Canon EF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS review
4 Conclusion & samples
Conclusion - Pros
- Huge 11x focal length range, ideal general purpose and travel lens
- Excellent image stabilization system, consistently delivering three to four stops benefit
- Good central sharpness at all focal lengths (but inconsistent corners)
- Attractive rendition of out-of-focus regions of the image
- Improved build quality in comparison to the 18-55mm and 55-250mm kit lenses
- Well-placed zoom lock switch
Conclusion - Cons
- Poor sharpness across much of the frame at 18mm and wider apertures
- Pronounced barrel distortion at wideangle, and pincushion distortion around 50mm
- High levels of chromatic aberration at either end of the zoom range
The EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS is a lens which many Canon users have been waiting for with great anticipation, as an ideal 'all-in-one' lens for travel and 'walkaround' use. In the flesh it behaves much as we'd expect from such an ambitious design, as an 11x zoom range will always necessitate some fairly major optical compromises. Wideangle performance is distinctly mediocre due to a combination of barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, and softness at wide apertures; and while the lens is respectably sharp at longer focal lengths, this is tempered by pincushion distortion around 50mm and chromatic aberration at 200mm. However Canon has to be given some credit for providing users with free software which can compensate for those lens aberrations in RAW conversion, although it can't of course cure underlying sharpness issues.
But having dealt with the inevitable optical negatives, it's also important to appreciate the positives. First and foremost is that hugely flexible zoom range, which can handle the vast majority of photographic opportunities (this is, after all, the whole raison d'etre of such a lens). The superb image stabilizer extends the capability of the lens still further, allowing you to keep the lens stopped down to optimum apertures for longer as light levels drop. Coupled with the high ISO performance of modern DSLRs, it also opens up a whole range of possibilities hitherto more associated with fast primes, such as hand-held available light and night time photography (as long as subjects aren't moving too much). The lens also does well in areas which are not readily measurable in the headline-grabbing studio tests, with good resistance to flare and attractive rendition of out-of-focus regions of the image. The macro coverage is quite impressive too, although image quality isn't brilliant at the closest focus distances.
Canon users will perhaps most wish to know whether the 18-200mm is a good replacement for the EF-S 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS and EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS kit lens combination. The primary advantage of the superzoom is simply that it eliminates the need to change lenses; it's also somewhat better built, and has a non-rotating front element which is an advantage for filter users. But the two-lens solution gives longer reach, and (although we've not yet formally tested the 55-250mm) we'd expect it to give nothing up in terms of optical quality; the overall weight is near-identical too. So overall, the answer isn't necessarily clear-cut.
Naturally many readers will also wish to compare this lens with Nikon's AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 VR, but as might be expected there's really no clear-cut winner (indeed perhaps the more interesting comparison lies in the different compromises the two manufacturers have made in their designs). In terms of sharpness, the Nikon is better at 18mm, but the Canon wins at 200mm, and also shows a less catastrophic drop in performance in the 135mm region. The Canon generally exhibits a tad more chromatic aberration all round, and has higher barrel distortion at wideangle, but less pincushion distortion at 50mm. And while the Nikon has a superior autofocus system, the Canon fights back with its highly impressive image stabilizer. So the two essentially match each other punch-for-punch, with neither quite able to deliver a decisive knockout blow.
So overall, this lens has to be accepted for what it is: a general purpose solution which allows the photographer not to worry about fiddling around changing lenses when out traveling, but which makes inevitable optical compromises to achieve this goal. Those seeking the ultimate in technical image quality will need to look elsewhere, but as an overall package it's likely as good as any other DSLR superzoom out there. So for users looking for the convenience of such a lens, it's a perfectly good choice.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
Recommended (with reservations)
There are 30 images in the samples gallery, shot using the EOS 50D in JPEG at default settings. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Canon 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS Samples Gallery
|Moon 99% D55 C14 St-Zénon 20170806 DP by MarioSS|
from Best Picture of the Week
|Reeds on lake by kkardster|
from Abstracts in Nature
|Florence & the Machine by Dutch Newchurch|
from Second chances..
Not sure how to choose your first drone? In this article, the second of a 3-part series, we discuss what factors you should consider when deciding what drone is right for you.
NASA photo editor Joel Kowsky didn't just capture the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Wyoming, he also managed to capture the ISS buzzing across what remained of the sun.
In these videos, talented photographer and filmmaker Daniel DeArco breaks down several tips that will help flash photography newbies start experimenting with artificial light.
Photographer and master potter Steve Irvine makes incredibly intricate, functional ceramic pinhole cameras that look like robots and monsters.
Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released a firmware update for its Moza Air that lets you control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.
Curious how the Sony a9 performs underwater? Our friends at Backscatter took the camera diving off the Baja California coast, to find out how it handled shooting great white sharks.
While most of the DPReview crew put away our cameras and just watched the celestial event, Rishi decided last-minute to hack together a rig and capture a few shots.
Defunct Russian camera maker Zenit is making a comeback, and they're planning to release a full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.
The days where you're more or less locked into premium or first-party flash units has gone. They're less than $50 now, so there's one less excuse not to get one. Here's our case for adding one to your kit, and a few pointers to get you going.
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.