Summary

Highly Recommended awardIf you own (or are buying) a DX-format body and convenience is your number-one priority, but you want it with the least compromise in quality and features, the Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II should be top of your list. Highly Recommended. Good points: Very flexible and convenient 11.1x zoom range; optical stabilisation with four stops of compensation; quiet autofocusing on all Nikon bodies; decent build quality and zoom-lock switch. Bad points: The most expensive super-zoom for cropped bodies; suffers from zoom creep between 28 and 135mm; suffers from zoom-shrinkage at close range; beaten on price and quality by twin lens solutions.

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Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR II

Real-life sharpness when zoomed-out - Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR vs DX 18-105mm VR vs DX 18-200mm VR II

Real-life sharpness with all lenses zoomed-out

 

To compare real-life sharpness when zoomed-out, we shot this scene with the Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR, DX 18-105mm VR and DX 18-200mm VR II, using a Nikon D90 body at all apertures.

The D90 was set to RAW to avoid in-camera JPEG corrections; all files were processed in Nikon’s Capture NX 2.2.3 with lens corrections disabled and the default sharpness of 3. VR was disabled on each lens, and magnified assistance in Live View used to confirm the focusing.

The image above was taken with the Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II mounted on a Nikon D90 body. The lens was set to 18mm f8, and the D90 to 200 ISO. In the samples below, the exposures were identical with each lens and the crops taken from the areas marked with the red squares for presentation here at 100%.

The first table compares crops taken from the corner of each image at different aperture settings and the second table compares crops taken from the centres of the same images.

While we matched the coverage as closely as possible for our tests at longer focal lengths, we decided to test each lens on this page when fully zoomed-out. As such, the DX 16-85mm VR captured a slightly larger field-of-view at its widest focal length of 16mm than the others did at 18mm. This poses an issue when it comes to choosing an area to crop from the corner, as subjects close to the edges of the 18mm sample will be comfortably further-in on the wider lens, giving it an unfair advantage. As such we have taken our corner crops below from an area pressed up against the far right edge of each frame, and very close to the bottom.

The areas may not show the same subject area as a consequence, but they do allow us to compare overall sharpness and correction from the same portion of the frame. Below this table you’ll see crops taken from close to the centre of each image and again the variations in focal length have resulted in slightly different areas being captured.

Zoomed-out, the DX 18-200mm VR II performs pretty well in the corners with noticeably sharper results than the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens. Both lenses exhibit similar degrees of fringing and vignetting (the latter greatly reducing by f8), but the super-zoom remains sharper in the extreme corners.

In the meantime, the DX 16-85mm VR justifies its premium status here with pretty sharp corner results at all apertures, which are also bereft of fringing. Like the other lenses though, there’s noticeable darkening in the corners due to vignetting at larger apertures, although again this has pretty much been resolved between f5.6 and f8.

Scrolling down to the results from the centre of each image, and the three lenses become much closer in performance, even with their apertures wide open. Look closely on a decent monitor and you’ll see the DX 18-200mm VR II enjoys slightly greater sharpening and contrast than the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens, and the DX 16-85mm VR a little more still, but these are pretty minor differences.

So a good start for the DX 18-200mm VR II, which despite its much longer range, performs pretty respectably when fully zoomed-out. But this is only the first of five focal lengths we’ve tested it on, so click through to our other pages to see how it compares as it zooms-in. Next-up, the Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II at 55mm. Why 55mm and not 50mm? To match that of the DX 55-200mm VR lens which joins the comparisons on the next page!

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR
Corner sharpness at 16mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Corner sharpness at 18mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Corner sharpness at 18mm
f3.5, 200 ISO
f3.5, 200 ISO
f3.5, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4,200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO

Centre sharpness with all lenses zoomed-out

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR
Centre sharpness at 16mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Centre sharpness at 18mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Centre sharpness at 18mm
f3.5, 200 ISO
f3.5, 200 ISO
f3.5, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4,200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f5.6, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
Now let’s see how the lenses compare when all are adjusted to the same mid-range focal length of 55mm.

 

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