Get the Free Good Newsletter

Click Here!
To learn more about the newsletter

 
 

Review: Nikon 18-200 VR

Cattle Ranch

I’ve stated before that the Nikon 18-200 is one of my all time favorite lenses. This image is a good example of why. Had I been bothered with lens decisions and heavy gear, I might have missed this opportunity that mother nature presented. Again, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on glass. Just find a system you are comfortable with and have fun. By comfortable, I mean you know how to use it (so the technology doesn’t get in the way of your creative muse) and it’s not a burden to carry around.

Overview

Let me get this out-of-the-way…I’m a ‘super zoom’ fan, and proud of it. What does that mean? It means that pixel peeping lab testers and I might disagree about things. No biggie, while those folks are pixel peeping I’m walking around having fun making compelling images to share with my friends, family, and readers of HOSSedia.com.

Ok, now that we have that out-of-the-way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Click Here to check the current price at B&H. If you buy it through them, I will get a small portion of the sale which helps me cover the hosting fees etc. Thanks!

What Is It?

This lens is an 18-200mm DX lens with Vibration Reduction (VR). In layman’s terms it is light weight ‘do everything’ lens that is prefect for travel, landscape, and lifestyle photography. On your cropped DX sensor camera (Nikon D7000, D5100, D3200, etc…) it has an effective focal length around 28-300mm. Vibration Reduction is Nikon’s technology that keep the image sharp in lower light and unstable hands.

Here it is compared to a comparable full frame camera and focal length lens (Nikon D700/Nikon 28-300).

The Walk Around The Desert Test

I actually bought this lens for a project I was working on in the middle of nowhere. You can find the middle of nowhere in the Nevada Desert. I made a whole bunch of images along the way and thought I would share them so you can see what the lens is capable of.

Note: These images were shot handheld in RAW using a Nikon D7000 and processed in Lightroom 4. Click on any of the images to view them larger and see the exif info so you can see what aperture and shutter speed I shot them at.

Focal Length

As I mentioned earlier, the focal length of this lens is 18-200, on a cropped sensor that translates to 28-300mm. What does that mean? Let me show you.

Take this at 18 (or 28 converted)mm

…and turn it into this at 200 (or 300 converted)mm

Distortion…Pin Cushion…Blah, Blah, Blah….

You know the lab testing pixel peepers I mentioned at the beginning of this review, well they claim there is some lens distortion present when they are photographing brick walls. One, I don’t photograph brick walls. Two, it is easily fixed in Lightroom. Just enable ‘Automatic Lens Correction’ and select the lens. Boom…all that time photographing brick walls becomes an even a bigger waste of time.

Why I Like It

  • Versalility – When I’m traveling, I photograph everything from people and details to landscapes and architecture. This lens covers all my needs.
  • Let Your Creativity Flow – Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are going to be using all the lenses you brought with you. I’ve tried that and failed miserably. I end up being burdened not only by the weight but the creative decisions that goes into lens selecting a lens. If you only have one lens, all you have to do is make photos and not worry about which lens.
  • Life Happens When You Are Changing Lenses – You can’t pause the world around you to change your lens. Nope, it is going to carry on and you will miss it.
  • Price – I bought mine used for $350, but new ones are pretty reasonable. I feel far more comfortable carrying around a sub $1000 lens in strange places than a $2000 piece of glass.
  • Vibration Reduction – There was a time when I thought this was a marketing gimmic, but it really works. I have made photos with pretty slow shutter speeds that turned out nice and sharp.
  • Oh yeah…the pictures are nice! – The photographs this lens produces are sharp, contrasty and full of color. What else can you ask for?

Things To Note

  • It’s Not Sealed – This lens is not sealed from the elements. If you are going to shoot in heavy rain or dust, this might be a consideration.
  • VR II – This lens comes in a VR and VR II model. I actually think Nikon only makes the VR II model. Optically they are the same, but the VR II has a lens lock on it which prevents it the lens from extending when you are carrying it around. I have the original one without the lock and it as never been an issue.
  • Low Light Portraits – Say you are in a dark dingy bar (where I happen to love photographing people) this lens, with its limited aperture, won’t work that well. VR doesn’t help if your subjects are moving around. In these situations you might have change to a lens with a fast aperture like the 35mm 1.8 or use some flash.
  • Vibration Reduction IS NOT Magic – Although I said VR does work, it’s not magic. If you are photographing in a really dark room, the stars, or night scenes you will need to use a tripod.I feel comfortable going down to shutter speeds as low as 1/30 of a sec and certain focal lengths, but beyond that you will need to stabilize your camera.

