Thinking of purchasing Nikon 18-200

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by t_stein, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. I am going on an New England & Canada cruise in a couple of months and only want to take one lens.
    I reciently got into photography and purchased a D7000 which came with a 18-105 (had to buy the kit). Im just not sure 105mm will be long enough...Does anyone have any insight? Am I over thinking this too much?
  2. Thomas... if you want just one lens there is no reason to own a so nice camera like D7000. An advanced compact / bridge will be suffice for you. If I'd be in your shoes I'd skip the 18-200 that anyhow does not shine on the powerful sensor from D7000, I'd keep the 18-105 and I'd add not one but two lenses: (1) a 70-300 VRII from Nikon or the equivalent with VC from Tamron and (2) a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 for low light situations.
    Your kit lens is a good all-round, then 70-300 is a fine telezoom and the prime will help when the light is very little.
    Of course this is what I'd do... you may be different :)
  3. While I agree with Mihai sentiment, just get it if you want a one lens fit all solution. I always bring 2-3 lens.
  4. I owned the original version of the 18-200 VR.
    PROS: It covers a wide range, the VR wasn't bad (newer lenses are better), and my copy was very sharp.
    CONS: The lens has quite a bit of distortion (but software might be able to correct that now) and the lens creep drove me crazy.
  5. Mihai,
    Thank you for your response. I already own both the 70-300 and 35mm (both are great). Due to our travel arrangements and activities, I dont want to be bogged down with additional lenses.
    A compact would be a great idea, except my wife doesnt understand...See wants to see the D7000 I had to have in action! My prior camera was a NEX5 w/ 18-200, it was OK...would have been better with a view finder. I struggled with the live view screen and wanted a larger lens selection.
    I kind of like the 18-105, but I'm just not sure it will be long enough....maybe because I was used to a 18-200..
  6. despite its obvious limitations, the 18-200 is great in "only one lens" situations...especially when you don't expect to be selling any pics, nor getting paid for the assignment...the range is simply useful - a unicorn of a lens! (this comment is obviously not directed at real professional or wannabee "professionals")
  7. I'd suggest the 18-200 VR II version - not the VR I - the vr I is either a great lens or a beast - depending on your point of view. I happen to think it's a great lens, just not for the D7000.
  8. at


    From my experiences (traveling with my wife and kids) the Nikon 18-200 has proven to be a very
    capable lens. Yes, it has limitations (just like every lens made...cost, performance, etc).
    Its biggest benefit, as you are aware, is its one lens solution. Which is especially important to me
    as my family has little patience for me switching lenses, settting up tripods, etc. Its a perfect
    lens to capture a vacation and keep the rest of the family happy. I also have a very sharp copy.
  9. Thomas: I have the first edition without the 'creep lock' ... yes, it can 'distract' you ... I think photozone (or another site) tested the 18-200 on the D7000. The lens has it's strong points and weak points ... avoid the extreme 18 a little, and the extreme 200 a little ... try to shoot a couple of stops down from whatever wide open is and it will work for you. I've made this statement before, and it is swimming upstream a little, but I've had to go out with only ONE LENS ... extra gear not possible, and changing lenses (If I could haul 'em) was simply impossible because of conditions. If I have to go with ONLY ONE, for all situations, known and unknown, the 18-200 would be it. Oh, you are not making 16x20 prints are you?
  10. On my last cruise (Caribbean) I just took the 18-105mm and Tamron 10-24mm, with a Canon compact to have for casual walks around the ship or when I didn't want to take the shoulder bag ashore. I liked the wide zoom but just the 18-105mm would have been fine, especially since it has VR for shooting interiors (I take a lot of ship shots) and it's easy to stitch shots for panorama photos. I never felt I didn't have a long enough lens. You are correct in not wanting to get bogged down with gear. The point of a cruise is to relax and have fun, not drag a lot of unnecessary photo gear around. But any lens you decide to take will be fine optically since I assume the photos will be posted on Flickr or made into an 8.5x11 album.
  11. So the general thought is that the 105 wont be long enough, I was unsure. I realize that the 18-200 is a jack of all trades and master of none, but a one lens solution is what I need. A friend of a friend just bought a 5100 kit w/18-200; Nikon now has the $250 instant rebate and he said he would sell it to me for $700 (VRII gold lettering with zoom lock). So I think maybe I'll take him up on it and sell the 18-105. The largest prints would most likely be 8x10.
