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Thread: What can I, and can't I do, with an EFS 18-200mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS lens ?

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    What can I, and can't I do, with an EFS 18-200mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS lens ?

    I tried a few searches, but the results were a little overwhelming to sort through and many were not specifically what I'm looking for.
    I'm a total newbie to DSLR cameras, having only ever had a P&S and so never had to think at all about the lens really (besides if it had a good "zoom" or not).
    Since I'm trying to learn mostly by reading up on stuff, and then going out experimenting, I'm finding that the results from some of the experiments are leaving me more confused than they are educating me. This could be from trying too many different things at once.

    So as a start point, what should I not be trying to make this lens do, so that I don't waste the little bit of camera-in-hand learning time that work and life allows me, by getting conflicting results that only confuse the learning experience, or by trying things the lens just isn't going to be suitable to do?
    • Can this lens be used away from town to get night skies with say 30second exposures, or will they be really disappointing (I have a programmable remote for longer exposures if that would work)?
    • Is it going to be suitable or not suitable for indoor photography - (I have a 430EXII speedlight I can use) - such as my daughter's graduation etc?
    • I'm guessing it has limited macro capability? So I'm guessing that I'm limited to not much more than the odd close-up of flowers etc?
    Basically if I get a rough idea of what this lens isn't able to do, and even better some ideas of what it might do reasonably well, I can limit my practice sessions to those things, and have a better chance of learning something from the results, so any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance
    Canon EOS 60D ..... EFS 18-200mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS - 430 EXII Speedlite - "eBay special" Remote Control Unit - Manfrotto 190XPROB w 804RC2 head.

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    You'll easily capture night skies, but you probably won't get great results in keeping them crisp, you'll probably get some star trails occuring.

    By itself it won't perform greatly indoors but with the external flash you'll get the job done well, try playing around with bouncing the flash of the ceiling and see what results you get.

    You won't get amazing macro work either since (I'm not 100% sure) it wouldn't have great close focusing capabilities. So the occasional close up of the flowers etc.. would probably be do-able.

    Basically the 18-200 is a bit of an all rounder lens, it'll do a bit of everything but won't doing anything amazingly. But by playing around you'll begin to learn what you want in your lenses which will inform your next purchase.

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    Thanks Mikec,
    the "all-rounder" was kind of a deliberate choice at the time, as I do a lot of 4wding, and didn't think a dusty 4wd track was a great place to be swapping lenses, so kind of aimed for something that could capture my mate's car bogged in front of me, and also do the scenic view from the top of the mountain, without having to change lenses. At the time it didn't worry me if it didn't do any one task super well.
    I didn't like the flash aimed forward, so pretty much immediately went with about 45degree roof bounce and on a couple of occasions bouncing it sideways or totally vertical, and was a lot happier with the results, but I've never liked direct "in the face" flash photography even on my previous cameras, so that was why I made sure an external flash was built into my budget for the camera.
    I have a long way to go before I'm likely to start playing around with the remote "off camera" capability, though it's kind of nice to know that I can grow into that option without having to upgrade (though it does mean using the built in flash as the master I believe).

    So far I'm quite disappointed in the lens. I'm having a lot of trouble with focus not being quite right. I can overcome it a bit with manual focus, but that's not going to be ideal on moving objects - if this lens can handle that style. I've ended up setting the focus point to only the centre point and controlling where it focusses that way, but with varying results still. It is the failure to get the focus right that has driven me the maddest. A picture will look good on the small screen, and get it home to find the focus was out.
    I've downloaded a focus check sheet and will play around with that this afternoon just to make sure.

    I'm kind of leaning towards my next lens/es being something for night time shots, especially night skies and around the campfire, and a wide angle for the scenic views, but those will be quite a long way off yet.

    Thanks for taking the time to give me some pointers. It's greatly appreciated.

