NEW: Nikon 18-200 vs. 28-300 vs. 18-300 Comparison July 2012
NEW: Nikon 18-200 VR II replaces this version. It's exactly the same thing, with a zoom lock.
It's a miracle! I bought mine in November 2005 and love it. It's replaced an entire bag of lenses. All I bring anywhere is my 18-200mm, and maybe my 12-24mm for 99% of everything I shoot.
It's small, fun, flexible, sharp and fast. VR, instant auto/manual focus override and macro and zooming all work perfectly. This lens is too much fun! It has an almost all-encompassing zoom range and the images on my D200 are wonderful. Bravo! I have an entire page on Why VR is Important.
Tamron and Sigma have dinky new lenses with the same zoom range, but they are primitive lenses missing some or all of the other features which make the Nikon 18-200mm such a breakthrough. It's not just the optical range and quality, it's how well it all works together.
Sigma just announced (November, 2006) an 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS to compete with this, but since it's only f/6.3 at the long end it potentially won't focus well, and my general experience with Sigma is that they are poorly built. I don't see that the Sigma lens is HSM, so I suspect it may be the old-style focusing which doesn't allow instant manual override like the Nikon, and worse, if the Sigma is traditional AF, it won't focus at all with the new Nikon D40. I'd get something like the Nikon 18-55mm today and wait for the Nikon 18-200mm if you can't get it today.
Life - Changing
My 18-200mm VR is more than just a new lens. It's changed the way I live and make photos. Some reasons my 18-200mm VR has changed my life are:
1.) No more camera bag! For casual trips I wrap this and my D200 in a sweatshirt and throw it in my carry-on bag. This saves a bag and keeps it hidden.
3.) My bag weighs less when I do carry it. This and my 12-24 mm do everything. I used to tote an F2AS and 16 fisheye, 17 Tokina, 24 f/2.8, 35 f/2.0, 50 f/1.4, 55 Micro, 105 f/1.8 and 180 f/2.8 ED manual-focus AI-s Nikkors everyplace I went. My 18-200mm VR is sharper, especially hand-held in low light.
4.) I can leave my macro at home. My 18-200mm focuses as close as I need without clumsy macro settings. My first 200mm lens, a manual-focus T-mount Vivitar, only focused as close as 12 feet! My 80 - 200 AFS only makes it to 5 feet. Today my 18-200mm VR focuses as close as 8 inches from the front of the lens at 200mm! Nikon's spec of 20" is the distance from the subject to the image plane, which is the back of the camera, not the front of the lens. At 200mm the lens extends almost to the subject!
5.) No wasted time or sensor dust collected changing lenses. I missed a lot of shots in the days before zooms. In 1999 I thought it was great replacing eight fixed lenses with two zooms. I just replaced those two zooms with this one!
6.) The 18-200mm VR just became the world's best portrait lens, especially for pets. My $1,500 80-200mm AFS didn't focus close enough (5 feet) to let me get close shots of pets. Even better, the ability to zoom from tight head shot to group lets me get more shots that would otherwise be lost changing lenses or grabbing another camera. With the 18-200mm you can zip in and out from tight head shots to full body and environmental without making your subject wait for lens changes.
REVIEW back to top
I have about 50 pages of explicit details below. Pay attention.
See Nikon 18-200 vs. 28-300 vs. 18-300 for details.
It's fun, sharp and practical. It's enabled me to create more great photos than I ever thought possible. What more can I say?
Nikon pulled out all their tricks in the 18-200mm VR. It really works. Nikkor lenses have been around since 1932 and Nikon's been around 15 years longer than that. They've learned a thing or two. Nikkor lenses are the reason we shoot Nikon cameras. Lenses are far, far more complex than simple focal length range and aperture specifications.
I love wide angles and use my 12-24 mm quite often. I wish I had something even wider. You people know who you are. My 12-24mm and 18-200mm VR are all I use today.
Like most good things it's expensive and hard to get. You probably can pay for it by selling the lenses it replaces.
If you're on a budget I'd suggest the cheap and excellent 18-55mm instead. If you need to go longer, add the 70-300mm G. You'll lose convenience, but the pair combined probably weighs less then the 18-200mm VR and costs only a fraction as much. Picture quality will be the same most of the time. Cameras and lenses have little to do with the quality of your pictures. Dollar for dollar these two lenses are better than the 18-200mm VR. All these lenses have great image quality used properly. The 18-200mm adds a new level of flexibility.
I always use a filter to protect my lens. Most people will do best with a $75 Nikon 72mm NC filter, a Hoya 72mm UV filter for about $35, or the fancier Hoya HMC version for $40. Personally, I go for the $40 HMC.
If you'll be using pro lenses, which all take the 77mm sized filters, what I actually do is use a 72mm -> 77mm step-up-ring and a 77mm Hoya HMC filter. I treat my 18-200mm lens as if it has a 77mm filter, which preserves my sanity when using all the other filters I use on all my lenses, like polarizers and graduated neutral density filters. By stepping this lens up to 77mm, I only need to buy all the other filters once in 77mm.
If you're in dirty or dangerous situations, I'd forget the lens cap, and use an uncoated 72mm Tiffen UV filter instead (or in 77mm). Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.
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