Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR II - £550/ $845

The original version of this lens was a hit. This mark II version looks almost identical, but important updates include a four-stop optical stabiliser rather than a three-stop one.

The zoom mechanism has also been redesigned, as the original lens was often criticised for zoom creep between 24-135mm. The issue hasn't been cured completely, but a zoom lock switch at 18mm has also been added. Two high-performance ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens elements are still present, but updated lens coatings further reduce ghosting and flare.

Performance

Handling outstrips that of any other DX-format lens on test, with a silky-smooth focus ring. The fast, near-silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus means it's also the only DX lens on which the focus ring doesn't rotate during autofocus, yet enables full-time manual focus override. Distortion is quite pronounced at the 18mm end of the zoom range but the in- camera correction on Nikon's latest bodies combats it well.

Sharpness

Excellent throughout almost all of the zoom range. There's plenty of sharpness right into the corners of the frame.

Lab test at f/8
Sharpness at wide angle: 2311
Sharpness at mid range: 1265
Sharpness at telephoto: 872

Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Fringing

Very good for a superzoom lens – slight colour fringing is only usually a danger at the long end of the zoom range.

Lab test at f/8
Fringing at wide angle: 0.31
Fringing at mid range: 0.34
Fringing at telephoto: 0.56

Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Distortion

There's a fair bit of barrel distortion at the wide-angle end but the latest Nikon bodies can tune this out automatically.

Lab test at f/8
Distortion at wide angle: -4.31
Distortion at mid range: 1.49
Distortion at telephoto: 1.35

Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Image quality verdict

This lens delivers the best image quality of any DX-format superzoom currently available, with excellent results for sharpness, fringing and distortion.

Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Taken at 18mm (min)

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Best superzooms for nikon dslrs: 8 tested

Taken at 200mm (max)

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