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

Review by Markus Stamm, published June 2011

Introduction

Nikon was the first system manufacturer to offer a dedicated DX super zoom with image stabilization. Introduced in 2005, the lens was slightly modified in 2009 to adress the most annoying flaw of the initial version: zoom creeping. The zoom mechanic was redesigned, in addition there is also a switch now that locks the zoom in the 18mm setting. The optical construction remained unchanged, however.

In this review we will have a look at how the VR II version of the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.

The build quality is good, but clearly lower than professional grade Nikkor lenses. It's in line with other consumer grade Nikon zooms, though: the lens tube is made from polycarbonate and based on a metal mount.

The zoom ring of the lens (at least of the tested sample) is a bit on the stiff side, but the uneven operation that we noticed with the initial version of the lens is not present anymore in the VR II model. In addition, as promised by Nikon, zoom creeping is no longer an issue. The focus ring feels quite smooth but it isn't really damped.

As you can observe above, the lens extends significantly during zooming towards the longer end of its focal range. Despite two moving inner lens tubes (duocam design) there is almost no wobbling. The very uneven operation as well as the zoom creeping are indeed gone now. Thanks to an IF (Internal focusing) design the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.

The 18-200 VR II features an AF-S motor (silent-wave (ultrasonic)) and thus is fully compatible with all Nikon DX DSLRs, including the motorless entry-level models. AF action is virtually silent and quite fast for a super zoom lens.

The lens features latest generation optical stabilization (VR II). 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.

Typical for all G lenses the Nikkor does not provide a dedicated aperture ring anymore.

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 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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