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Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX review

February 2008 | By Andy Westlake


The Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor was introduced in November 2005, and rapidly became a much sought-after lens for the Nikon shooter's armoury. With its hugely useful 11.1x focal length range, 'silent wave' focusing, and Nikon's second generation vibration reduction system to combat camera shake, this lens aims to be the ultimate single-lens 'walkaround' solution, which photographers who wish to travel light can simply leave on the camera all the time.

Of course the all-in-one 'superzoom' concept isn't new; the first such lens was Tokina's 35-200mm from 1982, but early designs were plagued by excessive size and weight, poor optical quality, and unacceptably long minimum focus distances. Indeed it wasn't until the mid-1990s that the likes of Sigma and Tamron introduced truly practical superzooms which substantially overcame these issues, and delivered acceptable quality across the range (for the casual vacation photographer at least). Since then, the rapid progress of computer-aided lens design has resulted in continued improvements in optical quality and extensions in zoom ranges, whilst shrinking lens sizes still further, making the superzoom concept more tempting than ever before.

However much of the early snobbery surrounding superzooms as poor quality 'snapshot' lenses still persists, and perhaps for that reason the major camera manufacturers have apparently been reluctant to add them to their own lens ranges. This makes the Nikon 18-200mm a pretty unique beast, as a superzoom designed in-house by a major player, and incorporating all their latest technology and know-how. So does this lens finally elevate the superzoom into the big league of lenses which 'serious' photographers should be happy to own and use, or is it still an unacceptable compromise? Read on to find out.

Headline features

  • 27-300mm equivalent focal length range; F3.5-5.6 maximum aperture
  • VR II optical Vibration Reduction – 4 stops 
  • Compact Silent Wave focusing with M/A for rapid switching between auto and manual focus
  • F mount for Nikon DX dSLRS only

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto. The 18-200mm appears to be just slightly wider at 18mm than the 18-55mm VR.

18mm (27mm equivalent) 200mm (300mm equivalent)

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX specifications

Street price • US: $680
• UK: £450
Date introduced November 2005
Maximum format size DX
Focal length 18-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length(APS-C) 27-300mm
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 78º - 8º
Maximum aperture F3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture F22-36
Lens Construction • 16 elements/12 groups
• 2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.5m
Maximum magnification not specified
AF motor type • Compact silent-wave motor
• M/A mode for rapid switching between Auto and Manual focus
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization • VR II, 4 stops
• Auto panning detection
• 'Active mode' for shooting from moving vehicles (no panning)
Filter thread • 72mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood HB-35
• Soft Case CL-1018
Optional accessories 72mm filters
Weight 560 g (19.8 oz)
Dimensions 77 mm diameter x 96.5 mm length
(3.0 x 3.8 in)
Lens Mount Nikon F only
Other Distance information output to camera body

* 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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