BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
 

is this lens any good?


Does anyone use this lens??? is it any good?

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Zoom-Nikkor


To love this question, log in above
4/11/2008 6:41:55 AM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Hi Julie,

I not only have that lens but I take classes from a photographer who also had that len as well as many of the people in the class who use Nikon. Having said all that....of course it's a decent lens, but it's not great. It tends to be a little soft at full zoom (200) and the distortion is also pretty bad overall. I also have the 70-300 VR and that's a great lens. I use that for all my zoom images, and for wide angle I just bought the new 16-85 VR. I also have an 85 fixed for portraits. What lens do you already have? If you need the zoom get the 70-300 instead of the 18-200. I guess it seems like that lens is a more do-it-all lens, but again the clarity is not great at all, and that is what matters to me.

Cheers,
Sandy :-)


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 9:15:26 AM

 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Hi Sandy, I was actually looking for a wide angle lens (little bit of a zoom) but has a super sharp focus. I don't mind paying extra for a good quality lens. I figured if that lens was really good it woudl be a good buy..


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 9:25:55 AM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  If it's the good wide angle you want then you might consider the new 16-85 VR. When you have a wide angle AND long zoom such as the 18-200 it will never be as sharp (which is what you want) as something with less zoom like the 16-85.

Sandy :-)


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 9:31:51 AM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  Hi Julie, I have the 18-200 VR and have not had any significant sharpness problems. If you check the lens tests out on the web they will confirm that the lens functions exceptionally well particularly considering the 11X zoom range. If you want the absolute sharpest lens you will probably need to buy two professional quality lenses at a minimum but if you want a very convenient walking around lens that is light, compact, sharp and with reasonably controlled distortion, this is one to consider.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 10:56:35 AM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  I guess we all define sharpness in our own way, but I find the 18-200 lens to be not sharp at all especially compared to my other lenses...but I am a stickler for clarity. The distortion is another thing I just don't like about that particular lens.

Sandy :-)


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 11:16:20 AM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
 
 
  Relic
Relic
Elk skull
© William Schuette
Nikon D200 Digital...
 
 
I don't know what Sandy's experience has been or under what circumstances she found this lens not to be sharp. Sharpness depends on many factors such as the aperture used, diffraction and motion blur. I am attaching a photo taken with the 18-200 that no one has found to be soft.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 5:27:56 PM

 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Thank you bill for your image so I can see it first hand. Thank you Sandy for your advice too! Now I can make an educated decision. Thanks a lot!
Julie


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 5:55:03 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Julie,

Much has been written about this lens, from highly technical to user input.

Is it a "perfect" lens? Of course not. No one lens is.

I've heard this "distortion" issue come up many times. YES!..There is distortion, especially at the wide angle end. That being said, nearly all the distortion can be removed via post processing, although the distortion pattern is a tad complex.

I can find no significant loss of sharpness with this lens. Most of the shots in my gallery are with this lens.

Lens selection is always a trade off. Lenses can only get so good, after that it is diminishing returns.

A MAJOR factor that influenced my decision to purchase this lens is the fact that I don't need to be changing out lenses very often..(i.e) DUST!

My shooting style is often "on the fly" so I prefer this lens to missed shooting opportunities.

I guarantee, every time we change lenses, we ARE accumulating dust & dirt on the sensor..unless you happen to be working in the lunar receiving lab.

If you are truly a stickler for sharpness, get a medium format camera with a few primes.

all the best,

Pete


To love this comment, log in above
4/11/2008 7:34:39 PM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  Pete and I are on the same page on this lens. In fact, I think we have had this same discussion before. No lens is perfect! All involve some compromise The main advantage of this lens is its zoom range which means you can shoot 95% of the pictures you would normally take (unless you are very specialized) without ever changing the lens. Also, its light weight and compact size make it my lens of choise for walking around or hiking. The main diadvantage is that there is some distortion at the wide end which 1) disappears by about 24mm and 2) is not really noticeable unless you have horizontal lines in your photo. Only you can decide whether any lens is right for your needs. I just didn't want you to base a decision on an unchallenged claim that this lens was too soft.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
4/12/2008 4:59:37 AM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Bill....no "claim" here, just an opinion on a lens which is what the original poster asked for. The more opinions someone gets the better off they are in making their own decisions.

Cheers,
Sandy


To love this comment, log in above
4/12/2008 5:15:30 AM

 
William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2006
  Hi Sandy, sorry for the way that sounded. I should have used "opinion" or "experience." Must have been a little cranky that morning. I have looked around the web about this lens and your experience does not seem to fit with the majority view of this lens. However, there were some quality control issues depending on which plant it came from. You may want to have your lens checked.

