Zoom Lens Comparison

Firstly, credit where it’s due; the pictures were taken by my friend Robert Hohlfelder.  The pictures were taken of a dollar bill from about 15 feet.  The camera was tripod-mounted, and the lenses with VR had it turned off.  The three lenses are the Nikon 55-200 VR, Nikon 18-200 VR, and the Nikon 70-300ED.  Photos were taken with at f/5.6 and 200 mm zoom.  F/5.6 is fully open for the 55-200 and the 18-200, but not quite fully open for the 70-300.  Robert observed that the 18-200 zoom affords significantly less magnification at 200 mm than the other two.  One questions what the claim for “200 mm” zoom really means.  I’m sure the Nikon Corporation would never fib…

What is most striking is the difference in sharpness.  The obvious winner is the 70-300, a lens that lacks VR, but is probably increasing in value at this point.  The second-place for sharpness goes to the 18-200, and the 55-200 gets the bronze.

The shocking truth is in the pictures.  Judge for yourself.  I’m displaying them larger than their native size so the effect is more obvious.

18-200 f5_6

55-200 f5_6

70-300 f5_6