Nikon 18-200 Review

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The Nikon 18-200mm a perfectly versatile lens that can do just about anything you need!

The Nikon 18-200 Lens

I have only just received mine and only used it a bit.

Why I bought it

I wanted to try a light and flexible lens…

The 18-200 lens fully retracted at 18mm on the body of a Nikon D3X

The Nikon 18-200 lens extended, zooming in on some delicious detail

The 18-200 Nikon Lens

It is extremely light, flexible, and sharp. These are three great things! The only “bad” thing about is that the image area is cropped, and this is frustrating on my full-frame camera. When I look through my viewfinder, I see the outer 30% or so in a dark-grey cropping window… how frustrating! But, after taking a few shots at 18mm, it’s still not quite so bad. I think I am just simply used to having full access to everything. The other bad thing is that I won’t get a full 24 megapixel image on my D3X. Again, this is not the end of the world, since half that is still more than enough to get incredible resolution. I think I’m just spoiled.

So what you lose in megapixels and full frame, you make up for in an extremely flexible, sharp, and light lens. I can certainly see it, for the average photographer, being the only lens you need for wide shots and zoom shots. I understand why many of my friends have this lens on almost all the time.

HDR Photo

Here we are, fully zoomed out at 18 mm. You can see that I had no trouble getting an extremely wide-angle view. It was a little tighter than my 14-24 from the same location, but the difference was minimal for all practical purposes.

HDR Photo

And here is the fully zoomed in version at 200mm. Pretty amazing, eh?

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

  • Jim Rice

    When you use a DX lens like the 18-200mm with your FX body, doesn’t the resolution drop down to 5.1MP? Why would you use this lens in that case?

  • My res with the 18-200 is 3928 pixels across as opposed to 6048 pixels across with my 14-24 nikon. So, it is smaller, but still plenty big. It is a concession I will note in the full review for sure.

  • Looking forward to buying this lens Trey! Although its not as fast, its way more affordable and if your using a tripod for lanscape the slower speed is not really a problem most of the time.

  • Jim Rice

    Thanks, Trey. Wonderful website. Just found it yesterday, and appreciate all I’ve seen so far. Thanks for your kind response.

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  • I’ve had this lens for year and a half now and it STAYS on my D90, most of the time with a Nikon 72mm CirPol. Only time I would remove it is to use a prime lens for really low light. Probably about 10,000 frames shot with it so far. It has proven to me to be a very versatile lens and at ~F8 is sharp-as-a-tack…only wish I had a second one for the wife’s camera 😉
    I shot some Airshow pics at Burnet, TX last weekend and I have been really amazed at how well it handled and AF’d – I only flubbed focus on about 15 or so frames out of nearly 1200 shot that weekend.

  • Ron Greene

    Trey, While you’re at it, could you tell us a little about your tripod setup? Thanks.

  • Rich H

    Is that a “Really Right Stuff” ballhead on the top of your Gitzo tripod Trey? Big sucker! 🙂

  • Chua AL

    Hey, I own one of these. First gen type. Sweet lens for traveling but quite a bad performer for low light. You get focus hunting in low light but in good available light it performs!

  • I am definitely looking into getting something similar. Switching lenses gets old quick! Not to mention, when you need a telephoto lens it’s usually right away. Plus I’m all about lightening the load. Thanks for the article and the encouragement.

  • Thanks –

    Ron – I will save that for another review – happy to do so.

    Rich – it is a really right stuff head ! 🙂

  • I have the lens and use it on my d90 everyday. I have had it for about 6 months and it is a great lens edge to edge. The only downside I could find is the VR noise but you get this with VR/Is lenses.

  • dod

    Hey Zack, when you say noise do you mean audible noise?
    I have the 18-200 VR ii and its quiet i thought ?

  • Dod, VR can omit a barely audible high-pitched noise. Once the VR is at work you can sometimes hear it. Perhaps it’s less evident on the second generation of this lens.