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    In regard to your focus problem, are you using the focus mode where the camera has ability to focus with all focus points and therefore chooses itself what to focus on. This is usually something that is close and big in the frame. If you want control over focus use a specific centre point.
    I used to own this lens, I was not dissapointed, the only thing that could be added is ultra sonic focus (since this lens retails at a rediculously high price). It is 11x zoom, the IQ on your 60D should be better than your PS camera will produce, however you need to learn to use the manual controls of the camera to your advanatage. Use AI servo focus on moving subjects etc.

    Indoors this lens does well, it has 3-4 stop image stabiliser. You can easily hand hold this lens at 1/10s indoors at 18mm, ive gotten pretty good results at 1/20s at 200mm with the stabiliser on.

    Your first question is a bit strange about what this lens 'can't' do and therefore you want to avoid it. Use the lens where and when you want, then when you find you are having trouble with a particular aspect of that photography ask specific questions and you will get specific answers how to solve this problem, techniques you might use or suggestions on diff. lenses that may do the job slightly better.
    good luck
    1DIII, 5DII, 15mm fish, 24mm ts-e, 35L,135L,200L,400L,mpe-65mm
    Film: eos 300, pentax 6x7

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    I use this lens with my 7D and it is great. I can use it to produce nearly all common types of shots with a reasonable quality (based on my low standard of course).

    Now I have a 70-200 2.8L IS II. I can see the difference. However, I will still keep the 18-200 with me, usually on a 1000D. It's just so handy.

    You might like to have a look of some of my photos with this lens at my Flickr account.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simple_monkey/
    Be happy, life is beautiful, even through a humble point and shoot camera
    Flickr

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    Thanks fabian. I long ago set the camera to centre point focus and use that to set where I want the focus, even if I want that item off centre in the final image I use the centre point to set the focus and then compose the shot while maintaining the button at half press. I very rarely let the camera choose now, because it would rarely ever choose the spots I wanted it to choose.

    Interestingly, I took a walk with it this evening along the river, and the detail was substantially better for some reason. Nothing much changed, just that this time the focus was working much much better. I did however have IS turned off for a lot of the walk. Can IS throw focus off?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    So as a start point, what should I not be trying to make this lens do, so that I don't waste the little bit of camera-in-hand learning time that work and life allows me, by getting conflicting results that only confuse the learning experience, or by trying things the lens just isn't going to be suitable to do?
    The lens (in combination with the 60D) will be limited for:
     Photography where a fast shutter speed is required to arrest subject motion in a low light situation and Flash is not allowed: e.g. Indoor Swimming Competition / BBall or Gymnastics inside.
     Macro work (where macro means 1:1 or “Life Size”) – it will do “close-up” work, OK
     Photography where a moderate shutter speed is required to arrest Subject Movement in a Low Light Situation and Flash Is not allowed: e.g. A Stage Play or Stage Dance
     SOME (not all) Shallow DoF Portraiture. This will be dependent upon the framing of The Shot – you will make shallow DoF Portraiture for: Tight Head Shots; Head Shots and Bust Shots: but much longer than a Tight Half Shot will not be possible to keep a very shallow DoF.
     Where rapid AF is necessary, especially for tracking movement, especially in low light, especially at mid to telephoto Focal Lengths.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    [*]Can this lens be used away from town to get night skies with say 30second exposures, or will they be really disappointing (I have a programmable remote for longer exposures if that would work)?
    Yes, in addition to the comments already made, I suggest taping the zoom turret with a small bit of GAF tap: lest you get slippage.
    Also take the “protective” filter off the lens (if you have one.
    The night skies will be better captured with a Prime lens, generally, but there is no reason to expect that your lens will not make good photos.
    I would use it a little less than full wide angle, around FL = 24mm, because the IQ should be (noticeable) better there than at FL= 18mm (I have not used this lens – that is just general lens theory).

