Why has the Nikkor 18-200 got such a bad reputation here

Slaphead

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I got this lens back in January fully aware of what people here say about it because I wanted an extremely flexible walkround lens, and ever since I've been trying to work out why it's reputation is so bad.

Sharpness does not seem to be a problem with this lens even at the (supposedly) soggy 200mm end.

examples:-

http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/nature-wildlife/161965-spring-has-sprung.html

http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/nature-wildlife/157938-gull-practice.html

Ok I admit it has problems with barrel and pincusion distortion but these days this is so easily correctable in post that it's a non issue for me - Hell, I can even do it in camera.

Having said that I've never played with lenses such as the Nikkor 70-200VR. is this a case of "what I've never had I'll never miss"?
 

JerryPH

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Yes, it really is a case of "what you've never had you'll never miss".

That said, the 18-200 is not a bad lens. Matter of fact it is an excellent lens and at the top of the list compared to other "super zooms" in the market and nothing even comes close to it, much less beats it. What people need to do is have both feet on the ground when it comes to expectations. If you compare it to a 70-200, it will look quite bad. If you compare it to the 70-200 Sigma, it will look VERY good.

I had a chance to try the Sigma recently for about an hour, and as someone that is the owner of both the Nikkor 70-200 and the 18-200, I can tell you that basically the Sigma is crap and that is being kind. However, if I did not own the 2 other Nikon lenses, ignorance is bliss and I could easily live with the Sigma and this mentality is something that *all* kit lens owners need to realize as well (the 18-200 is not a kit lens, but my point is that kit lens owners are in bliss and think their lenses are "da bomb". Only until they make the move to a quality lens do they see how far back it is keeping their photography). This is why I so often say rent or test out *all* lenses you are looking at *before* plunking down the money.

My 18-200 lens on my D200 is my favorite walk-around or vacation lens. Nothing else is needed for me, and I have a choice between that and pro level equipment (D700 and a nice collection of pro level glass).

No, it is nowhere near as bad as people want you to think and no, it is not the best lens out there... it is as simple as that.

When people complain about the 18-200, I just point them to THIS LINK which is 271 pictures that I took on last year's St. Patrick's day parade using nothing but a D200 and the Nikon 18-200. Nine times out of ten, they have nothing more to say.
 
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Garbz

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It's a fantastic superzoom but it is just that a superzoom. It's not only got a bad rep here, and it's not the only superzoom that has one. Lets face it something has to give in these designs.

It's only pros are it's all around usefulness, other than that it's not a good performer and not a nice lens to use. I borrowed one last time I went overseas since I didn't want to lug any gear around. That said in terms of build quality, distortion, sharpness, CA, focus speed, and aesthetics it is beat by every single lens in my kit in the same focal range. The lens suffers massive zoom creep and becomes a pain when shooting anything but horizontal, although this was less of a problem in extreme cold weather.

And yes if you don't know what your are missing, the 18-200 is notably softer in my opinion when printing 8x5s than the 18-70mm kit lens, or the 70-300mm, which between them cost about the same as the 18-200. If you're into pixel peeping then the difference is chalk and cheese obviously.
 

dcclark

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To everything there is a season!

Or in other words, the 18-200 has its place, and so does a super-sharp prime 50mm.

I bought my Nikon 18-200 because I put high value on portability and ease of travelling. I also need a lens which is extremely flexible when I'm camping light, far out in the woods. Others put more value on better image quality and are more willing to either limit their focal range, or just carry more lenses -- on the other hand, that's not for me.

So, while lenses can be judged objectively on their quality (in a variety of ways), you need to know what you value and need. Listen to what others have to say, but don't let them dictate your lens choices based on subjective and intangible qualities which are specific to you.
 

KmH

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To everything there is a season!

Or in other words, the 18-200 has its place, and so does a super-sharp prime 50mm.

I bought my Nikon 18-200 because I put high value on portability and ease of travelling. I also need a lens which is extremely flexible when I'm camping light, far out in the woods. Others put more value on better image quality and are more willing to either limit their focal range, or just carry more lenses -- on the other hand, that's not for me.

