While there are better, more detailed answers to this, basically 50mm is close to actual size in 35mm cameras. 55-200mm means the camera will zoom from 55 to 200 (almost 4 times). So roughly, you could say this lens would equate an actual view to 4x closer. (Comparing this to a typical point-and-shoot camera which would probably have a smaller focal length - maybe starting at 28-35mm, it would be smaller than actual size and 4x would be something like 120 - 150mm.) These are rough estimates just to give you an idea.
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Yes, this lens is very good for distances. 55-200mm is the focal length.
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