Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ALL NEW! Photo FAVS Wednesday: My Canon 18-200mm IS Lens

Good Afternoon Everybody,

WOW! Only 9 more days till Christmas. So are you ready for the holidays ? Heck, if you celebrate Hanukkah, you are in the mist of the celebration. Kwanzaa - you've got 10 days to go.  Boy, it sure gets confusing, especially if you are a photographer with a cross cultural client list. You've got to know all the holidays to be sure you make all the deadlines. Just part of the fun, right.

Photo Favs wed Hey gang, last week I was planning  to start a new series entitled, "My Favorite Things." It sort of had a holiday ring to it, but then I figured we were going to be through the holidays by the end of next week and my "clever" title would not be so "clever."  Anyway, change of plans – I’m moving the series to Wednesdays right in the middle of the week.

Here is the deal.  Each Wednesday I'm planning to share with you some of my favorite "photography" things.  That could include lens, cameras, F-stops, camera settings, flash settings, gear, books  - just about anything.  If you've got some ideas too, I'd like to hear from you in the "Comments" section below.

I think it will be kind of fun over these next several weeks with me discussing what works best for me with my gear, my shooting, and my business and why.  The "Things" will be listed in no order of priority so that means that my first post today does NOT mean that my 18-200mm IS lens is my TOP favorite thing - it's just one of many. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the series - here we go with the first episode.

My Canon 18-200mm IS Lens

18-200mm Canon Yep, this lens has turned out to be one of my BIG Photo FAVS.  It is about the best "walking around" lens you could take with you on a vacation. Heck, it's been my main lens for the last three weeks of our travels through Hawaii and Cabo, Mexico.  If I'm carrying only one camera and lens, this is the lens that's on the camera.

For me, it's the long focal length range that I enjoy the most with this lens.  Sure, I've got a 70-200mm IS lens, a wonderful piece of glass, but for just walking around, it's way too heavy.  The 18-200mm IS lens, as Little Red Riding Hood might say, "’s just right - WIDE enough and LONG enough--- all-in-one lens."

I know what you're thinking, but David, is it sharp enough for you're everyday shooting? 

Hey gang, for the answer to this question and lots more scintillating discussion on why this lens is one my “Photo FAVS,” hit the Read More… link below.

The quick answer is  "THAT IS WHAT IT'S SHARP ENOUGH FOR" - please excuse the dangling principle everyday shooting. 

It's like, how big are we going to make the picture anyway? For most shooters, they never even get around to printing their images.  Those that do never print them much larger than an 8x10.  Me, I've printed a number of images up to 24x36 inches and they look fine at normal viewing distances.  Heck, they look pretty darn good fairly close up, too.

OK, you're going to say that's a "gotcha."  You're think, "So, Ziser, if you look at them up close, you're saying they're not as sharp as they could be - right.?"  Yes, I would agree that the lens is not as sharp as a Canon L-Series lens like the 70-200mm IS lens.  But, is it sharp enough for photowalks, wedding candids, and just shooting around? I say, unequivocally YES - it's now my only choice for those situations.

"Hold on one second! You're saying you are using it for wedding candids too?"  You know, I knew you were going to ask.  You know, for wedding reception dance floor candids, it's my favorite.  I like grabbing a quick wide angle shot and then being able to zoom in close to grandma across the dance floor and grab a quick shot of her "rockin' and rollin'.  It's the most versatile lens Canon makes for that kind of reception coverage.

DAZNOTE: Hey gang, remember, I shooting with my three light reception light set up for these shots.  That's why this lens works so good in these situations.  But, you know, that's my style of shooting - dimensional lighting even on my candids.  The 18-200mm IS lens and the lighting gives me the opportunity to get a great set of exciting, well lit candids for my clients.

MISINFORMATION, MISINFORMATION!!!! So many people make their buying decision based on what they read in the lens tests posted all over the Internet.  You know, not everything you read is TRUE. I know, you're AGHAST at what I just said - "What do you mean that not all facts are "Gospel" if I read them on line?"

Here is a quick "case in point." Read DPReview's test of the 18-200mm lens - here is the link.  Look at the specs over at B&H right here too. What's the closest focusing distance listed - 1.5 feet - WRONG!!! Folks, that's only with the lens at the wide angle setting.  At the 200mm setting, guess what, YOU'VE GOT SOME GREAT MACRO ACTION HAPPENING!  Focus distance at the 200mm setting is MUCH closer.

Check out these two images I just shot.  The first is at the 18mm setting. 18mm grab At 1.5 feet I can read the ruler to 16 inches.   From everything I could find on line that would imply that this shot represents the closest distance that one could shoot with this lens. 

