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18-200mm VR vs. 55-200mm VR
(links bring you to my pages of individual reviews for each lens)
I own a Nikon18-200mm VR and have used a prototype 55-200mm VR. I'll have many more details when I get a production 55-200mm VR, but for now since so many people ask here are the critical issues. The choice between the two is easy.
The Nikon18-200mm VR was introduced back in 2005 when I bought mine. As of 2007 Nikon still can't make them fast enough.
In March 2007 Nikon announced a new 55-200mm VR for one-third to one-quarter the price of the 18-200mm VR. Since many people already have an 18-55mm or 18-70mm, which of these two VR lenses should one get?
This is an easy choice because optical quality ought to be the same. The difference is in price, weight and convenience.
If cost matters, just get the 55-200mm.
If cost doesn't matter, order the 18-200mm and save yourself the trouble of swapping between two other lenses.
The choice is simple. It comes down to how much money, laziness and patience you have.
Test Data and Sharpness
Awaiting a final production version of the 55-200mm VR, I'll bet you that they are the same. It could go either way; we'll see.
I've owned my 18-200mm for over a year and love it.
The 55-200mm VR was just announced. I've used a prototype on which I base these suggestions. Along with my over 27 years of experience owning Nikon SLR lenses, I seriously doubt Nikon would make the 55-200mm a dud.
The biggest difference will be in distortion, and that varies by the focal length at which you compare. at 55mm, the 55-200mm is fairly neutral and the 18-200mm has a lot of pincushion distortion. They become similar (pincushion) at the longer focal lengths.
Autofocus speed is about the same. The big difference is that manual focus requires you flick a switch on the 55-200mm, while you may grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override on the 18-200mm VR.
This is the most important issue, since the optics are most likely the same.
1.) The 18-200mm VR saves you from having to swap lenses to get from one end of the range to the other.
This is important: I used to miss a lot of shots changing lenses.
2.) To focus manually, just grab the ring of the 18-200mm at any time.
You have to move a switch on the 18-55mm and 55-200mm, a big pain if you often focus manually.
3.) It's a toss-up on weight. The 18-200mm weighs a lot more than either of the 18-55mm or 55-200mm VR; but you'd have to carry both other lenses and keep swapping them to do what the 18-200mm does with a single twist.
The 18-200mm VR has an MSRP of $699. I paid $679 in 2005.
The demand for the 18-200mm is still so high that the going rate is $750 and others gouge from there.
The 55-200mm sells for $249.
As of March 2007, you can't get either one from stock. The 55-200mm is probably going to get to you sooner if you order today.
If you're on a budget, get the 55-200mm VR. That's easy.
If you have the time to wait and the budget, the Nikon18-200mm VR is much more convenient than swapping between two lenses.
If you don't need the range beyond 55mm, I love the super lightweight and close-focusing 18-55mm kit lens. You may need no other lens. I make my best shots with wide angles; I rarely use teles. I prefer to get closer.
Thanks for reading!
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