felipe c's reviews
10 out of 10 points and recommendedbuild quality, AF speed, fast constant f/2.8 aperture, extremely usable wide open, sharp with great color rendition, pure Nikon pro qualitynone
I bought this lens used, and it was the best bargain I've purchased for my D300. I was uncertain whether to get it or not because I had a nifty fifty (50mm f/1.8) and a super wide-angle zoom (Tokina 12-24 f/4) and a tele-zoom (Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8.) After hedging for over a year, I searched for a good price on eBay, and took a chance. Wow! All I can say is, why did I wait so long?reviewed April 26th, 2010 (purchased for $709)
The images do justice to the D300, and Nikon pro lenses as a whole. They are sharp, with excellent color and detail. Wide open there is some distortion, and some vignetting but I found that in real life use, it just doesn't really jump out at you. Stop down a couple of clicks and it's basically gone. What does jump out is the excellent bokeh and overall look of the images. This lens is really useful and sharp from wide open up to around f/11. While supposedly not as good a landscape lens as the Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8, I have some landscape shots in difficult light taken at 7,000 ft altitude and 12º F that are absolutely stunning in their tonal quality and clarity... so can it do landscapes? Definitely yes!
I also have used it for portraiture, wide open for a softer background, and stopped down with remote strobes for a more dramatic look outdoors. The lens came through both times with excellent results. It's a basic workhorse.
It probably excels as a photojournalist's lens. If focuses fast and you can count on it. This is a real working lens. There may be nit-picky issues some can point to where one lens or another can beat it in some statistical measurement, or definitely in price, but I bought both of mine used (yep, got a second one) for $709 and $820 repectively.
On the sample variation issue--I can't really speak to that other than I have tested both my copies and they're probably 2 or 3 years apart in manufacture date based on SN. I compared them in the real word and in controlled images tests on a tripod at 5 different focal lengths and every f/setting in 1 stop increments. On the same body locked down. The images at close examination were virtually identical. Stopped down below f/16 one lens showed some dust spots, the other didn't. A couple of specks of dust on the front element became visible much like sensor dust only when stopped down all the way, and simply blowing the dust off and reshooting - the spots were gone.
The zooming action is smooth, but the newer lens zoom ring has more resistance in the zoom action at either end of the spectrum, but it's not problematic at all. On the older lens the zoom action is a bit easier, but it doesn't feel "loose," just easier to turn. From what I've read, these things do loosen up over time, so I wouldn't even worry about it. One thing is, there is absolutely no zoom creep with this lens. The inner barrel does extend slightly on the long end, and a little bit more on the wide end of zooming, but it's not a long extension that you see on some lenses. It's a slight pumping in and out. It actually helps keep the lens more compact, and is absolutely not an issue. With the hood mounted, you wouldn't even know, but it's really a non-issue to a serious shooter.
This lens is a nice match for any other Nikkor pro lenses you might add to a kit if you're shooting DX format. It is heavier than typical consumer-targeted lenses, and bigger. But, that goes with the territory, so it's ridiculous when some folks actually label that a "con." Yes, it's heavier, yes it's bigger--and it's a serious photographic tool. Don't buy it if you don't need that. Nikkor's kit lenses in this range (18-55) are remarkably good, but they're slow, lightweight plactic, slow focusing lenses built very economically.
The Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 is in a different league.