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Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Zoom Lens
Compared to Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM Side by Side

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II compared to Sigma DC 18-200mm OS zoom lens


Nov 20th, 2009

If you are looking for a general purpose lens for your Nikon digital SLR, there are certainly a number of good solutions available. While many choose to go with a standard SLR kit lens like the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or the Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR, all in one zooms providing an even longer focal range offer an attractive option.

Nikon recently introduced an updated version of their popular AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Nikkor zoom lens. The new 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.

In terms of similar choices, Sigma Corporation offers the lower cost Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom lens which is available in a variety of camera mounts, including Nikon.

To see how these two lenses compare, we tested the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II zoom versus the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens with the Nikon D90 SLR.

In terms of physical design the two lenses are quite similar. Both feature a built-in auto focus motor, Nikon calls their motor technology "Silent Wave" (AFS) and Sigma calls theirs "Hypersonic" (HSM). This means that either zoom will provide autofocus compatibility with Nikon's entry-level digital SLR cameras, the Nikon D3000 and the D5000 (and older Nikon D60 and D40 models).

Both lenses feature image stabilization technology to help take sharper pictures under lower light situations when a tripod is not convenient. Nikon's second generation vibration reduction technology (VR II) promises up to 4 stop compensation compared to Sigma's optical stabilization technology (OS) which delivers up to 3 stops of compensation based on product specifications.

Both lenses also incorporate a zoom lock switch at the 18mm setting to prevent the barrel from creeping down while traveling with the lens. A sun shade hood comes supplied with either lens.


Nikon D90 SLR with Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm VR II
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM on the Nikon D90 SLR
Nikon D90 with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm VR II
Nikon D90 with Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test at 135mm using the Nikon D90

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II zoom lens
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS zoom lens
AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II on Nikon D90
Set to 135mm focal length (202mm in FX format)
1/160 sec F8, -0.33 EV comp, ISO 2500
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on Nikon D90
Set to 135mm focal length (202mm in FX format)
1/125 sec F8, -0.33 EV comp, ISO 2500
100% crop top center (See Full Size 5.74 MB)
100% crop top center (See Full Size 5.74 MB)

In this comparison test taken at 135mm focal length with aperture set to f/8, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom provided very similar results.

The result from the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom shows a slight advantage in terms of center sharpness and detail when viewed at 100%, although this would be difficult to detect in a print even at larger image sizes.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: Approximately 60mm Focal Length

Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm VR II Nikkor Zoom
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS Zoom
Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Set to 52mm focal length (78mm in FX format)
1/8 sec F8, Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1000
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on D90
Set to 60mm focal length (90mm in FX format)
1/13 sec F8, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1000
Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6GII VR zoom sample image center crop at 100% view
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS lens sample image center crop at 100%
100% center area crop
100% center area crop
100% top left crop (See Full Size 5.74 MB)
100% top left crop (See Full Size 5.79 MB)

In this test with both lenses set to around 60mm focal length at f/8, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom provided very different results.

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II appears optimized for center sharpness when used with this combination of settings, delivering better center detail than the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS zoom. The Sigma lens performs more evenly across the frame however, and does not sacrifice edge detail to enhance center sharpness.

The increased corner softness exhibited by the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II zoom at this focal length setting will be more noticeable at larger print sizes. We repeated this focal length comparison test with a variety of aperture settings and in each case the results were similar to the above.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: 135mm Focal Length

Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm VR II Zoom
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS Zoom Lens
Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Set to 135mm focal length (202mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F8, Aperture Priority mode, ISO 1000
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on D90
Set to 135mm focal length (202mm in FX format)
1/500 sec F8, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1000
50% center area crop
50% center area crop
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm G VR II on Nikon D90
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS lens with the Nikon D90 SLR camera
100% bottom right corner crop (See Full Size 5.51 MB)
100% bottom right corner crop (See Full Size 5.6 MB)

In this comparison, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom once again provided very similar results at 135mm focal length with aperture set to f/8.

The image from the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom shows a slight advantage in terms of sharpness and detail when viewed at 100%, although this would be difficult to detect in a print even at larger image sizes. With this combination of focal length and aperture, the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM seems to give the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II zoom a good run for the money.

Popular Nikon SLR's. See prices from US Merchants:



Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: 18mm Focal Length

Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6GII VR image sample
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS zoom lens image sample
Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Set to 18mm focal length (28mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F5.6, -0.33 Exp. Comp, ISO 500 (Auto)
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on D90
Set to 18mm focal length (28mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F5.6, -0.33 Exp. Comp, ISO 720 (Auto)
100% center area crop
100% center area crop
Nikkor AFS DX 18-200mm VR with D90
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS lens for Nikon
100% crop middle left (See Full Size 6.80 MB)
100% crop middle left (See Full Size 6.69 MB)

Comparing the two lenses at 18mm full wide angle with aperture set to f/5.6, there is not much difference between the center detail found in either sample image.

The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II zoom lens shows better edge detail and sharpness however, compared to the rather soft edge results in the Sigma test image.

For those that want to shoot dramatic landscapes and group shots of people, the better wide-angle optical capabilities of the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II will provide an advantage over the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom, especially if the intended use is to produce printed enlargements.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: 24mm Focal Length

Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm Nikkor VR Zoom Sample Test
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS zoom 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
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on D90
Set to 24mm focal length (36mm in FX format)
1/250 sec F10, Aperture Priority, ISO 640
Nikon 18-200mm GII VR
Sigma 18-200mm OS for Nikon
100% center area crop
100% center area crop
Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm GII VR with Nikon D90 SLR  camera
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS with D90 sample image
100% crop middle left (See Full Size 6.92 MB)
100% crop middle left (See Full Size 6.23 MB)

Comparing the two lenses at 24mm wide angle focal length (36mm equivalent in 35mm format) with aperture stopped down to f/10 for added depth of field, there is again not much difference between the center detail found in either sample image.

