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Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM lens - a lens with a huge 11.1x zoom available for Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax.

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Handling and features

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

The 18-200mm range is popular amongst those who own a camera with an APS-C sensor and wish to travel light, with the convenience of a large 11.1x zoom range.

The optically stabilised version of this lens, we are reviewing here, is available to fit Sigma, Nikon and Canon cameras. A non-stabilised version is also available for Pentax and Sony cameras. In addition to the optical stabilisation and huge zoom range, this lens sports a silent HSM focusing motor, although it doesn't support full time manual focus override.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Handling and features

Weighing only 495g, this optic is lighter and slightly more compact than equivalent lenses from Canon and Nikon. However, the maximum aperture drops to a fairly modest f/6.3 at 200mm, which may be limiting for shooting in low light, requiring slower shutter speeds and/or higher ISO sensitivities to be used to compensate. The lens balances well on the Nikon D300 used for testing, and should also feel right at home on more compact entry-level camera bodies too.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens' construction, with a matt finish that doesn't mark easily and the lens mount is made of metal. A wide rubberised zoom ring fills much of the lens barrel and the zoom action feels very smooth indeed, having just enough resistance to prevent the zoom creeping through the range when pointed downwards. A locking switch is provided to hold the lens at 18mm during transport.

A silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism, resulting in reasonably quick focusing, although not as fast as some equivalent lenses. Moving subjects can be a challenge to accurately get in focus as a result. Focusing is performed internally, so the 62mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

Full time manual focus adjustments are not supported as the focus ring is solidly engaged with the focusing motor. Manual focus adjustments can be difficult to apply, as the focus ring is very loose, and has a very short travel from infinity to close focusing. The close focusing distance of 45cm is fairly typical of this kind of lens.

Thanks to the optical stabilisation, sharp hand-held images are possible around half the time at shutter speeds as low as 1/40sec at 200mm, which is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate is possible.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Performance

As is the case with many high zoom ratio lenses, sharpness levels are very high at shorter focal lengths, dropping as the lens is zoomed in.

At 18mm sharpness in the centre of the image area is outstanding from maximum aperture, dropping due to the effects of diffraction as the lens is stopped down. Sharpness towards the edges is very good at this focal length and remains so until the lens is stopped down to f/8.

Zooming to 50mm results in a reduction of overall sharpness. At maximum aperture the clarity in the centre is still very good, but the quality towards the edges falls below good levels. Sharpness towards the edges increases as the lens is stopped down with peak quality being recorded between f/5.6 and f/11 for this focal length.

Finally, at 200mm sharpness in the centre of the frame remains very good, with a further reduction in quality towards the edges of the frame. Peak quality for this focal length is achieved at f/11.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Resolution at 18mm
Resolution at 18mm
  Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Resolution at 50mm
Resolution at 50mm
Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Resolution at 200mm
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 Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations rise and fall as the lens is zoomed through the range. At 18mm and 200mm CA levels are quite high towards the edges of the frame and may become apparent in large prints with areas of high contrast near the edges.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Chromatic aberration at 18mm
Chromatic aberration at 18mm
  Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Chromatic aberration at 50mm
Chromatic aberration at 50mm
Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Review: Chromatic aberration at 200mm
Chromatic aberration 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 Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is reasonably well controlled. At 18mm the corners are 1.49 stops darker than the image centre and at 200mm the corners are 1.3 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down by just over a stop from maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is often a weakness of high ratio zooms like this. Although the 3.45% barrel distortion at 18mm is quite strong, it isn't all that bad when compared to some similar lenses. Pincushion distortion of 1.61% is present at the telephoto end, which shouldn't pose too many issues for most. If you require completely straight lines, you'll be glad to know that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make correction in image editing software relatively easy to apply.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied as standard with the lens, which does a reasonable job of protecting the front element from extraneous light that may cause unwanted flare and loss of contrast. During testing there were no issues with flare and contrast holds up well, even when shooting into the light.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Sample Photos

Value for Money

This 18-200mm Sigma lens includes optical stabilisation and costs around £340. Tamron's 18-200mm XR Di II costs much less at £175, but lacks optical stabilisation, which can be especially useful given the modest f/6.3 maximum aperture both lenses sport at 200mm. It also lacks the silent focusing motor, as found on the Sigma lens.

The Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 has a brighter maximum aperture at 200mm, supports full time manual focus override and also includes an image stabiliser, but costs around £420. Nikon's 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II lens is much more expensive at around £590 and sports similar features to the Canon 18-200mm.

As the Sony compatible version of this Sigma lens doesn't include optical stabilisation, Sony's 18-200mm is almost exactly similar in specification, except for the Sony lens lacking a silent focusing motor. Being priced at around £450, it's around £100 dearer that the Sigma lens too.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Verdict

With the price being around £100 less than comparable competition, this lens represents very good value. For a lens of its type, it produces images with decent sharpness throughout the zoom range, plus it is lightweight and well built.

If you're on the hunt for a convenient super-zoom, this lens may well be worth consideration due to its good performance for the price.

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Pros

Decent optical performance for a super zoom lens
Well built
Optical stabiliser is useful (especially given the modest maximum aperture at 200mm)

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Cons

Slower to focus than equivalent lenses with a silent focusing motor
Sloppy manual focusing action
CA levels at wide and telelphoto


Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Specifications

Lens Mounts
    Focal Length18mm - 200mm
    Angle of View8.1° - 76.5°
    Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
    Min Aperturef/22
    Filter Size62mm
    35mm equivalent28mm - 300mm
    Internal focusingYes
    Maximum magnificationNo Data
    Min Focus38cm
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsLens hood, Lens cap, Rear Cap, Manual

    View Full Product Details

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    krasitsky Avatar
    18 May 2012 9:52AM
    All photos are real trash. Decent optical performance? Are you kiddin'?
    goexplorephotography Avatar
    18 May 2012 12:50PM
    I have been using one of these for a couple of years for street photography. its a great lens. images a little soft but very little distortion. better build than the Tamron and less distortion than the canon.
    joshwa Avatar
    joshwa Plus
    13 927 1 United Kingdom
    19 May 2012 3:59PM
    Hi krasitsky

    We have re-uploaded the images, as they were soft versions of the images mistakenly uploaded.


    PJ1 Avatar
    PJ1 11
    9 Oct 2014 10:42PM
    Have used one on my K-01 for two years. More than one review has rated this lens "best in class". I cannot compare it directly with other 18-200 zooms but in my opinion it does an excellent job. Sharp with good colour rendition.
    antonist Avatar
    13 Jun 2017 7:23PM
    I bought this lens second hand for the Nikon D3300, but it doesn't work with auto focus, I tried the lens in other cameras and works perfectly.
    can somebody help me?
    thank you.
    johnriley1uk Avatar
    14 Jun 2017 12:07AM
    Some lower cost Nikon bodies no longer have an AF motor in the body. This means they need newer lenses with built in motors to autofocus. Hope that helps.
    antonist Avatar
    14 Jun 2017 8:26PM
    Yes i know that and my Nikon D3300 is without motor in the body. But this lens Sigma is with built in motors to autofocus and is compatible with D3300 according to specs of lens.

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