    Fyi rebate info:
  12. 18-200mm zoom is a lens I feel can do it all and often take all by itself (with a camera of course). Sometimes add a 12-24mm Tokina and lately a Lumix GF1 with a 14mm for no particular reason but the 18-200 is really all I need.
  13. I'm not sure what kind of excursions you may be taking, but, being from New England, unless you are able to take wildlife shots, I'd suggest staying with the 18-105.
    Any time I'm on the coast, I find myself shooting between 24mm and 135mm (on FX), which lines up perfectly with the 18-105 on your D7000. Only occasionally do I wish I could get wider, but that's another story.
    If you think you'll need longer, by all means, go with the 18-200mm, especially if it can be had for a bargain...$650 - $700. Personally, (and I have an impatient family too), I'd rather go with the 18-105 and 70-300 since you'll likely never need the 70-300mm.
    Hope this helps. Look me up if your cruise stops in Portland, ME...I'm only a half hour from where the cruise ships put in.
  14. Due to our travel arrangements and activities, I dont want to be bogged down with additional lenses.​
    Then the 18-200 would be great. I used it when I wanted to take a single-lens solution with me on an Alaskan trip. It was just great on my d50. It showed its flaws more on the D90, and I think it would even more on the D7000, but if you're not printing real big, it's just fine.
    It's going to be weak at the tele end, so much so that I'd rather have (even if it was a one-lens solution) the 16-85 and crop in on the long end when necessary or... just stick with the 18-105. If you're not going to be switching lenses, you already have it, and it's just fine. Take the money you would have spent on the 18-200 and get some extraordinarily nice dinners on your vacation or something.
  15. btw, there is absolutely no optical or VR difference between the original release of that lens and the "II" release. The "II" release has a lock for the zoom at 18mm (dubious usefulness imho) and supposedly better control of creep.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 18-200mm/f3.5-5.6 AF-S VR is a very decent lens on the wide end; unfortunately, it is terrible on the long end, near 200mm. I tested multiple samples, and it is very soft on the D300/D300s. I decided this is not a lens I want, but I openly admit that I am extremely picky about quality. Given that the D7000 is a lot more demanding on good optics, it can only be worse on the D7000.
    You can find my test samples on this thread, on the D300S:
    At the time I made those posts, long images taller than 700 pixels would appear in line with the thread. Unfortunately, has changed its software so that those image samples now appear as links. Therefore, now you need to click on those links to view the images.
    In other words, in a sense having a 18-200 is about the same as having a 18-105, as you want to mainly stick with the zoom range that is below 100mm anyway. Therefore, if optical quality is more important to you, having the combo of 18-105 and 70-300 AF-S VR would be much better, although even those two are not among the best Nikon lenses optically.
    If somehow you must have only one lens, the 18-200 is the obvious choice simply because of its wide zoom range, and of course it comes with its many many compromises. IMO, that does not do the D7000 justice.
    The choice is yours.
  17. I had the 18-200 (version 1) for about 5 months. For vacation it's a great lens if you only want one lens. But I found it to be a little soft on my D90, and the zoom creep started at just two weeks out of the box. I thought about selling it and going with a 16-85 (which I saw was much better) at the suggestion of a friend, but held off and took it on a trip I took to northern Brazil for vacation. For the type shooting I did on that trip, there may have been 6 or 7 shots (out of 800) taken above 100mm or so. A month later, the 18-200 was at Adorama being traded for the 16-85. The image quality, the zoom creep, and (as it turned out) the lack of needing serious telephoto on vacation prompted the trade-in. Also, I found the quality of the 16-85 to be so much better that I began to do some studio work with it. I print images at 11x14 for my carry-around portfolio, and had included some of the 18-200mm shots I took while I was on vacation. Those were quickly removed after really paid attention to the image quality of those shots and the reaction from people who viewed the portfolio.
    All that said, I say if you want get the 18-200, go for it. Personally, I think your 18-105 is enough, but YMMV, and you may do far more telephoto stuff on vacation. It is a decent lens, just not a great lens.
    I would recommend carrying along a 35mm or 50mm prime for low light. I know it's an extra lens, but it's invaluable. My M.O. on vacation is 16-85 VR by day, 50 f/1.4 by night. The unused lens always stays locked in the hotel. Can't be happier. If I ever do something like a safari where I know I need that reach, then I'll carry the 70-300mm I have also. You can't exactly get a headshot of a lion at 35mm!!!
