Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 18mm
Let’s see how the new 18-300mm compares to the 18-200mm VR II at the shortest focal length of 18mm:
Seems like both lenses perform about the same on the short end.
Nikon 18-300mm @ 105mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 135mm
Another comparison between the two lenses at 105mm and 135mm focal lengths:
Zoomed in to 105mm and 135mm, the Nikon 18-200mm seems to perform better overall, most notably in the center and mid-frame. The corners on the 18-300mm look better at larger apertures.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm @ 200mm
Here is what happens at the long end @ 200mm:
And looks like it is the same story at 200mm, where the 18-200mm maintains an edge over the 18-300mm in terms of sharpness in the center and mid-frame. Corners look the same on both.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 18-200mm Summary
While both lenses seem to perform well wide open, the Nikon 18-200mm shows better performance in the center and mid-frame when zoomed in a little. The 18-200mm maintains better sharpness at long focal lengths and it can also resolve more detail at its longest focal length of 200mm. In addition, it also has less distortion and chromatic aberration than the 18-300mm.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 28mm
Now let’s take a look at how the 18-300mm compares to the full-frame Nikon 28-300mm lens:
At 28mm, the Nikon 18-300mm yields better sharpness throughout the image. The Nikon 28-300mm suffers from a strong amount of field curvature, which is why there is a big difference in performance between center and mid-frame.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 50mm
Let’s see what happens at 50mm:
At 50mm, the Nikon 28-300mm catches up in center performance, but still suffers in mid-frame and corners at large apertures.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 105mm
Another comparison at 105mm:
At 105mm, the Nikon 28-300mm takes over the center sharpness, but still loses everywhere else.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 200mm
Zoomed in 200mm:
Corners still suffer at 200mm on the 28-300mm lens.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm @ 300mm
Zoomed in to 100% @ 300mm:
Lastly, at 300mm, both lenses seem to perform about the same.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 28-300mm Summary
Judging from the above test results, the Nikon 18-300mm seems to perform overall better than the 28-300mm. It has better mid-frame and corner frame sharpness at all short focal lengths. Zoomed in, however, both lenses start to look about the same.
Keep in mind that the above test is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The Nikon 18-300mm was tested in DX crop mode, while the 28-300mm was tested in FX (full-frame mode). This is the main reason why the 18-300mm scored better in mid-frame – it does not cover the same area as the 28-300mm (see DX vs FX). If the 28-300mm was also tested in DX crop mode, it would have performed better.
Nikon 18-300mm vs Nikon 24-70mm
Just for fun, I am including a quick comparison between the 18-300mm and the 24-70mm, so that you could see how different the performance of these lenses is at the same apertures. Here is a comparison at 50mm:
Obviously, this is not a fair comparison, because we are comparing a consumer superzoom to a professional mid-range zoom. But it is a good contrast to show what to expect from pro-level glass and understand the compromises you have to make with the 18-300mm.
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