The Sony 18-200mm NEX lens, also known as the SEL18200 lens is one of the hottest product that Sony ever launched.

This is because the NEX is a new camera format and there hasn’t been that many lenses except the kit 18-5mm and the prime 16mm lens. This SEL18200 lens is the first ever super zoom lens for the NEX camera.

Sony 18-200 NEX SEL18200

Lens Score (APS-C Sensor)
Optical Quality: (3.5 / 5)
Build Quality: (4 / 5)
Value for Money: (4 / 5)

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Because this is a super zoom lens, you should know beforehand that this lens is not created for photographers who demand the maximum quality out from a lens.

Rather, this lens is aimed towards photographer who wants to shoot a bit of everything (usually at the beginning stage) and are willing to compromise image quality for convenience and ease.

That being said, the optical performance of this SEL18200 lens is quite good ONLY at the focal length other than 18mm and 200mm.

At 18mm and 200mm the optical defects are quite pronounced. Distortion and chromatic aberration can be an issue there. Also, the borders are quite soft on both focal lengths.

In terms of build quality this lens is very good and I was quite surprised when I hold it. It is made of metal and feels solid.

It has a nice stiffness on the zoom ring which will prevent zoom creep and autofocus is quite fast and silent.

To know more about this lens, see my full Sony 18-200 NEX SEL18200 review below.

Technical Specs

Official Name:
Sony NEX 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 SEL18200

Focal Length Markings:
18, 35, 50, 70, 100, 200mm

Features:
NEX – Only compatible with Sony NEX camera. Not compatible with Sony Alpha DSLR camera whether its cropped sensor or full frame.

OSS – Optical Steady Shot – Sony’s In Lens Image Stabilization technology. Usually Sony installed the Image Stabilization on the camera body. However, to keep the camera size small, they decided to move it to the lens for all NEX cameras.

Full Technical Specs (from Sony’s website):

Technical Specifications
Groups / Elements 13 / 15
Angle of View 76 – 8
Number of Blade Diaphragm 7
Minimum Aperture f/22-40
Minimum Focusing Distance 12″ (0.3m)
Filter Thread 67mm
Weight 18.5oz (524g)
Dimension (Diameter x Length) 3 X 4″
Macro Magnification Ratio 0.35X

Optical Performance

Sharpness

On the center, this SEL18200 lens is very sharp at any aperture and at any focal length.

On the 100 to 200mm range, the center sharpness decreases which is quite common for any super zoom lens.

The borders are quite sharp at 18mm and 24mm except at the widest aperture of f/3.5-4.5.

The 50mm focal length shares the same characteristics as the above focal length.

The softest border appear at the 100mm focal length at f/5.6. Stopping down by one stop will improve it but not by much.

At 200mm, the borders share the similar characteristics as the 100mm, although it is sharper at the widest aperture of f/6.3.

See the sharpness table test below to see the test result.

Sharpness Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Excellent
(4) Great
(3) Good
(2) Fair
(1) Poor

Center Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/3.5-4.5 f/5.6-6.3 f/8 f/11
18mm Great Excellent Excellent Great
24mm Great Excellent Excellent Great
50mm n/a Excellent Excellent Great
100mm n/a Great Great Great
200mm n/a Great Great Great

Border Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/3.5-4.5 f/5.6-6.3 f/8 f/11
18mm Good Great Great Good
24mm Good Great Great Good
50mm n/a Good Great Great
100mm n/a Fair Good Good
200mm n/a Good Good Good

Distortion

Typical of any super zoom lens, distortion is very apparent at 18mm (the widest focal length). The distortion that appears here is a barrel distortion.

At 24 and 50mm, distortion is very minimum and can be ignored.

However, at 100mm and 200mm, moderate pincushion distortion starts to appear. Again, this is quite a common characteristics shared by many super zoom lens.

See the distortion test image grid gallery below.

Distortion Test at 18mm

Distortion Test at 18mm

Distortion Test at 24mm

Distortion Test at 24mm

Distortion Test at 50mm

Distortion Test at 50mm

Distortion Test at 100mm

Distortion Test at 100mm

Distortion Test at 200mm

Distortion Test at 200mm

Vignetting

The vignetting performance of this lens is quite surprising. I was expecting to see heavy vignetting at 18mm but this is simply not the case.

The vignetting is apparent slightly at 18mm f/3.5 and at 200mm f/6.3. Other than the above apertures and focal length, vignetting is not a problem in general.

See my vignetting test chart gallery below.