So, while lenses can be judged objectively on their quality (in a variety of ways), you need to know what you value and need. Listen to what others have to say, but don't let them dictate your lens choices based on subjective and intangible qualities which are specific to you.
But, but what would we do for a forum then?:lol:
 
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Slaphead

Slaphead

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Well all I can say is that after reading about this lens on here I was making an informed purchase - and it turned out far better than I had any right to expect.

Also given the cost of pro glass over here (70-200vr costs 3200 swiss francs which is, at the current exchange rate, approx $2800, or for the benefit of Garbz approx 4000 AUD) I don't think I'll be picking up a 70-200, or anything else from the "Holy Trinity", anytime soon.
 

smyth

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Well all I can say is that after reading about this lens on here I was making an informed purchase - and it turned out far better than I had any right to expect.

Also given the cost of pro glass over here (70-200vr costs 3200 swiss francs which is, at the current exchange rate, approx $2800, or for the benefit of Garbz approx 4000 AUD) I don't think I'll be picking up a 70-200, or anything else from the "Holy Trinity", anytime soon.

That is a ridiculous amount. I mean it's a good lens, but that's about $1000 more than it sells for in North America. I really don't feel it's worth $3300 CAD.
 
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Slaphead

Slaphead

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That is a ridiculous amount. I mean it's a good lens, but that's about $1000 more than it sells for in North America. I really don't feel it's worth $3300 CAD.

Welcome to Europe - you guys from across the pond can expect to pay at least 50% more for the same things here. More often than not you'll be paying double - and we're talking about everything, not just camera gear.

I often speak with american tourists over here and the one thing they all complain about is how incredibly expensive it is, and how they feel totally and utterly ripped off.
 

Katier

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I often speak with american tourists over here and the one thing they all complain about is how incredibly expensive it is, and how they feel totally and utterly ripped off.

Not true, depends entirely on the exchange rate and the product, I've often seen computer stuff cheaper in the UK than the US ( less so at the moment due to the exchange rate being so damned low ), however I did a quick check.

Apple Macbook 13" - $999 or £719 with a difference of 1.4 which is ABOUT the exchange rate - i.e. they are near as damnit the same price.

Oh and the 999 doesn't include sales tax, the UK one does, so infact the UK one is noticeably cheaper.

That's actually something to remember, in the UK all prices generally will INCLUDE sales tax. In the US it's added at the till, so if an american sees our prices they will think they are more expensive, but they include sales tax. US Prices don't so look artificially low.
 

In2daBlue

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Yes, it really is a case of "what you've never had you'll never miss".

That said, the 18-200 is not a bad lens. Matter of fact it is an excellent lens and at the top of the list compared to other "super zooms" in the market and nothing even comes close to it, much less beats it. What people need to do is have both feet on the ground when it comes to expectations. If you compare it to a 70-200, it will look quite bad. If you compare it to the 70-200 Sigma, it will look VERY good.

I had a chance to try the Sigma recently for about an hour, and as someone that is the owner of both the Nikkor 70-200 and the 18-200, I can tell you that basically the Sigma is crap and that is being kind. However, if I did not own the 2 other Nikon lenses, ignorance is bliss and I could easily live with the Sigma and this mentality is something that *all* kit lens owners need to realize as well (the 18-200 is not a kit lens, but my point is that kit lens owners are in bliss and think their lenses are "da bomb". Only until they make the move to a quality lens do they see how far back it is keeping their photography). This is why I so often say rent or test out *all* lenses you are looking at *before* plunking down the money.

My 18-200 lens on my D200 is my favorite walk-around or vacation lens. Nothing else is needed for me, and I have a choice between that and pro level equipment (D700 and a nice collection of pro level glass).

No, it is nowhere near as bad as people want you to think and no, it is not the best lens out there... it is as simple as that.

When people complain about the 18-200, I just point them to THIS LINK which is 271 pictures that I took on last year's St. Patrick's day parade using nothing but a D200 and the Nikon 18-200. Nine times out of ten, they have nothing more to say.