    I sold several my older lenses, including the 18-70mm (D70 kit lens) and a more powerful zoom 70-300 for the 18-200 VR1. That’s been years ago and I haven’t regretted it once.

    This weekend will be my first attempt at shooting without it. I’m going to try a 80-200 f/2.8 lens for the improved Bokeh and a small wide-angle lens on a second body.

    I’m curious about the FX factor too. I’ve read that the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 built for DX sensors works great at the last two millimeters on a full frame. I never thought that it would make sense to use the 18-200 on a FX frame though.

  • Dave Robillard


    I shoot with a full frame camera as well and I’m just dying to know why you are using the 18-200 lens. I still have mine but haven’t used it with the D3 because of the step down in resolution. Thanks for sharing–Dave

  • Dave,

    Well I don’t have the full review up yet – but I know what you mean… You loose resolution, but you gain convenience and flexibility. Since resolutions are already SO HIGH, then you can possibly justify the need for occasional convenience and flexibility in zooms… Much of the importance of megapixels, in many cases, is in our heads! But, i argue against myself in a way here… !

  • Have traveled in extensively in the last 6 months with my D90 and 18-200mm, and cannot say enough good about it. I’ve bagged shots that would have been impossible with any other lens combination. Example, at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple, I’m shooting a landscape at 18mm when I see a wedding party walking toward us. I zoom in a little for a shot of the entire party as they get closer. The bride sees me and smiles. I immediately zoom in further and nail a perfect head shot with her elaborate head gear and a radiant smile–looking directly at me. Time elapsed, under 10 seconds. Did it without taking the camera away from my face. There simply was not enough time to change lenses or bodies before the moment was lost. I will not leave home without this lens.

  • Sugoto

    hi Trey,

    This is not a great lens, but a very good lens. However, it’s a perfect travel lens. Anyone ( not a professional travel photographer) traveling with kids and family, knows they can’t stop at every location, change glass and then take pictures. After the first couple of days, it starts driving everyone nuts. This makes a perfect walkaround travel lens. I have been using it over the past year and have been very pleased.

    However, don’t underestimate the quality of this lens. If anything, check out the travel photos by this lens by Scott Kelby in his blog. The photographer takes the picture, period….

  • Charles

    I thought this lens is meant for camera with cropped sensor, can it work with your D3X and D3S?

  • John

    It pretty obvious why Trey is making a 18-200 review. Because it one of the best selling lens Nikon has and he will make a lot of money with his affiliate program. There is no reason he would want to use this lens considering it performance and the lens he already own. Like many people already pointed out, it kinda stupid using a DX lens on a FX camera, but it also the most soft lens Nikon is selling right now (abysmal at 135mm). Also 18mm DX is not “that” wide for landscape photography.
    Anyway, I love Trey’s work, but I think it a bit dishonest to tell his readers that this lens is incredible…
    It a travel lens that will transform your DSLR into a super zoom point and shoot. If there is one lens he should recommend in this price range, it the Tokina 11-16 or something around the same focal length.

  • Bert

    I have to agree with John.

    The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens is a gem. I leave the ultra zoom at home and just go out on shoots with the ultra-wide and a Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens.

    Anyone tried the DX lens on a full frame?

  • Would you take the 18-200mm over the new 28-300mm (which is FX)?

  • hehe – well that 28-300 sounds pretty sweet… I need to try it ! 🙂

  • Steve

    I know that you are a very busy guy, but I thought I should to draw to your attention that it is getting close to half a year ago you added this ‘placeholder’ for the Nikon 18-200mm lense review.
    I’m not sure if perhaps you have completely forgotten about it, or perhaps have abandoned the lense completely (since as you say, ‘you only review what you actually use’).
    I’m sure that people are checking this page out for helpful purchasing decision information, but are left a bit disappointed in the sparse content.
    I suspect that I speak for others as well, that a more detailed review would be most appreciated.

  • Thx – yes – I have some more info coming soon on this – actually 2 really good shots from this camera that show the abilities of it ! 🙂 Just busy traveling and stuff… but on my to-do list… apologies.

