18-200 VR lens "good copy" chat

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kevin_beretta, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. I have a 18-200 VR lens and since the beginning I have been a tad suspicious of its quality. I have a D80 body. I shot a series of pics at 200 mm, 18 and anywhere in between, but only in very few occasions (say 100 shots out of the +5,000 I made with it), does the quality come out unquestionably good. The rest of the pics always clear up a bit after sharpening is added in Lightroom. My 50 mm 1.8 or my 70-300 VR lens give me 100% tack sharp shots, even hand-held at 300 mm.
    I've read things that hinted at "good" and "bad" lenses, as in quality differences between similar lenses. Basically, I'm trying to determine if I got the "Monday morning" model and I have a shoddily built one.
    Has anyone dealt with this under warrantee etc.?
    Feedback appreciated.
  2. this is a lens with a lot of tradeoffs. you're just not going to get prime-like sharpness out of it, and there is considerable distortion at the wide end and falloff at the long end. however, if you shoot at f/9 as much as possible, you can maximize its strengths and coax fairly decent sharpness out of it. i'm sure matt laur will post some of his amazing shots with this lens (if you ask nicely), which prove it is possible to get keepers with the 18-200. only way to tell if you got a lemon is to test against another copy.
  3. I have a 18-200 VR. It works very well considering its range and what it can give without changing lenses often. It is very versalite. Like Eric said there are some tradeoffs but still it works well. Infact and lots of thinking, i bought only 18-200 VR and thats the only lens I have. :)....why dont you post the pictures with all three lenses. so that we can understand exactly where find the flaws....you have to really zoom in to find the difference between lenses. . :) thats my opinion.
  4. pge



    You don't have to "really zoom in to find the difference between lenses"

    I suspect you are just seeing the "tradeoffs" that others are suggesting. Maybe try to add +1 to your sharpening in-camera. I have the d200 which has the same sensor as the d80 and I added +1 to my sharpening because I found that I was sharpening ever single photo.
  5. Kevin, I am one of those who thinks there are some great copies of the 18-200VR out there and some that are maybe not quite as good. If you are having problems with yours and it is still under warranty, send it back to Nikon and see what they can do with it.
    FWIW, I have compared my 18-200 to my other lenses that overlap the range. At certain focal lengths/apertures, it compares poorly. At others, it holds up pretty well. It easily performs the best in the f/8-11 range. You could certainly do something similar with your lenses.
    But let's face it, there is no way to compare the optics of any prime against a super zoom. These are very different lenses for very different purposes. If you feel your 70-300 is better than your 18-200 at all comparable focal lengths, it seems to me that you are better off using the 70-300 for anything beyond 70mm.
    One last thought......... my 18-200 is much better since I changed from a D80 to a D300. I could guess lots of reasons but whatever it is, the images are much improved now.
  6. Thanks for all your feedback. I took a few shots with the 18-200 and the 70-300. Both shots at around 100mm, f9 and at 160. Below are the results and the exif data. Sorry for the large size.
    I understand the D300 is MUCH better in processing images and has built-in voodoo to take matters to much higher level. The D80 suffers from too few elves.
    Looking at my test, and in what should arguably the "best" range for the 18-200, I'm pretty disappointed.
  7. pge


    interesting comparison, thanks for posting.

    obviously there is a difference but its not night and day.

