Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II review

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II is an ideal APS-C format travel lens

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
(Image: © Nikon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I have to admit that this lens was my personal favorite ‘superzoom’ and my go-lens for walkabout and travel photography for many years, until Nikon’s Z system cameras came along, accompanied by the Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR. Built for DX format DSLRs, the 18-200mm is more refined than the AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR and more manageable than the oversized AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR, while still giving a highly useful ‘effective’ zoom range of 27-300mm in full-frame terms.

Pros

  • +

    Powerful zoom range

  • +

    Compact, lightweight construction

  • +

    Refined handling

Cons

  • -

    Chunkier than Sigma/Tamron equivalents

  • -

    Lacks the reach of an 18-300mm zoom

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The Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II is a subtle refresh of Nikon’s original 18-200mm lens, gaining a zoom lock switch but retaining the same optical design and image stabilizer. Nikon subsequently launched two 18-300mm superzooms. The bulkier f/3.5-5.6 is now obsolete and the f/3.5-6.3 (opens in new tab) is more basic, with no focus distance scale nor a supplied hood.

Specifications

Mount: Nikon F (DX)
Full-frame: No
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
Angle of view: 76-8 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum aperture: f/22-36
Minimum focusing distance: 0.5m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.22x
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 77x97mm
Weight: 565g

Key features

There are three aspherical and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements in the optical path, along with Super Integrated Coating to reduce ghosting and flare. The second-generation VR system has switchable Normal and Active modes. The first of these includes automatic panning detection, while the second counteracts increased physical vibrations. Effectiveness is rated at 3.5 stops.

Handling benefits from a smooth-action zoom ring and a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system. It’s typically quick and quiet, and enables the focus ring to remain stationery during autofocus, as well as offering full-time manual override. Focusing is fully internal, so the front element neither rotates nor extends.

Performance

In our tests, sharpness proved better than either of Nikon’s subsequent 18-300mm superzooms, throughout the albeit more limited zoom range. Overall image quality is impressive and a weather-seal ring on the mounting plate helps to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture.

Lab results

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Sharpness:

(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)
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For an F-mount superzoom lens, sharpness is outstanding at short to mid zoom settings and remains pretty good at the 200mm mark.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Future)
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Uncorrected color fringing is pretty typical for a superzoom and pretty consistent throughout the zoom range.

Distortion:

(Image credit: Future)
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Considering that it doesn’t go overboard for zoom range, barrel distortion at the short end can be rather noticeable when uncorrected. Even so, it relies much less on in-camera correction than many newer lenses designed for mirrorless cameras.

Verdict

I have to admit that this lens was my personal favorite ‘superzoom’ and my go-lens for walkabout and travel photography for many years, until Nikon’s Z system cameras came along, accompanied by the Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR (opens in new tab). Built for DX format DSLRs, the 18-200mm is more refined than the AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR (opens in new tab) and more manageable than the oversized AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR, while still giving a highly useful ‘effective’ zoom range of 27-300mm in full-frame terms.

Read more:

• Best camera lenses (opens in new tab) to get
• Best Canon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab)
• Best Sony lenses (opens in new tab)

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.