7 out of 10 points and recommendedBuild, aperture, image quality (if you get a good one)Tripod collar, AF/MF switch, focus limitation on digital bodies
I'm sure all that's been written about this lens is true, but my copy is flawed by mis-focus. It focuses behind the subject in most, but not all, situations. This issue is beyond the normal amount of mis-focus that Nikon says one can expect from this lens when mounted on a D200. According to Nikon:reviewed September 3rd, 2008 (purchased for $914)
9. If AF 80-200mm f/2.8S, AF 35-70 f/2.8S, new-model AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5S, or AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5S is zoomed in while focusing at minimum range, image on matte screen in viewfinder may not be in focus when in-focus indicator is displayed. Focus manually using image in viewfinder as guide.
This is an annoying limitation that a prospective purchaser should be aware of. My copy is much worse and has been confirmed by Nikon as being defective. I have given an overall good rating to this lens nonetheless because of its historical reputation.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedLightweight, quite acceptably sharpNone that matter for my purposes
My experience with this lens has been limited to a couple of outings and one brick wall shoot; thus far I am satisfied. I've read differing opinions on this lens, some backed up by data, that make me wonder about sample variation. All I can say is that I've got a good copy.reviewed July 23rd, 2013
On the D700, there's a little vignetting on the 16mm end wide open which is much less noticeable by f5.6 if not before. Sharpness is a bit diminished on the long end but still very good across the frame at f8. CAs are essentially a non issue and the distortion is handled well by software. I've read complaints about the bokeh, but who buys a wide for bokeh? I know it's not built as well as the Nikkor pro lenses, but I don't tend to abuse my gear.
If money were no object, I'd have bought the 17-35. But money is always an object and I'm glad this Nikon was available at a price point I could afford. Given its performance, I'd say it punches above its weight.