  18. i've never understood why someone would want to take a $1200 camera and turn it into a $300 P&S--actually a $1900 P&S. the whole point of DSLRs is that they have interchangeable lenses. otherwise, just get a P&S megazoom.
    also, you would essentially be obsoleting the 18-105 and getting a lens which is optically worse or the same, with the same slow vari-aperture, for only 95mm more reach.
    anyway, we're now going on about 5 years of discussions over the 18-200, and not much has changed. basically, you can either have convenience or optical quality. if it were me, i'd probably opt for the 18-105+70-300 which you already have.
    my reasoning would be that the times when i'd have the 18-105 on the camera and want 200mm would be less than the times when the times when i'd be in the same scenario and want 300mm. especially when you are on a cruise away from shore, that's when you need more reach. for day excursions, you can always leave the 70-300 in the cabin and just take the 18-105 which would be all i'd need for walkarounds.
    it's not my money, but if it were, that $700 would go toward an UWA and a portable travel tripod, along with a M3-L3 remote or cable release. if i really wanted to wow the wife, i'd do it with a wide landscape shot that couldn't be taken with any old camera/lens combination.
    another way to look at it is, the 70-300 is better at 200mm than the 18-200 is at 200mm, plus you get 1/3rd extra reach. if all you want is a megazoom for snapshots with lots of distortion, you might be better off getting a $300 P&S with a 20-30x zoom. just saying.
  19. not for the first time, what shun and eric say makes eminent sense!
    despite what i wrote earlier, for the money spent on 18-200mm, the OP may be better off buying a canonG12 or nikon P7000 for such occasions...or even some of the larger nikons with fixed zoom lenses and still have money left for a couple of good dinners...
    anyone want to buy my used 18-200mm (with lens creep) :)
  20. Well, everyone seems to be making sense to me.
    I went back and looked at the focal length for the photos of our last trip and less than 8% were shot at over 100mm. I think I will just stick with my 18-105 (maybe use the money to get a sigma 8-16 or speed light). Taking the 70-300 and using it for shooting off the deck may not be a bad idea. Thank you everyone for your input!
  21. Personally, I don't like the 18-200. I don't own one, but I have two good friends who do, and I've played with their lenses (one's a VRI and one's a VRII) quite a bit. Not only do I find it comically soft at the long end, but the distortion at the wide end is very complex and distracting, and I find all images taken with it feel kind of flat to me, as if the light has passed through too many glass elements before reaching the sensor.
    Let me put in another way --- the 18-200 is not an all-in-one-lens. It just has many focal lengths in one. But the pre-AI 35mm f/1.4, for example, can open its aperture up to f/1.4 or close down to f/22, providing the most DOF control of any Nikkor lens. It can do lots of things that the 18-200 can't do, like provide a beautiful kind of spherical aberration included haziness all over the frame, to corner-to-corner sharpness, and take photos in low-light and bright daylight. But that doesn't make it an all-in-one-lens either. A 6mm fisheye can provide any angle of view, just with a change in resolution. =) Or you could take hundreds of photos of a scene with a 300mm telephoto lens, and stitch them together to make a panorama. Even the 45mm f/2.8 Ai-P lens can do things the 18-200 cannot do, such as being small, and unobtrusive and have nice bokeh.
    If I haven't traveled to a location specifically for photography anyway, I often find I'm more creative and more challenged by bringing just a single lens around with me for the day, and adapting my photography to that lens, rather than trying to bring a single lens that can cover every focal length or situation On a vacation, I enjoy using my 85/1.4, for example, to try to take photos from the morning until the evening, even if that includes landscapes, cities, and food (examples where 85mm is probably not the focal length one would ordinarily choose). In your case, maybe you'd want to keep your 70-300 mounted when you're on the ship and whale-watching, and put on the 35/1.8 after you've gone back to your cabin and changed for dinner.
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    anyway, we're now going on about 5 years of discussions over the 18-200, and not much has changed.​
    The first 18-200mm/f3.5-5.6 AF-S VR was introduced towards the end of 2005, along with the D200. At the time DSLRs were just beginning to take off mainly due to the affordable (originally $1000) D70 and its Canon equivalents. Keep in mind that the D70 is a 6MP DSLR, which was the norm back then for consumer DSLRs. Both the D200 (10MP) and 18-200 were instant hits and had serious shortage. Some stores jacked up the price for the 18-200 from the Nikon suggested $700+ to over $1000 and it was still selling like hot cakes.
