Nikon 18-200mm VS Sigma 18-200mm?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by brian_chan|2, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Hey all,

    I am contemplating between buying either the Nikon version of the zoom lens or the Sigma version. As I am a
    beginner I would like to ask for some suggestions, such as the pros & cons of each? In terms of pricing Sigma is
    alot cheaper than the Nikon, however some say that the quality isnt as good.

    Please advice. =)
  2. You actually answered your own question. Read your last sentence.
  3. The Nikon is a "better" lens, the Sigma may be more affordable. The 18-200 is a good walk around, 1 lens solution. I have the Nikon and I really do not use it. The images seem a bit weak. As a lens, it is not that interesting to use. Its' a little to point and shoot for me. <P>As a beginner, depending upon your interest and knowledge, there might be other choices to consider. What do you currently have? What do you shoot and what are you looking to do that you cannot do with your current equipment?<P>Search around on this web site and you'll find more information and opinions.<P> Warren
  4. Thanks! I am currently just using the d40 kit lens, as I am just a casual photographer, i want a all-rounded lens to begin with so that i can take it around with me, to travel etc. The convenience of this broad ranged lens is what attracts me.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Nikon's auto-focus system is designed to work with lenses whose maximum aperture is f5.6 or faster. Nikon's own 18-200 AF-S DX is the only one of this type of lenses that is f5.6 at 200mm. The others are slower than f5.6 at 200mm and you will have iffy AF performance under bright sun light. It would be quite hopeless indoors.
  6. About a year ago I faced the same dilemma. I ended up getting a Sigma 18-200 (not the newer OS version). I have been VERY happy with it. I find the image quality to be very good. I was really concerned about whether my D70 would focus well @ the 200mm max apeture of f/6.3 but I have had NO problems.
    If you are considering the Sigma version with optical stabilization the choice would be a little less clear cut. My Sigma lens WITHOUT OS cost less than half of the Nikon. However, I don't have any lenses with VR -- I don't find this to be a problem.
    I also used to have the Sigma 18-125 lens and found it to be very satisfactory as well.
  7. The 18-135mm Nikon lens is an affordable option. It offers exceptional image quality with a really nice zoom range, and is substantially less expensive than Nikon's 18-200mm. It does not have VR. I use it on my wife's D40 and I find it to be one of Nikon's best consumer lenses.

    This photo:

    shows the difference from 135mm to 200mm at infinity.

    This photo:

    shows the difference from 135mm to 200mm at close distance.

    You need to decide whether the added range between 135mm and 200mm is worth the extra cost. Many find it isn't.

    These photos:

    show some crops comparing the two Nikon lenses.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Peter, I am surprised that you have no AF problem with a 200mm, f6.3 lens, especially on the D70 that has mediocre AF performance. While I don't have any lens that slow, I have mounted the TC-17E II onto f4 lenses to get an effective maximum aperture of f6.3, and AF tends to hunt a lot under the sun on some of Nikon's top-of-the-line AF bodies.

    I also find it peculiar that Elliot keeps on making unsolicited recommendations of the 18-135mm AF-S DX without VR. According to Thom Hogan, this lens is barely recommended:

    While Hogan is not always right, when a Nikon authority like him makes such comments, I would check this lens out thoroughly before purchasing. Unless your budget is very limited, there are clearly better choices.
  9. Brian, <P> The D40x and 18-200 work well together. I give my son that set up when we go cruizing for photos and we've printed some nice images for his wall. <P> Alot of your question was answered on your second post. Its' a good combination for what you are looking to accomplish. <P> Have fun with it. <P> Warren
  10. Shun,
    I know the D70 is supposed to be mediocre at autofocus, but I've only had a problem with one lens -- an older Sigma 28mm 1.8 lens. I have used the following lenses on my two D70 bodies:
    nikon 28-105, sigma 18-200, sigma 18-125, nikon 50mm 1.8, nikon 28mm 2.8, nikon 70-300G, -- all with no autofocus problems.
    I think that this may be due to the fact that I shot with manual focus Nikon & Mamiya equipment for 25+ years in my days as a working professional. I never even took a picture with an autofocus lens until I got my two D70 bodies.
    Autofocus doesn't mean "point and shoot" I sometimes read posts about people having problems with AF and it seems they think that the camera is supposed to do EVERYTHING for them -- not so. This goes for exposure too.
    I've eagerly awaited each new Nikon body release, but so far I've not seen anything that has made me want to shell out $1000 plus for a new body -- Of course I WOULD like to have a D3 but I WOULDN'T like to have to explain to my wife why I NEED to spend $3000 for a camera body.
  11. Brian, I make my comments/recommendations based on my hands-on experience with the 18-135mm lens and the 18-200mm (I currently own both) and my prior and current experience with 3rd party lenses. I never make comments based on other people's comments. As quality is subjective, the only way to really know for sure which lens is best suited to you is to try them both for yourself.