Jerry, I respect your comments on here and think your photography is good. I also agree with much of what you said. But, the photos you pointed to of the St. Paddy's Day parade were mostly taken outside during the day, which I think you would agree most any lens, despite f stop, can handle quite well. I think the limitations of the 18-200mm, which I own and use in some shooting conditions, are found more in the places where difficult lighting is a problem. Even in some of the photos from the parade that you shared motion blur is a problem in people's feet when they are walking. I can't know for sure, but i would assume that was because you were shooting as low as the f stop would allow and proper exposure required a slower shutter speed.

Again, I think the photos were fine and agree mostly with what you said.
 

manaheim

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Ahem. :)

People have a tendency to compare apples to elephants sometimes, particularly so with lenses. Lenses are a study in compromises. Even the absolute best glass that most normal people can afford has compromises. It's always theoretically possible to make it better, but at exponentially greater cost and weight. It's really hard to compare lenses because of this, because they are each so far apart in pros and cons.

The 18-200 is great... for what it is. It's a very compact and light lens for it's focal lenth with an incredible range of zoom. It is a lens you can keep on your camera and truck around with you and not have to take it off to get a different lens to meet your particular focal length needs.

It's optics are pretty good, but certainly CANNOT compared to the 70-200 2.8 Nikkor, the 24-70 2.8 Nikkor, etc. But then, those two lenses alone are something like 5lbs combined, and something on the order of $2600 US combined, and you have to have two lenses with you all the time.

Compromises.

What's most important to you for what you're doing?

Many people call the 18-200 an amazing vacation lens because you can toss it and the camera into your (carry on) bag, and be pretty much set for the whole trip. This is probably true... just so long as you don't want to take the most flawless and sharp pictures of your life on your trip.

Compromises.

That being said, you have to consider some of the worlds most famous pictures were taken with equipment FAR FAR FAR less capable than the Nikor 18-200 VR. :)
 
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dcclark

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... This is probably true... just so long as you don't want to take the most flawless and sharp pictures of your life on your trip.

I just had to say this:

I don't -- I want to take photos which are so striking that nobody bothers to look at them with a jeweller's glass to see whether they were flawless and sharp! :D

(The point being, of course, that I value having a flexible lens on my camera so that I can do what I want, when I want, without having to think about my equipment. But of course, that's my priority, and I totally understand people who are willing to carry around a bag of high-quality glass as well. I just don't want to do that.)
 

anubis404

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Well all I can say is that after reading about this lens on here I was making an informed purchase - and it turned out far better than I had any right to expect.

Also given the cost of pro glass over here (70-200vr costs 3200 swiss francs which is, at the current exchange rate, approx $2800, or for the benefit of Garbz approx 4000 AUD) I don't think I'll be picking up a 70-200, or anything else from the "Holy Trinity", anytime soon.

Maybe so, but I bought my used (in excellent condition) 80-200 2.8 for the same price as a new 18-200.
 

JerryPH

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Even in some of the photos from the parade that you shared motion blur is a problem in people's feet when they are walking.
That was done on purpose, trust me. :)

As far as low light performance, I think that anyone that looks at the specifications (F/3.5-F/5.6) will know that this lens is not a night photographer's favorite. It is slow, indeed, and as I mentioned, I have fast glass and a very clean high ISO camera to fall on when needed (the Nikkor 70-200 and the D700).

I think my exact words were "no, it is nowhere near as bad as people want you to think and no, it is not the best lens out there". When ultimate quality is a concern for me, nothing but the best professional level glass goes on my cameras, however, keeping the context in line, I doubt many professional level photographers will use the 18-200s lens. This far from invalidates it from being a very good and usable vacation or walk-around lens. :)

Using the right tool for the right job is always something I strive for... and carrying around the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 on my D700 with battery grip at Disney would give me better pictures, but I'm not there as a photographer, I'm there to have a different kind of fun and a D200 with grip and the 18-200 are perfect for me in that sense. :)
 

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