The perfect lens does not exist. There is no lens that covers an extreme range of focal lengths, has an ultra-wide aperture, has incredible build quality but remains small and light, has amazing image quality at all available settings – and is inexpensive. Even though this lens does not have the longest available focal length range, it is still a superzoom lens with a very attractive do-it-all potential. It is also small, light and priced right. With that quantity of ultimate lens qualities found in the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens, I approached this review with a healthy dose of skepticism. With the advances the world has seen in manufacturing technology and the quality Sigma has been delivering in their Global Vision lenses, I was optimistically skeptical.
Focal Length / Focal Length Range
The Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens, as denoted by the "DC" in its name, is compatible only with ASP-C/1.6x FOVCF sensor format DSLRs. Mounted on one of these bodies, the 18-200mm focal length range provides an angle of view similar to a 28.8-320mm lens mounted on a full frame body. This range of focal lengths meets the typical wide angle needs of a general purpose lens and far exceeds the telephoto focal length typically found in such lenses.
Sigma has targeted travel and family use for this lens. The range of focal lengths definitely lends itself to such multi-purpose uses.
Superzoom lenses all have narrow maximum apertures – generally the narrowest max apertures you will find on any lens at a comparable focal length. Here is a chart comparing the max aperture step-down focal lengths for some of these APS-C format lenses.
|Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens||18mm||24mm||35mm||50mm||76mm|
|Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens||18mm||22mm||31mm||41mm||64mm|
|Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens||18mm||24mm||40mm||50mm||90mm|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C Lens||18mm||21mm||33mm||46mm||63mm||125mm|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS Lens||18mm||21mm||31mm||51mm||78mm||154mm|
|Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens||18mm||24mm||35mm||50mm||80mm||147mm|
|Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Lens||18mm||31mm||47mm||60mm||73mm||125mm|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Lens||18mm||25mm||35mm||46mm||70mm||169mm|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Lens||18mm||30mm||46mm||59mm||91mm||238mm|
While the Sigma 18-200 C lens ranks near the slowest among this group, it does not vary from the others by more than 1/3 stop and 1/3 stop is not going to be a decision factor for most. You will, however, often be reaching for high ISO settings when using such lenses.
Even though all APS-C format Canon DSLR cameras require a max aperture of f/5.6 or wider to autofocus, this lens will autofocus properly even in the focal length range with an f/6.3 max aperture.
The 18-200 C had just arrived with a strong thunderstorm arriving on its heels. Breaks in the heavy clouds were allowing streaks of light to reach the distant hillside that was covered in light green early spring leaves (a subject I had been targeting) and I needed to act fast. The 18-200 was already mounted to my Canon EOS 60D and I only had a couple of minutes until the light would be gone.
It is always a risk to use an unknown lens for a purpose that you care about, but it is usually safe to pick a middle focal length and an f/8 aperture, and that is what I did in this situation. There was no time to retrieve a tripod, so I counted on OS (Optical Stabilization) to cover my handheld shake. The 1/80 second shutter speed was only slightly longer than what I would typically need to handhold a lens at the 75mm focal length I was using and since I was leaning against a deck railing, I expected no issues with camera shake with OS assistance enabled.
I was not completely excited about the sharpness of this and the dozen or so other images I captured in the couple of minutes the light remained on the hill. A tiny, light lens results in an inertia disadvantage that makes it harder to hold steady, and I guessed that this issue was the likely cause of my not-so-sharp images – even with OS enabled.
Overall, this OS system appears very well designed. There is no noise when OS is active, including during startup, shutdown and when the lens is moved. Also nice is that the image in the viewfinder does not jump or move around due to the OS system. Sigma does not provide a rating for the amount of assistance provided by the OS system in the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens, but 4-stops is the norm for lenses being introduced at this time.
Real world testing under optimal conditions shows that I can get very good 18mm results at .3 second shutter speeds and a decent percentage of images were still sharp at .4 seconds. These numbers represent about 3 or just over 3 stops of assistance for me.