  • ReQa Mustt Diee

    Like This ^_^
    I Want Try ..

  • Lisa B

    I have to agree with Lee and Sugoto. I’ve had the 18-200 since it first came out and use it with my D300. While I wouldn’t necessarily use it all the time, it is perfect for the occasions when I want to have range but carrying extra gear or switching lenses is not practical. The one downside for me is that there is not a zoom lock on the lens so tilting the lens up or down on a tripod is tricky–you basically have to hold the zoom ring in place if you want to shoot in those positions. Also, I don’t use it much in low light. But it has it’s place and does a great job as a general purpose wide-range lens.

  • Richard K

    Hi Trey,

    I love your work, but in due respectto you, I have to agree with John. Now that the 28-300mm is out, and built for FX format, hope we can see your work with this lens. Keep up your great work, Trey! God bless.

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  • Trey – I’m looking for a flexible range zoom lens myself. Being a fan of your work I’m considering your recommendations, so I must ask: How good/bad is the chromatic abberation and light-bleed at the outer regions of the lens? Usually these high-range lenses have issues with this. As you’ve no doubt noticed it can get painfully obvious when doing HDR (like on your shot “PURPLE SUNSET IN INDONESIA”). I took a close look at your test shot above and there’s very little bleed/aberration to talk of. This could be because you cropped or corrected it away so – I’m asking 🙂

  • Thanks for the review Trey! I just pulled the trigger on the 18-200 and am waiting for it to come in the next 7 – 10 days. As an FYI, you can pick up the US version at for $709.99 with free ground shipping. That’s the best deal out there that I can find for a brand new VRII version of this lens.

  • Hey Trey – the 18-200mm makes lots of sense for travel! Great examples above showing the lenses’ varied capabilities…
    Is the next step for you ditching one of your D3 ‘s for the more portable & well equipped D7000?
    Then you get all of the 16.2 MegaPixRes without the FX crop factor.
    As an avid traveller and photographer, does traveling light fit into your ethos as a travel photographer?

  • haveacupoftea

    I’m on DX, not FX, and when I thought of a nicer go-around lens than the 18-70 I did consider the 18-200 VR. But then came the 16-85 VR! (Note: I believe that lens is about unusable on FX.) Ever tried it, Trey?
    For the great outdoors it’s usually not much of a problem to handle several lenses, the challenge is the crowded city, and that’s where the wider is nicer.
    It’s down to what you like to shoot obviously, but I usually find myself wanting wider, rarely ‘tele-er’ (to a certain extent you can always crop a bit your picture in post-processing for a tighter result, but you can’t make it wider – except for stitching but that’s a different game).
    There’s quite some overlap with the 12-24, but when I have that one on it’s not with the same shooting mind, it’s less versatile.
    If I may, I find that this other photographer also makes useful Nikon reviews – quite complementary actually, more technical without overload, less field comments : (I’m not related)

  • I too bought the 18-200 when I purchased my D-300. I shoot professionally and have since the early 1970s 🙂 and I’ve got lots of fast, expensive and heavy lenses. The 18-200 goes with me on vacation (usually with a 35mm f/1.8 in my pocket) and it works just fine. Best of all I can carry it all day. When I load up with the 17-55, the 12-24, maybe the 105 macro, two SB-900s and a D-90 (as I’m doing for the Toronto Zombie Walk next weekend) I can barely carry all this stuff.

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  • Thanks all!

    Andrew – I don’t travel light or heavy — just kind of “medium”!

    haveacupoftea – yes – that is a great one too… it’s hard… so many good lenses!

  • I love this lens. I keep it on my D90 most of the time, except when I’m using my 50mm f/1.8. My favorite feature of the 18-200 is the manual focus override. I can keep the camera set to autofocus & tweak the focus by turning the autofocus ring. It’s especially nice when I want to focus on a spider web or small object.