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    [*]Is it going to be suitable or not suitable for indoor photography - (I have a 430EXII speedlight I can use) - such as my daughter's graduation etc?
    Yes the lens and camera will be suitable both with and without the flash.
    Without the Flash will be difficult: but not impossible if you have enough light.
    You have an advantage that your lens is IS - but Image Stabilization does not arrest Subject Movement.
    You will need to time the shot for least Subject Movement and if it is really dark, it will be best to use the wider end of the lens as that gives the faster Maximum Aperture.
    Do NOT underexpose.
    Learn good post production sharpening techniques.
    Do NOT underexpose.
    And finally NEVER underexpose.


    Example of the 18 to 55 "non IS kit lens" - FL=33mm: F/5.6 @ 1/40s @ ISO1600, hand held, (EOS20D)
    Your lens on a 60D should do as good, or actually a bit better, IMO.

    For Flash:
    I suggest learning how to use Bounce Flash and Diffused Flash, for indoor work.

    For situations like a Graduation (ceremony): Camera Position is liklely the most important factor. For the Portraits afterwards, using Fill Flash outdoors, should be investigated as an option.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    [*]I'm guessing it has limited macro capability?
    Yes – as per my previous comment.
    You can get to macro with this lens by using Extension Tubes.
    Kenko has a set of three which are very useful. Your lens would be best be used at about FL =40mm to 60mm for this purpose. Your Tripod will most likely be necessary, as likely will be manual focus, also.


    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    I didn't like the flash aimed forward, so pretty much immediately went with about 45degree roof bounce and on a couple of occasions bouncing it sideways or totally vertical, and was a lot happier with the results
    Research and buy or build yourself a Bounce Device, bigger than the pop out white card:

    A diffuser is useful tool, also.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    I have a long way to go before I'm likely to start playing around with the remote "off camera" capability, though it's kind of nice to know that I can grow into that option without having to upgrade (though it does mean using the built in flash as the master I believe)
    Yes. Also note that as well as being able to control the Flash Ratio between the Built in Flash and the off camera 430MkII, you can also inhibit the Built in Flash from popping up, yet the wireless remote will still function: thus not using any (harsh direct) "flash" from the pop up flash to illuminate the scene / subject(s).
    The Canon Remote Wireless Functionality, can be spasmodic in physically congested; high metal; and or high RF Areas.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    I long ago set the camera to centre point focus and use that to set where I want the focus, even if I want that item off centre in the final image I use the centre point to set the focus and then compose the shot while maintaining the button at half press. I very rarely let the camera choose now, because it would rarely ever choose the spots I wanted it to choose.
    Canon AF works on EDGE CONTRAST differences across the sensing area (not colour differences): works poorer in low light; soft light and low contrast.
    The red centre square is not necessarily accurate (i.e. NOT necessarily ONLY AF, within the bounds of the red square) – and that accuracy is less, at Wide Angle Focal Lengths.
    Although the centre AF point is the more sensitive, it works better with F/2.8 and faster lenses: your lens has a Maximum Aperture of F/5.6 at about FL = 100mm and then to the full zoom, so it is pretty testing for the AF Functionality of the lens and the camera working with such a small amount of light getting to the AF sensor (in low light / low contrast scenes).

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezookiel View Post
    Interestingly, I took a walk with it this evening along the river, and the detail was substantially better for some reason. Nothing much changed, just that this time the focus was working much much better. I did however have IS turned off for a lot of the walk. Can IS throw focus off?
    No, I don’t think so at all.
    IS should not affect the AF performance.
    There is an argument that IS will suck some power from the battery and that lessens the AF response – I don’t believe that would affect this lens and mostly all general shooting scenarios.

    You mention nothing much changed: – I would reckon that many things had changed. The contrast the AF locked onto; the lighting conditions (hard or soft light) and the FL of the lens would be three issues which change all the time, whilst you are using that lens, I expect and all three will affect the AF performance of the lens/camera combination.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 14-10-2011 at 1:22pm.

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