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Canon EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS review

October 2008 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShop$699.00


The EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS is Canon's latest zoom lens for APS-C format DSLRs, introduced as a companion to the EOS 50D. Its announcement in August this year came as no great surprise, as wide focal length range 'superzooms' are clearly popular amongst photographers seeking an all-in-one lens for travel and everyday shooting. The most obvious example of this is the runaway success of Nikon's AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6G VR, and a Canon equivalent has almost certainly been the most-requested lens on our forums.

With its 11x zoom range, the 18-200mm becomes Canon's most ambitious consumer-level zoom to date; the company has previously shied away from producing relatively inexpensive superzooms, with its only previous foray into this sector being the 28-200mm F3.5-5.6 (USM) for 35mm SLRs from late 2000. And while it's this older lens that the 18-200mm most strongly resembles, Canon has managed to squeeze plenty more into the design in the intervening eight years. The zoom ratio has been stretched to a 35mm-equivalent range of 29-320mm, and the new lens incorporates Canon's latest compact image stabilization unit (as seen on the EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS and the EF-S 55-250mm F4.5-5.6 IS), which offers automatic panning detection and (according to the company) four stops of stabilization. All this has been achieved using a suitably complex optical design of 16 elements in 12 groups, including two UD glass elements and two aspherical elements which are designed to minimize chromatic aberration and ensure crisp corner-to-corner detail across the zoom range. Rounding off the specification is a minimum focus distance of 45cm/1.5ft at all focal lengths.

One design decision may however cause a degree of dismay; the lens uses a relatively unsophisticated micro motor system for autofocus, as opposed to the ring-type USM design more commonly seen on mid-range lenses such as the EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM. Consequently, potential buyers may struggle to find any obvious advantage over Tamron's recently announced 18-270mm F3.5-6.3Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro, which sports a longer zoom range and Tamron's own optical stabilization system. Aside from this, Canon have produced a lens which is clearly designed to counter the undeniable buyer appeal of Nikon's popular 18-200mm VR head-on; so how does it match up to the challenge?

Headline features

  • 29-320mm equivalent focal length range; F3.5-5.6 maximum aperture
  • Optical image stabilization – 4 stops, automatic panning detection 
  • EF-S mount for Canon APS-C DSLRS only

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wideangle to telephoto:

18mm (29mm equivalent) 200mm (320mm equivalent)

Canon EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS specifications

Street price • $699 (US)
• £550 (UK)
Date introduced August 2008
Maximum format size APS-C
Focal length 18-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length
(APS-C)
29-320mm
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 74º - 8º
Maximum aperture F3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture F22-36
Lens Construction • 16 elements / 12 groups
• 2 UD elements
• 2 Aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 6, rounded
Minimum focus 0.45m/1.5ft
Maximum magnification 0.24x at 200mm
AF motor type Micro motor
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization • 4 stops
• Automatic panning detection
Filter thread • 72mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
Optional accessories • EW-78D Hood
• Case
Weight 600 g (21.2 oz)
Dimensions 79 mm diameter x 102 mm length
(3.1 x 4.0 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF-S only
Other Supplies distance information for E-TTL II flash metering

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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