9 out of 10 points and recommendedBest wide-angle bang for the buckDX lens, vignetting with Cokin filter system at wide angle
This is a great lens, and a fabulous value when purchased with the D70. It covers a very wide zoom range - 18mm to 70mm which covers many situations. The lens contains at least one ED element, which helps with chromatic abberation. It's lightweight but has some metal components.reviewed October 20th, 2005
The lens has very few drawbacks; the only one I can see is that I use the Cokin P filter system, and at 18-20mm there is some vignetting from the mount adapter. I suspect you wouldn't get this with a slim screw-on filter.
The aperture range is 3.5 - 4.5, the practical effect being that you are always in the f/4 range on the wide end. It ramps up pretty quickly - I think around 35mm it's already at f/4, then f/4.2 at 50mm. The minimum opening size is f/22 (at 18mm) - f/29 (at 70mm).
It's a G-class DX lens, so you can't use it on older Nikon bodies that don't set the aperture on the body; as well, as it's a DX lens, it would vignette on film. I can't testify to this directly, but perhaps at around 50mm you'd zoom past the vignette.
As an AF-S lens it's the quietest lens I own, and it has a switch to go between Manual (M) operation and Manual/Auto (M/A) operation. I see no reason to ever switch it out of M/A - basically it operates on autofocus, but you can tweak the focus with the focus wheel without switching it to manual.
It's no an internal zoom model, so there is some lens extension when you zoom out. The lens doesn't rotate during focussing though. It comes with a pretty useful lens hood that also attachs in reverse on the front for storage.
The only thing I'd replace this lens for is the 12-24mm lens, but then I'd need another lens to go 24-70mm or just stick with primes. For right now though, it's serving very well.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedVery inexpensive for the performanceLoud focus
I have the Japanese version of this lens (AF-N) but it's essentially the same. How can you go wrong with a 50mm prime? Not many lenses will go down to f/1.8 for such a small investment. Every photographer should have one.reviewed October 20th, 2005 (purchased for $99)
It's not an AF-S lens so it's a little noisey (whines) when it focuses. That said, it focuses quite quickly. The lens doesn't rotate during focussing.
It's a little soft at f/1.8, but from f/2.8 on I find it tack sharp. Its minimum aperture is f/22.
It's at home on digital or film bodies, and has an aperture ring so it can be used on older bodies.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedGreat depth of fieldSoft wide open
It's not an AF-S lens, so it a bit noisier than you'd like; as well, while it's fast to focus, it's no match to AF-S. It's quick and responsive, so when using the lens in the AF-C focusing mode, you won't be let down.reviewed December 26th, 2006 (purchased for $199)
As other posters have noted, I find it's a bit soft at anything less than f/2. That said, the real usefulness of the lens is to be able to shoot at f/1.4 and get the razor-thin depth-of-field that aperture provides, so the softness accentuates that effect.
The bokeh on this lens is very nice.
Is it worth the extra money over the f/1.8? Only if you absolutely want or need the extra 2/3 of a stop for speed or depth-of-field. Otherwise, save your money; you won't be particularly wowed.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedCrisp, clear lens with great range, and value for money.Vignettes with regular filters.
If you're wondering whether the Nikkor 12-24 is worth the extra money, it probably is; however, I've been very impressed with the Sigma, and feel very satisfied with it for what I paid.reviewed December 26th, 2006 (purchased for $450)
It's light, but feels solid and robust. The filter mount is metal and the lens is textured for easy handling. There's no aperture ring however so you have to use a body with Aperture controls; older bodies will fix the lens at f/22. Best to bring your exposure tables or do some mental arithmetic. That said, it's fun as heck to work on film with this lens, where at 10mm it gives a circular vignette on the sides; at 14mm the vignetting disappears.
I've found this lens to be surprisingly sharp, even wide open (then again, your field of view is so wide it's hard to distinguish many small details). On blue skies you are rewarded with nicely saturated colours and a pleasant contrasty look. What this lens does with big open skies and puffy clouds takes your breath away (I suppose any lens this wide will do that, but it's the only one I've got).
As the primary use of this lens will probably be landscapes, people will gravitate to polarizing filters: be sure to invest in a thin version, as regular filters will vignette until 12mm. Same with the polarizing filter on the Cokin P system, which I use.
The lens required a firmware update to operate correctly with my D200 (AF-on button wouldn't work) which was done at my local service centre (Gentec in Toronto, Canada) for free. As well, I hear an intermittant whine when focussing (which, of course, I couldn't reproduce for the Gentec guys) which they described as operating within parameters.
Otherwise, I'm pleased with this lens, and it's on my camera easily 50% of the time.