  • Technically speaking, if used with full frame camera this is 12-135mm lens with cropping obstruction of the full field of view…
    Related to that it would be nice to see in the full review comparison to the results of say 24-120mm full frame lens, post-processed to crop out “extra” part of image, making it 36-180mm lens equivalent. Technical comparison of images from these two examples (I guess you’ll be making various tests with fixed lens-testing targets) will yield real answer if this type of usage makes sense as testing it alone without equivalent full frame counterpart lacks frame of reference.

  • fishdog

    i use this on my d90 a lot, along with a 11-16 Tokina and that covers almost everything i want to do. i just shot a bunch of people surfing in SoCal and while there were times i wished it were longer it captured the images nice and clear. no complaints…

  • My 18-200mm Nikkor has been used a lot. Its been bashed around, used for in excess of 100,000 frames and travelled around the world a couple of times. I just love it as an all purpose lens and I expect you will too. It really is a great piece of kit.

  • Mike Paolini

    Just FYI – Nikon now has an FX version of this that is 28-300mm with VR2, runs about $1000 – I rather like it as a daytime walkabout lens.

  • I would like to follow-up my reply above with a little caveat to the price at 42nd Street Photo for this lens. It’s $709.99 for the “non-retail” version of this lens, which only comes with a 30 day warranty. If you want the standard US Nikon 5 year warranty, they sell the “retail” version for $799.00. I got lucky, however. After some haggling, they gave me the “retail” version at the non-retail price. Buyer beware. I wrote more about it on my blog if you wish to check it out.

    Trey, I don’t normally post links to my stuff so I hope you won’t mind this one time. I just wanted to pass along something that I ran into and hope no one else falls into this trap.

  • I am still waiting for my D7000, but I just got the 18-200mm lens myself. Can’t wait to give it a try!!

  • Bruce

    Thanks for the “heads-up” about Tim Wilson – his work is beautiful! Your photo is nice too…

  • Bruce

    Whoops – I meant to post this under your current photo from New Zealand. Sorry…

  • lee miles

    I run a D7000 with the 18-200 which came with me from my old D200 no zoom can compete with a decent fix fl lens but I have had this older model 18-200 VR for some years now and it has served me well. I always have it on the camera and change out only to fit my specialist lenses (macro or 500mm) used with care and not pushed to the limit these are great lenses and with the D7K’s ISO capabilities so much better than my old D200 I can now up the speed without loosing quality.
    For everyday use I love this lens and can get shots I would quite likely miss while changing out.
    Pricey? IMO yes, but if you think of what it can do I have never felt it was not money well spent.

  • Let me fill in some blanks for those above. Frankly, this lens has terrible optics but… so do all super zooms. You are making sacrifices for convenience. Period. And that is OKAY! The reality is that everyone is pushing high end, special needs lenses for every use these days. Do you know that every smaller format (m4/3, P&S, etc.) have major distortion and are corrected silently by the camera? Yeah. Photography is getting more and more “false” every day, but that hasn’t stopped us from making some amazing pictures.

    The point is, despite this lens’s relatively heavy distortion (especially around 135mm) and its lower than average (for Nikkor) resolution, it is still a great lens because it excels where it matters for a super zoom: It’s compact, relatively light, mechanically excellent, with great ergonomics and well warrantied.

    I was faced with a choice of a super zoom recently. I left off the 28-300 because it loses the wide end on a DX body. I was introduced to an optically superior Tamron 18-270mm at an even lower price. Overall, the tamron and this 18-200 meet up about halfway in terms of overall performance but what finally sold me on the Nikkor is the ergonomics. The tamron has cheap, loose-feeling zoom system, has tamron’s famously slow/inaccurate focusing, and—probably most important of all to me—it lacks the manual focus override (M/A mode) that Nikon’s better AF-s lenses all have.