    for the record I think the 70-300 is a really nice lense and I would have been surprised if the 18-200 was as good. I bet you don't have a bad copy of the 18-200.
  8. Maybe I don't have a case, but I find it interesting that I take better (sharper) pics with my old Canon S2is compact than my D80. I have some portrait shots with the Canon that are scary sharp. Not a chance I could ever do that with the Nikon and the 18-200 lens.
    I HAVE taken the same picture with both cameras and the difference is mazing, in clarity and detail, but not in sharpness.
    I'm divided and boxed the thing up, ready to do something with it. Maybe I just need to stick to prime glass. A 70-200 f2.8 is on the wish list, as is a 17-55 f2.8 and a 105 f2.8.
    So much glass, so little money... :)
  9. Kevin, very interesting comparison shots. I would also be concerned about your 18-200. I have the 18-200 and find it to be a great lens for general use. As Eric said, If Matt Laur chimes in on this you will see some beautiful shots with the 18-200 from his D200 that really show off what the lens is capable of producing. I use it on a D300 and have been very pleased with it's performance, knowing of the limitations mentioned above. I would seriously consider sending it back to Nikon for either adjustment or replacement. Here is an example from my garden from last summer at f8, 1/50 sec, iso 400 at 44 mm...
  10. I've read things that hinted at "good" and "bad" lenses, as in quality differences between similar lenses. Basically, I'm trying to determine if I got the "Monday morning" model and I have a shoddily built one.​
    I haven't heard of a significant number of even anecdotal reports about the 18-200 VR to indicate there's been any evidence of quality control issues. In fact, this thread is the first I've seen. The only persistent complaint about the 18-200 VR I've read concerns zoom creep, not optical or VR performance.
    I don't see enough difference in the comparison photos you linked to to support the concern of quality control issues. Perhaps a few more such comparison shots at various focal lengths and apertures, including under more controlled conditions might help. In the photo you provided it's possible that slight changes in atmospheric conditions could account for those minor differences in contrast (I don't see much difference in resolution).
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Thanks to a photo.net member, I have just received a 5th copy of the 24-70mm/f2.8 that I can test a bit in the next week or two. In the previous 4 samples I got to test, I found very little variation.
    That may or may not have much to do with variations among the 18-200, which does not quite have the same quality construction. But I think any "sample variation" is more due to different quality tolerance among different photographers than actual differences among samples.
  12. Shun,
    Thanks for the additonal feedback. I just dropped off my lens at the place I bought it and they are sending it back to Nikon. "Calibration issues are rare for this lens but we get some" is what I was told. This is one of those rare camera stores where you see the same people for a decade or more behind the counter so they know their stuff. We'll know in a month or so whether it made a difference but I am hopeful.
  13. Kevin, I looked through all of the shots. Since I was unable to view your EXIF data for each image, it is difficult to comment. But, there are several where there are some nice sharp areas. One in bright sun that starts with "Sisua" looked pretty good. If you were handholding the camera at a shutter speed below about 1/100 even a small amount of subject or camera motion would degrade the sharpness of the image...even with VR on. I don't know about you, but I needed to practice a lot to get good low shutter speed shots with handholding when I got my D300 a year ago. I will be very interested to hear what the service techs at Nikon have to say about your lens. However, if you are having good success with your 70-300 VR, maybe something is going on with the lens. I hope it is easily settled.
    Best regards,
  14. Dick,
    The last one is a good point. I only shot the comparisons at 100 mm, but I can get tack sharp shots at 300 mm with the 70-300 but not even close at 200 mm with the 18-200.
    I have Lightroom etc but I have not yet figured out how to post pics with exif data etc. Also have Jalbum, which I prefer and used for the slideshow you saw. Maybe I need to play a bit more with Lightroom.... I have version 2
  15. Kevin, I can say for a fact, and I think that many will agree, that the 18-200 does not produce it's best results at 200 mm. I really love my 18-200 for the great range that you can get. Matt Laur has a perfect example of this from Verona, Italy, where he gets a great panorama of the street scene from a balcony and then zooms in on a guy at an outdoor cafe. Both of his shots are excellent and the point, of course, is that you wouldn't be able to do this without the range of the 18-200. But, just like any other lens, it also has it's limitations. If you are aware of the limitations you can pull the best results out of this or any other lens for that matter. You should be able to set up Lightroom to attach your EXIF data to each shot without much difficulty. I use Aperture, but I have friends who use lightroom and find it quite easy to navigate. I hope you can easily solve your lens problem.
  16. I know there are good samples and bad samples of this lens. I got a bad sample and sent it back to Nikon for servicing. It returned a much better performer. This lens seems to get an abundance of "bad sample" posts both here and on other Nikon forums. I'm sure at least some of the problems people encounter are because of poor photographic technique and/or an unreasonable expectation of what an 11x zoom should be able to do. Certainly, however, there are some bad samples. This lens is very popular and there are gazillion of them out there.
    I find that using this lens at f stops between f8 and f16 produces the best results for me. The long end of my lens is softer than the wide end, but still acceptable in, my opinion. If I am hand holding, I use VR and boost ISO to maintain shooting in this f stop range. If using a tripod, turn off the VR and use the same f stop range.
    My opinion is that the Nikon 18-200mm f3,5-5.6 VR lens is an amazing performer for an 11x zoom. Break out your prime lenses or shorter range zooms if you want better performance across a broader range of f stops.
    Still Kevin, there is the distinct possibility that your lens is out of alignment, adjustment, or like mine did, has a defective internal lens element. If you are still under warranty, you have nothing to lose by sending it to Nikon, except shipping costs and a little time. So, thats what I would do. Good luck and give it another shot.
  17. Kevin,
    Perhaps because you are shooting in the "future" they have not caught up to "real time"..LOL Your dates indicated you took these shots in 5/2009. On a more serious note..I would NOT be happy with the quality of those images. I just purchase the D90 with the new 18-105Vr and all I can say is WOW..the lens is very very sharp. I agree..send it back for evaluation.
  18. Thanks for the continued feedback. As stated, it's back "at the shop" and we'll see what comes back. In the future? Well, no... it's the 5th and in some countries they put the day before the month, Mary .. :)
  19. Most "bad" shots I get with my 18-200 are due to operator error.
    Same is true with all my lenses.
  20. LOL... well, in your case the solution is easy then. A $199 "point and shoot", set it to "A" and use a tripod.
  21. What's happened with this lens, Kevin.
  22. It's back to Nikon for an alignment etc. See notes above.
  23. Ok, I got the lens back and have shot a few new test shots of the same subject and the difference is amazing. I'm also shooting 95 mm indoors 5.6f at 1/60s of people and they are razor sharp. Clearly, there was something not working as the VR sounds different and is much more like the 70-300 lens I compared it with. I think I'll like this a LOT better now. No need to bump up sharpening too much. I now leave it at +1 and don't change anything else. Seems that's all it needs. I've in the mean time also bought a 50 mm 1.8 and that is one sharp lens for little money....
    Thanks for all your feedback on this.
  24. Kevin, I think I may have the same problem as you had. I'm wondering what the procedure was to send your lens back to Nikon. Did you call them to tell them the problem and then send it in? Did you have to describe the problem to them and then they fixed it? I'll probably take the steps you took to get the lens fixed since it's still under warranty =) TIA for any help Kevin. Appreciate it.
  25. Sorry Christopher.... I never answered your questions I see ... I went back to the store, explained the problem and they sent it back to be taken apart, recalibrated etc. They didn't immediately admit it, but it seems this had happened before. The reason I am back on this topic is because I decided to sell the lens and get some prime glass. The 18-200 was never really as I envisioned digital to be, sharp and crisp. So today I bought the 105 2.8 VR and oh boy ... what a difference in quality.... Next in line are the 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8, maybe preceded by a jump into FX, we'll see.....

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