Conclusion

I bought this lens as the workhorse for my walk around travel/storytelling kit and couldn’t be happier. It’s a permanent fixture on my D7000. If you have a DX sensor camera (Nikon D7000, 5100, 3200, etc….), want to carry one lens and never get tired of carrying it around, get the 18-200 VR (or VR II)….it’s really that simple. If you want to carry two lenses, and you are cool with changing them (be honest) get the nikon 16-85 VR (read my review) and 70-300 VR. That set up will give you some more on the zoom end and a bit more on the wide side. Personally, I’d just roll with the 18-200…but I’m lazy.

A Few Of My Favorites

Currie Nevada

Photographer's Guide To Belize Orchids

Mountain Goat Mt. Evans

Comments

  1. Justin, Thanks for the review! It sounds like this needs to get on my list for lenses I want…

  2. Hi Justin, I was considering this lens as an upgrade to my kit lens but eventually decided on the 16-85, which I see you also like. Should be here soon so hoping I made the right decision!

    • Howdy! Both are great lenses for sure. I have had the 16-85 for a long time and have really enjoyed it. the 18-200 is also great because of the extended reach. I’m sure you will enjoy either of them!

  3. Hi Justin,
    I have this lens and really enjoy it! I use it on a D7000. I was wondering if you would mind sharing what camera settings you used on the photo of the little orange kitty standing in the stone wall? I loved how the colors and detail of the cat pop out and also the DOF is awesome!

    • Howdy! That is a great combo, it’s pretty much my camera of choice right now. I use the D700 for wider angle stuff, but anything over 30mm I shoot with the D7000 and 18-200.

      I’m pretty sure I was shooting Aperture Priority mode…here’s the EXIF data for you!

      Exposure Time: 0.002s (1/500)
      Aperture: f/5.6
      ISO: 800
      Focal Length: 200mm (300mm in 35mm)

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  4. Justin,

    I appreciate your practical review. This has convinced me to purchase the 18-200 VR II to use with my D5100; my d7000 I tend to reserve for my bigma (sigma 50-500 with OS – love it). Thank you for sharing your most excellent photos!

    Rachel

    • Thanks for the comment. The 18-200 is as good as it gets. I’ve stuck with a DX system because of it. Versatile and light weight lens with fantastic image quality!

  5. Stephen Cartwright says:

    I agree with you. It’s a pain changing lenses as well as trying to decide which lens is best…. then the moment’s gone and you feel you’ve made the wrong decision anyway. I felt this way with my previous camera an Olympus SLR with 35-70mm and 75-210mm lenses. The 75-210mm lens didn’t get used as much as it should have due to the inconvenience involved.
    Recently, I decided to get back into doing a bit more photography (especially as I am going to South East Asia – Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, etc in a few weeks) and started looking at basic DSLR camera and lens combo’s. However, most of those combo’s in either Canon or Nikon have a twin lens, usually 18-55 and 55-250mm.
    I kept remembering the issues I had with lenses on trips etc before and wished there was an affordable camera with one lens that eliminated many of those issues. Then I saw a local Australian photography company offering just what I needed, a Nikon D3200 with 18-200mm VRII lens at a very good price ($A474), cheaper than the twin lens and camera combo’s from Canon and Nikon. My mind was made up.
    Your down to earth review has helped me realise that I’ve made the best decision.
    If I had read it earlier I don’t think I would have even seriously considered a twin lens combo. If I had read your review after buying a twin lens combo I probably would have been pissed off with my decision.

  6. thanks..had been a little confused myself..you made it easy.my thing was the same as to buy one lens which suffices for almost all as changing lenses and carrying them around is more of a pain than pleasure..and you do not want to miss an opportunity.i am buying a d7000nikon next week and was deciding on the lens..big thanks..

  7. Thanks for the review. Have been wanting to purchase a lens for shooting outdoor sports and our vacation to Disney. I know it’s not a fast lens by any means, but I realized that I wouldn’t be able to switch from close up lense to a zoom while in the heat of the moment.

