e_dawg's reviews

  • Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Convenient zoom range, VR
    Ugly bokeh, soft at long end, not durable

    The 18-200/VR has a very convenient and flexible zoom range in a reasonably compact package. Until recently, VR wasn't readily found in competing superzoom lenses from Sigma, Tamron, and Canon, so Nikon had an advantage here for a while.

    The phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" mentioned by another poster seems rather apt. A bit soft in the corners at the wide end and gets soft at the long end, but this is about par for the course when it comes to superzooms.

    The biggest problem i have with the image quality is the ugly bokeh (defocused background). It is really quite edgy and nervous -- to the point where it is distracting in prints. I used to use this lens for weddings when i don't want to bring my "big rig" pro-sized gear due to the flexible zoom range, but found that the bokeh sometimes is so bad that it ruins the shot. I have taken to blurring the backgrounds in Photoshop to smooth out the bokeh, but this is obviously inconvenient and tedious.

    Mechanically, the lens seems fine at first until you use it over time. After a few months, the zoom ring loosens so that you have zoom creep. If the lens is pointed down (as it would if you have your camera hanging from your neck), the lens will zoom and extend automatically. That's actually the lesser problem. After a couple years, the auto-focus motor started slipping. Now the AF motor gets stuck and clicks, not being able to change focus unless i move the focus ring and help it out a bit. It has been getting worse to the point where i the AF barely works without clicking now, and i will have to send it into service.

    Bottom line: this superzoom seems like it was designed and built with a number of compromises in image quality and build quality in order to keep it from being too expensive. If i had to do it again, i would get a 16-85/VR instead.

    reviewed December 17th, 2009 (purchased for $700)