Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR DX - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)

Introduction

The Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR DX is one of the hottest products of the season and as such in extremely scarce supply. Some very positive reviews elsewhere on the web fired the demand even further. As a consequence the prices over at eBay tend to be way beyond the MSRP at the moment (spring 2006). It is a designated DX lens with a reduced image circle so it is only compatible to APS-C DSLRs. The effective focal length is equivalent to 28-300mm on full frame SLRs. Regarding its extreme 11x zoom ratio it is obviously meant as an all-round lens.

The optical construction is made of 16 elements in 12 groups including two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and three aspherical elements. The minimum focus distance is 0.5m resulting in a max. object magnification of 1:4.5 at 200mm. The filter size is 72mm. The aperture mechanism feature 7 aperture blades. Thanks to its rather slow max. aperture the lens is very compact (77x97mm) and light-weight (560g) despite the extreme zoom range.

One key selling feature is -naturally- the 2nd generation VR (Vibration Reduction) mechanism. The camera motion is detected by 2 gyro sensors which measure the angle and speed of the shake. This information is used to shift a lens group off the optical axis (a forced decentering) to counteract this motion. The result is a significant improvement of handholdability under extreme conditions. Nikon claims a potential equivalent to 4 f-stops. The lens offers two VR modes - a "normal" mode for most situations incl. static scenes, object tracking as well as monopod shots whereas the 2nd "active" mode to compensate more pronounced vibrations (e.g. shooting from a moving vehicle). When the camera is mounted on a tripod the VR should be switched off on this lens.

Regarding its rather steep price tag the build quality is somewhat disappointing with lots of rather average quality plastics. It´s not remotely comparable to the pro grade lenses within the Nikon lineup. The zoom action is very uneven across the range and it suffers from zoom creeping when tilted downward. The focus ring feels quite smooth but it isn't really damped. The AF-S 18-200mm is a G-type lens so it doesn't feature a dedicated aperture ring anymore (selected solely on the camera). As you can see above the lens uses a duo-cam design to extend towards the long end of the zoom range. Adding the supplied petal-type hood almost doubles the total length of the lens. Thanks to an IF (Internal focusing) design the front does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem. The lens features a silent-wave (ultrasonic) AF motor resulting in fast and near silent AF operations.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length27-300 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.3-f/8.4 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 12 groups inc. 3 aspherical and 2 ED elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.5 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.5)
Dimensions77 mm x 96.5 mm
Weight565 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
HoodHB-35, petal-shaped, bayonet-mount (supplied)
Other featuresOptical stabilization (VR II), Silent-wave AF drive




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