Vignetting Test at 18mm

Vignetting Test at 18mm

Vignetting Test at 24mm

Vignetting Test at 24mm

Vignetting Test at 50mm

Vignetting Test at 50mm

Vignetting Test at 100mm

Vignetting Test at 100mm

Vignetting Test at 200mm

Vignetting Test at 200mm

Chromatic Aberration

The chromatic aberration characteristics on this lens is a bit interesting and the performance is unstable.

At 18mm, it can be considered high at any aperture. The in between focal length of 24, 50 and 50mm have low to very low chromatic aberration.

However, the chromatic aberration is very high at 200mm at any aperture.

See the chromatic aberration scale test result below to see the complete results.

Chromatic Aberration Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Negligible
(4) Very Low
(3) Low
(2) High
(1) Very High

Chromatic Aberration

Focal Length / Aperture f/3.5-4.5 f/5.6-6.3 f/8 f/11
18mm High High High Very High
24mm Low Low Low Low
50mm n/a Very Low Very Low Very Low
100mm n/a Very Low Very Low Very Low
200mm n/a High Very High Very High

Build Quality

Materials

Build quality is excellent on this lens. I was expecting Sony to use cheap plastic for this one but I was wrong. They use solid metal and everything feels tight.

Zoom Ring

Zoom ring are smooth but by no means slippery. Sony installed just the right amount of stiffness to prevent zoom creep on this lens.

Focusing

Focus ring is very smooth and the front element does not rotate. This makes using a polarizing filter very easy on this lens.

The autofocus motor is quite accurate and very silent. Although not extremely fast compared to DSLRs the autofocusing motor is quite good for a contrast detect system.

The DMF or Direct Manual Focusing feature is also adapted from the Sony Alpha lenses on this lens which can prove to be useful in some shooting situation.

Image Stabilization

The NEX camera is somewhat different from the Sony Alpha DSLR. The Image Stabilization is installed on the lens and not on the body on Sony NEX camera.

This lens feature the OSS – Optical Steady Shot – which is Sony’s Image Stabilization technology. From the test I would say it is quite good and can even beat the Panasonic Mega O.I.S lenses.

I can get up to 3 to 4 extra f-stops when using this lens.

Compatibility

Being an NEX lens, this lens is only compatible with Sony NEX camera. It is not compatible with any Sony DSLR camera either full frame or cropped sensor format.

Sample Image

Below are some sample images taken with this SEL18200 lens.

Sample Image 1

Sample Image 1

Sample Image 2

Sample Image 2

Sample Image 3

Sample Image 3

Sample Image 4

Sample Image 4

Sample Image 5

Sample Image 5

Conclusion

We have arrived at this Sony 18-200 NEX SEL18200 lens review conclusion.

If you have read the test result above, you’ll know that pretty much the problem focal length is at 18mm and 200mm which is the extreme wide and telephoto end.

This problem is quite common among super zoom lens. Other than the above focal length, image sharpness, vignetting, distortion and chromatic aberration are all quite well controlled at any aperture and focal length.

That being said, remember that this is a super zoom lens which means you cannot expect super sharp optical quality.

This lens is made for specific photographer in mind: one that is willing to sacrifice image quality for convenience and ease.

If you belong to one that group and you want something more than the kit SEL1855 lens, then this SEL18200 lens is the one to get.

Drawbacks

  • Barrel distortion at 18mm
  • Pincushion distortion at 100mm and 200mm
  • Soft borders at 100mm f/5.6
  • High degree of chromatic aberration at 18mm and 200mm

Positives

  • Good center sharpness except at 200mm
  • Good distortion control in focal length between 18mm and 200mm
  • Great vignetting control
  • Solid build quality
  • Good chromatic aberration control in focal length between 18mm and 200mm

Good For

  • Photographers who are willing to sacrifice image quality for convenience
  • Travel or vacation lens (non-serious photography)

Not So Good For

  • Photographers expecting to get the absolute best image quality (or any serious kind of photography)

What Others Are Saying…

by “Wilson Kerby”

The Sony SEL18200 lens was a bit hard to get hold of, but well worth the wait and price. I’ve had many expensive lenses over the years but this one, coupled with the Nex-5 technology, is the most versatile…
Click here to see the full review

by “Richard Lau”

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…
Click here to see the full review

Where to Buy

Sony 18-200 NEX SEL18200

Lens Score (APS-C Sensor)
Optical Quality: (3.5 / 5)
Build Quality: (4 / 5)
Value for Money: (4 / 5)

Visit Website

Below are some links that give good price on the Sony 18-200 NEX lens:

Thanks for reading this SEL18200 review, hope you’ve enjoyed it and I will catch you in the next review!

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