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 at 55mm - Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR vs DX 18-105mm VR vs DX 18-200mm VR II

Real-life sharpness at 55mm – Nikkor DX 55-200mm VR vs DX 18-105mm VR vs DX 18-200mm VR II

To compare real-life sharpness at a mid focal length of 55mm, we shot this scene with the Nikkor DX 55-200mm 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 55mm 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.

From this point on in our tests we have also included results from the Nikkor DX 55-200mm VR budget telephoto zoom. When coupled with a standard kit lens, this delivers the same focal range as the Nikkor super-zoom, albeit with two lenses rather than one. But it’s a comfortably cheaper option, and two lenses with shorter ranges have the potential to perform better than a single model with a long range. So on this page we’ve matched the coverage from the original three lenses against the DX 55-200mm VR when zoomed-out to 55mm.

You can see the results from the first three lenses below, and as before we’ve split them into two tables separating corner and centre performance. After these tables you’ll see results comparing the DX 55-200mm VR, so be sure to scroll all the way down after reading this first set of results!

At first glance the corner performance between the three lenses looks fairly similar, albeit with a reduction in contrast on the super-zoom. Look closely though and you’ll see some interesting differences emerging. Despite its premium status, the DX 16-85mm VR suffers from the worst fringing of the three here, although to be fair it’s still pretty minimal.

In terms of corner sharpness and detail at 55mm, the DX 18-200mm VR II is pretty close to the DX 16-85mm VR, but the surprise result here is from the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens, which delivers the crispest result of the three, especially when closed to f8. A very respectable result from the kit lens here.

Scrolling down to the centre crops and once again the performance becomes pretty close, although the DX 16-85mm VR goes some way to redeem itself with what’s arguably the sharpest result. This is most noticeable in the smaller tree to the lower right of the crops which is better-defined on the DX 16-85mm VR samples, although the DX 18-105mm VR kit lens is very close behind. In the meantime, the DX 18-200mm VR II super-zoom is fractionally softer than the others, lacking their ultimate fine detail in the foliage, although again it’s fairly subtle.

Now scroll down beyond both results tables to see how the DX 55-200mm VR telephoto zoom compares at the same focal length, or if you’re not interested in this lens, head straight on over to our Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II results at 85mm.

Corner sharpness with all lenses at 55mm

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR
Corner sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Corner sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Corner sharpness at 55mm
f5.3, 200 ISO
f5, 200 ISO
f4.8, 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 at 55mm

Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR
Centre sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Centre sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Centre sharpness at 55mm
f5.3, 200 ISO
f5, 200 ISO
f4.8, 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 add the DX 55-200mm VR into the mix to see how it compares…


Real-life sharpness at 55mm – Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR vs DX 18-105mm VR vs DX 18-200mm VR II

To compare real-life sharpness at a mid focal length of 55mm, 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 55mm 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.

We had high-hopes for the DX 55-200mm VR here as it sports a much shorter range than the super-zoom, with the potential to out-perform it, but that’s certainly not the case at 55mm. The corner results from the budget telephoto zoom are much softer than the other samples, and there’s also greater evidence of geometric distortion.

Scroll down though and you’ll see the disappointing corner results are somewhat redeemed by decent-innings at the centre, where there’s finer details, especially in the smaller, lighter coloured tree. Like the DX 16-85mm VR above, these details are slightly better-defined than either the DX 18-105mm VR or the DX 18-200mm VR II. Now let’s see how all four lenses compare at a short-telephoto focal length in our Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II 85mm results.

Corner sharpness with all lenses at 55mm

Nikkor DX 55-200mm VR
Corner sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Corner sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Corner sharpness at 55mm
f4, 200 ISO
f5, 200 ISO
f4.8, 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 at 55mm

Nikkor DX 55-200mm VR
Centre sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
Centre sharpness at 55mm
Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II
Centre sharpness at 55mm
f4, 200 ISO
f5, 200 ISO
f4.8, 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 DX 18-200mm VR II measures-up when zoomed-into a short-telephoto focal length of 85mm.

 

 

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