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Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens Review

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Canon Canon EF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 IS Lens
Price: £419.99
Rating: 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, a popular all-in-one lens covering a massive 11x zoom range.

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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

A popular all-in-one lens covering a massive 11x zoom range that costs around £410 and includes a silent ultrasonic focusing motor and image stabilisation.

Both Sigma and Tamron offer similar super-zoom lenses. Sigma's 18-200mm DC OS costs around £300 and includes optical stabilisation, but lacks the silent focusing motor of the Canon lens. Also the maximum aperture at 200mm is a third of a stop slower, being only f/6.3, versus the larger f/5.6 aperture at 200mm on the Canon lens. Sigma also make an 18-250mm lens, which is similarly specified to their 18-200mm lens, but costs £400 and adds a silent focusing motor and 50mm extra to the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Tamron's 18-270mm Di II VC PZD adds 70mm to the telephoto end of the zoom range over what the Canon optic offers and costs around £495. This lens also sports a silent focusing motor and vibration correction.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Handling and features

Weighing 595g, this lens isn't overly large or heavy for one that covers such a range and it balances extremely well on the EOS 7D used for testing. Build quality is good, with much of the lens barrel being constructed from high quality textured plastics, typical of Canon's higher-end EF-S lenses. The lens mount is metal and as it is an EF-S has a baffle protruding from the rear to prevent mounting of the lens on incompatible cameras, such as the EOS 10D.

The zoom action is smooth, requiring little force to move it through the range. Unfortunately, this also means the lens suffers with zoom creep, making it difficult to use on a tripod with the camera pointed up or down at anything but 18mm. A zoom lock switch is provided to stop the lens extending beyond 18mm whilst the lens is transported.

Focusing is powered by a silent Ultrasonic focusing motor which is quick and accurate in use. Full time manual focus isn't available with this lens and it has to be switched over to manual focus before adjustments can be made. The focusing ring rotates during AF, and there is no way to disengage it. As a result care needs to be taken not to catch fingers on the focus ring as it rotates back and forth. The minimum focus distance of 45cm throughout the range makes this lens suitable for frame-filling close-ups at 200mm. As focusing is performed internally, the front filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

The image stabiliser fitted to this lens promises to allow sharp shots to be taken at shutters speeds up to four stops slower than would normally be allowed by the usual rule of thumb. In use I found sharp shots are attainable about three quarters of the time at 1/20sec, which is roughly fours stops slower than the 1/320sec required without the IS system. The stabiliser does a great job of keeping the viewfinder image stable, which also helps with composition and focusing at the telephoto end of the range.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Performance

High zoom ratio lenses like this Canon optic are often a compromise regarding optical quality. For a lens of this type, the performance holds up very well.

Shooting wide open at 18mm, sharpness in the centre of the image area already approaches very good levels, and clarity towards the edges of the frame is fairly good. Stopping down the aperture improves sharpness across the frame, peaking between f/5.6 and f/8, where sharpness in the centre is excellent and towards the edges it reaches very good levels.

At 80mm, the good sharpness in the centre is maintained at maximum aperture, with sharpness towards the edges dropping to fair levels. Peak quality across the frame is again achieved between f/8 and f/11 for this focal length, where sharpness across the frame is very good.

Finally at 200mm, good sharpness in the centre is still maintained at maximum aperture and fairly good sharpness levels towards the edges. Peak quality across the frame is attained at f/8 for this focal length and good sharpness across the frame is achieved.

Resolution at 18mm

 

Resolution at 80mm

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Resolution at 18mm   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Resolution at 80mm

Resolution at 200mm

 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 7D using Imatest.
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Resolution at 200mm  

At shorter focal lengths Chromatic aberrations are kept below levels that may pose issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edge of the frame. At 200mm chromatic fringing increases, exceeding two pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at f/5.6, which may start to become visible in images with high contrast edges near the edges of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations at 18mm

 

Chromatic Aberrations at 80mm

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Chromatic Aberrations at 18mm   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Chromatic Aberrations at 80mm

Chromatic Aberrations at 200mm

 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 7D using Imatest.
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Chromatic Aberrations at 200mm  

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably well controlled. At 18mm and f/3.5, the corners are 1.5 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/5.6 at this focal length. At 200mm falloff increases as the corners are 1.7 stops darker than the centre and visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the lens is stopped down to f/11 at this focal length.