  8. Hi Justin.. can you give me some insight between 18-200mm and 18-300mm.. does extra zoom matters?

    • Howdy! I haven’t shot the 18-300, so I don’t know much about it. I do have a 70-300 that I will slap on my D7000 on occasion. I assume you are shooting a cropped sensor camera? As you know, 300mm on a cropped sensor is equivalent to 450mm…which is a whole lot of zoom. For my eye, I like that…sometimes I like to get really close to a subject or compress the visual elements a bunch. That being said…if the price/size/weight/optical quality was the same as the 18-200….I would definitely consider it since it doesn’t hurt of have an extra 100mm of reach. I will say that I’ve never felt like I was missing anything with the 18-200 though.

  9. Thanks, helped me deciding to buy a Nikon D3200 and this lens next week.

  10. Hi! Have you used the 18-105mm? How would you compare this lens to the 18-200? I am interested in buying one, but I don’t know! Thanks.

  11. Hi Justin, Your shots are awesome. I am hoping … one day, my shots can be half as decent. Anyway, this prosumer ( love that word ) just got a Nikon D7100 body. Money’s tight for now, leaning towards a one – lens – fits – all. True, there’s a lot of info out there sites, reviews, opinions etc. Better to ask a true professional. Right? I need your help. I have narrowed my search down to these three.

    1. Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 g ed.
    2. Nikkor D 18-200 mm f/3.5 vr / vr11. ( you wrote a lot of good things about both )
    3. Nikon 12-24mm F/4g if – ed.

    Which one ( or two ) ?

    Your expert opinion / recommendation will be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Storm

    • Howdy Strom! Thanks for the kind words. I’m sure you are well on your way to some kick ass photos! If I could only have one lens, it would be the 18-200. No question about it! However, that is my style of shooting. I think I have telephoto eyes, so I like to compress my images with a longer focal length. If I was strictly a wide angle guy, I would get the 12-24. I’d probably steer clear of the 18-55 as a single lens. I’d get the 18-200 used somewhere and shoot it for awhile. Then, if I felt like I need to to wide I’d look at getting the Tokina 11-14 (super cool lens) or the Nikon…whichever one was cheaper.

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  12. Hi Justin. Greetings from down under. Got a great D7000 and have been using the early Tamron 18-270 from my old D40X with not very good results. The slow F6.2 aperture at telephoto doesn’t help with auto focus but general sharpness is not good enough for the D7000 at all. So I’ve been looking at replacement hard. The 18-300VR2 looked interesting with good reviews but I borrowed a 18-200VR2 from a friend for a weekend and I have to say it’s performance absolutely blew me away. The sharpness across all focal lengths was significantly better than the Tamron and it hit focus everytime and even did well in low light where the Tamrom rarely worked at all well. Reading your review it has just about made my mind up as it pretty much bares out what you have said. I’ll probably order next week. My only regret is not testing the 18-300, but I can honestly say I haven’t used 270 much because the results and autofocus were not real good.The lighter weight and convenience will certainly be welcome carrying it through the Middle East for 5 weeks. Thanks for your review. Cheers Pete

  13. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Justin! Great review and awesome pics! You’ve sold me on the lens (18-200VR2), but just one question about the camera to pair it with. It’s either D3200 or D7000. Price aside, do you have a preference? Obviously, the D3200 is more compact and lighter (I don’t care about the extra megapixels, in fact would prefer not to have them). Some obvious advantages other than weight to the D7000. Could you weigh in on this? Cheers Jeffrey

    • Thanks Jeff! Hmmm….the benefits of the D7000 are that it has some more weather sealing, dual card slogs and the dual command dials. The 3200 is obviously lighter and smaller. Either one will be a great camera. So I’d just figure which options you like the best. I couldn’t say I’d like one over the other. I will say I do like my D5000 articulating LCD screen. Hope that helps. Good luck with everything!

      • Jeffrey says:

        Thanks for the quick reply! I guess then perhaps I can ask you one specific question to narrow it down – do you think it matters that the D3200 doesn’t have a built-in focusing motor? Thanks again! Jeffrey

        • No sweat! Nah..not really, well..unless you are going to buy an older lens. But pretty much everything Nikon as made in the last 5 years is AFS so there’s no motor needed.

          • Jeffrey says:

            Makes sense. Why carry the extra weight around if you don’t need it. And I don’t have an interest in any old lenses. What more does one need beside the 18-200vrII (and maybe a fast prime for low-light)? Thanks again! Jeffrey

  14. Soungmoon says:

    Your photo is so so so great!!!
    You are saying that with this lens and D7000, I can take the picture like your. ( I don’t believe)
    Anyway, can you give me some comment about 18-300mm as well?
    I am in the middle of two lenses now.

