Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - £415
Like Canon's budget kit lenses, this 18-200mm optic lacks the finery of USM (ultrasonic motor) autofocus or even a focus-distance scale on the barrel. Unlike the cheap 18-55mm IS kit lens, however, the 18-200mm features a metal rather than plastic mounting plate. More good news is that the four-stop image stabiliser features auto detection for both panning and tripod use.
The Canon is quite bulky, the biggest lens in the group, just ahead of the Sigma 18-250mm. It's about 35g lighter than the Sigma, but it lacks a lens hood, which will set you back another £50 for the EW-78D petal-shaped model, although third-party versions are available online for much less.
The zoom ring is large and has a very smooth, easy-twisting action. The downside is that zoom creep was appalling in our review sample – the zooming mechanism went into free-fall if the lens was pointed upwards or downwards. This is disastrous for tripod-mounted shooting, but at least there's a zoom lock switch for carrying the lens around safely.
Sharpness is adequate rather than particularly impressive, but it remains fairly consistent throughout the zoom range. The Canon is pretty average in terms of colour fringing and distortion, but if you're shooting in raw mode corrections are fairly easy to apply in the Digital Photo Professional program that Canon supplies with all of its DSLRs.
Sharpness across the focal range is consistently good at the centre, but as the focal length is increased the edge sharpness drops.
At the mid-point of the focal range, there are mild signs of fringing at the centre. Throughout the rest of the focal range, fringing is minimal.
At 18mm, the Canon suffers from one of the heaviest barrel distortion results. At the middle and longest focal lengths, distortion is average.
Image test verdict
Sharpness is generally good and fringing is minimal throughout the focal range. At 18mm, barrel distortion is very much apparent.