Despite having an ultrasonic motor rather than a ring-type ultrasonic system, autofocusing is fairly fast. More unusually for this type of motor-driven arrangement, the lens features full-time manual focus override. Good levels of sharpness are maintained throughout the zoom range and distortions are quite well controlled, especially considering the extra wideangle potential of the lens. The original version of this lens was well received. Updated in 2009, this second edition has the same optical design and Vibration Reduction system, plus new coatings to reduce ghosting and flare. It’s less prone to zoom creep than the original, though not completely immune. The zoom lock switch is therefore a useful addition to the second edition.
Bigger and heavier than the Sigma and Tamron 18-200mm, 18-250mm and even 18-270mm lenses, this lens is almost the same size and weight as the newer of Nikon’s 18-300mm superzooms. In addition, the filter thread is larger, at 72mm instead of 67mm, while the zoom range is more limited than in most competing lenses. Upmarket features include ringtype ultrasonic autofocus and a focus-distance scale beneath a viewing window. The dualmode VR has both Normal and Active options, and there’s the usual rubber weather-seal ring on the mounting plate.
Compared with most superzooms, levels of sharpness are more consistent throughout the zoom range. However, that range is more limited than in most newer competitors, which are also lighter and smaller. Distortions are average, though fringing is well controlled.