Distortion is often an issue with high ratio zoom lenses like this. Imatest detected 6.13% barrel distortion at 18mm, which is quite a pronounced level and may pose issues in images with straight lines towards the edges of the frame. At 200mm 1.18% pincushion distortion is present, which is certainly less noticeable than the barrelling at 18mm. Luckily the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so correcting curved lines should be relatively straightforward in image editing software afterwards.

Canon don't supply lenses at this level with a lens hood, which is a shame as the optional EW-78D petal shaped hood would be a welcome addition. Even without a hood, this optic seems reasonably resistant to flare and loss of contrast caused by strong light sources just outside the frame although the lens does seem more susceptible to flare at 200mm than 18mm. Shooting into the light can cause a loss of contrast, especially at 200mm.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Wide angle   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS telephoto
Wide angle - ISO100, 1/400, f/8, 18mm (35mm equiv – 28.8mm)   Telephoto - ISO100, 1/400, f/8, 200mm (35mm equiv – 320mm)
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS shooting into the light   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS close-up
Contrast holds up reasonably well shooting into the light - ISO500, 1/60, f/5.6, 40mm (35mm equiv – 64mm)   The minimum focus distance of 45cm can be handy for close-up shooting - ISO320, 1/320, f/8, 200mm (35mm equiv – 320mm)
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
ISO100, 1/500, f/8, 70mm (35mm equiv – 112mm)   ISO100, 1/250, f/8, 90mm (35mm equiv – 144mm)
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS   Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
ISO100, 1/250, f/8, 28mm (35mm equiv – 44.8mm)   ISO100, 1/250, f/5, 60mm (35mm equiv – 96mm)

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Verdict

Overall this lens offers a good quality compromise for those looking for a convenient alternative to carrying multiple lenses. Sharpness levels hold up well for a lens of this type and the four-stop image stabiliser greatly increases the usability of this lens making it a perfect travel companion.

Although this lens isn't the cheapest of the bunch, the good build quality and optical performance will certainly make this a compelling choice when compared to the competition.

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Pros

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISGood optical performance for a superzoom
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISExcellent image stabiliser
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISDecent build quality
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISFast focusing

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Cons

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISZoom creep
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISBarrel distortion at 18mm
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ISNo lens hood supplied

FEATURES Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
HANDLING Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
PERFORMANCE Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
VALUE FOR MONEY Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
OVERALL Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS: Specification

Price £410
Contact www.canon.co.uk
Filter size 72mm
Format APS-C
Construction 16 elements in 12 groups
Angle-of-view 74° 20' - 7° 50'
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 28.8 - 320mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation Yes
Minimum focus 45cm
Maximum aperture f/3.5 - 5.6
Minimum aperture f/22 - 38
Weight 595g
Size (lxw) 78.6 x 102mm
In the box Lens caps


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Comments

wnbeat
wnbeat  829 forum posts Scotland
27 Jun 2011 - 8:07 AM

I own this lens and as your review says , its a very good all in one negating the need to carry extra lenses on holidays and travel . I use the lens on a 50D and very rarely remove it from the body now !

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29 Jun 2011 - 1:10 PM

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TomMcElvy
TomMcElvy  4
29 Jun 2011 - 1:10 PM

I have owned this lens since its release in the USA back in 2008. It is one incredible piece of glass. Period. I was having a problem with focus hunting, so I contacted Canon USA, and it was shipped back to the New Jersey repair facility. Not only did they repair the issue, but they "tightened" the zoom up, so now, it take a bit more "oomph" to turn it. However, once you start zooming, it is very smooth. This eliminated the zoom creep, and had made the lens much more stable.

FWIW, my girlfriend has the same lens. She has had no problem with it, other than zoom creep. Grin

This lens is my favorite of all my lenses, and I own a few (all Canon): 10-22, 50mm f1.8, 18-200 and the 55-250. For a walk around lens, this one beats Sigma and Tamron hands down! Wink It is on my 7D (and on my girlfriend's 50D) all the time!

Last Modified By TomMcElvy at 29 Jun 2011 - 1:11 PM
Baz_Photo
Baz_Photo  6 United Kingdom
29 Jun 2011 - 8:54 PM

I recently purchased this lens as I do a lot of charity events and using it is great. I no longer have to swap lens & miss shots and with it's black lens people don't seem to notice as much, even at full 200mm zoom.

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