Nikon 18-200 VR Fan Club

Fan_Club-Nikon18-200

I’ve stated before that the Nikon 18-200 is one of my all time favorite lenses. This image is a good example of why. Had I been bothered with lens decisions and heavy gear, I might have missed this opportunity that mother nature presented. Again, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on glass. Just find a system you are comfortable with and have fun. By comfortable, I mean you know how to use it (so the technology doesn’t get in the way of your creative muse) and it’s not a burden to carry around.

Cattle Ranch

Overview

Let me get this out-of-the-way…I’m a ‘super zoom’ fan, and proud of it. What does that mean? It means that pixel peeping lab testers and I might disagree about things. No biggie, while those folks are pixel peeping I’m walking around having fun making compelling images to share with my friends, family, and readers of The Photo Frontier.

Ok, now that we have that out-of-the-way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Click Here to check the current price at B&H. If you buy it through them, I will get a small portion of the sale which helps me cover the hosting fees etc. Thanks!

What Is It?

This lens is an 18-200mm DX lens with Vibration Reduction (VR). In layman’s terms it is light weight ‘do everything’ lens that is prefect for travel, landscape, and lifestyle photography. On your cropped DX sensor camera (Nikon D7000, D5100, D3200, etc…) it has an effective focal length around 28-300mm. Vibration Reduction is Nikon’s technology that keep the image sharp in lower light and unstable hands.

Here it is compared to a comparable full frame camera and focal length lens (Nikon D700/Nikon 28-300).

The Walk Around The Desert Test

I actually bought this lens for a project I was working on in the middle of nowhere. You can find the middle of nowhere in the Nevada Desert. I made a whole bunch of images along the way and thought I would share them so you can see what the lens is capable of.

Note: These images were shot handheld in RAW using a Nikon D7000 and processed in Lightroom 4.

Focal Length

As I mentioned earlier, the focal length of this lens is 18-200, on a cropped sensor that translates to 28-300mm. What does that mean? Let me show you.

Take this at 18 (or 28 converted)mm

…and turn it into this at 200 (or 300 converted)mm

Distortion…Pin Cushion…Blah, Blah, Blah….

You know the lab testing pixel peepers I mentioned at the beginning of this review, well they claim there is some lens distortion present when they are photographing brick walls. One, I don’t photograph brick walls. Two, it is easily fixed in Lightroom. Just enable ‘Automatic Lens Correction’ and select the lens. Boom…all that time photographing brick walls becomes an even a bigger waste of time.

Screen-shot-2012-09-23-at-4.51.07-PM-920x574

Why I Like It

  • Versatility – When I’m traveling, I photograph everything from people and details to landscapes and architecture. This lens covers all my needs.
  • Let Your Creativity Flow – Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are going to be using all the lenses you brought with you. I’ve tried that and failed miserably. I end up being burdened not only by the weight but the creative decisions that goes into lens selecting a lens. If you only have one lens, all you have to do is make photos and not worry about which lens.
  • Life Happens When You Are Changing Lenses – You can’t pause the world around you to change your lens. Nope, it is going to carry on and you will miss it.
  • Price – I bought mine used for $350, but new ones are pretty reasonable. I feel far more comfortable carrying around a sub $1000 lens in strange places than a $2000 piece of glass.
  • Vibration Reduction – There was a time when I thought this was a marketing gimmic, but it really works. I have made photos with pretty slow shutter speeds that turned out nice and sharp.
  • Oh yeah…the pictures are nice! – The photographs this lens produces are sharp, contrasty and full of color. What else can you ask for?

Things To Note

  • It’s Not Sealed – This lens is not sealed from the elements. If you are going to shoot in heavy rain or dust, this might be a consideration.
  • VR II – This lens comes in a VR and VR II model. I actually think Nikon only makes the VR II model. Optically they are the same, but the VR II has a lens lock on it which prevents it the lens from extending when you are carrying it around. I have the original one without the lock and it as never been an issue.
  • Low Light Portraits – Say you are in a dark dingy bar (where I happen to love photographing people) this lens, with its limited aperture, won’t work that well. VR doesn’t help if your subjects are moving around. In these situations you might have change to a lens with a fast aperture like the 35mm 1.8 or use some flash.
  • Vibration Reduction IS NOT Magic – Although I said VR does work, it’s not magic. If you are photographing in a really dark room, the stars, or night scenes you will need to use a tripod.I feel comfortable going down to shutter speeds as low as 1/30 of a sec and certain focal lengths, but beyond that you will need to stabilize your camera.

