Monday, February 18, 2008

Lens Review - Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX ED IF VR

Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6G DX ED IF VR


Focal Length : As beeing a DX format , digital crop lens, it is equavilent to a 28 - 300 mm lens on a typical SLR 35 mm camera.
Aperture: f/3.5 at 18 mm, f/5.6 at 200 mm. Seven-bladed rounded diaphragm stopping down f/22 (18 mm) to f/36 (200 mm)
Optics: 16 elements in 12 groups. That includes two ED glass elements (shown in yellow) and three aspherical elements shown in blue. The VR group is inside the red box.
Closest Focus: 50 cm(0r 20 inches) throughout the entire zoom range.
Macro Ratio: 1:4.5
Filter size: 72mm
Accesories: Lens rear/front caps, Flower-shapedHB-35 Bayonet Lens Hood . CL-1018 Lens pouch (artificial suede)
Dimensions: 77 mm(3.0") diameter. Extension from lens flange (length excluding rear mount extension) is 96.5 mm (3.8") 18mm and 162 mm (6.4") zoomed out to 200 mm.
Weight: 560 grams (19.8 oz)

The Nikkor 18-200mm VR works perfectly on my D200. But, as the lens is a little bit weak on widest apertures, it needs minimum 2 stops closer aperture for getting sharper results. This may not sound as a problem for many of you, but as a 28-70 f/2.8 user, i am not used to shot my street candids with f/8 aperture. f/8 means less light, and i do not like to work on strong daylight, i prefer sunset time, i had a trouble with 18-200mm. Some will say, VR will handle this problem but 1/8 , 1/4 sec shutter speed could be handled by the VR II, but the time is so long that my subjects became more blur than i need to.

I may hear you say, why don't you increase the ISO than... But the CCD sensored D200 does not like high ISO levels like 400 and above, so this was not an option for me.

Since i have bought my D300 in January 2008, i can work noiseless on ISO1600, getting 1/30 in the same light conditions and voila!

If you are a street candid photographer or journalist, 18-200mm is your lens, but if you care about the noise too much, than your camera must be a CMOS sensored D300 or whatsoever in the near future ( Nikon D90 maybe )

If you own a 18-200, it may be the lens all you need for. No more camel huntch camera bags! For my businees and touristic trips, D300 and 18-200mm is all i need. I am also getting my MB-D10 battery grip with a full battery and no need to carry charger. (only if i was not travveling over 3 days or a cold country)

VR II obsoletes tripods if you are not a scenary or night photographer. Believe me, do not fight with technology, VR is really handy and makes your pics sharper.

18-200mm VR has also other properties like Micro-like with a very high close-up ability. It can never replace a micro lens but useful when needed. For street candids, 120-200mm range covers all hidden shot necessities.

- At 18mm, there is quite high (4,1%) positive barrel distortion which is a headache for structure photographers.
- At 200mm, the sharpness decreases in the corners and a little in the center, but not a big deal. Only if you are a wild life photographer, this may be effective.
- This lens' weakest point is this: Not so good at widest apertures. If you go 2 stop slower apertures, this problem will be out of league.
- Vignetting is seen on widest apertures and wide angles, but 2 stop formula will erase that problem too.
- Chromatic Aberrations are around1 pixel limit, even at widest apertures. ED works here...

VERDICT : It pays every penny you pay. If you do not like to carry a truckful of GOLDEN Series lenses, tripod; this lens is all you may need in one shot. For the ones looking for extra sharpness and low light efficiency, do not fool aroun in that page. Recommended (8/10)



RickD said...

Nice review of the lens! My question: i've made my first jump from film to digital with the D700. Lenses -- i am confused! Sales rep said the i should use FX lenses with the D700; that DX lenses would not offer the same quality image. yet, you used this lens (which i'm interested in) on the D3. Was my rep in error?
Rick Duval

Oytun PINAR said...

Hi Rick,

Sorry for late reply...

If you have a D700, it will be quite unreasonable to use a DX format cropped lens on your D700. DX lenses are not bad optics as the dealer said, but, they are cropped and relatively cheapper lenses compared to FX format lenses..

Your D700 is like a Mercedes, but you want to use cheap tires on it... My strong suggestion is to buy a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 ED Nano. This lens is like a 16-50mm lens used on a D300,D200 etc.. This 24-70mm has a very good range to cover and extremely good optics with a fast f/2.8 aperture.

I do not suggest you to use the 18-200mm on your D700. Your full format CMOS sensor will be cropped to DX format with this lens down to 6MP. Please feed your beautiful, state of the art D700 with good food :)

All the best... Oytun

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