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Nikon 18-200 AF-S DX VR f/3.5-5.6 G Interchangeable Lens Review

|  Nikon 18-200 AF-S DX VR f/3.5-5.6 G in Interchangeable Lenses
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This lens is Nikon’s entry into the comparatively new group of superzooms designed exclusively for cropped sensor cameras and carries the DX coding to signify this. We take a look at their efforts, which is the first to carry a stabilising device.

Nikon 18-200mm VRSpecification

  • Focal length 18-200mm (equiv: 27-300mm)
  • Aperture f/3.5-5.6
  • Construction 16/12 elements/groups (inc 2x ED)
  • Filter size 72mm
  • Closest focus 0.5m
  • Focus Internal SWM
  • Weight 0.56kg
  • Dimensions 78.5x144mm
  • Accessories Hood (HB-35) and soft case supplied
  • Price £499.00

Build and handling
This lens is smaller than expected considering it is fitted with VR11 technology as well as a SWM focussing engine. The overall length increases by around 67mm when fully zoomed and this is achieved by a double trombone mechanism operated by the forward zoom ring. The rear manual focus ring is some 12mm wide, enough for a finger to adjust it with when needed. The silent wave motor that controls the autofocus means that this lens’s AF is both silent and quick and the MF ring does not turn during operation.

On the left of the lens sits the control panel sporting three slide switches. They control, from top to bottom, the AF/MF, VR on/off and VR mode (normal/active).

The Vibration Reduction system is the newer VR11 that Nikon claim is good for up to four stops of shutter speed reduction when hand holding and, although difficult to really measure, certainly seems to work. The active mode, employed for example while in a moving vehicle, certainly made the lens usable in those kind of conditions even on a bumpy road.

The focussing is carried out internally, resulting in a front element that does not rotate during use and making the use of filters a simple operation on the 72mm filter thread. The build quality, torque and general feel of the lens are up to Nikon’s usual, very nice standard.

Optical Quality
Zooms with a ratio in excess of 10x, and this one comes in at 11.1x, are normally a bit of a compromise when it comes to optical quality. This lens from Nikon is no different, with the need to close it down a stop or so to get the best results and performance at the wide end slightly better than at the longer focal length. What is pleasing about the lens is the contrast, which is good to excellent throughout the range. Another area that has been well controlled is that of Chromatic aberration, which, although it does exist, has been, evened out well enough for it not to show to any great extent at any point.

The coatings that Nikon use on their DX lenses do help to keep down instances of flare and ghosting and, I am sure, contribute to the good contrast achieved. Shining a directional high power torch into the lens produced no scary effects.

The versatility of the zoom range on this lens is impressive with the ability to open out or zoom in without changing lenses. This shot at 100mm with the VR engaged.

The ability to pick out detail is very handy. Again hand held at 200mm with VR.

The Vibration reduction facility, at the Mk2 stage in this lens, does not require switching to enable panning, detecting it automatically.

Click on each comparision photo below to view full size versions

18-200mm set at 18mm and f/8

18-200mm set at 200mm and f/8

18-200mm set at 18mm and f/3.5

18-200mm set at 200mm and f/5.6

Below is our lens test data. To find out how to use these graphs look at this article: How we test lenses

As a general lens that covers a large focal range, this one produced nice results and the quick, silent autofocus along with the upgraded Vibration Reduction made it a joy to use. While not really up to producing big enlargements, it did well enough up to A4 from a desktop printer and the advantages of not having to constantly change lenses will be a boon for many. Supplied with both a dedicated lens hood and soft leatherette string-top bag the lens, with it’s upgraded advantages seems good value for money and will likely come down in price a tad more once the initial supply problems are overcome.

In summary, the positive points of the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR are:
Good VR system
Fast focussing
Good to excellent contrast

The negative points are:
Resolution not outstanding.
Bigger and heavier than the opposition (but not much for extra features)
Pricey and hard to source (at time of writing)

Check the latest price of the Nikon AF-S VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED here

Discuss this lens and other related lens subjects here

Test by Ian Andrews

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