Conclusion

I bought this lens as the workhorse for my walk around travel/storytelling kit and couldn’t be happier. It’s a permanent fixture on my D7000. If you have a DX sensor camera (Nikon D7000, 5100, 3200, etc….), want to carry one lens and never get tired of carrying it around, get the 18-200 VR (or VR II)….it’s really that simple. If you want to carry two lenses, and you are cool with changing them (be honest) get the nikon 16-85 VR (read my review) and 70-300 VR. That set up will give you some more on the zoom end and a bit more on the wide side. Personally, I’d just roll with the 18-200…but I’m lazy.

A Few Of My Favorites

Currie Nevada

Photographer's Guide To Belize Orchids

Mountain Goat Mt. Evans

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Comments

  1. Rachel says

    Justin,

    I appreciate your practical review. This has convinced me to purchase the 18-200 VR II to use with my D5100; my d7000 I tend to reserve for my bigma (sigma 50-500 with OS – love it). Thank you for sharing your most excellent photos!

    Rachel

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. The 18-200 is as good as it gets. I’ve stuck with a DX system because of it. Versatile and light weight lens with fantastic image quality!

  2. Stephen Cartwright says

    I agree with you. It’s a pain changing lenses as well as trying to decide which lens is best…. then the moment’s gone and you feel you’ve made the wrong decision anyway. I felt this way with my previous camera an Olympus SLR with 35-70mm and 75-210mm lenses. The 75-210mm lens didn’t get used as much as it should have due to the inconvenience involved.
    Recently, I decided to get back into doing a bit more photography (especially as I am going to South East Asia – Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, etc in a few weeks) and started looking at basic DSLR camera and lens combo’s. However, most of those combo’s in either Canon or Nikon have a twin lens, usually 18-55 and 55-250mm.
    I kept remembering the issues I had with lenses on trips etc before and wished there was an affordable camera with one lens that eliminated many of those issues. Then I saw a local Australian photography company offering just what I needed, a Nikon D3200 with 18-200mm VRII lens at a very good price ($A474), cheaper than the twin lens and camera combo’s from Canon and Nikon. My mind was made up.
    Your down to earth review has helped me realise that I’ve made the best decision.
    If I had read it earlier I don’t think I would have even seriously considered a twin lens combo. If I had read your review after buying a twin lens combo I probably would have been pissed off with my decision.

    • says

      Howdy! I haven’t shot the 18-300, so I don’t know much about it. I do have a 70-300 that I will slap on my D7000 on occasion. I assume you are shooting a cropped sensor camera? As you know, 300mm on a cropped sensor is equivalent to 450mm…which is a whole lot of zoom. For my eye, I like that…sometimes I like to get really close to a subject or compress the visual elements a bunch. That being said…if the price/size/weight/optical quality was the same as the 18-200….I would definitely consider it since it doesn’t hurt of have an extra 100mm of reach. I will say that I’ve never felt like I was missing anything with the 18-200 though.

  3. Sam says

    Hi! Have you used the 18-105mm? How would you compare this lens to the 18-200? I am interested in buying one, but I don’t know! Thanks.

  4. Storm says

    Hi Justin, Your shots are awesome. I am hoping … one day, my shots can be half as decent. Anyway, this prosumer ( love that word ) just got a Nikon D7100 body. Money’s tight for now, leaning towards a one – lens – fits – all. True, there’s a lot of info out there sites, reviews, opinions etc. Better to ask a true professional. Right? I need your help. I have narrowed my search down to these three.

    1. Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 g ed.
    2. Nikkor D 18-200 mm f/3.5 vr / vr11. ( you wrote a lot of good things about both )
    3. Nikon 12-24mm F/4g if – ed.

    Which one ( or two ) ?

    Your expert opinion / recommendation will be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Storm

    • says

      Howdy Strom! Thanks for the kind words. I’m sure you are well on your way to some kick ass photos! If I could only have one lens, it would be the 18-200. No question about it! However, that is my style of shooting. I think I have telephoto eyes, so I like to compress my images with a longer focal length. If I was strictly a wide angle guy, I would get the 12-24. I’d probably steer clear of the 18-55 as a single lens. I’d get the 18-200 used somewhere and shoot it for awhile. Then, if I felt like I need to to wide I’d look at getting the Tokina 11-14 (super cool lens) or the Nikon…whichever one was cheaper.