    I have not used the Sigma lens in this zoom range but have used similar other 3rd party lenses and find, like most others, that although they are good, in general they are not as good as the original manufacturer's lenses, whether it be Canon or Nikon. As Shun mentioned, there can be focus issues at maximum zoom. I currently own 1 Sigma lens for my 5D and like it a lot, although I know it is not as good as the Canon equivalent. In any case, I am happy with it and happy that it save me hundreds of dollars. As it is a specialty lens, I don't use it often. I bought it based on my favorable experience with a similar Sigma lens I bought and used on my D200. In general, as you have read, most people who have used both 3rd party and manufacturer's lenses find they are good to very good, but not as good as the lenses made by the camera's manufacturer.

    I reread the article Shun linked to (which was actually instrumental in me buying the lens originally). Thom does give the 18-135mm lens high marks especially when it comes to sharpness and color (what more could you ask for). On the downside, he mentions the lens has chromatic aberrations and distortion - both easy to fix with software during post processing - both problems common of many, many lenses, including pro lenses.

    For someone on a budget, as it appears you might be, the 18-135mm is, in my opinion, a viable alternative and possibly preferred over the Sigma 18-200. It will likely give you better color and sharpness than any 3rd party lens in this zoom range. If I am mistaken and money is not an issue, Nikon's 18-200mm would be your preferred/best choice.

    As good as Peter's lens may be, I doubt he would use it with a D3 (if he had one).
  12. Sigma produces some good lenses too. I am currently using sigma 50-500. I usually using from 100 and up at f/8. It is sharp and sharp. Very well contrast too.

    It is a full frame lens. Using it with D300 with smaller view, all the corner weaknesses a lens commonly has, are practically gone.

    The only way to find out is to test the lens yourself. Get to know the characteristic of the lens.
  13. brian, reports i've seen on the sigma can be misleading, since there is some confusion over the OS and non-OSv ersions. the OS version has been reported in some instances to be sharper than the nikon, which, unfortunately, isnt saying all that much, since that lens has a rep as being a jack of all trades, master of none. i dont think it's really a matter of optics, but of other characteristics. i personally wouldnt get a non-EX sigma. any superzoom will need to be stopped down to at least f/8 to be all it can be, and some folks say the nikon 18-200 doesnt reach its peak until f/11-f/13, while others say optimal aperture for sharpness varies according to the focal length due to some fairly significant distortion characteristics. in any event, any lens with a zoom range that large involves some compromises. the larger issue with the sigma, as shun points out, is the max aperture at the long end being a slowish 6.3. i personally saved $600 on what the nikon cost at the time with the now-discontinued tokina 24-200, which has a max aperture at 200mm of 5.6 plus a solid metal build that's sturdier than either the nikon or the sigma and works great, provided it's stopped down to f/8.
  14. whoops, that should read, "D300."
  15. "I reread the article Shun linked to (which was actually instrumental in me buying the lens originally). Thom does give the 18-135mm lens high marks especially when it comes to sharpness and color (what more could you ask for). On the downside, he mentions the lens has chromatic aberrations and distortion - both easy to fix with software during post processing - both problems common of many, many lenses, including pro lenses."

    i reread it too. thom isn't dissing that lens at all; he's merely telling you that there's a tradeoff for edge to edge sharpness at every focal length in terms of distortion and CA. this would be less of an issue on a D300, which corrects for CA automatically (possibly why the tokina looks so good with it.)
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    First of all, Brian Chan, the OP, did not clearly specify which camera body he is using. It seems like it is a D40.
    Therefore, any advantage from the D300 doesn't seem to apply.

