18-200mm f3.5-5.6G AF-S VR IF-ED DX Nikkor Zoom Lens


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Ken Rockwell ( http://www.kenrockwell.com) calls this a "magic lens".
Photos of the Nikkor 18-200 VR lens: At shortest focal length, at longest focal length, and metal mount. It's a bit larger and heaver than the 18-70mm lens at its shortest zoom. The front extends a LOT when zooming out to 200mm.
It appears to be adequately sharp at all zoom settings. It seems to have a bit of vignetting (about 10 percent darker in the corners) at maximum zoom. Beware - the vignetting might not be centered if the VR lens is off-center (which often will be the case).

Vibration reduction. I have taken photos hand-held at one full second that were only slighly fuzzy at wide angle. Taking photos from a moving automobile is easy and the results are sharp.

11-to-1 Zoom Ratio. Incredibly, this lens appears to be sharp at all focal lengths with very little focus shift during zooming. Over the past few months before I purchased this lens, I frequently found myself needing to change lenses from the 18-70 wide to the 70-300 tele zooms. Very often you will want to not remove your lens (dust or salt in the air) so this lens is the answer to that problem.

Aperture. At 200mm, the f-stop is 5.6 wide open, so this lens is not very "fast". If you are shooting indoor sports you will be better off with a fast f2.8 70-200mm zoom or a fast fixed focal length lens.

Autofocus. The AF-S silent wave autofocus is very fast and quiet. In continuous auto-focus it can properly track fast moving action (be sure to set VR to "normal" or turn it off entirely if you are shooting sports). It isn't a sport lens, but being able to go from 18mm wide to 200mm tele in half a turn of the wrist is an incredible asset for some sports -- just imagine winter sports; zoomed out to see an oncoming skier, snowmobile or whatever -- then zooming back as the autofocus follows the action. At the closest point you are at 18mm wideangle, then start following the action back out to 200mm. I've noticed the autofocus predictor is confused briefly when a fast moving subject is coming toward you and then suddenly leaving you.

Letter soup:

  1. AF-S: Auto Focus, Silent Wave
  2. DX: Smaller image circle intended for use on Nikon DSLR's. DX lenses can be much smaller and lighter than their full-frame counterparts. That means you get more lens for the buck, or less bucks for a lens, depending on your constraints.
  3. G: No aperture ring, aperture is controlled by the camera. In manual exposure mode, the front command dial on the camera sets the aperture.
  4. IF-ED: Internal Focus, Extra-low dispersion element. It means that focusing is accomplished by moving a rear lens element, not the whole entire front of the lens. Polarizers don't rotate in other words during focusing.
  5. VR: Vibration Reduction. Two modes: "Normal" means it will limit vibrations on one axis only (horizontal or vertical automatically chosen) allowing you to pan the camera, "Active" engages VR in both axes -- don't do this if you are panning. Really make sure your camera is off before removing this lens.