    • Thanks! Yep, you totally can make images like that. Sorry, I don’t know much about the 18-300. I have never used it before so I wouldn’t feel confident in lending any advice on it. Have fun and enjoy your creativity!

      Justin

  15. Great review. I read so many things about all the superzooms, so many people are over analyzing them. it just so happened there was a 18-200 vr for sale used a few blocks away from me. Made the decition alot easier!

    Im using an old D50 and the results seems pretty good so far! D7000 is next upgrade, too expensive overseas at the moment…

    either way this review helped me make that purchase without worrying if I’d made the wrong choice.

    just a question… What other lenses do you have or recommend?

    I have the 12-24 f4 Tokina and Nikon 50mm 1.4g and both are a lot of fun to use. But felt really limited in zoom range before i got my 18-200

    Cheers!

    • No sweat, glad I could help!

      As for other lenses, it sounds like you have all the focal lengths covered. However, I will throw out a few ideas.

      35mm 1.8 is a cool lens for cropped sensor cameras.

      Nikon 24 1.4g is expensive…but I friggin love it!

      If you are into macro stuff, you might want to look at a macro lens? Sigma makes a nice one I hear.

      Fisheye lenses are WAAAAAYYYY cool!

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  16. Hi,
    Thank you for the great post and shots. I also have a nikon d7k with 18-200 mm and love it. I liked the old man with the white beard on the list and wondering what settings you used if i may ask.

    Your expertise in this regard would be much appreciated.

    Beautiful shots…. all in ur post. :)

    Cheers

    • Thanks much! Great setup you got there. As for that shot, you can click on any image to get a larger version along with the EXIF data. I pretty much shoot Aperture priority and I’m guessing for that shot I was shooting a bit higher ISO along with the largest Aperture possible with the Zoom raked out a bit.

      Hope that helps!

      Justin

  17. I shot one wedding with this lens back in 2007 when I was barely starting…as a back up Nikon camera I borrowed from a friend. My main camera was a canon 20D+17-40mm L :) .
    I got some of the best images I ever shot, the versatility is unmatched and optics are not too bad at all. I think my D80 was the limiting factor. I am currently a Canon fullframe user but this little Nikkor has to be the best do it all lens ever made. I have some good memories of this lens.

    Beautiful images Justin. This lens can create masterpieces in the right hands.

  18. Justi,

    Glad I found your review. Photography was a passion in my younger, per-family days. Dating myself, but had an Olympus OM-1 and took mostly nature photography. Kids came along and point & shoot became too common. Well the kids are in college and the wife is going to be showing dogs. I am going to get back into photography and of course dog shows will be a big part of it. But also will get back into nature work and family. All that said, I have decided on a Nikon 7100 ans was looking for an all-around lens. Your review as sold me on the 18-200 VR.

    Thanks so much and to echo the others, love your photos,

    Jim

  19. I’m a novice photographer and have the Nikon D3200. It came with a 18-55mm lens, but I feel like the picture quality could be better. I don’t want to carry multiple lens – just want to shoot friends/family/my kids and scenery when on vacation. Do I want the 18-200mm or the 55-200mm? This is all very confusing to me….! Thanks!

  20. Hi Jim,
    Nice review, and great pics .. Ordered the D5100 with 18- 200 at B&H.
    Any beginner recommendations to start shooting with my first SLR.

    You photos look amazing.. thanks for the detailed review.

  21. Hi, I have D3000 and recently i bought 18-200 VRII, is this combination is OK or should i upgrade to D3200?

  22. Hello, is the older 18-200VR mark 1 version compatible with the Nikon D3200 or do I have to get the newer VR11 model? many thanks

  23. Glad I found your site. After reading many pixel peeper reviews I was disappointed that such a good lens was not “that good” according to pixel peepers.

    I have now changed my mind and I will surely get this one as my main lens in combination with the 35mm 1.8g.

    Thanks a lot

    • Glad you did and have your on board. Yeah, I make photos of stuff…not brick walls. This lens allows your creativity to soar. Don’t worry about the silly details…just make magic and have fun!

  24. Justin: Can you advise as to an equivalent lense from Canon?

    • Howdy!

      Thanks for stopping by. I know Canon makes an 18-200. Tamron makes an 18-270. I haven’t shot either of those lenses, but I bet they are comparable.