    I am not sure that a lot of beginners would like to fix chromatic aberration and distortion issues on a regular basis.

    But one of the main drawbacks of the 18-135 is that it is a slow f5.6 near 135mm but it has no VR. That is likely
    going to cause far more blury images for beginners. In comparison, some other very inexpensive lenses such as the
    55-200mm now have VR versions.

    And of course the overall low construction quality and plastic mount on the 18-135 have been pointed out many
    times. If one can afford the 18-200mm AF-S VR, I don't think the 18-135 is a good alternative.
  17. Thanks all for your contributions it really helped. I think i have decided on which lens, and just to clarify YES i am using a d40.

    RE: Eric Arnold, you mentioned that "any superzoom will need to be stopped down to at least f/8 to be all it can be, and some folks say the nikon 18-200 doesnt reach its peak until f/11-f/13". I dont really understand it, could you kind of briefly explain the mechanics/reasons behind why that is so?

    Thanks =)
  18. real briefly,
    lenses are subject to the laws of physics. they're sharpest (combination of edge and center performance) stopped
    down a bit. some more than others.
    at f/8, for example, you might not see a huge difference in optical quality between the $99 18-55 and the $1200 17-
    55. of course, the 17-55 is a lot better at 2.8. lol.

    there are a lot more compromises involved in an 11x zoom than a 3x zoom, especially one with VR. sometimes this
    manifests with strange distortion characteristics, which are different at different focal lengths and apertures, as
    seems to be the case with the 18-200.

    as far as the "sweet spot" i.e. maximum sharpness, i've found the tokina 24-200's to be f/8 (no real big surprise). with
    the 18-200, you might need to stop down one extra click to f/11 to reach it.

    i'm not an engineer, so that's the best explanation i can give you

    for a more technical explanation, though, go visit

    they have extensive reviews there which get into all the characteristics of a lens--mtf, vignetting, chromatic
    aberrations,distortion, etc. good resource.

  19. Does that mean to get the sharpest image I should always try to take pictures with f/11 if possible?
  20. Hi Brian, I have the Nikon 18-200mm lens on a D80 myself, and there are a few things to note. I understand that the Sigma AF is a bit slower than the Nikon's, and I have heard that the Nikon is built much better than any of the comperable lenses. I have been very, very happy with this lens, and use it alot. I cant afford some of the "Pro" lenses yet so I carry this one everywhere. It seems to be built very well. I have noticed a bit of vignetting at 200mm, but that is somewhat common I have heard. When I was looking at buying, everyone I spoke with recommended getting the Nikon over the Sigma.
    Hope this helps you.

  21. Thanks! It helps alot =)
  22. Brian, since you already have the kit lens with the D40, why not just get a 55-200 VR to extend your coverage? (Not sure whether you'll be willing to change lenses)

    Superzooms are generally not superb when it comes to optical quality, so your 18-200 purchase will only provide you with greater convenience and flexibility. (not to mention that the 18-200 is much more expensive than a 55-200 VR)
  23. I just retruned my sigma 18-200 os. Absolutly the worst lens i have ever had. The mekanics is ok but there is nothing called good image quality. I can not recomend anyone to by this lens.
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    While I don't have one myself, I have used the 18-200 a bit. I do find it quite sharp at 200mm, wide open at f5.6. The suggestion that you need to stop it down to f11 to get good results is very misleading. Diffraction may start becoming an issue at f11 and of course that will put a lot of limitations to the ISO and aperture you can use, which will affect your final results too.

    The 18-200 is actually not an inexpensive lens; you do pay a lot for the convenience of a 11x zoom.
    You can probably find a very cheap old 200mm/f4 prime and get better results at 200mm, although I haven't tested such a lens on digital. You don't need to buy some expensive "pro" lens to get very high quality, especially at the smaller apertures.
  25. I have just bought a Sigma 18-200 for my Nikon DL3100. Although I set out to buy a Nikor lens the salesman said Sigma was better as it was made in Japan and Nikor made in Taipei. I did pay a bit more for the lens. I have taken over 1000 photos in the last 3 weeks and it seems to be performing well. It came with the optical stabiliser and hood which screws back on the lens when not in use. Did I do the right thing????

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