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  5. Pete says

    Hi Justin. Greetings from down under. Got a great D7000 and have been using the early Tamron 18-270 from my old D40X with not very good results. The slow F6.2 aperture at telephoto doesn’t help with auto focus but general sharpness is not good enough for the D7000 at all. So I’ve been looking at replacement hard. The 18-300VR2 looked interesting with good reviews but I borrowed a 18-200VR2 from a friend for a weekend and I have to say it’s performance absolutely blew me away. The sharpness across all focal lengths was significantly better than the Tamron and it hit focus everytime and even did well in low light where the Tamrom rarely worked at all well. Reading your review it has just about made my mind up as it pretty much bares out what you have said. I’ll probably order next week. My only regret is not testing the 18-300, but I can honestly say I haven’t used 270 much because the results and autofocus were not real good.The lighter weight and convenience will certainly be welcome carrying it through the Middle East for 5 weeks. Thanks for your review. Cheers Pete

  6. Jeffrey says

    Hi Justin! Great review and awesome pics! You’ve sold me on the lens (18-200VR2), but just one question about the camera to pair it with. It’s either D3200 or D7000. Price aside, do you have a preference? Obviously, the D3200 is more compact and lighter (I don’t care about the extra megapixels, in fact would prefer not to have them). Some obvious advantages other than weight to the D7000. Could you weigh in on this? Cheers Jeffrey

    • says

      Thanks Jeff! Hmmm….the benefits of the D7000 are that it has some more weather sealing, dual card slogs and the dual command dials. The 3200 is obviously lighter and smaller. Either one will be a great camera. So I’d just figure which options you like the best. I couldn’t say I’d like one over the other. I will say I do like my D5000 articulating LCD screen. Hope that helps. Good luck with everything!

      • Jeffrey says

        Thanks for the quick reply! I guess then perhaps I can ask you one specific question to narrow it down – do you think it matters that the D3200 doesn’t have a built-in focusing motor? Thanks again! Jeffrey

        • says

          No sweat! Nah..not really, well..unless you are going to buy an older lens. But pretty much everything Nikon as made in the last 5 years is AFS so there’s no motor needed.

          • Jeffrey says

            Makes sense. Why carry the extra weight around if you don’t need it. And I don’t have an interest in any old lenses. What more does one need beside the 18-200vrII (and maybe a fast prime for low-light)? Thanks again! Jeffrey

  7. says

    Great review. I read so many things about all the superzooms, so many people are over analyzing them. it just so happened there was a 18-200 vr for sale used a few blocks away from me. Made the decition alot easier!

    Im using an old D50 and the results seems pretty good so far! D7000 is next upgrade, too expensive overseas at the moment…

    either way this review helped me make that purchase without worrying if I’d made the wrong choice.

    just a question… What other lenses do you have or recommend?

    I have the 12-24 f4 Tokina and Nikon 50mm 1.4g and both are a lot of fun to use. But felt really limited in zoom range before i got my 18-200

    Cheers!

    • says

      No sweat, glad I could help!

      As for other lenses, it sounds like you have all the focal lengths covered. However, I will throw out a few ideas.

      35mm 1.8 is a cool lens for cropped sensor cameras.

      Nikon 24 1.4g is expensive…but I friggin love it!

      If you are into macro stuff, you might want to look at a macro lens? Sigma makes a nice one I hear.

      Fisheye lenses are WAAAAAYYYY cool!

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  8. Luisa says

    Hi Justin,

    I have a Nikon D40x with the two lens kit, 18-55 and 55-200. The 18-55 has jammed and I am thinking of replacing it with the 18-200 lens as you recommend it so highly. However is it compatible with the D40x or should I upgrade the camera?
    Appreciate your thoughts.

    Luisa

    • says

      Howdy, thanks for stopping by! Yep, Nikon has done a great job of keeping their bodies compatible with all their lenses. It should work just fine.

      Have a creative day!

      Justin

  9. says

    I bought the 18-200 for my D70 years ago. I migrated it to a D300, then to a D7100. It’s not as optically sharp as other zooms I have acquired along the way, but neither am I.

  10. Larry Cowles says

    It’s good to see someone review this lens in a practical, out in the field, manner. It would be nice to have the best in glass but from a real life perspective, the 18-200 is a great lens. I have been using it for about 6 years. It fits into my photographic picture taking style. When I carry around a bunch of lends, I tend not to use them. Why waste the money, weight, etc. when I am happy with this lens and it gives me the pictures I am happy with.
    Great job on your review.

    • says

      Right on Larry, I love when I cross paths with other pragmatic photographers. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. We totally appreciate it. Hope to see you back here soon or on one of our photo jamborees!

      Justin

  11. says

    Howdy! Both are great lenses for sure. I have had the 16-85 for a long time and have really enjoyed it. the 18-200 is also great because of the extended reach. I’m sure you will enjoy either of them!

  12. says

    Howdy! That is a great combo, it’s pretty much my camera of choice right now. I use the D700 for wider angle stuff, but anything over 30mm I shoot with the D7000 and 18-200.

    I’m pretty sure I was shooting Aperture Priority mode…here’s the EXIF data for you!

    Exposure Time: 0.002s (1/500)
    Aperture: f/5.6
    ISO: 800
    Focal Length: 200mm (300mm in 35mm)

    Hope that helps!

    Justin

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