Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras – Product Description:

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom LensCompact, lightweight and a wide magnification range – this standard zoom lens features a wide focal length range from normal to telephoto equivalent to 29-320mm in the 35mm format. It features an Optical Image Stabilizer for up to 4-stops of effective correction even at full zoom. Since Canon’s optical image stabilization system is in the lens, not in the camera, you can see the stabilized, steadier images through the viewfinder. And the circular aperture can give beautiful background blur effects. This new wide zoom ratio EF-S lens delivers excellent high-speed performance at an affordable price.

Product Features :

  • Standard zoom lens; 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer technology allows sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than otherwise possible
  • 11 elements in 9 groups; aspherical lens element to correct aberration
  • For EOS 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D, 20Da, Rebel XSi/XS, Digital Rebel XTi/XT and Digital Rebel cameras

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras – Review:

A GREAT WALKABOUT AND TRAVEL LENS AT A VERY USEFUL FOCAL LENGTH RANGE!

Fuzzy Wuzzy’s Summary:
***** Highly recommended with warm fuzzies!

Having used the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 Image Stabilized USM SLR Lens for EOS Digital SLR’s for about two years now, this is the perfect focal length range for use as a day-to-day walkabout lens on my Canon 40D. Other Canon gear that I have include their excellent Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras , their razor-sharp Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras , Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM Lens for Canon EOS Cameras , the extremely sharp Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras , Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Lens for Canon SLR Cameras , and Canon MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite for Canon Digital SLR Cameras.

In low light or wider-angle scenery shots, this lens is not as sharp as my 17-55mm f/2.8. When used to photograph macro-like shots of butterflies and flowers, it is not as sharp as my 100mm f/2.8. When used at its 200mm focal length to focus onto distant birds and turtles sitting on a stone in a pond, it is not as sharp as my 70-200mm f/4L. But as a one-lens solution for covering that kind of focal lengths, it is pretty good. On sunny days, I use this lens on a 40D with a B&W multi-coated MRC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer. I consider this to be a very useful hiking/travel/walkabout lens, or if (like me) you hate changing lenses back and forth 🙂 , or if capturing the moments in both wide-angle and zoom situations is more important than getting that perfect shot by carrying multiple lenses and/or camera bodies. This is my first experience with a Canon lens that does not use USM, and the micro-motor is barely slightly slower and noisier than USM… but not knowing what to expect, I was expecting even slower focusing and, in nearly all situations, I found its focus speed totally adequate – still very quick and without any back-and-forth hunting in lower lighting. But my main gripe about this lens is that Canon did not use USM (who knows what kind of marketing decisions went into this, much as I wondered why the 40D had a 3.0-inch LCD but kept the same 230,000 pixels as the 2.5-inch LCD on the 30D – one of my main gripes with the 40D). For the price, Canon should have included USM with full-time manual focusing. But I did notice that the price has dropped by more than 60 dollars since I bought the lens less than three weeks ago.

The use of a zoom lock switch to prevent lens creep is a very welcome addition that I always wished that their 17-85mm and 17-55mm lenses also had. Because of the 11 lens elements in this lens, it slides out to a zoomed length far more than my 17-85mm lens does when the camera is pointing downward and slung around my neck and/or shoulder. Other superzooms have this same lens creep problem and this is likely a design compromise that the Canon engineers had to consider in still wanting to minimize the amount of friction and effort it takes to turn the zoom ring versus the propensity of the lens elements’ weight to pull the zoom downward due to gravity. I have learned to always flick the zoom lock switch on when I am just carrying the camera, quickly flick the zoom lock switch off as I begin to aim and focus (after a short while, it becomes easily habitual to use the middle or ring finger of my right hand to lock/unlock the zoom lock switch while aiming), and to just hold the camera more horizontal if I am actively looking to photograph more. The lens does not rotate during focusing, so circular polarizer filters stay in place.

Unlike Canon’s USM lenses, the micro-motor focus design of this lens does not allow you to override the autofocus mechanism until you first flip the AF/MF switch on the lens. Furthermore, while the 17-85mm lens lets you use both the focus ring and zoom ring when the lens hood is inverted on the lens, on the 18-200mm lens, since the slim manual focus ring is now placed at the very front of the lens (and in front of the much-wider zoom ring), when its Canon EW78D Lens Hood for EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 Canon SLR Lens (not included with the lens) is inverted, the lens hood’s “petals” block most of the focus ring and I have to use my middle finger and thumb to reach in between the hood petals to rotate the focus ring when the hood is screwed on in its inverted position. I would have much preferred that Canon either (a) retain the same focus-ring-closer-to-camera-body design that they used on the 17-85mm, or (b) increase the width of the focus ring so that it is more accessible when the lens hood is inverted onto the lens. But with the zoom ring being 2.2″ wide, the bulk of the lens barrel is occupied by the zoom ring, as if Canon expects that most people will not be using manual focus much on this lens. Since I mainly use manual focus on my two 65mm and 100mm macro lenses, this is not that big of a deal for me. In looking across Canon’s entire zoom lens product line, Canon seems to be inconsistent in their placement of the zoom and focus rings, with some lenses having the zoom ring closer to the camera body, and some lenses having the focus ring closer to the camera body.

At both 18mm and 200mm wide open, the image corners can be a little on the soft side, but when stopped down between f/5.6 and f/11, the image is sharp from edge to edge. But even Canon’s 28-300mm L glass, which is also f/3.5-5.6, has its share of design compromises and sharpness issues in a superzoom lens design. So I think that any lens encompassing this sort of zoom range will be tripping over the physical limitations of what can be achieved when compared with a lens with a smaller zoom range. A 18-200mm lens at a fixed f/2.8 with USM and L-grade glass and weather sealing in a lens that weighs less than 3 pounds would be wonderful, and I would gladly pay a lot more for it as single-lens travel/walkabout lens solution, but that product still only exists in my dreams right now.

This 18-200mm lens will now make my 17-85mm lens the least-used lens that I have, so I may eventually end up selling the 17-85mm lens.

I have posted 3 sample shots taken at Denver Botanic Gardens and 19 shots from having spent 4 weeks in South Africa to the image gallery for this lens. This was a great lens to take on an extended vacation where multiple camera bodies and lenses would have weighed me down more and the dusty conditions of an African safari make it difficult to cleanly change lenses (not to mention that wildlife often does not wait for you to switch your camera gear around!) There were some times during my vacation when I wished that I had my 17-55 f/2.8 with my travel-sized tripod, but for most shots, you would have to squint at the pixel level to notice differences in the sharpness of daytime shots (i.e. 11×14″ and 13×19″ prints look great!)

December 14 2009 update add-on to my original review: Even though I keep thinking about eventually moving to full-frame, I just got the Canon 7D (still keeping my 40D, and wondering what to do with my 30D), and as a daily “only one lens and only one camera body” walkabout/travel combination, this 18-200mm lens ROCKS when used with my spanky new 7D :-)))) My other favorite combination, when I do not mind lugging the extra bulk and weight, is to carry both the 70-200mm f/4L on my 40D and my 17-55mm f/2.8 on my 7D, with the 7D in the hand and the 40D in the Think Tank Digital Holster 30. My issue with just carrying only a 17-55m or 17-85mm as a general walkabout lens is that, all too often, I find interesting things to photograph that need more than a 55mm or 85mm reach, especially when it comes to photographing wildlife or strangers (e.g. I like shooting “everyday people doing everyday things” in foreign countries) and trying to get closer to the subject may not be practical.

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