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Nikkor 18-200mm - How sharp should it be?

Started Jan 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Nikkor 18-200mm - How sharp should it be?
Jan 29, 2012

I have a Nikkor 18-200mm VR zoom that I bought probably around 5 years ago. I bought it new when they were incredibly hard to get. There was lots of buzz on what a great lens it was.

I have enjoyed the lens over the years, but it has always felt soft to me. I just figured that was the price that I pay for using a super-zoom. However over the years, I have heard more and more praise for this lens, and how sharp it is.

I have compared the 18-200mm lens to some other AF-D zooms (28-85mm and 28-105mm) at the same focal lengths (with various apertures). The AF-D lenses absolutely destroy my 18-200mm for sharpness. I am not surprised that they might be sharper (less zoom, cropped sensor is shooting the sweet spot on a full-frame lens) but I would not expect them to be so much sharper given the praise the 18-200mm gets.

I also threw some prime lenses in the mix for reference, and the AF-D zooms were much closer to prime. Interestingly enough though, the colour rendition (just here in my basement with an SB-800 throwing light) of both AF-Ds were awful compared to the 18-200mm and primes (35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 60mm 2.8).

5 years ago I considered contacting Nikon about it, but just dismissed it. Now I am starting to wonder again. It may be out of warranty, so I would have to pay for calibration. I am ok with that if it means the lens will shoot that much better.

I have also considered taking my 18-200mm to a store, and seeing if they will let me try a few shots with mine vs a new one.

If anyone wants some sample photos, then I will see about getting out the tripod and shooting some proper photos instead of my quick hand-held with flash test that I did tonight.

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