Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review of the Nikon Nikkor AF-S VR 18-200mm

I know, this has been around for a while (for quite a while), but I happened to come across a copy and realized I hadn't reviewed that lens yet, so thought to take it for a short test drive. Let me clarify that this is the first-generation 18-200mm lens by Nikon, there's also a newer model (more details and whether you should care about the newer model in the "Final Verdict")

As a walk-around lens it's truly unbeatable

+ for those looking for an all-around solution, this is probably the best value out there right now
+ efficient VR, with a separate normal/active mode switch

+ for an 11x zoom, it's quite light and portable

- sightly weak at the long end wide-open (let's be fair, it's to be expected)
- if you're a heavy filter user, you won't like the 72mm filter ring diameter (a 72mm-to-77mm step-up ring might be useful)
- this first version had bit of a zoom creep (when facing down, it zooms by itself). My personal copy was quite tight, I didn't find it an issue, but I know others who've had.

It's not super wide, but the ability to go from 200mm to 18mm in a split second
shouldn't be underestimated

Intended Users
Great for:
  • the mother of all traveling lenses, duh.
  • great walk-around lens for everything, particularly outdoors
  • family reunions, occasions, parties, etc. (from a casual/amateur perspective)

Not for:
  • if you want the last drop of image quality your DSLR can give you, there are other options. This is a compromise lens.
  • low light, especially at the long end.
  • macro? If you want an all-around lens with excellent macro capabilities, get the 18-55 instead

Final Verdict

As I just mentioned, this is a compromise lens. You don't buy one expecting it to be as bitingly sharp as a normal prime, as stellar for portraits as a dedicated portrait lens, or as efficient for macro as an old AI-S micro-Nikkor.

But guess what? It can do these and everything else - if not as well, then sufficiently so. I think it was Wayne Gretzky  that had said "you miss 100% of those shots you don't take", and the same goes for photography. The Nikkor AFS 85mm f/1.8 is an obviously better lens for portraiture, and it goes without saying that the micro-Nikkor AFS VR 105mm f/2.8 is a better macro lens. But sometimes, in some occasions, the five seconds you'll need to change from one to the next might mean the difference between making the photo or not.

What about the newer model of the 18-200mm?
My answer (and I understand it might be a bit controversial): not worth the price difference. If money is not an issue, then by all means go and get one (you might even find a good used offer here). Perhaps you could even take a look at the 18-300. But if you have about $300 to spend on a used but great quality all-around superzoom with efficient VR, then you really can't go wrong with this older model.

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