    One of the main complaints about the first 18-200 is zoom creep; that topic was dicussed here many times. People came up with ideas such as a rubber band, etc. to prevent it. Eventually in 2009 Nikon came up with the 18-200 VR II with a switch that can lock the lens to 18mm but otherwise the new lens is completely identical. I.e. the optical strength and weaknesses remain the same. All reviews from credible reviewers such as Bjorn Rorslett, Thom Hogan, etc. point out the serious distortion on the wide end and softness on the long end, consistent with my own observation. I also find the chromatic aberration not tolerable.
    One factor has changed over those 5+ years. The norm for consumer DSLRs has progressed from the 6MP D70, D70S, and D50 in 2004/2005 to now the 14MP D3100 and 16MP D5100 & D7000. All the optical weaknesses on the 18-200 are now greatly magnified by the demanding high-pixel DSLRs.
  23. shun is right on the mark here. thom hogan, surely one of the most credible reviewers of nikon has this to say:
    "So I'll just put it this way: don't buy the D7000 for it's resolution and then wimp out on lenses. You'll achieve nothing that you couldn't get on the 12mp cameras. If you're going to invest in more pixels, you need to invest in good lenses. The 18-105mm is at the bottom of the scale of what I'd use on the D7000. The D7000 is going to force me to go back and re-evaluate a lot of lenses. The 18-200mm starts to look more like a mediocre performer on the D7000, as do several other lenses. If you're buying the camera for resolution, you need to look seriously at your lenses..."
    bottom line: a lens that is excellent on a camera with 6-12 MP is noticeably poor on 16MP cameras...
  24. Another factor that has changed over the years is post processing software which has improved tremendously. Lens softness and distortion are easily correctable (to a degree) for most lenses used on any DSLR body from a variety of software programs that offer lens specific correction. This helps level the playing field quite a bit. Certainly the 18-200mm is not as good as other lenses but it can also do things that other lenses cannot. And depending on print size, it may not matter. And depending on the photographer's needs, it may not matter. There is no reason to discount the fact that the 18-200mm can be used successfully on any Nikon body including with D7000 and delivery reasonably good IQ. Whether it delivers IQ good enough to make large prints, huge posters or pass scrutiny of pixel peeping is another story and dependent on how picky the photographer is.
    Ultimately, the D7000 offers enough resolution that a 105mm shot could be cropped to a 200mm FOV and still delivery a high quality 8 x 10 print.
    "If you're going to invest in more pixels, you need to invest in good lenses" I think there are probably more consumers buying this body than pros. As such, I doubt they will be spending thousands of dollars on Nikon's best lenses. Consumer lenses like the 18-xxx's may be good enough.
  25. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Lens softness and distortion are easily correctable (to a degree) for most lenses used on any DSLR body from a variety of software programs that offer lens specific correction.​
    Elliot, lens distortion can be corrected to some degree, but softness is not. Post processing can never re-create what a low-quality lens does not resolve.
  26. I think the OP has already made his decision, so this has turned into an 18-200 bashing thread.
    Bottom line, imho...
    Great on 6MP, only slightly soft at the long end. (my experience)
    Okay on 12MP, soft enough at the long end that you want to avoid it, however. (my experience)
    Not the best choice on 16MP, you're probably better off with a 16-85 and cropping at the long end.
    And no, you can NOT "fix softness" in post. You can mitigate it somewhat, but not fix it.
  27. i personally wasn't trying to bash the 18-200, a lens whose flaws are well-known at this point. as i stated above, it's appeal mainly comes down to convenience. when i said not much has changed, what i meant was, the same flaws it had five-six years ago are still present now. besides being for a time ridiculously overpriced at $1000 (which probably led people to want it because they couldn't find it, and attempt to justify their purchase once they had it), i remember threads from 2006 talking about its softness on d80s and d200s. it's not like it suddenly got sharp or anything. shun is technically right that the advances in megapixels since 2005 have revealed more flaws in this lens, so i guess that has changed. and elliot does have a point about better software being able to mask some inadequacies. but my point about turning a $1200 DSLR into an expensive P&S still stands; if anything the d7000's introduction makes this more of a viable scenario than ever before. if i could still buy a new d40 or d50, i wouldn't hesitate to use the 18-200 on one of those bodies. however, with a d7000 and its 16mp sensor, i would try to maximize the sensor's performance by using better lenses on it. interestingly, photozone recently tested the tamron 17-50 on d7000, and it's MTF figures remain high, suggesting the lens is not outresolved by the sensor.
  28. Hi Thomas:
    I have the original 18-200 and it is my least favorite lens. I bought it for the exact reasons that you want it for.