Determining the amount of assistance being provided by optical stabilization at a specific focal length is very challenging, but it is especially challenging when the lens does not deliver especially sharp images at that focal length. I'd say between 1/30 and 1/25 of a second is the longest I can expect this lens' OS to take care of my 200mm shake under ideal conditions. Sharp image percentages remained reasonable through 1/10 second with many image captures at even longer shutter speeds resulting in reasonably sharp images. The percentage trails off at a modest rate as exposure durations increase. Approximately 3-4 stops of assistance is what I'm seeing from this lens at 200mm. Overall, this optical stabilization performs very well even with such a small, light lens.
Not completely exciting is the image quality this lens delivers. At 18mm, this lens has decent sharpness across the frame with a wide open f/3.5 aperture and little improvement is seen by stopping down to a narrow aperture. Noticeable deterioration in image quality is seen by 28mm and results are even worse at 35mm and 50mm with corners being especially affected. Stopping down to f/8 results in a noticeable improvement in sharpness, especially at 35mm, but ... the f/8 results are not remarkably sharp.
At 80mm through 135, wide open image quality is improved, especially in the corners, from what 50mm delivered. An image quality improvement is again seen at f/8 at the 80-135mm focal length even though f/8 is only 1 stop or less narrower than the f/5.6 and f/6.3 wide open apertures in this range. The aperture can of course be stopped down to narrower-than-f/8, but diffraction will cause images to become less-sharp when modern high resolution DSLRs are used. Image quality at 200mm is slightly less-sharp than at 135mm even at f/8.
Though it does not deliver stellar image sharpness, the 18-200 C performs noticeably better than its non-C predecessor and it performs as good or better than most other 18-2**mm superzoom lenses. This lens and the Sigma 18-250mm DC OS HSM Lens have very similar image sharpness. The 18-200 C is, on average, sharper than the Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS Lens, Tamron 18-200mm Di II Lens and Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC PZD Lens. Though it was tested on a different format, I give the sharpness advantage to the Nikon 18-200mm AF-S DX VR II Lens over this Sigma.
Expect about 2.5 stops of vignetting in the corners at 18mm f/3.5. Increase the focal length to 35mm through 135mm and wide open aperture vignetting falls to a just-noticeable 1 stop or so. About 1.5 stops of shading shows deep in the corners at 200mm. Stopped down to f/8, just over 1 stop of corner shading is present at 18mm, but only minor amounts remain over the rest of the focal length range.
Strong CA (Chromatic Aberration) is present in the mid and peripheral image circle at 18mm. The CA lessens until becoming negligible at 80mm, and then increases until modestly present again at 200mm.
Though nearly flare-free at 18mm f/3.5, this lens will show moderate streaking due to flare over most of the balance of the available zoom and aperture settings.
The 18-200 C shows moderately strong barrel distortion, especially in the center of the frame, at 18mm. By 28mm, pincushion distortion has set in. Moderate pincushion distortion remains present over the balance of the focal length range.
With its rounded 7-blade aperture, the 18-200 C creates average quality bokeh (foreground and background blur quality).
The 18-200mm DC Macro OS HSM C Lens' autofocus system is powered by Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor). However, this is not the same AF implementation seen on Sigma's best lenses. Autofocusing is quiet as the motor name suggests, but the focus speed is relatively slow and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is not supported. I often find a finger or two resting on the focus ring, trying to help stabilize this very light lens. Unfortunately, the MF ring rotates during AF and fingers resting on the MF ring during AF will potentially stress the focusing gears.
Perhaps most important is that I found this lens' autofocus system to be both accurately calibrated and consistently accurate.
This lens internally focuses and the front-mount filter threads do not rotate with focusing. This lens shows noticeable focus breathing, though at the widest angles, subjects remain similarly-sized during longer focus distance changes (those over 4'/1m at 18mm for example). This lens is not close to parfocal – you will definitely want to re-focus after zooming in or out.
The 18-200 C's manual focus ring is smooth with a very light rotational resistance. The 50° of rotation provided by this ring is nice for focusing at 18mm, but a significantly longer rotation is needed for precise focusing at 200mm. That the ring is very small reflects the Sigma 18-200 target market's lack of interest in manual focusing.
With FTM not supported (the focus ring does not spin freely), the focus distances can be printed directly on the lens barrel. Also printed on the lens barrel are the maximum reproduction ratios available at the delineated zoom settings.