As with our 18mm comparison test, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II zoom lens shows better edge detail and sharpness at 24mm compared to the soft corners seen in the Sigma test sample image.

We repeated this focal length comparison test with wide open aperture settings (F/5.6) and the results were similar with the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II maintaining better edge detail.


Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: 200mm Focal Length

Nikon D90 sample image with AFS DX 18-200mm VR Zoom
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS zoom lens
AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II on Nikon D90
Set to 200mm focal length (300mm in FX format)
1/60 sec F11, +0.33 EV comp, bounced flash SB600
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on Nikon D90
Set to 200mm focal length (300mm in FX format)
1/60 sec F11, +0.33 EV comp, bounced flash SB600
Crop at 100% from center Crop at 100% from center
Crop at 100% from bottom left (See Full Size 5.52 MB) Crop at 100% from bottom left (See Full Size 5.52 MB)

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II lens performs more evenly across the frame, with the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom lens sacrificing edge detail to maintain center sharpness.

The softer corners and lack of finer detail delivered by the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom at this focal length setting and aperture is more noticeable versus the sample image results from the Nikon.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Image Sample Test: 18mm Focal Length

Nikon AFS DX 18-200mm VR Zoom lens test with D90
Sigma DC 18-200mm OS Zoom tested with the Nikon D90 SLR
AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II on Nikon D90
Set to 18mm focal length (28mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F5.6, 200 ISO, Aperture Priority Mode
Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM on Nikon D90
Set to 18mm focal length (28mm in FX format)
1/640 sec F5.6, 200 ISO, Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D90 with Nikkor AFS 18-200mm GII VR
Sigma DC  18-200mm OS with Nikon D90 SLR
Crop from center at 100% Crop from center at 100%
Nikon DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6GII VR lens with Nikon D90 SLR
Sigma AF DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS sample image test
Crop from top left at 100% (See Full Size 6.75 MB) Crop from top left at 100% (See Full Size 5.95 MB)

In this test comparing the two lenses at 18mm full wide angle (28mm coverage in 35mm terms), the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II zoom shows a slight advantage in terms of center sharpness. On the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM, corner sharpness suffers considerably in comparison. Aperture set to f/5.6

Chromatic Aberration (colour fringing around highlights) is not much of an issue at this setting, with both lenses delivering decent performance. The results are in part attributed to the use of the Nikon D90 SLR in our tests, since it has a built in feature that compensates for lateral chromatic aberration.

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

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
Side by Side Sample Image Test Conclusion

So if you are in the market for a "do it all" zoom for your Nikon, which lens is the better choice? The Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom performed fairly well versus the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II lens in our tests, especially considering that the Sigma sells for around half the price of the Nikkor (US $ prices).

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II zoom does offers the following advantages:

  • Slightly brighter f/5.6 aperture at 200mm versus f/6.3 on Sigma


  • Better image quality consistency


  • Greater focus accuracy versus the Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM zoom lens (brighter f/5.6 aperture on the Nikkor aids in focus acquisition)


  • Utilizes Nikon's proprietary technologies and algorithms when communicating with the camera


  • The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II offers a richer look and feel


  • Provides a focus information window


  • Vibration Reduction II Technology

    The Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II zoom offers approximately a 1 stop advantage in terms of its vibration reduction capabilities compared to the optical image stabilizer capabilities built-in to the Sigma 18-200mm OS HSM zoom lens (when tested at 200mm telephoto position by taking 5 shots with each lens hand held and selecting the best one - results will vary depending upon focal length)

    Both lenses offer the family and travel photographer a compact "one lens" practical solution. The draw back is that in order to provide such an extended zoom range there will be some image quality tradeoff.

    If the requirement is mainly for producing regular sized prints, posting images online or viewing them on a computer / TV screen, both the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM offer a decent solution.

    While the Sigma DC 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM zoom offers pretty good value for the money all things considered, the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II lens provides better performance and generally shows distinct benefits in image quality. Considering the price difference between the two lenses, selecting between them comes down to the needs and wants of the individual user.

    If superior image quality is a more important determinant over convenience, we would recommend buying two lenses to cover the same focal range. The standard Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens and Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4-5.6G VR or the high end AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II zoom would be one of our recommendations.

  •    

    Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II versus Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
    Side by Side Specification Comparison

    Specifications Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II Sigma DC 18-200mm OS HSM
    Maximum Aperture f/3.5-5.6 f/3.5-6.3
    AF Motor AFS Silent Wave Motor HSM Hypersonic Motor
    DX Focal Range (1.5x) 27-300mm 27-300mm
    Angle of view 76° to 8° 69.3° to 7.1°
    Construction 16 elements in 12 groups (with two ED glass and three aspherical lens elements) 18 elements in 13 groups (with one SLD glass and three aspherical lens elements)
    Zoom Lock At 18mm position At 18mm position
    Max Reproduction ratio 0.22x 0.26x
    Number of diaphragm blades 7 rounded 7 rounded
    Closest focus 0.5 m / 1.6 ft. 0.45 m / 1.5 ft.
    Vibration Reduction VR II up to 4 stop compensation Optical Stabilizer (OS)
    Filter Attachment size 72mm 72mm
    Size 77 x 96.5 mm / 3.0 x 3.8 in. 79 x 100 mm / 3.1 x 3.9 in.
    Weight 565g / 19.9 oz. 610g / 21.5 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 72mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap, Rear Lens Cap, Bayonet Hood


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