WRONG!  Now look at the next shot at 200mm - lot's closer isn't it? I was about 5 inches away from the ruler for this image.  200mm grab What's that say about this lens - UHHH, maybe decent enough for some quick close ups at the wedding - absolutely.  I stumbled on this feature of the lens when just shooting around one day.  I'm a macro "nut" and generally use my 100mm MACRO lens for the close ups.  I was BLOWN AWAY by how close the 18-200mm lens could get at the 200mm setting.

Wait, there's more.  Lots of folks are into FAST glass, too.  Hey, I got to shoot with Canon's 200mm F2 lens last week in Cabo – very, very cool.  I liked what my buddy, Kent Smith, said about a few of his shots, "Heck, the background was so out of focus, you can't tell where you are."  We both smiled.  We are on the beach and you couldn't tell.  Don't get me wrong.  That lens is a great lens and one of the "sharpest tacks" in Canon line up. At  a retail price of $5,000 it should be. The shallow depth of field Kent eluded to is fun to play with too.

Anyway, I'm mostly a wedding shooter.  Sure fast glass, but the 4 stops of image stabilization on the 18-200mm still let's me get the shots I need at a wedding.  Let's put it in perspective. Even at the smallest aperture at which this lens shoots - F5.6 - I can still get away with 1/20 second in most available light church shooting situations.

DAZNOTE: What makes these low light higher shutter speeds even more possible today is the advent of these wonderful new high ISO cameras that have come to market and continue to become more available. Think about Canon or Nikon's new offerings with 6 figure ISOs - who would have guessed  - even a year ago.

So gang, why is Canon's 18-200mm IS lens one of my favorite things?

  • Wide focal length range - love it for everyday and wedding candid shooting.

  • Almost MACRO capability - closer than you think and plenty close for most shooting.

  • 4 stops image stabilization - let's me pass on the expensive fast glass for most of my shooting situations, especially when coupled with the higher ISO cameras.

You know, it's not always about the highly rated specs that lead me to selecting a favorite optic.  Many times it just how it FITS my shooting situations and what the final output will be that make the lens work for me.

That's the case to the Canon 18-200mm IS lens.  For all around shooting, for candids that are going to no larger than an 8x10 in a wedding album, this lens is a perfect fit for how I like to shoot. It let's me get a RANGE of images in the quickest manner possible when photographing a wedding.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today.  I got a little carried away with this post, but I hope you found it informative and helpful.  How about I plan to see everyone again tomorrow for another Business Day Thursday episode. 

See ya' then, -David


  1. Great post David!

    You're right, it's easy to drool over L-series glass and end up carring enough of it to make a mule go on strike on your vacation, while the guy next to you is snapping away with a more modest piece of glass and having a great time while doing it.

    A question about the 18-200: How does it cope with flash and other powerful lightsources around it in terms of ghosting and flare? Do you use it with a hood?

    Thanks for a great blog.

  2. Thanks for a great blog. I think the "closest focusing distance" quoted by manufacturers are measured from the sensor plain to the subject and not from the front of the lens to the subject.

  3. I love the 18-200mm too! It was my favorite lens for the past year and a wonderful choice for vacation photography. My only problem with it is that the lens will creep out (extend) quite easily by itself. To fix that problem, Canon put a little lock on the side to prevent it from happening. Although it was a little aggravating, I got used to the lock and still loved the lens. A couple of months ago though, the lock piece broke off inside the lens and now it rattle around and won't go all the way back to 18 mm. I researched it on the internet and it seems to be a common problem. I called Canon and now I have to send it off to be repaired. It's out of warranty so I don't know what the charge is going to be. Other than that though, I really do love the lens and the focal range. Just beware the locking pin!

    Thanks for always having such great posts and tutorials, David! They are very much appreciated!

  4. I agree. I shoot concerts, small weddings and family portraits. I bought the 18-200 in March and use it more than any other lens I own.

  5. I believe it would be Goldie Locks saying that and not red riding hood. She would be saying "What big focal range you have"....

    I love the 18-200 too so nice for vacationing.

  6. Wouldn't it be Goldilocks to say "’s just right - WIDE enough and LONG enough--- all-in-one lens"

    I would think that Little Red Riding Hood would have a conversation something like...
    LLRH: What a big lens you have!
    DZ: The better to shoot you my dear.
    LLRH: What a high powered Q-Flash you have!
    DZ: The better to light you my dear.

  7. For the printing that you do in your studio, can you discuss whether or not you use third-party inks? Thanks, Brian F.

  8. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)