    Another option is to buy a small point and shoot camera for your trip. Back when I was in the same dilemma, I bought a Canon SD800IS. It is a nifty little thing that goes anywhere and can be used discretely. It literally fits in the palm of my hand. Remember that the only good camera is the one you have with you. I was able to use it where signs said 'no cameras allowed'. Lugging a D7000 with an 18-200 may not fit the bill. I left my D80 and 18-200 at home when we went to Europe. I'm glad I did. You can look at some of the photos from that trip at Please remember that the resolution of those photos has been greatly reduced for web presentation. Maybe that will be your objective too?
    Regards, John
  29. I see that you’ve already made up your mind, but I wanted to post a few pics of the VR II version of his lens for your review. Shot with a D90, this single lens has helped me get some nice shots that I wouldn’t have with a more limited focal length. Remember, when a shot looks boring, it’s always good to be able to zoom in on the detail of the subject. Good luck!
  30. On the longer end...
  31. robert - nice examples of the versatility of this lens. i have some very good shots too. it works really well with the earlier DSLR's...i suspect even with the D7000 it would at least be as good as this - ie. good enough for most who just want to get good pictures...
  32. Over the weekend I have talked to my photo friends (I am in a very closely related business) about this thread and this 18-200 lens ... they reminded me, and I agree with, that all the facts stated here about this lens are true ... it's not the greatest glass out there, but a lot of folks use it because of its UTILITY. Tamron (I think) has a 18-270 that may be testing better than the Nikon, and is less $$. These same questions and fair criticisms came up many years ago re a Nikon 43-86 zoom ... it was thought to be a little declasse and not worthy of the Nikon name ... to soft. Thing is, everyone had one and used it because of it's UTILITY. One of our associates just mentioned Shutterbug's readers pix this month (I have not seen them) of the 12-15 printed, 4,5, or 6 are shot with someone's 18-200. One last story ... several years ago we hooked up a new photographer to do our Race for the Cure ... she took the 18-200 ... we had arranged for her to be in the fire bucket for the overhead shot of 25,000 people. She got the shot, but, incredibly, was able to spot some "SURVIVOR" friends and get a very emotional shot of their faces from the bucket. The wide shot at the 18mm that's 'not sharp enough'? ... it ended up on the cover (in color) of the local phone book ... with no one saying anything about the resolution. When I congratulated her on the phone book shot with her photo credit on it, she said, "thanks for the suggestion ... without that lens, I'da been screwed." Her words, not mine. It's a UTILITY LENS.
  33. I think it is a bit unfair to critique it too much.
    The 18-200 is not new, we always had these travel zooms even with film and you could go to 3rd party lenses too. It's not the best but can be convenient, it should be good enough for personal use or camera club work.
    I found it a bit heavy and don't use that much tele so I am happy with a 18-70DX. I have both. For travel work with a DX you might want to also consider a 35/1.8DX or a 24/2.8 or a 20/2.8 or a 28/2.8 for low light.
    What are you gonna do with the images? It's a vacation.
  34. Ray:
    "What are you gonna do with the images? It's a vacation."
    exactly! there's lots to discuss about sharpness, softness etc. etc. in the abstract...without keeping the context in mind. at the end of the day ( and I change my so-called mind yet again), for most of us non-professional folks (defined strictly as those who do not depend on it for a living), the 18-200mm is a great lens (or glass :)
  35. ah, defenders of the 18-200 emerge... that's sweet and all but the OP already has a 18-105 and a 70-300VR. i don't really see the 18-200 as a better option than that combo unless you are in a situation where changing lenses is impossible.
  36. EA You are right ... the OP is covered in that range ... this lens wold be more of a convenience, an extra card to play in those unknown situations ... perhaps we should suggest the SIGMA 8-16 (I think he's considering it anyway), I think it's another thread that we could get at least another 30-40 responses! Ah Photography ... Ah PASSION.
  37. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If the argument is that the OP is taking vacation pictures so that quality does not matter, then why doesn't he just get a point and shoot camera for convenience? Robert Malone's posted a nice image of the Maine? lighthouse, but that merely shows that he is a good photographer; a small JPEG like that says nothing about the quality of the camera or the lens; you can get that same result with a P&S camera.
    Again, my point is that the 18-200mm superzoom does not do the D7000 justice. Presumably the OP at least cares about quality to some degree so that he bought a nice DSLR body. At least to me, it is a shame to put a low-quality lens in front of it. And as Eric points out, the OP already has better lenses to cover the 200mm area. Adding another lens with lower quality (and not exactly cheap) seems to be a questionable move.
  38. Thank everyone for their responses, I think I'm going to stick with the 18-105.

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