BIG Zooms

Trey Ratcliff over at the Stuck In Customs did a review of the Nikon 18-200mm zoom.

This is my vacation lens and I love it especially now that Nikon has tightened up the mechanics so the barrel doesn’t creep out when being carried.

BTW regular readers will remember that Trey is Mr. HDR around here. He has changed photography with his promotion of HDR photography. I asked NIK Software folks if they’d be willing to provide me with a demo copy of their new HDR Efex Pro software but I haven’t heard back yet. As all of you know, I love NIK’s software package and the addition of HDR software is very welcome.

Anyway back to the 18-200. If you read the comments about this lens there are a few folks who claim that the lens isn’t sharp.

Here’s my take on similar comments: Most of these folks don’t understand basic photography.

The only way you’re going to get sharp images from any of the superzooms whether on a DSLR or beefed up point and shoot is to be using a high enough shutter speed setting (In the case of the 18-200 I wouldn’t shoot at any shutter speed less than 1/250 of a second and would prefer to be shooting at 1/1000th.) to overcome blurry shots caused by movement of the photographer’s body.

The really easy way to prevent blur is to use a good (semi-expensive) tripod like a Gitzo or Manfrotto. (I’ve got one of each and their terrific and get the job done.) Yes the lens has vibration reduction VR and it can help to minimize blur but I consider VR a help and not a solution.

All lenses have their sweet spot when it comes to aperture. the 18-200 has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/36. At either extreme you may see some image degradation so the recommend aperture is somewhere around f/8 to f/11.

So if we use my preferred settings of 1/1000 of a second at f/8 or f/11, it’s pretty obvious this shot is going to be taken out in bright sunlight. At any lesser setting I’m either relying on VR or getting out the tripod.

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