Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Introduction

Welcome to the first test report based on the Canon EOS 50D! It will be interesting to see how lenses will perform on this new benchmark camera with its extremely high pixel density. The first test candidate is the new Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - not exactly an easy task for such an extreme range zoom lens but then the lens is also sold as part of a kit with the EOS 50D.

Canon is often at the forefront of technological advances but for whatever reason they are the last of the Mohicans regarding their entrance into this specific market segment. This is insofar surprising because these affordable "super" zoom lenses are THE hot sellers in the entry-level segment with Tamron being the top dog since the dawn of time. That said the 18-200mm IS is actually not the first super zoom lens by Canon. In the professional segment they offer the EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L IS and they also used to have a (marginally successful) EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 during the late film era. The new EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is obviously a dedicated APS-C lens with an field-of-view equivalent to about 29-320mm on full format DSLRs. The pricing (~550€/650US$) is comparable to the new Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 VC or the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR so there's nothing to complain about here on paper.

The build quality of the Canon lens is about average and typical for low-end Canon products. The plastic quality is relatively decent as are the build tolerances. The lens uses a so-called duo-cam system in order to extend the optics when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range - surprisingly there's no wobbling of the inner tubes even at the 200mm setting here. The zoom ring operates pretty smooth whereas the focus ring feels cheap. The intended target audience will usually prefer to use AF so that's probably forgivable. It is somewhat annoying though that the focus ring rotates during AF operations. Fortunately Canon managed to keep a static front element so it's no problem to use polarizers. The tested sample suffered a bit from zoom creeping so the transport lock (18mm only) may come handy at times.

At the time Canon announced the lens the community was somewhat stunned in disbelieve because the lens uses a conventional AF micro-motor (DC) rather than the typical Canon USM or at least micro-USM. However, the AF speed is generally fine as is the AF accuracy (on the 50D). There's no FTM (full-time manual focusing) though. The 18-200mm features an Optical Image Stabilizer with an efficiency of up to 4-stops - at least according to Canon. In the real life it seems to be a little less so make it a 3 stop advantage outside of lab conditions.

Specifications
Equiv. focal length29-320 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.6-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 12 groups inc. 2x UD and 2x aspherical elements
Number of aperture blades6
min. focus distance0.45 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3.9)
Dimensions79 x 102 mm
Weight595 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodoptional, petal-shaped, snap-on type
Other featuresIS (Image-Stabilizer)




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