While I am not a fan of designating a lens with a 0.33x MM (Maximum Magnification) as a macro lens as Sigma does with this model, this lens' MM spec is surpassed by few other zoom lenses. This lens is more-macro than its non-HSM predecessor, so I guess the name reflects this improvement. Let's take a look at a table of close-focusing specs for a group of at-least-somewhat similar lenses:
|Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.24x|
|Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR II Lens||19.2"||(488mm)||0.22x|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C Lens||15.4"||(391mm)||0.33x|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.26x|
|Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.29x|
|Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.27x|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Lens||19.3"||(490mm)||0.26x|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Lens||19.3"||(490mm)||0.29x|
Maximum magnification specs are quite high on average for this class of lenses.
Build Quality & Features
The 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens is Sigma's second "Contemporary" lens in the Global Vision lineup. In my opinion, this is the least meaningful series name ("Art" and "Sports" are the other two) and from my perception, designates the lower end of Sigma's offerings. But, as a Global Vision lens, the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens receives an attractive design reflecting its membership. The finish is black with a variety of matte-ness levels with modern white font lettering.
As expected, the lens is constructed of plastic while the zoom and MF rings are rubber-coated. Also rubber-coated is the base of the included lens hood, making the hood easier to graps during installation and removal. This hood is small and designed not block the image circle at 18mm, which means that its protection at the much narrower 200mm focal length is minimal.
Especially obvious is that this lens, like all other lenses in this class, extends significantly when zoomed to the longest focal length. The 18-200 C's zoom ring is very smooth with just the right amount of rotational resistance, even though it is moving the end of the lens up to 2.48" (63mm). The provided zoom extension retaining lock switch is not needed at this point in the life of the lens I have.
Sigma shrank their 18-200mm lens. This lens is both smaller and lighter than the previous Sigma 18-200 – by a noticeable amount. One of the best features of this lens is its tiny size and very light weight.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens||21.0 oz||(595g)||3.1 x 4.0"||(78.6 x 102mm)||72mm||2008|
|Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR II Lens||19.8 oz||(560g)||3.0 x 3.8"||(77 x 96.5mm)||72mm||2009|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS C HSM Lens||15.2 oz||(431g)||2.8 x 3.4"||(71.1 x 86.4mm)||62mm||2014|
|Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS Lens||21.5 oz||(610g)||3.1 x 3.9"||(79 x 100mm)||72mm|
|Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM||16.6 oz||(470g)||2.9 x 3.5"||(74 x 89mm)||62mm||2012|
|Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Lens||22.2 oz||(630g)||3.1 x 4.0"||(79 x 101mm)||72mm||2009|
|Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Lens||14.0 oz||(398g)||2.9 x 3.3"||(73.8 x 83.7mm)||62mm|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Lens||15.9 oz||(450g)||2.9 x 3.8"||(73.7 x 96.5mm)||62mm||2010|
|Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Lens||19.4 oz||(550g)||3.1 x 4.0"||(79.6 x 101mm)||72mm||2008|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
This lens is not weather sealed. The 18-200 C uses small 62mm filters, but not many other lenses share this uncommon size. Sigma does not include a case with this lens. Apparently, "Art" and "Sports" lenses come with a case and "Contemporary" lenses do not.
This lens is compatible with the Sigma USB Dock. The USB dock allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise focus calibration at four distances.
Positioned above from left to right in their fully retracted positions are the following lenses:
Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS C HSM Lens
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Lens
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR II Lens
Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS Lens
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
The same lenses are shown below in their fully extended states with their lens hoods in place.
The price is another very attractive Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens feature. This lens is priced lower than most other lenses currently available.
The Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon, Pentax, Sony/Minolta and Sigma mounts. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. Since Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer AF algorithms, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Sometimes a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer, sometimes not. There is also the risk of a problem that results in the lens and body manufacturers directing blame at each other. Compatibility with the Sigma USB Dock is risk reducing as Sigma can release firmware updates for dock-compatible lenses. Sigma USA's 4-year warranty is superior to Canon's standard 1 year warranty (Sigma's international warranty is also 1 year).
The evaluation Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens was sourced from an online retailer.
While the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM C Lens has an excellent range of focal lengths in a small, lightweight package that doesn't hurt the wallet, I have trouble getting excited about the image quality this lens and any of the other superzooms deliver. Everyone has their own values, and with this lens, Sigma is targeting those placing a high value on convenience and budget. The Sigma 18-200 C is one of the best choices among the APS-C superzooms.
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