This week is a bit different.  Rick returns the favor of getting his questions answered by providing a review of the new Sony E 18-200mm lens.  If you’re using the new Sony NEX cameras you’ll be especially interested in this:

 

First and foremost, you should be aware that you'll need another lens aside from the 18-200mm, to take flash pictures. The 18-200 lens barrel obstructs the lower part of the flash output at anything less than ~50mm. Sony made a big mistake here in not supplying a 'flash extender' with the lens and at this time of writing, it is not available for purchase either. Moreover, it would have nice if Sony included a lens, pouch or carrying case for the lens while it awaits its use. Yet, something else you will need to purchase if you want to keep the lens in its pristine condition. BTW, the NEX/18-200mm combo does not sit flat on the table either; the bottoms are not even.

 

First and foremost, you should be aware that you'll need another lens aside from the 18-200mm, to take flash pictures. The 18-200 lens barrel obstructs the lower part of the flash output at anything less than ~50mm. Sony made a big mistake here in not supplying a 'flash extender' with the lens and at this time of writing, it is not available for purchase either. Moreover, it would have nice if Sony included a lens, pouch or carrying case for the lens while it awaits its use. Yet, something else you will need to purchase if you want to keep the lens in its pristine condition. BTW, the NEX/18-200mm combo does not sit flat on the table either; the bottoms are not even.

Then we have the lens size and the integration with the NEX body.  Suffice to say, it is reminiscent of the older Sony 707/717 models where a much bigger lens is coupled a smaller body. Difference is that with the NEX, the body doesn't twist/tilt like the 7x7 models but only the LCD tilts, which helps with stability. It's a big lens if you're comparing it to the compact superzooms but it's not given the size of the NEX sensor. It is comparable to the 18-200 of the DSLRs and the 14-140 zoom lenses of the m4/3s. The dichotomy is that for the folks who bought into the NEX for its diminutive size are now faced with less than compact setup.

 

Then we have the lens size and the integration with the NEX body.  Suffice to say, it is reminiscent of the older Sony 707/717 models where a much bigger lens is coupled a smaller body. Difference is that with the NEX, the body doesn't twist/tilt like the 7x7 models but only the LCD tilts, which helps with stability. It's a big lens if you're comparing it to the compact superzooms but it's not given the size of the NEX sensor. It is comparable to the 18-200 of the DSLRs and the 14-140 zoom lenses of the m4/3s. The dichotomy is that for the folks who bought into the NEX for its diminutive size are now faced with less than compact setup.

 

On first use, the NEX/18-200 combo seems like a joke. Clearly, this is a one-handed operation for a very short time only; the NEX body itself does not have much of a grip and the front heavy lens is going to tip the balance. This is worsened in its fully extended zoom length. To zoom, you will need to use your left hand to hold the bottom of the lens barrel while using its two fingertips to rotate the zoom ring. Likewise, to manual focus.

 

On first use, the NEX/18-200 combo seems like a joke. Clearly, this is a one-handed operation for a very short time only; the NEX body itself does not have much of a grip and the front heavy lens is going to tip the balance. This is worsened in its fully extended zoom length. To zoom, you will need to use your left hand to hold the bottom of the lens barrel while using its two fingertips to rotate the zoom ring. Likewise, to manual focus.

 

However, the quality of this lens is just plainly superb. The distant test scenes from backyard I normally take with new lenses and cameras were outstanding and possibly one of the best I have ever had. The stabilization system works very well and I have no issues handholding the combo and getting clear pictures. The lens stops down to f6.3 at the max zoom length but this is compensated with the NEX's low-noise high-ISO.

I have also not heard it focusing either. In the few 1080 videos I have made, I have not heard any focus noise which can be extremely distracting during viewing. The 18-200 makes for an excellent video lens as well.

 

The build quality of this lens is also outstanding. The zoom ring is firm but rotates smoothly and likewise with the focus ring. I thought this Sony lens is better built than the similar 14-140 Panny lens which has free play in its lens mount and an inconsistent zoom movement. I have not even used the zoom lock switch once as I have not experienced any zoom creep yet while carrying the lens.

 

The build quality of this lens is also outstanding. The zoom ring is firm but rotates smoothly and likewise with the focus ring. I thought this Sony lens is better built than the similar 14-140 Panny lens which has free play in its lens mount and an inconsistent zoom movement. I have not even used the zoom lock switch once as I have not experienced any zoom creep yet while carrying the lens.

Overall, an outstanding lens.

Rick –

Thanks for your impressions of the Sony E mount 18-200.  I know for sure there are more than a few of us out there using this fine little camera who will appreciate reading this.

Steve

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