      Good luck with everything.

      Justin

  25. Would this lens be suitable for a d200 or am i needing to upgrade? Thanks

  26. hi,

    Great review, loved it. I have one doubt, i have both 18-200mm VR and 55-200mm VR. I use Nikon D3200, When i take a photo from 18-200mm at 200mm focal length, its equivalent to 150mm focal length on 55-200mm lens, why is that ?

    Thanks
    Karthik

  27. Hey. Thanks for a good article. My friend, a photographer recommended this lens too. But I Am mostly doing stuff in shorter focal length then 100. But of course on trips and so on could be good not needing to switch lenses. But I have seem a lot of people complaining about the image quality. Is this true or just bad technique? I was also considering the 16-85, how is this comparable to the 18-200, concerning image sharpness and so on? Is this a good alternative, or would it might be better just to go for the 18-200 mm? Thanks in advance.

  28. What do you think is sharpest? The 16-85 or the 18-200. Aftet reading your review of the 16-85 mm does it seems you love them both, but I wonder still. I still don’t know if I really need the extra 85-200 mm. And a 70-300 would cover more mm. But have to change, but I might survive that it the quality is much better. Or else I just go for the 18-200. For me it’s a hard choice, since crispy pictures with high quality and good color is important for me. What would you recommend to do? I can get both of them used for the same price. So that is not an issue. And I might later, don’t know yet get the 70-300 mm if I really feel that it’s not enough with 85 mm. I do most of my shooting in the area that area for now. Again, any recommendations?

  29. Mac Flores says:

    I agree with Justin about this being a great walkaround camera that satisfies a great range of creative needs from landscape to detailed shots. It’s the only lens I now own for my Nikon D90 and I do not have to worry anymore about changing lenses. It leaves me with more time to select the subject, compose and frame my shots. It also makes me know the strengths and weaknesses of the lens from frequent use. Hence, it makes me more confident to take a shot knowing that it will turn out great.

  30. Hi Justin,
    I am deliberating between the 18 – 200 and the 70 – 300. I would prefer the larger range of the first lens if the telephoto were comparable to the 70 – 300. But right now the most important factor to me is the quality of the telephoto part of the range. (I have other lenses but no telephoto at this time.) Since you said you had both lenses, I was wondering if you could compare the 70 – 200 range of the 18 – 200mm with the 70 – 200 range of the 70 – 300mm. Is there a noticeable difference with how soft or sharp the images are? It is for wedding photography which is why the image quality has to be good. I have a D7000. Thanks!

  31. Hey Justin, Thanks for the in depth review on the Nikon 18-200 VRII. I had one years ago, then sold all my dx lenses, D7000 and D700 enable to buy a D800 with the (Great Three) lenses. I since then picked up a D7100 and have been doing research on the 18-200 through DX etc. labs and really got confused. So, I just purchased the 18-200, still had my doubts but then printed some stuff from my original 18-200. I’ll tell you what they can pixel peep all they want but 11×14 prints were razor sharp.
    This leads me to the question I’m thinking of picking up a Sigma 10-20mm. Have you used this lens and if so, what is your thought on IQ from either the f4-5.6 or f3.5 version.
    Love your photos, your right just get out there and shoot
    Rudy

  32. I absolutely agree with your comments about the Nikon 18-200 VRII lens. I’ve just (last week) traded various gear, including a 12-24mm lens to help pay for my new Nikon D7000 and decided to keep my 18-200 as my only lens. I bought it after production re-started after flooding wiped out the factory a couple of years ago.

    I shoot everything, from landscapes, portraits, sports, wildlife and weddings, including promotional shots for our animal rescue centre, and find the lens covers just about every situation (except low light band performances). The combination of the lens with the D7000 is worry- and trouble-free.

  33. Jayden Cocker says:

    Hiya, I bought my first DSLR on Boxing Day last year, a D3200. I love it and really enjoying learning how to use the settings. I have found the standard 18-55mm kit lens a bit limiting so have been exploring other lenses. I am going to order the 35mm Prime lens 1.8G next week & was going to order the 70-300mm as well, but after reading your article above & reviews I will be ordering the 18-200 VRII. This will cover all the range without having to change lenses which I like the idea of. I don’t think the extra 100mm on the 70-300 will be a big deal….I think it will be more annoying changing the lenses for a zoom. Thanks heaps!!

Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you

*