Top positive review
1,128 people found this helpful
A very good lens at a reasonable price
on October 7, 2009
I believe it was Thom Hogan who described this lens as not perfect but really good at everything. That's the review in a nutshell.
This is what I would term a prosumer lens. It certainly is not cheap yet it does not have the build quality of Nikon's top-of-the-line. The barrel, for example, is plastic rather than metal. I fear that a drop would be catastrophic and even a hard bang on the edge of a table might do serious damage if the lens was fully extended. On the other hand, this lens is a lot less expensive than those in the Nikon pro line. In addition, the lens is much lighter and easier to carry than it would be were it made entirely of metal.
It is my understanding that the only meaningful difference between this lens (the VR II) and its immediate predecessor is the addition of a cam lock to prevent lens creep. My own sample doesn't creep at all, even with the cam unlocked but apparently that has been a significant irritant for a number of buyers.
The use of "VR II" in the name is potentially misleading because it may lead shoppers to believe that the VR system has been improved over the original model. This is not the case. Both the original 18-200 and the new version contain Nikon's second generation VR system. Some have suggested that Nikon's marketing is a bit shady on this point while others counter that the "II" simply designates a new model.
Sharpness is less than absolute across the entire range but more than adequate for anything that an amateur, or even most professionals, is likely to need. There is mild to moderate distortion, more marked at the focal length extremes but scarcely visible in the vast majority of images and readily correctable in Photoshop, DxO, or other post-processing software. Contrast is crisp and I find the lens surprisingly free of flaring and ghosting.
No one should buy this lens thinking that it will make him/her a better photographer. Good photography is in the mind and the eye, not in camera. What the 18-200 will do, though, is provide a one-lens solution to the great majority of focal length needs, minimizing the need to tote a hefty bag full of lenses. It happens that, as a long time Nikon user, I have such a bag. Despite all the choices at my disposal, my 18-200 probably stays on my camera 85-90% of the time.
Folks who are obsessed with numbers, charts, and MTF curves will probably fret over the 18-200, taking delight in pointing out every little defect. For the rest of us, the only significant downside that I see is that the lens is not ideally suited for extended service in rough environments or adverse weather situations. Since most of us seldom shoot in such circumstances, this should not be much of a problem.
I heartily recommend the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G AF-S ED VR II (whew! what a mouthful) to any advanced amateur or professional seeking a highly usable wide range zoom.