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

Originally submitted at Adorama

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

Very good universal lens

Pros: Easily Interchangeable, Consistent Output, Fast / accurate auto-focus
Best Uses: Weddings/Events, Landscape/Scenery, Wildlife Photos

This lens is controversial, and has either glowing or scalding reviews. People reading the reviews, just like I was, should think about their use for the lens, and it will hopefully make it easier to decide to buy it or not. To sum up my opinion, it is a very handy lens that we use for a lot of general shots, and take off only when we are spending some time working on a particular subject that can benefit from another lens.
I used a borrowed 18-200 for a while on occasion, and loved how easy it was to use, and particularly the character of the images I got from it. I liked it enough to buy it to supplement the “Nikkor magnificent trio” of 2.8 pro zooms and some more specialized optics that I already have.
The lens definitely has distortion in most of the zoom settings. So what? Most software, and many bodies, now correct for it automatically. The lens is smaller and lighter than the newer superzooms, and is very handy on a small body.
IMO, the lens delivers pleasant and clear images, with great color, and the chromatic aberration is well controlled, even on a D40. The zoom range makes it easy to frame for a lazy photographer, but even more challenging subjects, like a bee hovering over a flower, can be caught if you are paying attention. The slow aperture, coincidentally, plays in your favor here, as you get good depth of field for casual shots, something that a fast lens can get you with sometimes if you are careless. Clearly you will have limitations in poor light, but if the body you use is anywhere near modern, the ISO increase will offset this in the majority of cases.
The lens extends a lot when zooming but you have to live with that. My original borrowed sample was also drooping a little when extended, which I found disconcerting at first; however, after pixel-peeping at the images taken in the “drooped” mode, I found absolutely no issues and that made me feel even better: if it works great as an old and loose sample, it means to me that the optical design is robust enough to work well in general.
It will not be a very robust lens. If you drop it extended, lens down, with a D3 body attached, it will not work after that I am sure. But I wouldn’t hold it against a moderately priced plastic lens. It will absorb the impact and protect your camera though.
Overall, I recommend it. It is very handy, large enough for quality images and small enough to be practical, and picture quality is excellent.

(legalese)

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