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Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Zoom Lens

Nikon AF-S 18-200mm VR II Zoom Lens



June 11th, 2011

The Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II Nikkor digital SLR zoom lens designed for Nikon DX format SLR cameras, is Nikon's second generation AF-S 18-200mm VR zoom lens. The newer AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, combines an 11.1X zoom range with enhanced Vibration Reduction (VR II) technology to provide DX-format Nikon SLR users with a versatile zoom range in a compact form-factor.

Designed as an all in one travel lens solution, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II provides a very practical zoom range for most users, suitable for photographing wide-angle landscapes or group shots of people, to zooming in on the action to capture outdoor sports, wildlife, or kids at play. The lens provides the equivalent field of view of a 27mm - 300mm focal range in 35mm (FX) terms.

The AF-S designation indicates that this lens will provide autofocus compatibility with Nikon's entry-level oriented digital SLR cameras that do not incorporate an AF motor in the camera body, like the Nikon D3100 and the D5100 (and older Nikon D3000 and D5000 models etc.).

The lens features VR II, Nikon's second generation vibration reduction technology, which allows for up to 4 stop compensation, to help take sharper pictures under lower light situations without the use of a tripod.

The Nikon AF-S 18-200mm VR II features a zoom lock switch at the 18mm setting which prevents the barrel from creeping down while traveling with the lens. A sun shade hood, and lens storage pouch come supplied in the box.

We recently tested the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II with a Nikon D90 SLR camera. Our summary of the lens performance results and accompanying sample images are provided below.


Nikon AF-S 18-200mm VR  II mounted on Nikon D90 SLR

 

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Nikkor Zoom Lens
Major Features


• 11x Zoom versatility: The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II offers a versatile zoom range from 27mm to 300mm in 35mm terms.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm VR zoom and Nikkor AF-S DX 55-200mm VR zoom lenses compared to the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom lens

The Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm VR II zoom lens offers the same wide-angle coverage as provided by the standard AF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR Nikkor kit lens, while extending the telephoto end of the zoom to the equivalent of of that offered by the Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G IF-ED VR zoom lens.

As such, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II serves as a one lens replacement compared to having to carry around two lenses to cover the same focal range.

Two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements: Offers enhanced sharpness and color correction by effectively minimizing chromatic aberration, even at wide aperture settings.

Nikon VR II (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Vibration Reduction, engineered specifically for each VR NIKKOR lens, enables handheld shooting at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, providing sharper still images and video capture. Two Vibration Reduction modes are available:

NORMAL VR mode: Reduces ordinary camera shake. Panning is also supported.
ACTIVE VR mode: Reduces extreme camera shake, such as that which occurs when shooting from a moving vehicle.

Three aspherical lens elements: Minimizes coma and other aberrations, even at wide apertures.

Zoom lock switch: Secures lens barrel at its minimum length (18mm).

Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM): For fast, accurate and quiet autofocus.

Rounded 7-blade diaphragm: Renders more natural appearance of out-of-focus image elements.

M/A focus mode switch: Enables quick response to changing situations between manual and autofocus operation.

72mm Filter Size: Internal focus mechanism facilitates the use of circular polarizer and other filters. The front of the lens does not rotate while focusing.

Flower-shaped lens hood: Included HB-35 lens hood—shades the objective from unwanted, image-degrading light.

Focus down to 20 inches from the subject: provides for close up photography.

The lens is comfortable to hold, and feels well balanced when matched with a camera like the Nikon D5100 digital SLR.

The AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II incorporates a metal lens mount design, and although not as refined as some of Nikon's upper end professional lenses, the finish and feel is within expectations for this type of consumer oriented lens, and is similar to competitors offerings in the same class.



Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Image Sample Test
Using the Nikon D90 with lens set at 200mm


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom sample image at 200mm

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II set to 200mm focal length (300mm in FX format)
1/500 sec F5.6, -0.3EV, Aperture Priority, ISO 400 (See Full Size 4.38 MB)



In this image test taken at 200mm focal length with aperture set to f/5.6, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II provided a nice 'bokeh effect' with natural background blur. The lens also performed well in terms of sharpness and rendered good detail for this scene.



Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Image Sample Test:
Approx. 26mm Focal Length

Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF ED VR II with Nikon D90

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II set to 26mm focal length (39mm in FX format)
1/200 sec F3.8, Aperture Priority, ISO 400 with Bounce Flash

Center area crop at 100%
100% crop middle bottom (Full Size 5.62 MB)


In the above sample image test with the lens set to 26mm focal length at f/3.8, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II provided very acceptable results.

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II lens appears optimized for center sharpness when used with this combination of settings. While there is some visible corner softness in the image, it will hardly be noticeable if you are mostly producing regular size prints or for online use.




Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Image Sample Test:
112mm Focal Length


Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF ED VR II zoom lens with Nikon D90

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II set to 112mm focal length (168mm in FX format)
1/1000 sec F9, Aperture Priority, ISO 400

100% crop middle left
Center crop at 100% (See Full Size 6.48 MB)

In this image with the lens set at approximately the middle of the zoom range (112mm focal length) and aperture at F9, the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED once again did a pretty good job in terms of delivering sharpness.

