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Nikon 18-200mm. (enlarge)
Distortion is great for a lens like this, but awful compared to a 50mm f/1.8.
Most 18 - 200 lenses are worse. The Nikon 18 - 70 mm and Tamron 18 - 200 have a lot more distortion at 18mm for example. My Nikon 18-200mm is pretty good as these lenses go at both ends, and only has strong pincushion in the middle.
18 mm: Barrel. Use +4.0 to correct as I explain in fixing lens distortion. It's a little bit complex, so it doesn't correct completely. This is almost as good as the distortion of the $1,500 17 - 55 mm at 17 mm (+3.4), the same as the 18 - 55 and better than the 18 - 70 (+6.0)!
It's easy to correct in Photoshop CS2 using my instructions at fixing lens distortion, or shoot around 24 mm and the distortion goes away.
If you don't have PhotoShop CS2 you may see distortion at 18mm and 70mm. Just know that my Nikon 18-200mm is as good as I've seen for a lens with this wide range.
Plug these figures into Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter to correct the distortion. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2008 KenRockwell.com
Laguna Beach, California, 07 January 2006.
This shot was made with my Nikon 18-200mm at 22 mm on my D200. Note the complete lack of distortion in the vertical lines. Of course there is deliberate convergence. The lines are all straight and not curved, showing a lack of distortion at 22mm. Except for resizing and branding this is a JPG straight from my D200 with no tweaks.
Correct it in Photoshop CS2, or shoot it at about 24 mm and the distortion goes away.
If you really care about distortion you ought to shoot a 4x5" view camera as I do, however as ultra zooms go this Nikon 18-200mm is quite good and easily correctable.
If you have Photoshop CS2 then shoot at 50mm or longer and correct, which gives complete correction. At 35 mm and below the complexity of the distortion signature will leave some residual (very minor) waviness after the first-order correction offered in PhotoShop CS2.