9 out of 10 points and recommendedvery solid, very sharp, constant f/2.8lens hood not secure in reversed position, lens a bit heavy for DX
My first copy was optically excellent. At 17mm it was far better than the Tokina Pro 17mm f/3.5 prime lens.reviewed November 4th, 2005
However. I discovered a serious back-focus problem at 24mm (ok at 17 and 55mm).
Nikon exchanged it for free.
The second copy still has a minor back-focus problem, but I can live with that.
In practical use it is fast, bright and sharp.
A joy to use!
One caution: The lens hood has a nice latch to hold it in place. However, when mounted reversed (for storage or for walking around with less bulk), it is not secure. It fell off already twice.
Also, please note that in all the press pictures the lens is always shown in the 35mm zoom position. In the 17mm position an inner barrel protrudes about 2cm from the main barrel, which looks somewhat less attractive. At 55mm the inner barrel protrudes 0.5cm.
However, with the lens hood mounted none of this shows, as it is attached to the main barrel and doesn't shift during zooming.
Optics and construction get a "10", but overall only "9" because of the back-focus issue.
6 out of 10 points and not recommended
I'm very disappointed with this lens.reviewed November 4th, 2005
At 24mm it is stunningly good.
However, at 12mm it is really bad. Soft in the center, and serious chromatic aberration in the corners. I tested with tripod, AF, manual focus, and manual focus with viewfinder loupe. No use - always soft.
According to all the tests it should be much better. Looks like I've got a bad copy.
8 out of 10 points and recommended
This is a very convenient macro lens for walking about the countryside. You can shoot anything from tiny bugs to dragon flies to birds. Impressive 1:1 macro without accessory. USM autofocus is nice, but for small bugs I usually use manual focus.reviewed November 4th, 2005
It is longer and heavier than the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8, dispite having a smaller aperture of only f/3.5.
The tripod collar can be easily taken off to reduce a little weight.
The supplied lens hood can be reversed for storage.
Strange: In the EXIF files the focal length is stated as 185mm.
The working distance from the front lens at full 1:1 macro is 22cm, and at 2:1 (butterfly) it is 40cm. These are good working distances for shy critters. In comparison, at 1:1 the Zoom Micro Nikkor 70-180 has a working distance of 12cm from the front lens, and you even need an extra close-up lens for that.
Optically I gave the Sigma an 8, but you should give it the benefit of the doubt; I only shoot handheld and at high ISO speeds.
The reason why I'm not 100% satisfied is because I feel that I get more pleasing macro shots with an unusual competitor: an old Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8 plus extension tube (however, this setup is completely manual). Sharpness of the Sigma seems okay, but maybe the Nikkor has a better bokeh.
So, for convenience the Sigma is great. It is also quite robust and has survived many hiking trips.
10 out of 10 points and recommended
I have one of the very first copies, still with a semi-gloss finish. Now it comes with the nice and professional looking paint.reviewed November 4th, 2005
Optically it is simply flawless, one of Nikon's finest.
AF speed is okay, but not great. It even does a fine job for macro work (dragon flies) in combination with extension tubes.
This is one of the few remaining lenses with a built-in telescopic lens hood. Very nice and practical. The lens doesn't have a tripod collar, but it also doesn't need one.
One curious thing is when you look at it from the back: Deep inside, instead of the last lens element, you see the aperture blades.
I gave this lens a "Yes" recommendation, because it simply deserves it.
However, would I buy it again, now that I have the 70-200mm VR? Zooms are more practical for digital cameras (sensor dust).
10 out of 10 points and recommended
The other reviewers have already said it all - this is a truly awesome lens: fast, bright, sharp, and with VR.reviewed November 4th, 2005
The one thing I would like to add is that this beast is big and heavy! It is clearly not a travel lens. The only time I managed to take it on an overseas trip was when my wife stayed at home!
So, yes, it is big and it is heavy and it makes my shoulders hurt, but oh boy, it delivers.
Now, please Nikon, could we have a DX version of this beauty?