture adjustments on the exterior, and ED is extra-low dispersion which is a fancy way of saying the glass on the lens is optimised to help lower chromatic aberrations.
The DX moniker means that the lens is intended for use on Nikon's DX cameras rather than full-frame FX ones (though they can be mounted on these bodies, with resulting images at a reduced resolution and with black surrounds).
Our review was conducted using the 55-300mm lens attached to the Nikon D3100.
Design and features
The 55-300mm appears the same as any number of other Nikon DX lenses, with a black plastic casing and rubberised focus and zoom rings. There are two physical switches, one for automatic/manual focus, the other for turning vibration reduction on and off. When attached to the D3100, it feels light and mostly nimble despite the focal length of the lens. On its own, the lens weighs 530 grams.
A shot taken at the 55mm focal length, with 100 per cent crop underneath. (Credit: CBSi)
With a maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6 it's definitely not a fast lens. In fact, it's slightly slower at the wide end than the 55-200mm lens from Nikon, that also comes in a kit configuration with the D3100. It has a filter thread of 58mm and included in the box are a lens hood and a lens carrying case.