    You can find reviews for all these lenses all over the net. They are commonly reviewed because there is a common draw to the all powerful “superzoom” thanks to the way it reintroduces P&S convenience to the powerful DSLR. But you have to remember that lens performance of superzooms is one of the main reasons to switch to a DSLR. This 18-200 *COULD* be your only lens, sure. And frankly, most people will never notice its flaws, especially if they are accustomed to post-processing everything anyway. For me, the most noticeable thing is not the distortion or resolution, it’s the vignetting at the long end. However, vignetting on 200mm photos is frequently desirable! But never mind that, this is on my DSLR, I don’t have to use this lens when it isn’t good enough! I can put this lens on when I’m done shooting something and I know that the next time I unexpectedly encounter some amazing scenery with an imminently fading sunset, I don’t have to worry about swapping lenses. If I am going on a walk with no real expectations of what I’ll be shooting, I don’t have to carry 4 lenses. I know that because the AF is fast, the zoom is smooth, the optics are GOOD ENOUGH, that I can shoot nearly anything at any time with reasonably good results, especially with ISO pumped up to counter the smaller apertures.

    So if you were thinking of getting this lens and the various critiques of its optical parameters are scaring you, forget about them. That’s not the point of this lens. If you care about optical perfection you’ll shoot nothing but primes for the most part, and you’ll have huge lenses on medium format cameras and spend $50,000 to take pictures of the same sunset I’ll shoot at marginally lower quality for only $1500.

    P.S. If you have a full format camera you won’t buy this lens, this review by Trey makes no sense at all (nothing personal Trey) because the 28-300 was pretty well known about before this review even showed up. The 28-300 is exactly this same lens with slightly better optical performance for FX cameras.


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  • Stephen Clarke


    My Nikon 18-200mm lense ‘packed it in’ last night while on a shoot. Aurghhhhh!!! Suddenly, between one shot and the next, the lense started ‘hunting’ back on forth unable to lock on the target. I checked the contacts and reseated the lense on the bayonet, but nothing could be done to resolve the problem. It was interesting that it could focus just fine between 18 and about 50mm, but beyond that… nothing… and it sounded funny too. This was somewhat frustrating but not really a big deal because we all carry a spare lense or two… right!?.
    Anyhow, I dropped by Nikon Head Office today to have them take a look at it. Turns out that the focus servo(motor) has gone defective. When I asked the tech if this was a common problem, he told me that he had seen only four or five since this lense was introduced back in 2007. Thinking about it, that is a pretty low failure rate for the thousand and thousands of this model of lense that have been sold and see everyday use. As the tech pointed out, this lense typically sees a much higher volume of shots than many of Nikon’s other lenses because most people just leave it on their camera once they discover it’s amazing versatility.
    So, thank goodness for Nikon’s great 5 year warranty! They even courier the repaired lense back to you free of charge! Gotta love Nikon!

  • This was shot at f2, with flash bounced directly behind me into the open room to just help lift the shadows. Note,
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    there is NO flash shadow.I purposely didn’t use a diffuser dome / Stofen omnibounce here,
    since it would’ve thrown too much flash directly forward. I needed all the flash to be indirect

  • Love mine!

  • Like your blog, I learned a lot here, hope you can share more information

  • Gary Pope

    I finally graduated from my compact superzooms to the Nikon D90 and the 18-200 VR II lens. I agree with many of the observations above, including the terrific flexibility of the lens, but also the poor image quality at the 135 mm setting. I will do anything to avoid that setting. I can even use a short extension tube for macros at the 200 mm setting with decent results. I also agree about the wonderful Tokina 11-16 mm super wide angle lens, which I prefer for architectural shots. I find that for architectural shots with the 18-200 mm lens, I have to do Lens Correction in Photoshop with every shot to correct the barrel distortion at wide angles and the pincushion distortion at around 200 mm.

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  • this is a nice post!

  • for me to acquire, but I am truly obtaining a kick out of it! I will be confident to update the Nikon eighteen-200 Critique when it is all done. I’ve been using it a whole lot in the previous couple of weeks and I

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  • Chandler

    would this fit my nikon d3000

  • Yes. It’s a great lens if you don’t want to change lenses much. Here are some more samples with the D7000 (also a crop sensor like the D3000):

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  • jdizzl

    Why would you put a DX lens on an FX camera? The equiv lens is a 28-300mm…

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