When shooting under bright conditions as above it is strongly recommended to use the supplied lens hood to help minimize any potential lens flare. We found that in general the AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II performed quite well in terms of handling flare, a tribute to the ED lens elements incorporated in the lens.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Image Sample Test:
24mm Focal Length


Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF ED VR II mounted on  Nikon D90

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II set to 24mm focal length (36mm in FX format)
1/320 sec F10, Aperture Priority, ISO 640

Center area crop from 100%
Crop Middle Left at 100%
Center area crop at 100%
100% crop middle left (See Full Size 6.92 MB)

In the above sample image test with the lens set to the 24mm (36mm equivalent in 35mm format) wide-angle zoom setting with aperture stopped down to f/10 for added depth of field, there is not much noticeable difference between the amount of center and corner sharpness that is delivered when viewing the image at full size. Overall a good result.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Review:
18mm Focal Length Sample Image Test


Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF ED VR II with Nikon D90

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II set to 18mm focal length (27mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F5.6, Aperture Priority, ISO 200

Center area crop at 100%
100% crop top left (See Full Size 6.75 MB)

In this test with the lens set to its widest 18mm focal length setting, the amount of center sharpness is pretty good. Corner softness is quite visible when viewing the image at full size, although once again it will not be as noticeable unless you are printing bigger enlargements.

Chromatic Aberration (colour fringing around highlights) is well controlled, with the lens delivering decent performance. The results are in part attributed to the use of the Nikon D90 SLR in our tests. Like most of the new Nikon SLR cameras, the D90 has a built in feature that compensates for lateral chromatic aberration.

The Nikon D90 "Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction" function serves to reduce moiré and helps optimize edge sharpness, providing a practical advantage with any lens.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus AF-S DX 18-55mm VR
Wide-angle Lens Distortion Test


AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II at 18mm
AF-S DX 18-55mm VR at 18mm
AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II at 18mm
after in-camera Retouch using
Distortion Control Correction Function


Comparing the wide-angle capabilities of the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 IF-ED VR II with the image quality results delivered by the standard Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR zoom, as seen in the above side by side sample images, we found that the Nikon AF-S 18-200mm VR II produced more noticeable barrel distortion (horizontal and vertical lines curved outward) versus the AF-S DX 18-55mm VR.

In fairness, in order to provide the added zoom versatility offered by the AF-S 18-200mm VR II while maintaining compactness and ease of portability, there has to be some tradeoffs. As such, the Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II compares quite well to the AF-S DX 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR zoom all things considered.

Wide-angle distortion effects are not so pronounced when photographing subjects from further away. Wide-angle lens distortion can also be minimized by not setting the lens to the widest zoom setting when shooting at closer range.

The Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II did exhibit some pincushion distortion (inward bowing of gridded straight lines in an image) at the upper telephoto zoom range, although in our real world field tests the effects were not that noticeable.

Many of Nikon's current digital SLR's like the Nikon D90, D5100 and D7000, feature a built-in 'Distortion Control Correction' function. Selecting this feature in the Nikon D90's 'Retouch Menu' (with Auto settings), the Nikon D90 did a decent job at reducing the appearance of distortion, as shown in the third sample image above.

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED performed fairly well in terms of controlling lens vignetting (dark image corners). Vignetting is worst at 18mm wide open at F/3.5, although with some improvement seen with the lens stopped down to F/5.6 at the same focal setting. Vignetting becomes less of an issue in the middle of the zoom range.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II SLR Zoom Lens Review
Sample Image Test Conclusion


The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom serves as a practical one lens solution compared to carrying around two lenses like the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR and the Nikkor AF-S DX 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR zoom, in order to cover the same focal range.

While incorporating such a long zoom range into one lens does come with some tradeoffs (more noticeable distortion and some edge softening depending on the focal length), the versatility and convenience provided by the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II in our opinion outweighs these issues, and makes the lens quite suitable for its intended users of family and travel photographers.

The lens offers a comfortable design with a large front located zoom ring. The manual focus ring is located further down the lens towards the lens mount, and manual focus can be quickly activated by sliding the M/A (Manual / Auto) switch found on the side of the lens.

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II incorporates Nikon's Vibration Reduction II (VRII) technology. The VR system built-in to the AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II did a good job in our tests, allowing us to handhold the lens up to 4 stops slower than would normally be possible without using a tripod.

The AF-S motor incorporated in the lens means that the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II is fully auto focus compatible with all of Nikon's current SLR lineup. The lens is responsive in its focusing, and while not as fast as some of Nikon's higher end lenses like the AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G VR II, the lens did a good job in attaining focus in our tests.

The Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II offers decent sharpness performance throughout the zoom range, with some corner softness being more noticeable at the widest of the wide-angle settings.

Considering the many benefits offered by the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II zoom, including; general image quality, focal length versatility, compactness, and the optical vibration reduction system (VR II), we have no problem recommending the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED zoom lens.

In our opinion, the AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.-5.6G IF-ED VR II serves it's intended purpose well, and is a logical choice if you are looking for a one lens solution for your Nikon SLR.

To buy the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED Nikkor zoom lens in the US we recommend checking out Amazon Marketplace. See the latest Canadian deal here.



Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II Specifications
 

Mount Nikon F Mount (metal)
Maximum Aperture f/3.5-5.6
AF Motor AFS Silent Wave Motor
DX Focal Range (1.5x) 27-300mm
Angle of view 76° to 8°
Construction 16 elements in 12 groups (with two ED glass and three aspherical lens elements)
Zoom Lock At 18mm position
Max Reproduction ratio 0.22x
Number of diaphragm blades 7 rounded
Focus Mode Auto
Manual
Manual/Auto
Closest focus 0.5 m / 1.6 ft.
Vibration Reduction VR II up to 4 stop compensation
Filter Attachment size 72mm
Size 77 x 96.5 mm / 3.0 x 3.8 in.
Weight 565g / 19.9 oz.
Included Accessories 72mm Snap-On Front Lens Cap LC-72, Rear Lens Cap LF-1, Bayonet Hood HB-35, Flexible Lens Pouch CL-1018

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