Nikon 18-200mm AF-S DX VR f3.5-5.6G If-ED, Quick Field Test

I own some very good lenses in this focal length range and never had the desire or the opportunity to work with the 18-200mm AF-S DX VR F3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens until a few days ago.

My first impressions of the lens were very positive. I was surprised by its small size and lightweight (19.7oz.). Build quality is good without feeling cheap, but it is not at the level of some other Nikon lenses in this price range. Nikon used a lot of plastics in the construction of this lens.

The 18-200 VR is a DX lens and is compatible with Nikon’s APS-C DSLRs. The effective focal length is equivalent to 28-300mm on full frame 35mm SLRs. The close focus distance is excellent at 1.6 Ft. The lens takes 72mm filters.

Optically, the lens is constructed with Nikon’s best glass including two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and three aspherical elements. Considering its zoom range (11x) image quality is very high. Photographs are sharp with good color and moderate levels of contrast.

Optical performance at the wide end is better than at the longer focal lengths with the best results occurring in the 24-70mm range. To achieve the best results with this lens or any non-professional zoom lens it’s always a good idea to stop down the aperture a stop or two. With the 18-200, this is especially true when the focal range is set longer than 100mm.

An impressive feature of the lens is how well it handles flare and ghosting. I was amazed how effective it is under field conditions. I had no problems in this area even when not using the supplied lens hood.

The VRII system incorporated in this lens is outstanding. It is highly effective, fast and quiet. Nikon claims a potential equivalent to 4 f-stops of stability over handholding in low light conditions. In my field test, I easily obtained this number. The lens offers two VR modes – a “normal” mode for both static subjects and object tracking and a 2nd “active” mode to compensate for more pronounced vibrations (e.g. shooting from a moving vehicle).

Auto-focus performance is very fast and quiet due the AF-S system employed in the lens. I had no problems focusing on objects near or far. The AF system easily locked onto both stationary and moving subjects as well as targets in low light with little contrast.

In conclusion, this is a very good lens. The Nikon 18-200 VR is a compromise lens. It was designed and built for photographers who want a one-lens solution covering the most popular focal lengths. The lens is ideal for travel photography, walkaround, and hiking/backpacking applications where lightweight and convenience are the overriding factors.

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