Bill


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 7:26:47 AM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Bill,

There is nothing wrong with my lens. As I mentioned before my instructor had the same lens and also sold it as did many other people in the photography club. It is their opinion (and JUST that) also that the lens is rather soft especially at the 200 end as well as having too much distortion at the 18 end. I much prefer the 70-300, and almost all the photos in my galleruy were taken with that lens.

Cheers,
Sandy


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 7:47:22 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
 
 
 
OK..."softness"..."clarity"...or however we choose to define it; here are a few shots taken about a month ago with the Nikkor 18-200 VR-II at 190-200mm. I rarely will rack out ANY zoom to it's extreme due to mechanical reasons.

So; have a look and you decide if they are "soft."

all the best,

Pete


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 3:25:04 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
 
 
 
OK..."softness"..."clarity"...or however we choose to define it; here are a few shots taken about a month ago with the Nikkor 18-200 VR-II at 190-200mm. I rarely will rack out ANY zoom to it's extreme due to mechanical reasons.

So; have a look and you decide if they are "soft."

all the best,

Pete


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 3:28:32 PM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Pete,

You are so right when you say that clarity is however we chose to define it. I would never comment on someone's photos unless asked to, but in my humble opinion those images are indeed not as clear as I like. They are, however, great shots. Even with the lens I prefer (70-300) I get some images that are soft as well, but I usually dump them because as I said before I'm a stickler for clarity. I will sometimes "doctor" the shots that aren't clear enough for me, and just do something different/funky with them. I have also noticed that my images in reality are always clearer than they are once downloaded on BP, and that seems to be a common complaint, so perhaps your images would not look as soft to me in an e-mail versus on this site.

Please try to remember we are all entitled to our opinions. As long as you are happy with your images, and I am happy with mine that's all that really matters.

Cheers,
Sandy :-)


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 3:49:43 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Sandy,

I totally agree with you.
The photos are to help Julie make a decision.

Could they be sharper at 200mm? You bet they could, but I doubt with a lens that covers 18-200mm. For what the 18-200mm VR Nikkor does, it is an amazing lens.

Your 70-300mm photos in your gallery are indeed sharper compared to the 18-200, but your lens covers 130mm; not 182mm! LOL

Compared to my 50mm prime, NOTHING comes close to image sharpness..The 50 is almost too sharp! Yeesh! Great lens, but too limiting for me shooting on the fly.

If you look at a photo in my gallery called "Personal Stonehenge", I find that photo to be crystal clear, shot at f/13 @ 55mm with the 18-200 AND at 18 inches!

This type of discussion has no real definitive answers, as the answer lies within so many personal options.

If dust were not an issue, I might have four primes in my bag; I don't.

If I could change a lens in 2 seconds while dangling from a rocky slope without a chance of dust getting in, again, four primes would be great!

If my shooting style was 100 percent portraits, I would keep a 135mm prime on all the time. I don't.

If my shooting style was not so photojournalistic, (dynamic) I would not have purchased the 18-200.

If I were not climbing on rocks, over hill and dale, I would not have purchased the 18-200..but I do climb, run, walk, swim..whatever to get to the shot; so for me, I need a lens that is all over the place to capture whatever opportunity I find. LOL

Yep, lens selection is completely personal preference and budget.

all the best,

Pete


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 6:06:24 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  oops..correction.

"Your 70-300mm photos in your gallery are indeed sharper compared to the 18-200, but your lens covers 130mm; not 182mm!"

Meant to say 230mm..Not 182. The lens excursion starting at 70 has far less work to do than one starting at 18mm.

Pete


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 6:10:31 PM

 
Sandy Hawkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2007
  Thanks for clearing that up. I read that sentence three times and thought I was losing my mind, or that you were! LOL

I almost bought the 50, but got the 85 1.8 instead. They are both great lenses, and I agree that the 85 can almost be too sharp at times. I still have my 18-200 but am going to sell it. I am headed for the Bahamas this week and I will use my 16-85 for shooting scenery.

I mostly shoot wildlife and I run around a lot to get my shots too. I have a lot of zoo images but many of my images are actually taken in the wild so I am with you on running around, and doing about whatever it takes to get the shot.

Cheers,
Sandy


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 6:18:45 PM

 
Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Thanks everyone for your advice and images. This is probably the most feedback I've ever gotten with a question before... I actually went ahead and bought a 12-24mm Nikon DX AF F4 this afternoon on B & H Photo.


To love this comment, log in above
4/13/2008 6:49:34 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.